Initial two-consonant clusters are of two sorts in English:
1) / S /áfollowed by one of the following consonants / p, t, k, f, m, n, l, w, j /;
2) one of the consonants (except / S /) Followed by / l, r, w, j /.
Ě When / S /áprecedes / p, t, k / they lose their aspiration (star, spear, sky).
2.1.1 Voiceless consonants + / n, m, l, r, w, j /
In the clusters of any voicelessáconsonant with the sounds / n, m, l, r, w, j / partial or complete devoicing of the second sound takes place, i.e. progressive assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cordsácan be observed here.
Ě / N, m, l, r, w, j / become completelyádevoiced after / p, t, k / in a stressed syllable (pleI, tjHn, kwIk). Notice that when / l, r, w, j / follow / p, t, k / they become slightly fricative, i.e. some friction is heard when we pronounce them.
Ě They become partiallyádevoiced:
- After / p, t, k / in an unstressed syllable or at a word boundary (prI'peq, 'rItn, 'Help mI);
- After / sp, st, sk / (spreI, stjH, skweq);
- After any voiceless friction consonant / s, f, S, T, h / (smaIl, fjH, SrJk, TrJ, 'hjHmq).
2.1.2 Combinations of alveolar consonants / t, d / with / r /
In these clusters regressive assimilation affecting the place and the manner of articulationátakes place. Under the influence of the post-alveolar / r /, the alveolar consonants / t, d / become post-alveolar, too (traI, drJm), they are pronounced with the tip of the tongue close to the back of the alveolar ridge.
Besides, in / tr / there is progressive assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cords: / R / becomes partially or completely devoiced.
So, in / tr / we have double (reciprocal/ RI'sIprqkql /) assimilation.
2.1.3 Combinations of dental consonants / T, D / with / r /
In these clusters progressive assimilation affecting the place and the manner of articulation takes place. Under the influence of the dental / T, D / the post-alveolar / r / is replaced by an alveolar tap or a flapped variety of / r / (TrJ, wID reIn) - a single short tap is made by the tip of the tongue on the alveolar ridge.
Besides, in / Tr / there is partial devoicing of / r /, i.e. progressive assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cordsátakes place.
So, in / Tr / we have double assimilation.
2.1.4 Combination of consonants with / w /
/ W / influences the preceding consonant and it becomes lip-rounded or labialized, i.e. regressive assimilation affecting the position of the lipsátakes place (dwel, swetq).
When / w/áis preceded by a voiceless consonant, / w / becomes partially or completely devoiced i.e. progressive assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cordstakes place (twIst, swHp, kwaIt).
Thus, in clusters / tw, kw, sw / double (reciprocal) assimilationátakes place.
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