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Лекции по теоретической фонетике английского языка - файл лекции по теор фонетике.doc

Лекции по теоретической фонетике английского языка
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2. The system of vowel phonemes. Problems of diphthongs and vowel length

The following 20 vowel phonemes are distinguished in BBC English (RP): [i:, a:, o:, u:, з:, i, e, æ, σ, υ, л(типа крышка домика), ə; ei, ai, oi, аυ, eυ, υə, iə].

Principles of classification provide the basis for the establishment of the following distinctive oppositions:

1. Stability of articulation

1.1. monophthongs vs. diphthongs

bit - bait, kit - kite, John - join, debt — doubt

1.2. diphthongs vs. diphthongoids

bile - bee, boat — boot, raid - rude

2. Position of the tongue

2.1. horizontal movement of the tongue

a) front vs. central

cab — curb, bed bird

b) back vs. central

pull – pearl, cart - curl, call - curl

2.2. vertical movement of the tongue

  1. close (high) vs. mid-open (mid)
    bid bird, week - work

  2. open (low) vs. mid-open (mid)
    lark - lurk, call — curl, bard-bird

3. Position of the lips rounded vs. unrounded don — darn, pot - part

The English diphthongs are, like the affricates, the object of a sharp phonological controversy, whose essence is the same as in the case of affricates are the English diphthongs biphonemic sound complexes or composite monophonemic entities?

Diphthongs are defined differently by different authors. One definition is based on the ability of a vowel to form a syllable. Since in a diphthong only one element serves as a syllabic nucleus, a diphthong is a single sound. Another definition of a diphthong as a single sound is based on the instability of the second element. The 3d group of scientists defines a diphthong from the accentual point of view: since only one element is accented and the other is unaccented, a diphthong is a single sound.

D. Jones defines diphthongs as unisyllabic gliding sounds in the articulation of which the organs of speech start from one position and then glide to another position.

N.S. Trubetzkoy states that a diphthong should be (a) unisyllabic, that is the parts of a diphthong cannot belong to two syllables; (b) monophonemic with gliding articulation; (c) its length should not exceed the length of a single phoneme.

In accordance with the principle of structural simplicity and economy American descriptivists liquidated the diphthongs in English as unit phonemes.

The same phonological criteria may be used for justifying the monophonemic treatment of the English diphthongs as those applicable to the English affricates. They are the criteria of articulatory, morphophonological (and, in the case of diphthongs, also syllabic) indivisibility, commutability and duration. Applied to the English diphthongs, all these criteria support the view of their monophonemic status.

Problem of length. There are long vowel phonemes in English and short. However, the length of the vowels is not the only distinctive feature of minimal pairs like Pete -pit, beet - bit, etc. In other words the difference between i: i. u: - υ is not only quantitative but also qualitative, which is conditioned by different positions of the bulk of the tongue. For example, in words bead- bid not only the length of the vowels is different but in the [i:] articulation the bulk of the tongue occupies more front and high position then in the articulation of [i].

Qualitative difference is the main relevant feature that serves to differentiate long and short vowel phonemes because quantitative characteristics of long vowels depend on the position they occupy in a word:

(a) they are the longest in the terminal position: bee, bar, her;

(b) they are shorter before voiced consonants: bead, hard, cord;

(c) they are the shortest before voiceless consonants: beet, cart.

Lecture 6

Alternations and modifications of speech sounds in English


1. The notion of alternation and its types

2. Contextual alternations in English

3. Modifications of sounds in English

^ 1. The notion of alternation and its types

The sound variations in words, their derivatives and grammatical form words, are known as sound alternations. For example: the dark [l] in spell alternate with the clear [l] in spelling; combine (n) [‘kσmbain], combine [kəm’bain] where [n] in the stressed syllable of the noun alternates with the neutral sound. It is perfectly obvious that sound alternations of this type are caused by assimilation, accommodation and reduction in speech. To approach the matter from the phonological viewpoint, it is important to differentiate phonemic and allophone alternations. Some sound alternations are traced to the phonemic changes in earlier periods of the language development and are known as historical. Historical alternations mark both vowels and consonants, though the alternating sounds are not affected by the phonemic position or context. The sounds changes, which occurred in the process of historical development of the language, are reflected in present-day English as alternations of phonemes differentiating words, their derivatives and grammatical forms. The following list of examples presents the types of alternations:

1. Vowel alternations.

1.1 Distinction of irregular verbal forms [i:-e-e] mean - meant - meant; [i-æ-A] sing - sang - sung; [i-ei-i] give - gave - given;

1.2 Distinction of causal verbal forms: [i-e] sit - set; [ai-ei] rise - raise; [o - e] fall-fell

1.3 Distinction of parts of speech in etymologically correlated words [a: - æ] class - classify, [o: - e] long - length; [ei - æ] nation - national

2. Consonants alternations

2.1 Distinction of irregular verbal forms [d - t] send - sent

2.2 distinction of parts of speech [s - z] advice - advise; [k - t∫] speak - speech;

3. Vowel and consonant alternations [i - ai] + [v - f] live - life; [a: - ae] + [θ - ð] bath - bathe.

^ 2. Contextual alternations in English

Alternations are also widely spread on the synchronic level in the present-day English and are known as contextual. In connection with contextual sound alternations there arises a problem of phonemic identification of alternated sounds. The study of the relationship between phonemes and morphemes is called morphophonemics. The interrelation of phonology and morphology is also known as morphophonology оr mоrрhоnоlogy which is actually the phonology of morphemes. Morphonology studies the way in which sounds can alternate in different realizations of one and the same morpheme.

We are interested in the sound in its weak position. Scholars of different trends are not unanimous in solving the problem.

The so-called morphological (Moscow phonological) school supports the theory of neutralization of phonemes. The concept of neutralization derives originally from the Prague School of phonology. Neutralization occurs when two or more closely related sounds, which are in contrast with each other in most positions, are found to be non-contrastive in certain other positions. That means that there are environment where the two sounds do not contrast with each other, even though they normally do. When this happens, the opposition between the two sounds is said to be neutralized. The loss of one or more distinctive feature(s) of a phoneme in the weak position is called phonemic neutralization.

The Moscow philologists claim that interchange of sounds manifests close connection between phonetics and morphology. Alternations are observed in one and the same morpheme and actualize the phonemic structure of the morpheme. Thus, phonemic content of the morpheme/is constant. It should be noted here that alternations of morphemes cannot be mistaken for the oppositions of minimal pairs in different stems of words. Lets us compare some examples: postman [ə] < [æ], sixpence [ə] < [e]. Thus, one and the same sound may belong to different phonemes

The supporters of the morphological trend define the phoneme as follows «Это функциональная единица, представленная рядом позиционно чередующихся звуков» (М.В. Панов). The notion of «фонетический ряд», suggested by R.I. Avanesov, demonstrates positionally determined realizations of the phoneme. Positionally alternating sounds are grouped into one phoneme whether they are similar or have common features (that is common allophones) with other phonemes.

The Russian preposition с + noun may have the following realizations: с Колей — [c], с Тимошей — [c'], с Галей — [з], с Димой — [з'], с Шypoй — [ш]. с Женей — [ж], с Щукарём — [ш'].

In the morphological conception the alternations of the phonemes are not analyzed apart from the morpheme, as form and content make dialectical unity. The phonetic system is not isolated from the grammatical and lexical structure of the language, and the unity between the form and the content cannot be destroyed.

Yet as an answer to the problem is not entirely satisfactory since ordinary speakers are in no doubt that the sound which occurs in a word like гриб is [п] not [б], and in English word speak [ph] is nothing but [p]. The perception of the listeners makes us find the morphological conception too discrepant and confiding.

The so-called Leningrad (Petersburg) school asserts that the phoneme is independent of the morpheme. The supporters of this conception claim that the phoneme cannot lose any of its distinctive features. In the line of words of the same root morpheme (гриб - грибы) the sound [п] is an allophone of the phoneme /п/ and the sound [б] manifests the phoneme /б/. Consequently, the consonants [6] and [п] do not lose any their distinctive features and represent different phonemes. It seems that according to this point of view the unity between the form and the content is destroyed, thus phonology is isolated from morphology.

According to N.S. Trubetzkoy, an archiphoneme is defined as a combination of distinctive features common to two phonemes. It consists of the shared features of two or more closely related phonemes but excludes the feature which distinguishes them. For example: archiphoneme [П] consists of the features: bilabial, plosive, but excludes voicing which separates them.

One of the disadvantages in extending the notion of an archiphoneme is that the Prague School phonologists limited neutralization to closely related phonemes. A neutralization can be said to occur only if there is uncertainty about the identity of the sound in the position of neutralization. Before two phonemes can be neutralized, they must have common qualities which do not occur in other phonemes. Thus [p], [b] can neutralize because they are the only labial plosives in the language, they share these two features, but no other sounds share them. However, [n] and [ŋ] cannot neutralize, so any neutralization of nasals must involve all the three of them - [n], [ŋ], [m].

^ 3. Modifications of sounds in English

Sounds in actual speech are seldom pronounced by themselves. To pronounce a word consisting of more than one sound, it is necessary to join the sounds together in the proper way. There exist several types of junction, some of which are common to all or many languages, while others are characteristic of individual languages. In order to master these specific types of junction it is necessary to understand the mechanism of joining sounds together. This mechanism can only be understood after analyzing the stages in the articulation of a speech-sound pronounced in isolation.

Every speech-sound pronounced in isolation has three stages of articulation. They are (1) the on-glide, or the initial stage, (2) the retention-stage, or the medial stage, and (3) the off-glide (release), or the final stage.

The on-glide, or the beginning of a sound, is the stage during which the organs of speech move away from a neutral position to lake up the position necessary for the pronunciation of a consonant or a vowel. The on-glide produces no audible sound. The retention-stage or the middle of a sound is the stage during which the organs of speech are kept for some time either in the same position necessary to pronounce the sound (in the case of non-complex sounds) or move from one position to another (within complex sounds, such as diphthongoids, diphthongs and affricates). For the retention-stage of a stop consonant the term stop-stage may also be used. The off-glide, or the end of a sound, is the stage during which the organs of speech move away to a neutral position. The off-glide of most sounds is not audible, the exception being plosives whose off-glide produces the sound of plosion before a vowel and in a word-final position before a pause.

In English there are two principal ways of linking two adjacent speech sounds: I. Merging of stages. II. Interpenetration of stages. The type of junction depends on the nature of the sounds that are joined together. As all English sounds come under the classification of consonants and vowels we may speak of joining:

(a) a consonant to a following vowel (C + V), as in the word [mi:] me;

(b) a vowel to a following consonant (V + C), as in the word [σn] on;

(c) two consonants (C + C), as in the word [bləυ] blow:

(d) two vowels (V + V), as in the word [riæləti] reality.

Merging of stages, as compared with interpenetration of stages, is a simpler and looser way of joining sounds together. It usually takes place if two adjacent sounds of a different nature are joined together. In this case the end of the preceding sound penetrates into the beginning of the following sound. In other words, the end of the first sound and the beginning of the second are articulated almost simultaneously. Interpenetration of stages usually takes place when consonants of a similar or identical nature are joined. In this case the end of the first sound penetrates not only into the beginning but also into the middle part of the second sound, as in [ækt] act, [begd] begged.

The modifications are observed both within words and word boundaries. There are the following types of modification: assimilation, accommodation, reduction, elision, and inserting. The adaptive modification of a consonant by a neighbouring consonant in a speech chain is assimilation. Accommodation is used to denote the interchanges of VC or CV types. Reduction is actually qualitative or quantitative weakening of vowels in unstressed positions. Elision is a complete loss of sounds, both vowels and consonants. Inserting is a process of sound addition.

1. Assimilation

1.1. Place of articulation

• t, d > dental before [ð, θ]: eighth, at the, said that

• t, d > post-alveolar before [r]: tree, true, dream, the third room

• s, z > post-alveolar before [∫]: this shop, does she

• t, d > affricates before [j]: graduate, could you

• m > labio-dental before [f]: symphony

• n > dental before [θ]: seventh

• n > velar before [k]: thank

1.2. Manner of articulation

• loss of plosion: glad to see you, great trouble

• nasal plosion: sudden, at night, let me see

• lateral plosion: settle, at last

1.3. Work of the vocal cords

• voiced > voiceless: newspaper, gooseberry (and in grammatical …)

has, is, does > [s]; of, have > [f]

Notice: In English typical assimilation is voiced > voiceless; voiceless > voiced is not typical.

1.4. Degree of noise

• sonorants > are partially devoiced after [p, t, k, s]

2. Accommodation

2.1. Lip position

• consonant + back vowel: pool, rude, who (rounded)

• consonant + front vowel: tea, sit, keep (spread)

3. Elision

3.1. Loss of [h] in personal and possessive pronouns and the forms of the auxiliary verb have.

3.2. [l] lends to be lost when preceded by [o:]: always, already, all right

3.3. In cluster of consonants: next day, just one. mashed potatoes

4. Inserting of sounds

4.1. Linking [r] (potential pronunciation of [r]): car owner

4.2. Intrusive [r]: [r] is pronounced where no r is seen in the spelling china and glass: it is not recommended to foreign learners.


1. Reduction

1.1. Quantitative

1.2. Qualitative

2. Accommodation

2.2 Positional length of vowels: knee - need - neat

2.3. Nasalization of vowels: preceded or followed by [n, m]: never, then, men

The syllabic structure in English


^ 1. Theories on syllable formal ion and division.

2. The structure and functions of syllables in English

1. Theories on syllable formation and division

Speech can be broken into minimal pronounceable units into which sounds show a tendency to cluster or group. These smallest phonetic groups arc generally given the name of syllables. Being the smallest pronounceable units, syllables form morphemes, words and phrases. Each of these units is characterized by a certain syllabic structure. Thus a meaningful language unit phonetically may be considered from the point of view of syllable formation and syllable division.

The syllable is a complicated phenomenon and like a phoneme it can be studied on four levels - articulatory, acoustic, auditory and functional. The complexity of the phenomenon gave rise to many theories.

We could start with the so-called expiratory (chest pulse or pressure) theory by R.H. Stetson. This theory is based on the assumption that expiration in speech is a pulsating process and each syllable should correspond to a single expiration. So the number of syllables in an utterance is determined by the number of expirations made in the production of the utterance. This theory was strongly criticized by Russian and foreign linguists. G.P. Torsuyev, for example, wrote that in a phrase a number of words and consequently a number of syllables can be pronounced with a single expiration. This fact makes the validity of the theory doubtful.

Another theory of syllable put forward by O. Jespersen is generally called the sonority theory. According to O. Jespersen, each sound is characterized by a certain degree of sonority which is understood us acoustic property of a sound that determines its perceptibility. According to this sound property a ranking of speech sounds could be established: <the least sonorous> voiceless plosives  voiced fricatives voiced plosives voiced fricatives  sonorants  close vowels open vowels <the most sonorous>. In the word plant for example we may use the following wave of sonority: [pla:nt]. According to V.A. Vasssilyev the most serious drawback of this theory is that it fails to explain the actual mechanism of syllable formation and syllable division. Besides, the concept of sonority is not very clearly defined.

Further experimental work aimed to description of the syllable resulted in lot of other theories. However the question of articulatory mechanism of syllable in a still an open question in phonetics. We might suppose that this mechanism is similar in all languages and could be regarded as phonetic universal.

In Russian linguistics there has been adopted the theory of syllable by LV Shcherba. It is called the theory of muscular tension. In most languages there is the syllabic phoneme in the centre of the syllable which is usually a vowel phoneme or, in some languages, a sonorant. The phonemes preceding or following the syllabic peak are called marginal. The tense of articulation increases within the range of prevocalic consonants and then decreases within the range of postvocalic consonants.

Russian linguist and psychologist N.I. Zhinkin has suggested the so-called loudness theory which seems to combine both production and perception levels. The experiments carried out by N.I. Zhinkin showed that the arc of loudness of perception level is formed due to variations of the volume pharyngeal passage which is modified by contractions of its walls. The narrowing of the passage and the increase in muscular tension which results from it reinforce the actual loudness of a vowel thus forming the peak of the syllabic. So the syllable is the arc оf loudness which correlates with the arc of articulatory effort on the speed production level since variations in loudness are due to the work of all speech mechanisms.

It is perfectly obvious that no phonetician has succeeded so far in giving an adequate explanation of what the syllable is. The difficulties seem to arise from the various possibilities of approach to the unit. There exist two points of view:

1. Sоme linguists consider the syllable to be a purely articulatory unit which lacks any functional value. This point of view is defended on the ground that the boundaries of syllables do not always coincide with those of morphemes.

2. However the majority of linguists treat the syllable as the smallest pronounceable unit which can reveal some linguistic function.

Trying to define the syllable from articulatory point of view we may talk about universals. When we mean the functional aspect of the syllable it should be defined with the reference to the structure of one particular language.

The definition of the syllable from the functional point of view tends to single out the following features of the syllable:

a) a syllable is a chain of phonemes of varying length;

b) a syllable is constructed on the basis of contrast of its constituents (which is usually of vowel - consonant type);

c) the nucleus of a syllable is a vowel, the presence of consonants is optional; there are no languages in which vowels are not used as syllable nuclei, however, there are languages in which this function is performed by consonants;

d) the distribution of phonemes in the syllabic structure follows by the rules which are specific enough for a particular language.

^ 2. The structure and functions of syllables in English

Syllable formation in English is based on the phonological opposition vowel - consonant. Vowels are usually syllabic while consonants are not with the exceptions of [l], [m], [n], which become syllabic in a final position preceded by a

noise consonant: bottle [bσtl], bottom [bσtm], button [b/\tn] and [r] (in those accents which pronounce [r]) perhaps [præps].

The structure of English syllables can be summarized as follows:

• Many syllables have one or more consonants preceding the nucleus. These make up the syllable onset: me, so, plow.

• Many syllables have one or more consonants, following the nucleus. They make up the syllable coda. They are traditionally known as closed syllables: cat, jump.

• The combination of nucleus and coda has a special significance, making up the rhyming property of a syllable.

The English language has developed the closed type of syllable as the fundamental one while in Russian it is the open type that forms the basis of syllable formation.

The other aspect of this component is syllable division. The problem of syllable division in case of intervocalic consonants and their clusters, like in such words as city, extra, standing and others.

Let us consider the first word ['sit.i]. There exist two possibilities:

a) the point of syllable division is after the intervocalic consonant:

b) the point of syllable division is inside the consonant.

In both cases the first syllable remains closed because the shot vowel should remains check The result of instrumentally analyses show, that the point of syllable division in such words is inside the intervocalic consonant. EPD indicates the point of division after the consonant.

The second case. There are two syllables in the word extra but where should the boundary between them fall?

1) [e - kstrə]. It is unlike that people would opt for a division between [e] and [kstrə] because there are no syllables in English which begin with consonant sequence [kstr].

2) Similarly, a division between [ekstr] and [ə] would be unnatural.

3) [ek - strə], [eks - trə], [ekst - rə] are possible. People usually prefer either of the first two options here, but there no obvious way of deciding between them.

In some cases we may take into account the morphemic structure of words. For example, standing consists of two syllables; on phonetic grounds [stæn - diŋ). on grammatical grounds [stænd - iŋ].

Now we shall consider two functions of the syllable.

The first is constitutive function. It lies in its ability to be a part of a word itself. The syllables form language units of greater magnitude that is words, morphemes, and utterances. It this respect two things should be emphasized. First, the syllable is the unit within which the relations between distinctive features of phonemes and their acoustic correlates are revealed. Second, within a syllable (or syllables) prosodic characteristics of speech are realized, which form the stress pattern of a word and the intonation structure of an utterance. In sum, the syllable is a specific minimal structure of both segmental and suprasegmental features.

The other function is distinctive one. In this respect the syllable is characterized by its ability to differentiate words and word-forms. One minimal pare has been found in English to illustrate the word distinctive function in the syllabic: nitrate — night-rate. There analogical distinction between word combinations can be illustrated by many more examples: an aim - a name; an ice house - a nice house, etc. Sometimes the difference in syllable division may be the basic ground for differentiation in such pairs as I saw her rise.- I saw her eyes; I saw the meat — I saw them eat.

Lecture 8

Word stress in English


^ 1. Nature of word stress

2. Place of word stress in English. Degrees of stress

3. Functions and tendencies of the English stress

4. Typology of accentual structures

1. Nature of word stress

The sequence of syllables in the word is not pronounced identically. The syllable or syllables which are uttered with more prominence than the other syllables of the word are said to be stressed or accented. Stress in the isolated word is termed word stress; stress in connected speech is termed sentence stress.

Stress is defined differently by different authors. B.A. Bogoroditsky, for instance, defined stress as an increase of energy, accompanied by an increase of expiratory and articulatory activity. D. Jones defined stress as the degree of force, which is accompanied by a strong force of exhalation and gives an impression of loudness. H. Sweet also stated that stress, is connected with the force of breath. According to A.C. Gimson, the effect of prominence is achieved by any or all of four factors: force, tone, length and vowel colour.

If we compare stressed and unstressed syllables in the words contract ['kσntrækt], to contract [kən'trækt], we may note that in the stressed syllable:

(a) the force is greater, which is connected with more energetic articulation;

(b) the pitch of voice is higher, which is connected with stronger tenseness of the vocal cords and the walls of the resonance chamber;

(c) the quantity of the vowel [æ] in [kən'trækt] is greater, the vowel becomes longer;

(d) the quality of the vowel [æ] in the stressed syllable is different from the quality of this vowel in the unstressed position, in which it is more narrow than ['æ].

On the auditory level a stressed syllable is the part of the word which has a special prominence. It is produced by a greater loudness and length, modifications in the pitch and quality. The physical correlates are: intensity, duration, frequency and the formant structure. All these features can be analyzed on the acoustic level. Word stress can be defined as the singling out of one or more syllables in a word, which is accompanied by the change of the force of utterance, pitch of the voice, qualitative and quantitative characteristics of the sound, which is usually a vowel. In different languages one of the factors constituting word stress is usually more significant than the others. According to the most important feature different types, of word stress are distinguished in different languages.

1) If special prominence in a stressed syllable or syllables is achieved mainly through the intensity of articulation, such type of stress is called dynamic, or force stress.

2) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved mainly through the change of pitch, or musical tone, such accent is called musical, or tonic. It is characteristic of the Japanese, Korean and other oriental languages.

3) If special prominence in a stressed syllable is achieved through the changes in the quantity of the vowels, which are longer in the stressed syllables than in the unstressed ones, such type of stress is called quantitative.

4) Qualitative type of stress is achieved through the changes in the quality of the vowel under stress.

English word stress is traditionally defined as dynamic, but in fact, the special prominence of the stressed syllables is manifested in the English language not only through the increase of intensity, but also through the changes in the vowel quantity, consonant and vowel quality and pitch of the voice.

Russian word stress is not only dynamic but mostly quantitative and qualitative. The length of Russian vowels always depends on the position in a word.

Now we should like to distinguish the notions of word stress and sentence stress. They are first of all different in their sphere of application as they are applied to different language units: word stress is naturally applied to a word, as a linguistic unit, sentence stress is applied to a phrase. Secondly, the distinction of the rhythmic structure of a word and a phrase is clearly observed in the cases when the word stress in notional words is omitted in a phrase, e.g. I 'don't think he is 'right or when the rhythmic structure of the isolated word does not coincide with that of a phrase, e.g. 'Fifteen. 'Room Fifteen. 'Fifteen 'pages.

So in a speech chain the phonetic structure of a word obtains additional characteristics connected with rhythm, melody, and tempo. Though the sentence stress falls on the syllable marked by the word stress it is not realized in the stressed syllable of an isolated word but in a word within speech continuum. Since the spheres of word stress and sentence stress fall apart their functions are actually different. Sentence stress organizes a sentence into a linguistic unit, helps to form its rhythmic and intonation pattern, and performs its distinctive function on the level of a phrase.

Stress difficulties peculiar to the accentual structure of the English language are connected with the vowel special and inherent prominence. In identical positions the intensity of English vowels is different. The highest in intensity is /a:/, then go /о:, з:, i:, u:, æ, σ, e, υ, i/.

All English vowels may occur in accented syllables, the only exception is /ə/, which is never stressed. English vowels /i, и, ə υ/ tend to occur in unstressed syllables. Syllables with the syllabic /1, m, n/ are never stressed. Unstressed diphthongs may partially lose their glide quality. In stressed syllables English stops have complete closure, fricatives have full friction, and features of fortis/lenis distinction are clearly defined.

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