Introduction to Linking

Continuous Consonants


‘Fricatives/ˈfrɪkətɪv/=’spirant/ˈspaɪərənt/: the tongue or lips are used to restrict the amount of air passing through the vocal tract. This restriction of air causes friction, or turbulence, as the air passes through. xát(adj), phụ âm xát(n)

Fricatives occur in voiced/unvoiced pairs. To feel the difference, place a few fingers on the front of the lower neck and say /z/, and then the /f/ (be careful to produce just the consonant and not accidentally add a vowel to the sound). You should feel the vibration of the voicing (the vibration of the vocal folds) against your fingers during /z/, but not /f/.

Nasals: the air passes out of the vocal tract through the nose. The fact that your nose is involved in creating these sounds is easily demonstrated simply by trying to create /m/ while holding your nose shut with your fingers. You can’t do it! If both your mouth and nose are shut, no sound can escape the vocal tract.

Approximants /əˈprɑːksɪmənt/: the tongue or lips restrict or redirect the air as it passes through the vocal tract. Note however, that the air is not so restricted that it causes enough friction to create a fricative. A speech sound made by bringing the parts of the mouth that produce speech close together but not actually touching.

Blocked Consonants

Stops (phụ âm tắc) and ‘Affricates (/ˈæfrɪkət/ phụ âm tắc xát) are blocked consonants; they are created when the lips or tongue briefly block and then release the air as it passes through the vocal tract. The difference between a stop and an affricate is that the air built up during a stop is released quickly, while the slower release of affricates causes friction to occurs during the release.

To feel a blocked consonant, place a few fingers in front of your lips and say /t/. Feel how you use the tip of the tongue block the air, then feel the puff of air that hits your fingers as the air that was built up behind the tip of your tongue is released.

Unlike continuous consonants, blocked consonants cannot be produced for an extended period of time.






To link from a stop sound into the same sound, the sounds merge. It is pronounced as a single sound except that the stopped portion of the sound is held longer than if the sound is representing only one sound.

If linking to and from the same affricate, the sound will be produced twice.


When linking between stops that are voiced/unvoiced pairs, the sounds are also both articulated as a single sound with an extended hold. The first sound will have no audible release. When the air is released, or aspirated, the aspiration will be that of the second sound.

Therefore, if the second sound is unvoiced, the combined sound is released with greater aspiration than if the second sound is voiced.


To transition from an unvoiced fricative into its voiced counterpart, the unvoiced sound transitions into the voiced sound simply by activating the vocal cords. The tongue and lips hold a constant shape and there should be no break between sounds.

When linking from a voiced fricative into its unvoiced counterpart, the voiced sound can be very small, or even omitted. If the voiced sound is omitted, a single unvoiced sound represents both sounds.




When linking from a continuous consonant into a blocked consonant, the continuous consonant sound is maintained through approach of the blocked consonant. Then, the air is stopped and released as the blocked consonant. This is the same effect as transitioning from a continuous consonant into a blocked consonant within a word.



Stop sounds, the most common type of blocked consonant, are most aspirated at the beginning of a word and the least aspirated at the end of a word. This means that: (the “puff” of air that can be felt during the release of a blocked consonant) (when that type of sounds begins a word) is greater than (when the same sound ends a word). This difference is important when practicing linking to and from stops.

To link from a vowel sound into a blocked consonant, the vowel sound continues until the the “stopped” portion of the consonant forces a break.

To link from blocked consonants into vowels, the puff of the consonant sound blends into the vowel sound that begins the next word.





When a /t/ at the end of a word follows a vowel sound or /r/ and the next word begins with a vowel sound, the /t/ is pronounced as an alveolar stop and is transcribed as /t̬/. The alveolar stop is a voiced /t/ that sounds similar to a very quick /d/.


Assimilation occurs when a sound changes to a different sound because of the sounds before and after it. The /t/ regularly changes to a glottal stop, the quick closing and opening of the vocal cords. (It is the sound in the middle of the expression “uh-oh.”)


To create a smooth, fluid link from a word ending in a vowel sound into a word beginning with a vowel sound, a very small /y/ or /w/ is added between the words, connecting one word to the next. This allows both vowel sounds to occur individually, without stopping the airflow between words.

Deciding whether to link vowels together using /y/ or /w/ usually becomes intuitive to learners: linking with the wrong sound will feel and sound awkward.



To create a lateral aspiration, approach and stop the /d/ normally, but then, instead of releasing the entire tip of the tongue from the tooth ridge, produce an /l/ by releasing only the sides of the tongue. It can be thought of as stopping the air like /d/, but releasing it as /l/.



To learn the nasal aspiration, the function of the velum must be understood. The velum is the flap in the back of the mouth that either allows air to pass through the nose or blocks it. The velum is closed (blocking air) for all of the sounds of English except the three nasal consonants (the /n/, /m/, and /ŋ/).

A nasal aspiration begins with the velum closed during the approach of the /d/, and then opens at the same time as the air is stopped for the /d/. With the velum open, the tongue can stay in place for the /n/. The only change in the vocal tract is the velum opening. The tongue stays in the exact position of the stopped /d/ as when producing the /n/.


bad language, bad round, bad week, bad yogurt, bad thing, bad though (ð N/A except function words), bad friends, bad voice, bad shape, (ʒ N/A at the begining of a word or a syllable), bad sound, bad zombie, bad habit, bad memory, bad news, (ŋ N/A at the begining of a word or a syllable), bad boy, bad girl, bad dancer, bad pencil, bad cat, bad tone, bad jingle, bad chair.


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