On a recent flight I was told not to blog the aisles; but recklessly I’m going to blog anyway.
Of course the intended phrase was Do not block the aisles. The flight attendant was Polish, though the phonetic phenomenon in question is also characteristic of Russian and other Slavic languages, as well as Dutch. But don’t click away if your mother tongue is different, because the challenge which English presents is one that applies widely, in fact to a clear majority of those I teach.
Pronouncing block‿the as blog‿the is a phenomenon known to specialists as ‘anticipatory voicing assimilation’. The final sound of block anticipates the voicing of the first sound of the. The first sound of the is voiced (has vocal cord vibration); the voiceless k of block assimilates to it, becoming voiced g.
This process affects huge numbers of words and phrases, creating foodball, tegzbook, fazebook, etc. The is the most common word in English, and speakers with native voicing assimilation will tend to voice any sound that precedes it, turning put‿the, got‿the, not‿the, let‿the etc into pud‿the, god‿the, nod‿the, led‿the etc.
One of the things that makes English so tricky is its large number of contrasting consonants in final position. The majority of those I teach find this challenging. For example:
In other words, pay attention to the final consonants of English, and practise the difference between