Inside Story

Current affairs & culture from Australia and beyond

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Benedict Cumberbatch and the art of distance assimilation

7 January 2016

Inside Language | In the first in a new podcast series, linguist Kate Burridge talks to Peter Clarke about how we merge and lose sounds in spoken language – and how they sometimes reappear


Distance harmoniser: Benedict Cumberbatch. Sam/Flickr

Distance harmoniser: Benedict Cumberbatch. Sam/Flickr

Benedict Cumberbatch set off a small storm when he unconsciously pronounced penguin as “pengwing” in a recent wildlife documentary. For linguist Kate Burridge, it was another case of “distance assimilation,” one of the ways we tend to harmonise the elements of difficult words as we speak. In the first of a series of Inside Language podcasts, she talks to Peter Clarke.

Inside Story podcasts published before August 2016 are now archived in iTunes – just click here and scroll down the list of titles in reverse chronological order.

Duration: 7 minutes 20 seconds

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