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Unit 8. Jump, Next, Glimpsed.

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Consonant Clusters at the End of Words


Unit 8; Part A

There are many more combinations of consonant sounds possible at the end of English words than at the beginning (see Unit 7 ). There can be up to four consonant sounds in a fnal consonant cluster:

Words with ...   
2 final consonants   
3 final consonants   
4 final consonants  
  honest  /st/
jump
/mp/
wrapped
/pt/
helped /lpt/
next
/kst/
crisps
/sps/
prompts /mpts/
glimpsed
/mpst/
texts
/ksts/

Unit 8; Part B

Some final clusters with three or four consonants can be diffcult to pronounce even for native English speakers, so in some words these are commonly simplifed. For example, the middle consonant of the clusters /kts/, /mps/, /mpt/, /nts/, /ndz/ and /skt/ is hardly heard or sometimes even lefy out (see also Unit 29A):
 
products -» products /prodΛks/                             
camped -» camped /kæmt/
hands -» hands /hænz/
jumps -» jumps /d3Λms/
clients -» clients
/klai∂ns/                                 
asked -» asked
/a:st/

Notice also:
          
twelfth -» twelfth /twelθ/
fifths     fifths /fiθs/ or fifths /fifs/

Unit 8; Part C

Leaving final consonants out of consonant clusters at the end of words can cause misunderstanding, and you should avoid this. For example, say:
             product (not: product)    jump (not: jump)    hand (not: hand)

In particular, avoid leaving out /z/ or /s/ in plurals and third person singular verb forms, and /t/ or /d/ in -ed verbs and adjectives:

          jobs (not: jobs)    sleeps (not: sleeps)
          laughed (not: laughed)    curved (not: curved)

Unit 8; Part D

Don't be tempted to add vowels to consonant clusters in order to make them easier to say, as this can also cause misunderstanding. You should -
  • avoid adding an extra vowel (usually /ι/ or /∂/) between consonants:
            watched (not: watchιd)    health (not: heal∂th)    dogs (not: dog∂s)
  • avoid adding an extra vowel (usually /∂/ or /u:/) at the end of the word:
            last (not: last∂)    announce (not: announce∂)    attempts (not: attemptsu:)
  • avoid adding an extra vowel at the end of an adjective, as this can sound like a comparative form:
          fast (not: fast∂ because it sounds like 'faster')
          damp (not: damp∂ because it sounds like 'damper')

 



Exercises

flag.jpgHow many final consonant sounds - 1, 2, 3 or 4 - do the words in the box have when they are spoken slowly and carefully? ( Note that the number of consonant sounds may be different from the number of consonant letters) Write the words in the appropriate row.
Key.1 final consonant sound: catch /t∫/; ears /z/; earth /θ/; ledge /dз/
2 final consonant sounds: axe /ks/; laughed /ft/; touched /t∫t/
3 final consonant sounds: accents /nts/; against /nst/; aspects /kts/; diamonds /ndz/; grasped /spt/; next /kst/; risked /skt/; stamps /mps/
4 final consonant sounds: attempts /mpts/; contexts /ksts/; sculpts /lpts/; tempts /mpts/

 
accents   against     aspects     attempts     axe     catch     contexts     diamonds    ears   earth     grasped     laughed     ledge     next     risked     sculpts     stamps    tempts     touched
 


1 final consonant sound 
 
2 final consonant sounds
 
3 final consonant sounds 
ассеnts /nts/
4 final consonant sounds          
attempts /mpts/                                                                          
  
Now check your answers, listen and say the words. 
flag.jpgListen to some of the words from exercise 1 ( in bold) used in conversation. Some final clusters are simplified. Underline the words which are simplified and show which sound is left out or reduced.
Key.1    next (no simplification)
2    accents t
3    stamps (no simplifcation)
4    against (no simplifcation)
5    aspects t
6    diamonds d
7    context (no simplifcation)
8    grasped (no simplifcation)

Examples:  It was a long jump, but he risked it.   k (the /k/ sound is left out)
                  He helped us a lot.     (no simplifcation)
1    It's my turn next.  
2    It's a recording of regional accents.   
3    Don't forget to buy some stamps.  
4    I've always been against it.  
5    The question has a number of aspects. 
6    She loved diamonds.
7    It was taken out of context.
8    They grasped it easily.
flag.jpg Listen and underline the word you hear.
Key.1 paint    
2 designers   
3 faster
4 trains  
5 ridged    
6 exports

Example: I accept / accepted the award gratefully.
1    I couldn't go on without more paint / pain.
2    The company has some innovative designers / designs.
3    I couldn't go faster / fast in my old car.
4    The factory makes trays / trains.
5    We wore heavy boots with thick, ridged / rigid soles.
6    They're one of Brazil's main exports / exporters.
flag.jpgAnna failed her test to become a newsreader for her local English language radio station. Look at the transcript of the news item that
she read. Then listen to the news being read clearly and correct the words that Anna pronounced wrongly.

Key.The police think the roads on the south coast will be packed when the seventh Felton Pop Festival begins next weekend. Last year more than 10,000 pop fans packed into the field where the festival was held. There is simple accommodation on a nearby farm, but most people will camp in small tents.
8.1.jpg
Now check your answers in the Key. Then read aloud the (correct) news item.

Follow up: What is the maximum number of final consonant sounds that can occur in your first language?


 
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