Linking consonants can be hard for non-native speakers. In this video, we go over the specific case of linking K to voiced consonants.
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I’d like to answer a question I recently received. When I’m linking words, I tend to voice unvoiced consonants if they are followed by a voiced consonant. For example, ‘I like that’. I say ‘lige’. My question is, is this right or not? The answer is no, it is not correct to voice the unvoiced consonant. However, the kk consonant sound [k] is one of three consonant sounds, the kk, pp, and tt, all unvoiced, that does something different when it is linked to a voiced consonant.
What these three sounds do when they are followed by voiced consonants in a linking situation, is they act more as stops than as consonants themselves. The sound is not fully pronounced voiced or unvoiced. So for example, the question that you posed, I like that. I like – everything in the mouth and tongue moves into position for the K sound without, kk, releasing air to make that K sound. I like that. Rather than releasing the air, the mouth simply forms the position then for the TH sound [ð] and goes into the next word. I like that. The reason for that is if there was a strong kk sound, there would be no way for it to link to the th following consonant sound. I like that. And of course as we know in American English, linking is very important. I like that.
I’ve already done some blog entries on this particular case with T, but I will throw just one more example out there: Doesn’t this look nice? Doesn’t – the tongue moves into the T position – Doesn’t this look nice? – without doesn’T, making that sharp T sound.
The third unvoiced consonant for which this is true is the P consonant sound. Pp. So when this sound is followed by and linked to a voiced consonant, ‘flip-‘, the mouth moves into position without releasing the air to complete the sound. Flip that card. Flip – that card. This is an excellent question and certainly something to keep in mind as you practice linking words.