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I noticed a certain softening of consonants in certain words/consecutive words and I haven't been able to find any resource on this matter yet. Some examples:

  • letter "t" is not sharp at all, it seems to be close to close to "tsh" or "ť "

    tram ("t"), but you ("t y")

  • similarly to "s" being similar to "ge" in "garage" ("ž")

    is your ("s y")

This is a subjective thing, maybe I'm hearing it wrong, feel free to state that; or maybe it's local, used in only some areas, but it seems rather frequent

Is it true that these consonants are "soft" in some way, and can you describe the phenomenon or is there an online resource describing these specific pronunciations?

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Hi Nox. Welcome to ELU. I'm afraid your question isn't really a good fit for this site. There are many differences in English pronunciation that vary by geographical region, socio-economic class, etc. Plus, of course, we all tend to "hear" the phonemes we generate ourselves, so one person may hear "z" in "is your", where another hears "...s y...". I think it's unlikely you'll find a single online resource giving much of this information in a single accessible format, but good luck with the search! –  FumbleFingers Dec 1 '11 at 17:39
    
Thank you. Well, it seems it's been answered (thanks, Colin Fine), although I am aware the question was not the most fitting, will try to come up with better ones next time –  Nox Dec 1 '11 at 18:06
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I don't think @Colin goes there much (nor do I, to be honest), but he seems quite capable of answering many questions raised on linguistics.se, which is where I think this one should probably have been asked. –  FumbleFingers Dec 1 '11 at 18:21
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See also this blog post, and its followups, regarding 'tram' as 'chram': literalminded.wordpress.com/2010/03/17/chricky-affrication –  LarsH Dec 1 '11 at 20:28
    
Thank you both, I will take a look –  Nox Dec 3 '11 at 12:17

1 Answer 1

up vote 8 down vote accepted

These are examples of the process called "palatalisation", which is very widespread in many languages round the world.

It happened in the history of English, for example to turn the /k/ in "kirk" into the /tʃ/ in "church". ("Kirk" survives in Scotland and northern England)

The phrases you described are pronounced without palatalisation in most or all varieties of English when spoken very carefully, but in normal speech many varieties of English do palatalise them.

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Thank you for the information and the term one can use for further search –  Nox Dec 1 '11 at 18:00
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@Colin I agree with this answer for segments followed by the /j/ glide, but does it also apply to his first example, 'tram'? I don't see that being described as palatalization. –  LarsH Dec 1 '11 at 20:09
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@LarsH: you're right, I missed that one. That's a different form of assimiliation, but it arises in the same way, viz the articulatory organs not all moving at the same speed from one segment to the next. –  Colin Fine Dec 2 '11 at 10:25

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