Assimilation

Handbag or Hambag

How do you pronounce “handbag”?

If you pronounce “handbag” as it is, then you’ve been pronouncing it the wrong way.

“Handbag” is pronounced as “hambag” /ˈhæm.bæɡ/. Why? – It’s called assimilation sound. “Assimilation” is the influence of a sound on a neighboring sound so that the two become similar or the same.

More examples:

• good boy ⇒ gubboy /ɡʊb.bɔɪ/

• ten men ⇒ temmen /tem.men/

• bad boy ⇒ babboy /bæb.bɔɪ/

Watch the explanation on assimilation from Podcastinenglish

How do you pronounce the following phrases?

1. one cup /wʌn kʌp/

2. might go /maɪt ɡəʊ/

3. white bird /waɪt bɜːd/

If you pronounce those phrases as such, well, I’m afraid I have to tell you that’s not quite right.

1. one cup ⇒ /wʌn kʌp/ ⇒ /wʌŋ kʌp/ 

2. might go ⇒ /maɪt ɡəʊ/ ⇒ /maɪk ɡəʊ/

3. white bird ⇒ /waɪt bɜːd/ ⇒ /waɪp bɜːd/

When the letter “n” comes before consonant /k/ and /g/, it becomes /ŋ/, as in one cup /wʌn kʌp/ ⇒ /wʌŋ kʌp/

When the letter “t” comes before /k/ and /g/, the letter “t” becomes /k/, for example, might go /maɪt ɡəʊ/ ⇒ /maɪk ɡəʊ/

When the letter “t” comes before consonant /p/, /b/, /m/, /w/, the letter “t” becomes /p/, as in white bird /waɪt bɜːd/ ⇒ /waɪp bɜːd/

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