Session 5

Tim's Pronunciation Workshop: assimilation of /s/

What happens when one word ends in /s/ and the next begins in /j/ or /ʃ/?

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    Activity 1

Activity 1

Tim's Pronunciation Workshop: assimilation of /s/

It's just yoghurt...
Tim's back in his pronunciation workshop. This time he's finding out what happens when one word ends in /s/ and the next begins in /j/ - and he's feeling ready for a snack...

To do

Take a look at the video, then try the activity to do some practice.

 

Watch the video and complete the activity

Show transcript Hide transcript

Tim 
Hi. I'm Tim and this is my Pronunciation workshop. Here I'm going to show you how English is really spoken. Come on, let's go inside. You know how they say that British people are obsessed with the weather? Well I'm feeling under it today. Under the weather – that's an expression which means 'I'm not feeling very well'. Excuse me! What do you say in your language when someone sneezes? Do you know what we say in British English? Let's ask the people of London.

Voxpops
Bless you.
Bless you.
Bless you.
Bless you.

Tim 
Thank you! Bless you! Now the word 'bless' ends in /s/ and 'you' begins with /j/. But what happens to the /s/ sound when we put the two words together? Watch and listen again.

Voxpops
Bless you.
Bless you.
Bless you.
Bless you.

Tim 
In fluent speech, when a /s/ sound is followed by a /j/ then the /s/ changes to a /ʃ/ sound, and this change also happens if the next word begins with the /ʃ/ sound itself. So 'bless you' becomes 'bleshyou' and 'this shirt' becomes 'thishirt'. This is an example of assimilation. And don't forget this can also happen if the /s/ is followed by a /t/, because as you might remember from a previous video, the /t/ sound disappears between two consonants. Here are some more examples.

Examples
Can you just shut the door please?!
This yacht is beautiful.
Don’t worry, that’s usual.
He always makes you feel good.

Tim
Right, so you’ve heard the examples, and now it’s your turn. Listen and repeat.

Examples
Can you just shut the door please?!
This yacht is beautiful.
Don’t worry, that’s usual.
He always makes you feel good.

Tim 
Well done. Now remember, if you want to learn more about pronunciation, then please visit our website, bbclearningenglish.com. And that is about it from the pronunciation workshop for this week. I'll see you soon. Bye bye! Now, my mum always said that this stuff is great when you're feeling under the weather. What is it? It's just yoghurt. Ewww. Umm… better not. Toasty.

To do

So that's a look at assimilation in natural spoken English. Now try this activity to get some more practice.

The assimilation of /s/ game

5 Questions

Which phrases are examples of assimilation of /s/ followed by /s/ or /ʃ/? You decide...

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Session Vocabulary

  • Assimilation of /s/

    When one word ends in /s/ and the next begins in /j/, the /s/ becomes /ʃ/. This change also happens if the next word begins with a /ʃ/ sound itself.

    • Bless you!
    • This yacht is beautiful.

    This can also happen if the /s/ is followed by a /t/ and then /j/ or/ʃ/.

    • Can you just shut the door please?!