On Reduction in English: What the English Don’t Say

Maciej Tomaka


The aim of this article is to examine which sounds are most often omitted in official oral public performances by native speakers of British English. Such terms as reduction, elision (and its types), and connected speech are explained; the literature cited is concerned with elision of vowels (triphthong smoothing being treated separately), of consonants, and of whole syllables. The study presents the results of an analysis conducted on selected material available on the Internet – this comprises three British English oral performances of the total length of approximately 20 minutes. With regard to the nature of the data, they were divided into scripted, semi-scripted, and unscripted samples. The research has shown that earlier preparation significantly lowers the number of phonetic reduction phenomena. Furthermore, if the speech is given in front of an audience rather than being pre-recorded, the number of reduction phenomena is higher. Besides, the analysis has shown a few important tendencies in modern British pronunciation, such as omission of /t/, realisation of final /t/ as [ʔ], omission of final /t/ in contractions, which therefore are realised as [n] instead of [nt].



reduction, elision, connected speech, British English, oral performace

Full Text:



Cruttenden, Alan. 2008. Gimson’s Pronunciation of English. London: Hodder Education.

Crystal, David. 2008. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Malden, MA – Oxford, UK – Victoria, Australia – Singapore: Blackwell Publishing.

Reszkiewicz, Alfred. 1981. Correct Your English Pronunciation. Warszawa: PWN.

Roach, Peter. 1998. English Phonetics and Phonology. A Practical Course. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Skandera, Paul, and Peter Burleigh. 2005. A Manual of English Phonetics and Phonology. Twelve Lessons with an Integrated Course in Phonetic Transcription. Tübingen: Gunter Narr Verlag.

Research material

BBC Radio 4: A History of the World in 100 Objects. Episode 8 – Egyptian model of clay cattle.

http://downloads.bbc.co.uk/podcasts/radio4/ahow/ahow_20100127-1000a.mp3 (8”–2’9”, 2’42”–3’50”) [accessed 25.05.2015]

BBC Radio 4: In Touch – The future of DLA. http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00vrvx1 (5’43”–15’54”) [accessed 25.05.2015]

TED.com: Geoff Mulgan – A short intro to the Studio School. http://download.ted.com/talks/GeoffMulgan_2011G.mp3?apikey=489b859150fc58263f17110eeb44ed5fba4a3b22 [accessed 25.05.2015]

DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.17951/nh.2017.2.25
Data publikacji: 2017-08-17 12:08:46
Data złożenia artykułu: 2017-08-17 10:30:32


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