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How to pronounce ‘linked to’? I assume ed+t should be linked? Or is it ok to be pronounced separately. How about ‘linked them’? I can tell there is some difference between ‘link to’ and ‘linked to’ but very hard to tell.

Also, when you say a word ‘maths’, do you fully pronounce ‘th’ or just put the tongue in a position (th) and then move on to ‘s’?

These have been bugging me for years, not only the words mentioned but those with -ed+ t/th linking and th+s/es (e.g clothes) sound. Hope I’ll get a clear idea this time.. thank you.

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  • These are two unrelated questions. – Lambie Sep 16 '20 at 18:47
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There will be many regional variations in the answers. For me "linked to" usually has a run of 3 consonants, the middle one being an almost inaudible "d", unless I am trying to be clear, when I would put a space between the "ed" and "to".

For Maths I would fully pronounce the "th", but with no gap to the "s". "Cloths" is the same, but "clothes" has a voiced "th" and voiced "s" (ie a z).

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Honestly, this is complicated and it comes down to your accent, the emphasis you're putting on the word, how quickly you're speaking etc. For my (British English) accent I pronounce linked as linkt, and unless I'm emphasising the word, in normal speech it tends to get elided to link - so linked to and link to basically sound the same.

(There is actually a tiny difference, my tongue is hitting my teeth to form the 'd' sound, I can feel it but I don't think it's really audible, it might affect the "k" sound but it's extremely subtle)

Maths for me is a strong th which collapses into a s by moving my tongue away from my teeth. Honestly even if I speak very quickly I make that th sound, but others might pronounce it more like mass. Lots of people in the south of England say maffs instead. (I say clothes like cloze at speed though.)


English tends to be spoken fairly lazily, and our brains do a lot of work automatically parsing the sounds and working out what was meant by context. So you can tell if it's "link to" or "linked to" by whichever one makes sense in the sentence - and if it's ever ambiguous the person usually makes an effort to say linkED or whatever. You don't notice how much your brain is doing in the background until you learn a foreign language where you have to consciously work all this out!

Sorry there isn't really an easy answer, your best bet is probably to pick an accent (or the way a particular person speaks) and try to imitate that. And don't be afraid to get lazy with the sounds and let them run into each other sometimes!

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  • This has zero to do with BrE. If you do not pronounce the final t sound, you simply are not saying linked to x. – Lambie Sep 16 '20 at 18:45
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Linked to is pronounced [lɪŋkt.tu] while link to is pronounced [lɪŋk.tu] in normal speech. The difference is that the /t/ in linked to is a bit longer than the /t/ in link to. This lengthening is called gemination or consonant twinning.

The Queen does not often geminate her consonants, but pronounce them separately and clearly, so don't expect everyone to geminate their consonants.

As per Wikipedia:

In English phonology, consonant length is not distinctive within root words. For instance, baggage is pronounced /ˈbæɡɪdʒ/, not */bæɡːɪdʒ/. However, phonetic gemination does occur marginally.

Gemination is found across words and across morphemes when the last consonant in a given word and the first consonant in the following word are the same fricative, nasal, or stop.

If you don't geminate the /t/, it will become link to. However, you'll hear most people pronounce linked to and link to the same in fast speech. In that case, context is important.

Another example would be unnamed and unaimed. If you geminate the /n/, you get unnamed.



Also, when you say a word ‘maths’, do you fully pronounce ‘th’ or just put the tongue in a position (th) and then move on to ‘s’?

Yes, I fully pronounce the /θ/ (<th>) and then move the tip of my tongue to the alveolar ridge for articulating the /s/.

It may be difficult for you because the th sounds are rare cross-linguistically.

We have two types of th sounds in English; voiced th (/ð/) and unvoiced th (/θ/). The only difference is the vibration in the throat.

Moreover, there are two ways to articulate the th sounds; dentally and Interdentally.
Dental: Putting the tip of the tongue behind the top teeth.
Interdental: Putting the tip of the tongue between the top and bottom teeth.

If interdental is hard for you, articulate it dentally.

For /θs/ cluster, put the tip of the tongue behind the top teeth (between the ridge and the teeth) and articulate the /θ/ and then /s/ (try it!), it will be easy for you, that's how most native speakers do it.

You can also articulate the /θs/ Interdentally; articulate [θ] with the tip of the tongue between the top and bottom teeth and then articulate the [s] at the same place ([s̪]). But it may be difficult for you.



The -ed is pronounced /t/ when the preceding sound is voiceless (/s/, /p/, /k/ etc) except /t/ and /d/. But if it's voiced (/l/, /g/, /b/, /z/ etc), the -ed is pronounced /d/

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    Why has this answer been multi-downvoted? The question indeed contains multiple issues and this answer strives to answer them. It shouldn't be punished for doing that. – Eddie Kal Sep 20 '20 at 15:07
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Here's the trick here:

Linked to x and link to x when said quickly will basically sound the same, leaving context aside, which, by the way, is what tells us whether link is meant as a present simple or simple past. The context always has something that follows.

So:

  • "linked to this" is pronounced link/t/o,then this. Just like: walk/t/. [final sound]
  • "link to this" is pronounced link/t/o, also. Why? Because the to gets squished up against the link, so it ends up sounding the same as "linked to this".

Furthermore, the "to" becomes a quasi ta /æ/ [or /a/ in British English]: linkta this.

( I am only giving the sounds in the IPA alphabet for the t sound in linked and the ta sound in linked to x. Otherwise,it is too confused)

You can only differentiate the two by pausing: Try it:

These channels link to that channel. [slow and differentiated]
This channel linked to that channel [last week]. [slow and differentiated]

If you do not pause to emphasize the simple past, it simply will not be heard as simple past. So, in the sentences above, it is the "last week" that will tell your listener you are referring to something in the past.

Another example:

  1. They walked to school every day. /t/
  2. They walk to school every day. no /t/

As the ed morpheme (syllable) is a /t/ sound, the next sound which is also that sound /t/ get absorbed into it. And the result is only one /t/ sound for "linked to" instead of the two which can clearly be seen in writing.

Same thing as link to and linked to. And though there may be a slight difference in the ta sound at the end, the squishing together (assimilation) of walked and to and walk and to is basically the same in BrE and AmE.

This issue is called co-articulation in phonology. How one phoneme sounds next to another. It is especially interesting in what is called "connected speech", which is the speech we all use in speaking everyday to each other.

Specifically, the issue you have brought up is called assimilation. When a sound like the ed in linked + to ends up sounding like link + to. That is called progressive assimilation. Naturally, when you slow down, you can make two /t/ sounds: one for link/t/ and the other for /t/o.

Here's an introduction to assimilation: Speech is a stream of sounds rather than a series of discrete segments and in many cases the sounds merge or change, sometimes to anticipate the next sound and sometimes by being affected by a previous sound.

Assimilation

Assimilation refers to the effect where one sound segment is modified by its neighbour, and causes one sound becoming phonetically similar to the other. E.g. in English, in the sentence "I have to", the "v" of "have" is devoiced and is pronounced as an "f" since the first sound of the next segment is devoiced. When one sound changes to become more like the next, this is "regressive" assimilation; when one sound changes to become more like the preceding sound, this is "progressive" assimilation. Crystal also notes "coalescent", where two sounds mutually influence one another. Examples (from Crystal p166): progressive : in "ten bikes", the "n" is pronounced as "m" regressive : in "lunch score", the "s" is pronounced "sh" coalescent : in "don't you", the center segment is pronounced "ch"

coarticulation and assimilation

[The maths issue is a different story. However, if you do not pronounce the th /θ/, you won't be saying it, just like you won't be saying bath or tooth is you don't pronounce the voiceless th in them.]

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  • "Furthermore, the "to" becomes a quasi ta /æ/ [or /a/ in British English]: linkta this." /// It does not become /a/ or /æ/ but /ə/. – Void Sep 17 '20 at 6:11
  • /æ/ is the vowel in 'trap' as you say. But I've never heard anyone pronounce linked to and want to (wanta) as [lɪŋktæ] and [wɒntæ] respectively. /æ/ does not occur at the end of a syllable or at the end of a word (as Phonotactics says). It strikes me not only as strange, but also incorrect. – Void Sep 17 '20 at 16:53
  • That statement is infelicitous. I know you don't like me but ask someone else. That's incorrect. /æ/ is the sound in the word 'trap' so you pronounce the 'to' in wanta the same as the vowel in 'trap'?! – Void Sep 17 '20 at 17:29
  • No, in connected speech, to is not a syllable between two words. – Lambie Sep 17 '20 at 17:43

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