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Linking. Why and how to teach it. Outline of Presentation. What is linking and why is it important? Assumptions about learning linking Research on linking Linking phenomena – A small study Some web-based materials for linking Teaching suggestions Research recommendations.

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Why and how to teach it

outline of presentation
Outline of Presentation
  • What is linking and why is it important?
  • Assumptions about learning linking
  • Research on linking
  • Linking phenomena – A small study
  • Some web-based materials for linking
  • Teaching suggestions
  • Research recommendations
what is linking
What is linking?
  • “the term linking…is used in two different ways [in coursebooks]. Quite often it is synonymous with what we have called connected speech phenomena in general because they all act together to create units larger than the single word. In this book, however, we use a definition of linking which is more specific: it applies only to what happens at word-boundaries where either two vowels or a consonant and a vowel meet” (Dalton & Seidlhofer, 1994, 123)
what is linking4
What is linking?
  • Connected speech phenomena
    • Deletion: desktopdestop
    • Blending: can’t you  can chew

educate  ejucate

    • Other: going to  gonna
  • Linking
    • Both sounds keep their quality
      • an apple  a napple
      • Look sharp  looksharp
    • Two similar sounds are pronounced once but longer
      • A wholelot  a whollot
    • An extra sound may appear to help connect
      • See Ann  SeeyAnn
      • Who ate it?  Whowateit
what is linking5
What is linking?
  • “The words in phrases or thought groups are usually linked together. The consonant that finishes one word connects to the sound at the beginning of the next word” (S. Miller, 2000, p. 45)
  • We say the words in the phrase smoothly, connecting the sound of the last word to the beginning sound of the next word without stopping after each word.” (G. Orion, 1997, p. 53)
why is linking important
Why is linking important?
  • Linking…helps your overall fluency. You will be easier to understand, and your listeners will react more positively to your speech if you link sounds” (Reed & Michaud, 2006, p. 44)
  • An aspect of correct pronunciation at the allophonic level (Trammell, 1993)
  • A marker ofnative-like speech (Hieke, 1987)
  • A crucial element in imitating correct word-stress, which is required for native-like rhythm and intonation patters at the phrase level (Trammell, 1993).
  • An important factor for listening comprehension.
linking in books
Linking in books
  • In most pronunciation books
    • Some take it seriously
      • Pronunciation Plus (1999)
      • Accurate English (1993)
      • Sound Concepts (2006)
      • Clear Speech (2003)
      • Clear Speech from the Start (2001)
    • Some don’t
      • Targeting Pronunciation (2001)
      • Pronouncing American English (1997)
      • Sounds and Rhythm (1991)
what is taught
What is taught?
  • Consonant to same consonant
    • In⌣no way
    • I miss⌣Sarah
  • Consonant to vowel
    • In⌣every way
    • I miss⌣Aaron
  • Vowel to Vowel
    • Coffee and milk  coffeeeeand milk (Gilbert 2001)
    • Radio  Radiyo
what is taught9
What is taught?
  • Consonant to different consonant
    • Cook badly  cookbadly
    • Stop sign  stopsign
  • Other
    • /l/ to vowel (pull out  pull⌣out)
    • /r/ to vowel (four eggs  four⌣eggs)
faulty assumptions about linking in many books
Faulty Assumptions about linking (in many books)
  • What linguists can describe about phonetics is relevant to learners, e.g.,
    • Learners can easily identify the final sound of a word
    • Learners can identify the category of the final sound (e.g., is it a Stop consonant?)
    • Learners can identify the category of the first sound of the next word
  • Learners can retrieve the rule and apply it as they speak
  • Native speakers of English can and do make these kinds of conscious decisions.
previous research
Previous Research

Hieke, E. (1984). Linking as a marker of fluent speech.

A three-fold classification of absorption:

Linking, leveling and loss.


  • Ease-of-effort principles
  • Avoidance of hiatus
  • Pacing and delivery
  • Formality of register used (casual/deliberate)

Types of Linking

  • Consonant attraction, based on.
  • Glide attraction, now I.
  • Release attraction, what she.
  • Nasal release, good news.
hieke 1984 results
Hieke (1984), Results
  • C-A in casual speech is present at the rate of 12 links per 100 syllables.
  • Linking can be considered as a rule not a tendency in English.
  • In Native speech, 80% of the potential link points turn into actualized links, while in NN English speech that is the case in only 54% of the instances.
  • Linking can be used as a parameter of fluency to differentiate N from NN speech.
Anderson-Hsieh, J., Riney, T., & Koehler, K. (1994). Connected Speech Modifications in the English of Japanese ESL learners.

Types of linking:

  • Consonant-to-consonant (identical, different, nasal)
  • Consonant-to-vowel
  • Vowel-to-vowel


  • Intermediate group demonstrated a tendency to preserve word boundaries.
  • This was maintained in C-C clusters by a separate release of the consonants, and through the insertion of glottal stops in C-V and V-V clusters.
temperley m s 1987 linking and deletion in final consonant clusters
Temperley, M. S. (1987). Linking and deletion in final consonant clusters.

How is the final consonant linked to the following initial consonant?

  • Avoiding independent release of the word-final stop:

Gemination, short time

Affricate articulation, start things, sent sugar.

  • Minimizing the release of the word-final stop: Devoicing: frame[d] those.

Resyllabification: laze-dby, in the same way we say laze-din.

trammell t 1993 english ambisyllabic consonants and half closed syllables in language teaching
Trammell, T. (1993). English Ambisyllabic Consonants and Half-closed Syllables in Language Teaching.

Word-final consonants across word boundaries:

Within a phonological phrase, a word-final consonant is optionally ambisyllabic with the initial vowel, /j/, or /w/ of a following word in all stress environments: than[k] you; wa[tch] out .

gimson a c 1989 an introduction to the pronunciation of english
Gimson, A.C. (1989). An introduction to the pronunciation of English.
  • Liaison in R.P. (standard British English) with word-final post-vocalic /r/
  • A word-final consonant is rarely carried over as initial in a word beginning with an accented vowel. Thus, run off, rarely /ru 'nof/.
Allerton, D. (2000). Articulatory inertia vs 'systemzwang': changes in liaison phenomena in recent British English.

In R.P. a general trend towards less frequent use of linking [r, n, j, w].

  • simplifying the morphophonemic system
  • aiding morpheme identification, and thus intelligibility.
deterding d 2006 the pronunciation of english by speakers from china
Deterding, D. (2006). The pronunciation of English by speakers from China.

The addition of an extra vowel (usually a schwa), after a final plosive and before the next word is a linking phenomenon in Chinese English, and(ə) this.

linking phenomena a small study
Linking phenomena – A small study

Spoken text from an informal technical lecture (Total potential links: 200)

  • Analyzed for potential and actual links.
  • C-V: 47 actual links (out of 53 potential), 43 included a function word or ending.
  • V-V: 10 potential links all realized.
  • C-C: Mostly different consonants, rarely same ones.
some web based materials for linking
Some web-based materials for linking
  • American Accent Training:

  • English Club
  • Learn Linking website)
teaching suggestions
Teaching Suggestions
  • Teach linking using morphological criteria rather than phonological, e.g.,
    • Linking to following function words (have⌣a, volume⌣of, made⌣up⌣of)
      • 2-word verbs
      • Linking to prepositions, articles, pronouns
    • Linking from inflectional endings to the next word (occupies⌣space, kinds⌣of)
      • Attention to critical grammatical endings
  • Why?
    • Phonetic criteria are more accurate but are not very learnable
    • Morphological criteria are less complete but more identifiable by learners
research recommendations
Research recommendations
  • How effective is teaching linking using the morphological criteria in comparison to phonetic criteria?
  • How do perceptual and production problems related to linking affect intelligibility?