Allophonic assimilation – disapplication
We have seen how /l/ is velarized if it occurs in word-final position, e.g.
However, in connected speech, a word-final /l/ will not be velarized if it is followed across a word boundary by a word that has a vowel in word-initial position, e.g.
|kill it||/kɪl ɪt/||→||[k̟ʰɪl ɪtʰ]|
In this environment, the rule that a word-final /l/ is velarized is disapplied, i.e. the /l/ is not velarized.
Further examples include:
|fall over||/fɔl əʊvə/||→||[fɔːl əʊːvə↓]|
|pull on||/pʊl ɒn/||→||[pʰʊl ɒ̃n]|
|call anyone||/kɔl ɛnɪwʌn/||→||[k̠ʰɔːl ɛ̃nɪ̃wʌ̃n]|
The rule governing this pattern can be stated as:
Word-final /l/ is not velarized before a word-initial vowel.
We know that word-final voiced plosives, fricatives and affricates are prone to de-voicing when they appear in words spoken in isolation, e.g.
However, in connected speech, when they appear word-finally before a word-initial vowel or voiced consonant across a word boundary they are not voiced, i.e.
This is a rather long-winded way of representing the rule, which can probably be better stated as follows.
Word-final voiced plosives, fricatives and affricates are not de-voiced before a word-initial vowel or voiced consonant.
A few examples should make this clear:
|lab window||/læb wɪndəʊ/||→||[læb̚ wɪ̃ndəʊː]|
|cave drawing||/keɪv drɔɪŋ/||→||[kʰeɪːv d̠ɹɔːɪ̃ŋ]|
|badge of office||/bæʤ əv ɒfɪs/||→||[bæʤ əv ɒfɪs]|
In the last example above – badge of office – there are two examples of a voiced fricative in word-final position preceding a word-initial vowel. The first occurrence is at the word boundary between the words badge and of. The word badge has a word-final voiced /ʤ/ that precedes the word-initial vowel of the immediately following word of. Hence, the word-final voiced /ʤ/ is not de-voiced. The second occurrence is at the word boundary between the words of and office. The word of has a voiced /v/ in word-final position. This precedes the word-initial vowel /ɒ/ of the word office. In this environment, therefore, the /v/ is not de-voiced.
Of course, if word-final voiced plosives, fricatives and affricates occur before a voiceless consonant in word-initial position they will be de-voiced, e.g.
|lab coat||/læb kəʊt/||→||[læb̥ kʰəʊtʰ]|
|cave painting||/keɪv peɪntɪŋ/||→||[kʰeɪːv̥ peɪ̃ːntʰɪ̃ŋ]|
|badge pin||/bæʤ pɪn/||→||[bæʤ̊ pɪ̃n]|
There are several other types of allophonic assimilation that affect pronunciation across word boundaries. However, the foregone discussion should be sufficient to give you a feel for the operation of this process. We will now turn our attention to the second type of assimilation, phonemic assimilation.
NEXT>> Phonemic Assimilation