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10.3: A Special < d >

Difficulty Level: At Grade Created by: CK-12
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A Special <d>

1. There is one time when the <d> spelling of [d] may be hard to remember - because sometimes it is hard to hear the [d] sound at all. For instance, in the word grandmother some people pronounce the <d>, but most people usually do not. Most often it sounds like [gra´n-muthər], with no [d] sound.

2. Read aloud the words in the Word column. Listen for whether or not you pronounce the <d>'s. Sometimes you may hear a clear [d]; sometimes the <d> may be pronounced more like [t]; sometimes it may be left out completely. Don't be surprised if you hear different people saying the <d>'s in these words differently. We're allowed a certain amount of choice here. Analyze the words as instructed in the Analysis column:

Word Analysis = Analysis
friendship Noun + suffix = friend + ship
surrounds Verb + suffix = surround + s
handkerchief Noun + noun = hand + kerchief
comprehends Verb + suffix = comprehend + s
handful Noun + suffix = hand + ful
grounds Noun + suffix = ground + s
thousands Noun + suffix = thousand + s
bands Noun + suffix = band + s
grandfather Adjective + noun = grand + father
spends Verb + suffix = spend + s
handsome Noun + suffix = hand + some
husbands Noun + suffix = husband + s
landscape Noun + suffix = land + scape
handsful Noun + suffix1 + suffix2 = hand + s + ful
suspends Verb + suffix = suspend + s
weekends Noun1 + suffix2 + suffix = week + end + s
grandma Adjective + noun = grand + ma
corresponds Verb + suffix = correspond + s
islands Noun + suffix = island + s
attends Verb + suffix = attend + s
sounds Verb + suffix = sound + s
playgrounds Noun1 + noun2 + suffix = play + ground + s
bookends Noun1 + noun2 + suffix = book + end + s

3. In all of these words, where is the <d> in its element–at the front, the end, or in the middle? at the end. What letter is right in front of the <d> in each case? <n>. Is there a vowel after the <d> each time, or is it a consonant? consonant. What letter usually comes right after the <d> in these words? <s>.

4. Sometimes a <d> may not be pronounced if it comes at the end of its element, and it has an <n>. in front of it and a consonant after it, especially the letter <s>.

Word Histories. The word handkerchief analyzes to hand “hand” + kerchief “cover for the head.” The stem kerchief analyzes in turn to ker + chief. Ker is all that is left of older version of the word cover. Chief means “head. (The words chief and chef are very closely related.)

The word handsome also contains hand meaning “hand.” The suffix -some forms adjectives. Originally handsome meant “easy to handle, ready at hand.” Then it came to mean “handy, convenient, suitable” and later “of fair size or amount” (as in the phrase a handsome reward). Finally it came to its most common modern meaning: “having a fine form or figure, good looking.”

Teaching Notes.

Item 3 and 4. This easily-lost <d> occurs in a few different settings, but the reason for it can be explained in terms of the [ndz] sequence in most of the words listed in these two items. It is essentially a form of assimilation. All three of these consonant sounds — [n], [d], and [z] — are known technically as alveolars. That is, they are pronounced with the end of the tongue up near the back of the bony ridge, the alveolar ridge, down from which the upper teeth grow. When [n] is pronounced, the tongue is in the same position for [d] and very close to the position for [z]. Rather than pulling the tongue away from the ridge quickly to create the stop [d], we anticipate sliding the tongue into position for pronouncing the upcoming [z]. The result is that the [d] can get lost in the process. For more on this easily-lost <d>, see AES, pp. 337-38, section 26.4.1.

The loss of this [d] can be part of even more elaborate changes. For instance, consider the word sandwich : First, the [d] gets dropped, leading to [sanwich]. Then the alveolar [n] assimilates to a bilabial [m] because of the lip rounding in [w]: [ samwich]. Then the [w] is lost and we have [samich]. Then if the plural suffix -es is added, [samichәs], the <ch> with vowels immediately before and after it can become voiced like the vowels, which gives [samijəs]. Dictionaries tend to record only the initial loss of [d] and the voicing of [ch] to [j], but [samijəs] is a quite common pronunciation, especially among younger children.

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