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1. Phonetics as a Linguistic Discipline

2. Divisions and Branchcs of Phonetics
3. Methods of Phonetic Investigation
4. Phonetics and Other Disciplines
5. Spheres of Practical Application




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ISBN 978-5-9279-0153-1

M. A. CoKOJIOBa, I1.. C. Tl1XoHoBa, P. M. TI1XOHOBa,

E. n. <I>peWlI1Ha, cO)J,ep)Kl!Hl1e, 2010

<I>CHHKC+, o<popMJIeHl1e, 2010

Chapter I. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds ...................... 16

1.1. The Phoneme ........ ........................ ............................... 17

1.1.1. The definition of the phoneme ..................................... 17

1.1.2. The phoneme as a unity ofthrec aspects ....................... 18

1.1.3. Phonological and phonetic mistakes in pronunciation .... 23

1.2. Transcription ................................................................. 24

1.3. Main Trends in the Phoneme Theory ............................. 25

1.4. Methods of Phonological Analysis ................................. 28

1.4.1. The aim of phonological analysis ..................................

1.4.2. Distributional method of phonological analysis ............
1.4.3. Semantically distributional method ofphonological

analysis ........................................................................
1.4.4. Methods of establishing the phonemic status of speech

sounds in weakpositions. Morphonology ......................





1. 5. The System of English Phonemes .................................. 34

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1.5.1. The system of consonants .............................................

1.5.2. The system of vowels ....................................................
1.5.3. Modifications of sounds in connected speech ............... Modifications of consonants ........................... Modifications of vowels ...................................






Summary ...................................................................... 48

Chapter n. Syllabic Structure of English Words

2.1. The Phenomenon of the Syllable
2.2. Syllable Formation
2.3. Syllable Division (Phonotactics)
2.4. Functional A'lpect ofthe Syllable







Chapter III. Word Stress ................................................................... 57

3.1. Definition. The Nature of Stress. ....................... ............ 57

3.2. English Word Stress. Production and Perception ............ 59

3.3. Degrees ofWord Stress .................................................. 60

3.4. Placement ofWord Stress .............................................. 61

3.5. Tendencies in the Placement of Word Stress ................... 64

3.6. Functions ofWord Stress ............................................... 65

Summary ...................................................................... 66

Chapter rv. Intonation..................................................................... 68

Definition ofIntonation ................................................ 68

4.2. Components of Intonation ............................................ 70


5.2. Stylistic Modifications of Speech Sounds ..................... 114


Stylistic Use of Intonation


5.3.1. Phonostyles and their registers


5.3.2. Infonnational style


a) spheres of discourse

b) informational texts (reading)

c) informational monologues (speaking)


infonnational dialogues

e) press reporting and broadcasting


5.3.3. Academic style


5.3.4. Publicistic style


5.3.5. Declamatory style. Artistic reading


5.3.6. Conversational style



4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit of I.n.tonation ......... 72

4.4. Notation ....................................................................... 78

Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Vctrieties of English ..................... 158

4.5. Functions ofIntonation ................................................ 79

4.5. L Communicative function as the basic function

of intonati on

4.5.2. Distinctive function


4.5.3. Organising function


4.5.4. Intonation in discourse


4.5.5. Pragmatic function


4.5.6. Rhetorical function


4.6. Rhythm
........... 96

4.6.1. Speech rhythm. Definition. Typology ........................... 96

4.6.2. Rhythmic group as the basic unit ofrhYlhm .................. 98

4.6.3. Rhythm in different types of discourse .......................... 98

4.6.4. Functions of rhythm .................................................. 101

Summary .................................................................... l02

6.1. Social Phonetics and Dialectology ............................... 158

Chapter V. Phonostylistics ........... ......... ......................... ....... ........ 105

5.1. The Problems ofPhonostylistics ..................................

5.1.1. Phonostylistics as a bmnch of phonetics .....................
5. 1.2. Extmlinguistic situation and its components ..... ..........
5.1.3. Style-fonning factors .................................................
5.1.4. Classification of phonetic styles .................. ................






6.2. Spread of English ........................................................ 162

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English ......

6.3.1. British English ...........................................................
6.3.2. Received pronunciation .............................................
6.3.3. Changes in the standard .............................................
6.3.4. Regional non-RP accents of England .........................
6.3.5. \\elsh English .............................................................
6.3.6. Scottish English .........................................................
6.3.7. Northern Ireland English ...........................................
6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards of English ...
6.4.1. General American















Phonetics as a Linguistic Discipline

Divisions and Branches of Phonetics
Methods of Phonetic Investigation
Phonetics and Other Disciplines
Spheres of Practical Application

1. Phonetics as a Linguistic Discipline

This book is aimed at future teachers of English. The teachers of a for
eign language are definitely aware of the existence of phonetics. They are
always being told that it is essential that they should be skilful phoneticians.
The reaction may be different. Some teachers meet it with understanding.
Some protest that it is not in their power for various reasons to become pho
neticians, others deny that it is really necessary.
"Is it in fact necessary for a language teacher to be a phonetician? I
would reply that all language teachers willy-nilly are phoneticians. It is not
possible, for practical purposes, to teach a foreign language to any type of
learner, for any purpose, by any method, without giving some attention to
pronunciation. And any attention to pronunciation is phonetics." (Aber
crombie, 1956: 28)
What does phonetics study? Phonetics is concerned with the human
noises, by which the thought is actualized or given audible shape: the nature
of these noises, their combinations, and their functions in relation to
meaning. Phonetics studies the sound system ofthe language, i. e. segmen
tal phonemes, word stress, syllabic structure and intonation. It is primarily
concerned with expression level. However, phonetics takes the content
el into consideration too. Only meaningful sound sequences are regarded as
speech, and the science ofphonetics , in principle at least, is concerned only
with such sounds produced by a human vocal apparatus as are, or may be,
carriers of organized information of language. In other words, phonetics is
concerned both with the expression level ofphonetic units and their ability
to carry meaning. No kind oflinguistic study can be made without constant
consideration of the material and functional levels.
It follows from this that phonetics is a basic branch of linguistics; nei
ther linguistic theory nor linguistic practice can do without phonetics, and

2. Divisions and Branches of Phonetics

no language description is complete without phonetics, the science con

cerned with the spoken medium oflanguage. That is why phonetics claims
to be of equal importance with grammar and lexicology.

2. Divisions and Branches of Phonetics

Traditionally phonetics is divided into general phonetics which studies
the complex nature of phonetic phenomena and formulates phonetic laws
and principles and special phonetics which is concerned with the phonetic
structure ofa particular language. Admittedly, phonetic theories worked out
by general phonetics are based on the data provided by special phonetics
while special phonetics relies on the ideas of general phonetics to interpret
phonetic phenomena of a particular language.
Special phonetics can be subdivided into descriptive and historical. Spe
cial descriptive phonetics studies the phonetic structure ofthe language syn
chronically, while historical phonetics looks at it in its historical develop
ment, diachronically. Historical phonetics is part of the history of the
language. The study ofthe historical development ofthe phonetic system of
a language helps to lmderstand its present and predict its future.
Another important division of phonetics is into segmental phonetics,
which is concerned with individual sounds (1. e. "segments" of speech) and
suprasegmental phonetics whose domain is the larger units of connected
speech: syllables, words, phrases and text.
Figure 1



Phonetics has two aspects: on the one hand, phonology, the study of the
functional aspect of phonetic units, and on the other, the study of the sub
stance of phonetic units.
Before analysing the linguistic function of phonetic units we need to
know how the vocal mechanism acts in producing oral speech and what


methods are applied in investigating the material form of the language, in

other words its substance.
Human speech is the result ofa highly complicated series of events. The
formation of the message takes place at a linguistic level, i. e. in the brain of
the speaker; this stage may be called psychological. The message formed in the
brain is transmitted along the nervous system to the speech organs. Therefore
we may say that the human brain controls the behaviour of the articulating
organs which results in producing a particular pattern ofspeech sounds. This
second stage may be called physiological. The movements of the speech ap
paratus disturb the air stream thus producing sound waves. Consequently the
third stage may be called physical or acoustic. Further, any communication
requires a listener, as well as a speaker. So the last stages are the reception of
the sound waves by the listener's hearing physiological apparatus, the trans
missiou of the spoken message through the nervous system to the brain and
the linguistic interpretation ofthe information conveyed.
Although not a single one ofthe organs involved in the speech mecha
nism is used only for speaking we can for practical purposes use the term
"organs of speech", meaning the organs which are active, directly or indi
rectly, in the process ofspeech sound production.
In accordance with their linguistic function the organs ofspeech may be
grouped as follows:
The respiratory or power mechanism furnishes the flow of air which is
the first requisite for the production of speech sounds. This mechanism is
formed by the lungs, the wind-pipe and the bronchi. The air-stream ex
pelled from the lungs provides the most usual source of energy which is
regulated by the power mechanism. Regulating the force ofthe air-wave the
lungs produce variations in the intensity of speech sounds. Syllabic pulses
and dynamic stress, both typical of English, are directly related to the be
haviour of the muscles which activate this mechanism.
From the lungs through the wind-pipe the air-stream passes to the up
per stages ofthe vocal tract. First ofall it passes to the larynx containing the
vocal cords. The opening between the vocal cords is known as the glottis.
The function of the vocal cords consists in their role as a vibrator set in mo
tion by the air-stream sent by the lungs. The most important speech func
tion of the vocal cords is their role in the production of voice. The effect of
voice is achieved when the vocal cords are brought together and vibrate
when subjected to the pressure of air passing from the lungs. The vibration
is caused by compressed air forcing an opening ofthe glottis and the follow
ing reduced air-pressure permitting the vocal cords to come together.

2. Divisions and Branches of Phonetics

The height of the speaking voice depends on the frequency ofthe vibra
tions. The more frequently the vocal cords vibrate the higher the pitch is.
The typical speaking voice of a woman is higher than that ofa man because
the vocal cords of a woman vibrate more frequently. We are able to vary the
rate of the vibration thus producing modifications of the pitch component
of intonation. More than that. We are able to modify the size of the puff of
air which escapes at each vibration of the vocal cords, i. e. we can alter the
amplitude of the vibration which causes changes of the loudness of the
sound heard by the listener.
From the larynx the air-stream passes to supraglottal cavities, i. e. to the
pharynx, the mouth and the nasal cavities. The shapes of these cavities
modify the note produced in the larynx thus giving rise to particular speech
There are three branches of phonetics each corresponding to a different
stage in the communication process described above. Each ofthese branch
es uses a special set of methods.
The branch of phonetics that studies the way in which the air is set in
motion, the movements of the speech organs and the coordination of these
movements in the production of single sounds and trains ofsounds is called
articulatory phonetics. Articulatory phonetics is concerned with the way
speech sounds are produced by the organs of speech, in other words the
mechanisms of speech production.
Acoustic phonetics studies the way in which the air vibrates between the
speaker's mouth and the listener's ear, in other words, the sound wave.
Acoustic phonetics is concerned with the physical properties of speech
sounds and uses special technologies to measure speech signals.
The branch of phonetics investigating the perception process is known
as auditory phonetics. Its interests lie more in the sensation ofhearing which
is brain activity, than in the physiological working of the ear or the nervous
activity between the ear and the brain. The means by which we discriminate
sounds - quality, sensation of pitch, loudness, length, are relevant here.
branch of phonetics is of special interest to anyone who teaches or
studies pronunciation.
As it was mentioned above, phoneticians cannot act only as describ
ers and classifiers of the material form of phonetic units. They are also
interested in the way in which sound phenomena function in a particular
language and what part they play in manifesting the meaningful distinc
tionsofthe language. The branch of phonetics that studies the linguistic
function of consonant and vowel sounds, syllabic structure, word accent



and prosodic features, such as pitch, loudness and tempo is called pho
In linguistics, function is usually understood as discriminatory func
tion, that
the role of the various elements ofthe language in the distin
guishing ofone sequence of sounds, such as a word or a sequence ofwords,
from another of different meaning. Though we consider the discriminatory
function to be the main linguistic function of any phonetic unit we cannot
ignore the other function of phonetic units, that is, their role in the forma
tion ofsyllables, words, phrases and texts. This functional or social aspect of
phonetic phenomena was first introduced by I. A. Baudouin-de-Courtenay.
Later on N. S. Trubetskoy declared phonology to be a linguistic discipline
and acoustic phonetics to anatomy, physiology and
acoustics only. This conception is shared by many foreign linguists who in
vestigate the material form and the function of oral speech units separately.
Russian linguists proceed from the view that language is the medium of
thought and can exist only in the material form of phonetic units. That is
why they consider phonology a branch of phonetics that investigates its
most important social aspect.
Branches of Phonetics




functional phonetics

3. Methods of Phonetic Investigation

Each branch of phonetics uses its own methods of research. We shall
consider now some ofthe methods applied in investigating the sound matter
ofthe language.
They generally distinguish methods of direct observation (phonetic
studies are carried out without any other instruments of analysis than the
human senses) and instrumental methods based on the use ofvarious
nical devices.
From the beginning of phonetics the phonetician has relied to a great
extent on the perception ofhis own speech and the informants' speech. The

3. Metods of Phonetic Investigation


experience in such observation allows him to associate the qualities of the

sound heard with the nature ofthe articulations producing it. Such skills are
obligatory for phoneticians and make phonetics not only a science but also
an art, an art which must be specially learned. Phonetic research based on
the methods of direct observation is effective only when the scholars con
ducting it are trained in analyzing both the movements of the organs of
speech and the auditory impression of speech segments.
Instrumental methods were introduced into phonetics in the second half
ofthe 19th century in order to supplement the impressions deriving from the
human senses, especially the auditory impressions, since these are affected
by the limitations of the perceptual mechanism, and in general are rather
Instrumental analysis is based on the use of special technical devices,
such as spectrograph, intonograph, x-ray photography and cinematogra
phy, laryngoscope and others. In a general way, the introduction of ma
chines for measurements and for instrumental analysis into phonetics has
resulted in their use for detailed study ofmany ofthe phenomena which are
present in the sound wave or in the articulatory process at any given mo
ment, and the changes ofthese phenomena from moment to moment. This
type of investigation together with sensory analysis is widely used in experi
mental phonetics.
The results available from instrumental analysis supplement those avail
able from sensory analysis. Practically today there are no areas of phonetics
in which useful work can and is being done without combining these two
ways of phonetic investigation. The "subjective" methods of analysis by
sensory impression and the "objective" methods of analysis by instruments
are complementary. Both "objective" and "subjective" methods are widely
used in modern phonetics. Articulatory phonetics borders with anatomy
and physiology, it uses methods of direct observation, whenever it is possible
(lip movement, some tongue movement) combined with x-ray photography
or x-ray cinematography, observation through mirrors as in the laryngo
scopic investigation of vocal cord movement, etc.
Acoustic phonetics comes close to physics and the tools used in this
field enable the investigator to measure and analyse the movement ofthe air
in the terms of acoustics. This generally means introducing a microphone
into the speech chain, converting the air movement into corresponding
electrical activity and analysing the result in terms of frequency ofvibration
and amplitude of vibration in relation to time. The use of various sound
analysing and sound synthesising machines is generally combined with the



method of direct observation. Today computer technologies make it possi

ble to conduct acoustic spectral analysis ofspeech sounds and intonograph
ic analysis.
It should be mentioned that computer technologies are widely used
both for processing and measuring acoustic data and for pronunciation
training. One of the advantages of using computers for the experimental
study is the possibility of storing substantial corpora of various spoken dis
course to serve as the material for phonetic investigation.
Phonology possesses its own methods ofinvestigation which will be de
scribed later in the course.

4. Phonetics and Other Disciplines

Our further point will be made in connection with the relationship of
phonetics and other disciplines. As it was already mentioned phonetics is
one of the basic branches of linguistics, naturally it is closely connected
with the other linguistic disciplines: lexicology and grammar.
Special attention should be given to the relations of phonetics and social
sciences. Language is not an isolated phenomenon; it is a part of society, a
part of ourselves. The functioning of phonetic units in society is studied by
sociophonetics. It should be mentioned here that over the last few decades
there appeared a number ofdistinct interdisciplinary subjects, such as socio
linguistics (and sociophonetics correspondingly), psycholinguistics, mathe
maticallinguistics and others. These, as their titles suggest, refer to aspects of
language which can be studied from two points ofview (sociology and linguis
tics, psychology and linguistics and so on), which requires awareness and de
velopment of concepts and the techniques derived from both disciplines.
Sociophonetics studies the ways in which pronunciation interacts with
society. In other words, it is the study of the way in which phonetic struc
tures change in response to different social functions. Society here is used in
its broadest sense, to cover a spectrum of phenomena such as nationality,
regional and social groups, and specific interactions of individuals within
them. There are innumerable facts to be discovered and considered, even
about a language as well investigated as English, concerning, for instance,
the nature ofthe different situations - when we are talking to equals, supe
riors or subordinates; when we are 'on the job', when we are old or young;
male or female; when we are trying to persuade, inform, agree or disagree
and so on. Needless to say sociophonetic information is of crucial impor

4. Phonetics and Other Disciplines


tance for language teachers and language learners in the context of cross
cultural communication.
One more example ofinterdisciplinary overlap is the relation oflinguis
tics to psychology. Psycholinguistics as a distinct area ofinterest developed
the sixties, and in its early form covered the psychological implications of
an extremely broad area, from acoustic phonetics to language pathology.
Nowadays no one would want to deny the existence ofstrong mutual bonds
between linguistics, phonetics in our case and psychology. Here are some of
the problems covered by psycholinguistics: the acquisition of language by
children, the extent to which language meditates or structures thinking;
extent to which language is influenced and itself influences such things as
memory, attention, perception; the problems of speech production and
speech perception; speech pathology.
Phonetics is also closely connected with a number ofnon-linguistic dis
ciplines which study different aspects ofspeech production and speech per
ception: physiology, anatomy, physics (acoustics). In phonetic research
they use mathematics, statistics, computer science.
There is one more area phonetics is closely connected with. It is the
study of non-verbal means ofcommunication.
How do people communicate?
Too often there is a difference between what we say and what we think
we have said, though we use appropriate grammatical structures, words and
intonation. It may even cause a break in communication.
It may happen because we speak with our oral organs, but we converse
with our entire bodies. Conversation consists of much more than a simpJe
interchange ofspoken words. All ofus communicate with one another non
verbally. It means that we communicate without using words and involving
movements of different parts of the body.
It is believed that 7% of communication is conveyed by words, 38%
by sounds and intonation and 55% - by non-verbal means. They are: facial
expression, gestures and postures.
D. Crystal insists that the meaning of particular nuclear tones depends
on the combination with particular facial expression.
Non-verbal elements express very efficiently the emotional or the mod
al side of the message.
The study of non-verbal means of communication is called kinesics.
The analysis ofspoken discourse often includes references both to the pho
netic and non-verbal aspects ofspeech communication. So we can say that
phonetics overlaps with kinesics.



The field of phonetics is thus becoming wider and tends to extend over
the limits originally set by its purely linguistic applications. On the other
hand, the growing interest in phonetics is partly due to increasing recogni
tion of the central position of language in every line of social activity. It is
important, however, that the phonetician should remain a linguist and look
upon phonetics as a study of the spoken form oflanguage. It is its applica
tion to linguistic phenomena that makes phonetics a social science in the
proper sense of the word.

5. Spheres of Practical Application

Now we shall give an overview ofthe spheres in which phonetics can be
A study of phonetics has educational value for everyone, who realizes
the importance of language in human communication. Through the study
of the nature oflanguage, especially of spoken language, valuable insights
are gained into human psychology and into the functioning of a man in so
ciety. That is why we dare say that phonetics has considerable social value.
The knowledge of the structure of sound systems, and of the articula
tory and acoustic properties of the production of speech is indispensable
in the teaching of foreign languages. The teacher has to know the starting
point, which is the sound system of the pupil's mother tongue, as well as
the aim of his teaching, which is mastering the pronunciation of the lan
guage to be learnt. He/she must be able to point out the differences be
tween these two, and to provide adequate training exercises. Ear training
and articulation training are both equally important in modern language
teaching. The introduction of new technologies, computers in particular,
has brought about a revolution in the teaching of the foreign language
In our technological age phonetics has become important in a number
oftechnological fields connected with communication. The results of pho
netic investigations are used in communication engineering. Phonetic data
is obviously needed for creating sound analyzing and sound synthesizing
devices, for example machines converting the printed symbols or letters
into synthetic speech or automatic typewriters which convert speech di
rectly into printed words on paper.
Phonetics contributes important information to the research in crimi
nology aimed at identifying individuals by voices.

5. Spheres of Practical Application


For those who work in speech therapy, which handles pathological con
ditions ofspeech, phonetics forms an essential part ofthe professional train
ing syllabus. Phonetics also enters into the training of teachers of the deaf
and dumb people and can be of relevance to a number of medical and den
tal problems.
Phonetics has proved extremely useful in such spheres as investigations
in the historical aspects of languages, in the field of dialectology; designing
or improving systems of writing or spelling (orthographies for unwritten
languages, shorthand, spelling reform), in questions involving the spelling
or pronunciation of personal or place names or of words borrowed from
other languages.
At the faculties of foreign language in this country two courses of pho
netics are introduced: practical and theoretical phonetics.
Practical or normative phonetics studies the substance, the material
form of phonetic phenomena in relation to meaning.
Theoretical phonetics is mainly concerned with the functioning ofpho
netic units in the language. Theoretical phonetics, as we introduce it here,
regards phonetic phenomena synchronically without any special reference
to the historical development of English.
This course is intended to discuss the problems of phonetic science
which are relevant to English language teaching. The teacher must be sure
that what he/she teaches is linguistically correct. In this course we are to
bring together linguistic theory and EFL practice. We hope that this book
will enable the teacher to work out a truly scientific approach to pronuncia
tion teaching.
In phonetics as in any other discipline, there are various schools whose
views sometimes coincide and sometimes conflict. Occasional reference is
made to them but there is no attempt to describe and compare all possible
traditional and current approaches to the phonetic theory.
As you see from the above, the purpose of this book is to consider the
role of phonetic means in communication and to serve as a general intro
duction to the subject of theoretical phonetics of English which will en
courage the student and the teacher of English to consult more specialized
works on particular aspects.
The authors ofthe book hope that the readers have sufficient knowledge
of the practical course of English phonetics as well as of the course of gen
erallinguistics, which will serve as the basis for this course.
The description of the phonetic structure of English will be based on
Received Pronunciation (RP).

Chapter I



This chapter is concerned with the linguistic function of speech sounds,

i. e. "segments of speech".
We are going to discuss here the defInitions of the phoneme, methods
used in establishing the phonemic structure of a language, the system of
English phonemes, modifIcations of sounds in connected speech.

1.1. The Phoneme

1.1.1. The definition of the phoneme
1.1.2. The phoneme as a unity of three as
1.1.3. Phonological and phonetic mistakes in

1.2. Transcription
1.3. Main Trends in the Phoneme Theory


1.1. The Phoneme

1.1. The Phoneme

1.1.1. The defmition ofthe phoneme
To know how sounds are produced by speech organs it is not enough to
describe and classify them as language units. When we talk about the sounds
of a language, the term "sound" can be interpreted in two rather different
ways. In the fIrst place, we can say that [t] and [d] are two different sounds
in English, [t] being fortis and [d] being lenis 1 and we can illustrate this by
showing how they contrast with each other to make a difference of meaning
in a large number of pairs, such as tie die, seat seed, etc. But on the
other hand ifwe listen carefully to the [t] in let us and compare it with the
in let them we can hear that the two sounds are also not the same, the [t] of
let us is alveolar, while the [t] of let them is dental. In both examples the
sounds differ in one articulatory feature only; in the second case the differ
ence between the sounds has functionally no significance. It is perfectly
clear that the sense of "sound" in these two cases is different. To avoid this
ambiguity, the linguist uses two separate terms: "phoneme" is used to mean
"sound" in its contrastive sense, and "allophone" is used for sounds which
are variants of a phoneme: they usually occur in different positions in
word (i. e. in different environments) and hence cannot contrast with each
other, nor be used to make meaningful distinctions.

1.4. Methods of Phonological Analysis

1.4.1. The aim of phonological analysis
1.4.2. Distributional method of phonological
1.4.3. SemanticaUy distributional method of
phonological analysis
1.4.5. Methods of establishing the phonemic
status of speech sounds in weak posi
tions. Morphonology

1.5. The System of English Phonemes

1.5.1. The system of consonants
1.5.2. The system ofvowels
1.5.3. Modifications of sounds in connected
speech Modifications of consonants Modifications ofvowels

<! ... B )!{flBOH pel [11 rrpOH3HOCl1TCSl 3Ha'Il1TCJlbHO oOJIbruee, 'ICM Mhl OfihlKHOBeHHO ,llYMa

eM, KOJU1'fCCTBO pa3Hoofipa3HbIX 3BYKOB, KOTOpb[e B Ka)!{;nOM ,llaHHOM ll3bIKe om,e,llH

HHIOTCSl B cpaBHflTeJlbHO HefioJIbruoc 'IHCJlO :mYKOBhlX THIIOB, crrocofiHbIX ,llHcpcpepeH
l\HpOBaTb CJlOBa H fiX CPOPMbl, T. e. CJIY)KHTb l\eJlJIM 'ICJIOBC'ICCKOro ofimeHHll. 3TH
3BYKOBblC THrrbl H HMCIOTCJI B BH;ny, KOr,lla roBOPliT 06 OT;nCJIbHhlX 3BYKaX pe'IlL Mbl
6Yil.eM Ha3bIBaTb fiX cpoHcMaMH. PCaJIbHO rrpOH3HOCHMble pa3JlH'Ufble 3BYKfI, SlBJISlIO
IUHeCJI reM 'IaCTHbIM, B KOTOPOM peaJIH3YCTCJI 06mec (cpOHCMa), 6y)\eM Ha3blBaTb OT
TCHKaMH cpOHCM. (Ill,ep6a,


And furthcr on:

qeM )!{C orrpC)leJIJIeTC:;I 3TO o6ruce? O'IcBH;nHo, MMCHHO OfimCHIl.CM, KOTopoe
:;IBJIlieTCll OCHOBHOti: l\eJlblO JI3hlKa, T. e. B KOHe'fHOM C'IeTe CMbICJIOM: e,llHHblH CMbICJI
3aCTaRJlHCT Hac ,llll)!{e B GOJlee HJIM MCHCC pa3HbiX 3BYKllX Y3HaBaTb O,llHO H TO )!{e.

Ho H

,lI.aJIbmC, TOJlbKO TaKoe o6LUec B3iKJ:IO mlJI Hac B JIMHrBI1CTHKC, KOTopoe ,llHcpcpcpeHQll
PYCT ,llaHHYIO rpyrrrry (CKa)!{CM pa3Hbie 'a') OT )lpyroti: rpynI1hl, HMClOmCH ,lI.pyrOH
CMbICJl (HarrpllMCp, OT COJ03a 'H', rrpOH3HeceHHoro rpOMKO, rucrrOTOM H T.,ll. ). BOT 3TO
o61IIee 11 Ha3bIBaeTCli cpoHeMofi. TaKHM 06pa30M, Ka)KtJ:aH cpOHeMa onpe,lleJIJIeTCSl rrpe
)I()le BCCro 'I'eM, 'ITO OTJIfitlaeT ee OT ,llPYrllX cpOHeM TOfO )!{e Sl3blKa. DnarO,llapJI 3TOMY
Bce cpOHeMbI Ka)!{tJ:oro ,llaHHOro H3bIKa 06pa3YJOT C,llIlHYJO CllCTCMY I1POTHBOIIOJlO)!{
HOCTeti:, r,llC KaiKJ:~b[H 'fJICH onpe,lleJIJICTCJI cepHCH pa3JlH'IHb[X rrpOTMBOIIOnO)!{CHHH KaK
OTil.CJIbHhlX CPOHCM, TaK H HX rpynrr.

Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


The most comprehensive defmition ofthe phoneme was first introduced

by the Russian linguist L. V. Shcherba.
The concise form ofthis definition could be:
The phoneme is a minimal abstract linguistic uuit realized in speech in the
form of speech souuds opposable to other phonemes of the same language to
distinguish the meauing of morphemes and words.
According to this definition the phoneme is a unity of three aspects:
material, abstract and functional.
Figure 3
Three Aspects of the Phoneme


Material aspect


Functional aspect


1.1.2. The phoneme as a uuity of three aspects

Let us consider the phoneme from the point of view of its three aspects.
Firstly, the phoneme is a functional unit. A" you know, in phonetics function is
usually understood as discriminatory function, i. e. the role ofvarious compo
nents of the phonetic system of the language in distinguishing one morpheme
from another, one word from another or also one utterance from another.
The opposition of phonemes in the same phonetic environment differ
entiates the meaning ofmorphemes and words: said - says, sleeper - sleepy,
bath - path, light -like.
Sometimes the opposition of the phonemes serves to distinguish the
meaning ofthe whole phrases: he was heard badly - he was hurt badly. Thus
we may say that the phoneme can fulfil the distinctive function.
Secondly, the phoneme is material, real and objective. That means that
it is realized in speech of all English-speaking people in the form of speech
sounds, its allophones. The sets of speech sounds, i. e. the allophones be
longing to the same phoneme: I) are not identical in their articulatory con
tent though there remains some phonetic similarity between them; 2) are
never used in the same phonetic context.
As a first example, let us consider the English phoneme [d], at least
those of its allophones which are known to everybody who studies English
pronunciation. As you know from the practical course ofEnglish phonetics,

1.1. The Phoneme


[d] when not affected by the articulation of the preceding or following

sounds is a plosive, forelingual apical, alveolar, lenis stop. This is how it
sounds in isolation or in such words as door, darn, down, etc., when it re
tains its typical articulatory characteristics. In this case the consonant [d] is
called the principal allophone. The allophones which do not undergo any
distinguishable changes in the chain of speech are called principal. At the
same time there are quite predictable changes in the articulation of allo
phones that occur under the influence ofthe neighbouring sounds in differ
ent phonetic situations. Such allophones are called subsidiary.
The examples below illustrate the articulatory modifications ofthe pho
neme [d] in various phonetic contexts:
[d] is slightly palatalized before front vowels and the sonorant [j], e. g.
deal, day, did, did you.
is pronounced without any plosion before another stop, e. g. bedtime,
bad pain, good dog; it is pronounced with the nasal piosion before the nasal
sonorants [n] and [m], e. g. sudden, admit, could not, could meet; the plosion
is lateral before the lateral sonorant [1], e. g. middle, badly, bad light.
The alveolar position is particularly sensitive to the influence of the
place ofarticulation ofa following consonant. Thus followed by [r] the con
sonant [d] becomes post-alveolar, e. g. dry, dream; followed by the inter
dental [9], [a] it becomes dental, e. g. breadth, lead the way, good thing.
When [d] is followed by the labial [w] it becomes labialized, e. g. dweller.
In the initial position [d] is partially devoiced, e. g. dog, dean; in the in
tervocalic position or when followed by a sonorant it is fully voiced, e. g.
order, leader, driver; in the word-final position it is vQiceless, e. g. road,
raised, old.
These modifications of the phoneme [d] are quite sufficient to demon
strate the articulatory difference between its allophones, though the list of
them could be easily extended. If you consider the production of the allo
phones of this phoneme, you will fmd that they possess three articulatory
features in common: all of them are forelingual1enis stops.
Consequently, though allophones of the same phoneme possess similar
articulatory features they may frequently show considerable phonetic dif
It is perfectly obvious that in teaching English pronunciation the differ
ence between the allophones of the same phoneme should be necessarily
considered. The starting point is of course the articulation of the principal
allophone, e. g. jd-d-dj: door, double, daughter, dark, etc. Special training
of the subsidiary allophones should be provided too. Not all the subsidiary

1.1. The Phoneme

Chapter I. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


allophones are generally paid equal attention to. In teaching the pronuncia
tion of [d], for instance, it is hardly necessary to concentrate on an allo
phone such as [d] before a front vowel as in Russian similar consonants in
this position are also palatalized. Neither is it necessary to practise specially
the labialized [d] after the labial [w] because in this position [d] cannot be
pronounced in any other way. Carefully made up exercises will exclude the
danger of a foreign accent.
Allophones are arranged into functionally similar groups, i. e. groups of
sounds in which the members of each group are not opposed to one an
other, but are opposable to members of any other group to distinguish
meanings in otherwise similar sequences. Consequently allophones of the
same phoneme never occur in similar phonetic context, they are entirely
predictable according to the phonetic environment and cannot differenti
ate meanings.
But the speech sounds (phones) which are realized in speech do not
correspond exactly to the allophone predicted by this or that phonetic envi
ronment. They are modified by phonostylistic, dialectal and individual fac
tors. In fact, no speech sounds are absolutely alike.
Phonemes are important for distinguishing meanings, for knowing
whether, for instance, the message was take it or tape it. But there is more to
speaker-listener exchange than just the "message" itself. The listener may
get a variety of information about the speaker: about the locality he lives in,
regional origin, his social status, age and even emotional state (angry, tired,
excited), and a lot of other facts. Most ofthis social information comes not
from phonemic distinctions, but from phonetic ones. Thus, while phone
mic evidence is important for lexical and grammatical meaning, most other
aspects of communication are conveyed by more subtle differences of
speech sounds, requiring more detailed description at the phonetic level.
There is more to a speech act than just the meaning ofthe words.
The relationships between the phoneme and the phone (speech sound)
may be illustrated by the following scheme:
Figure 4
phonostylistic variation

dialectal variation

individual variation


speech sound (phone)


Thirdly, allophones of the same phoneme, no matter how different

their articulation may be, function as the same linguistic unit. The ques
tion arises why phonetically naive native speakers seldom observe differ
ences in the actual articulatory qualities between the allophones of the
same phonemes.
The native speaker is quite readily aware of the phonemes of his lan
guage but much less aware of the allophones: it is possible, in fact, that he
will not hear the difference between two allophones like the alveolar and
dental consonants [d] in the words bread and breadth even when a distinc
tion is pointed out; a certain amount of ear-training may be needed. The
reason is that the phonemes have an important function in the language:
they differentiate words like tie and die from each other, and to be able to
hear and produce phonemic differences is part of what it means to be a
competent speaker of the language. Allophones, on the other hand, have
no such function: they usually occur in different positions in the word,
i. e. in different environments, and hence cannot be opposed to each oth
er to make meaningful distinctions.
For example the dark [1] occurs following a vowel as inpi/l, cold, but
it is not found before a vowel, whereas the clear [1] only occurs before a
vowel, as in lip, like. These two consonants cannot therefore contrast with
each other in the way that [1] contrasts with [r] in lip - rip or lake - rake.
So the answer appears to be in the functioning of such sounds in a par
ticular language. Sounds which have similar functions in the language
tend to be considered the "same" by the community using that language
while those which have different functions tend to be classed as "differ
ent". In linguistics, as it has been mentioned above, function is generally
understood as the role of the various elements of the language in distin
guishing the meaning. The function of phonemes is to distinguish the
meaning ofmorphemes and words. The native speaker does not notice the
difference between the allophones of the same phoneme because this dif
ference does not distinguish meanings.
In other words, native speakers abstract themselves from the differ
ence between the allophones of the same phoneme because it has no
functional value. The actual difference between the allophones of the
same phoneme [d], for instance, does not affect the meaning. That's
why members of the English speech community do not realize that in
the word dog [d] is alveolar, in dry it is post-alveolar, in breadth it is den
tal. Another example. In the Russian word nocaaum the stressed vowel
[a] is more front than it is in the word nocaaKa. It is even more front in


Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

the word CROem. But Russian-speaking people do not observe this differ
ence because the three vowel sounds belong to the same phoneme and
thus the changes in their quality do not distinguish the meaning. So we
have good grounds to state that the phoneme is an abstract linguistic
unit, it is an abstraction from actual speech sounds, i. e. allophonic
As it has been said before, native speakers do not observe the differ
ence between the allophones of the same phoneme. At the same time they
realize, quite subconsciously of course, that allophones of each phoneme
possess a bundle ofdistinctive features, that make this phoneme function
ally different from all other phonemes of the language concerned. This
functionally relevant bundle of articulatory features is called the invariant
of the phoneme. Neither of the articulatory features that form the invari
ant ofthe phoneme can be changed without affecting the meaning. All the
allophones of the phoneme [d], for instance, are occlusive, fore lingual,
If occlusive articulation is changed for constrictive one [d] will be
replaced by [z], cf. breed - breeze, deal- zeal; [d] will be replaced by [g]
if the forelingual articulation is replaced by the backlingual one, cf. dear
gear, day - gay. The lenis articulation of [d] cannot be substituted by the
fortis one because it will also bring about changes in meaning, cf. dry
try, ladder - latter, bid - bit. That is why it is possible to state that occlu
sive, forelingual and lenis characteristics of the phoneme [d] are general
ized in the mind of the speaker into what is called the invariant of this
On the one hand, the phoneme is real, because it is realized in speech
in the material form of speech sounds, its allophones. On the other hand,
it is an abstract language unit. That is why we can look upon the phoneme
as a dialectical unity of the material and abstract aspects. Thus we may
state that it is the material form of speech sounds, its allophones. Speech
sounds are necessarily allophones of one of the phonemes of the language
concerned. All the allophones of the same phoneme have some articula
tory features in common, i. e. all of them possess the same invariant. Si
multaneously each allophone possesses quite particular phonetic features
which may not be traced in the articulation of other allophones of the
same phoneme. That is why while teaching pronunciation we cannot ask
our students to pronounce this or that phoneme. We can only teach them
to pronounce one of its allophones.
The articulatory features which form the invariant of the phoneme are
called distinctive or relevant. To extract the relevant feature of the pho

1.1. The Phoneme


neme we have to oppose it to some other phoneme in the same phonetic

context. If the opposed sounds differ in one articulatory feature and this
difference brings about changes in the meaning of the words the contrast
ing features are called relevant. For example, the words port and court dif
fer in one consonant only: the word port has the initial consonant [p], and
the word court begins with [k]. Both sounds are occlusive and fortis, the
only difference being that [p] is labial and [k] is backlingual. Therefore it
is possible to say that labial and backlingual articulations are relevant in
the system of English consonants.
The articulatory features which do not serve to distinguish meaning
are called non-distinctive, irrelevant or redundant; for instance, it is im
possible in English to oppose an aspirated [p] to a non-aspirated one in
the same phonetic context to distinguish meanings. That is why aspiration
is a non -distinctive feature of English consonants.
1.1.3. Phonological and phonetic mistakes in pronunciation
As it has been mentioned above any change in the invariant ofthe pho
neme affects the meaning. Naturally, anyone who studies a foreign language
makes mistakes in the articulation ofparticular sounds. L. V. Shcherba clas
sifies the pronunciation errors as phonological and phonetic.
If an allophone of some phoneme is replaced by an allophone of a dif
ferent phoneme the mistake is called phonological, because the meaning
of the word is inevitably affected. It happens when one or more relevant
features of the phoneme are not realized:
When the vowel [i:] in the word beat becomes slightly more open, more
advanced or is no longer diphthongized the word beat may be perceived as
quite a different word bit. It is perfectly clear that this type of mistakes is
not admitted in teaching pronunciation to any type of language learner.
If an allophone of the phoneme is replaced by another allophone of
the phoneme the mistake is called phonetic. It happens when the invari
ant ofthe phoneme is not modified and consequently the meaning of the
word is not affected, e. g. :
When the vowel [i:] is fully long in such a word as sheep, for instance,
the quality of it remaining the same, the meaning of the word does not
change. Nevertheless language learners are not to let phonetic mistakes
into their pronunciation. If they do make them the degree of their foreign
accent will certainly be an obstacle to the listener's perception and under


Chapter I. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

1.2. Transcription
It is interesting at this stage to consider the system ofphonetic notations
which is generally termed "transcription". Transcription is a set of symbols
representing speech sounds. The symbolization of sounds naturally differs
according to whether the aim is to indicate the phoneme, i. e. a functional
unit as a whole, or to reflect the modifications of its allophones as well.
The International Phonetic Association (IPA) has given an accepted
inventory of symbols, used in different types of transcription.
The first type ofnotation, the broad or phonemic transcription, provides
special symbols for all the phonemes of a language. The second type, the
narrow or allophonic transcription, suggests special symbols for speech
sounds, representing particular allophonic features. The broad transcrip
tion is mainly used for practical purposes (in EFL teaching and learning, for
example), the narrow type serves the purposes of research work.
The striking difference among present -day broad transcriptions of Brit
ish English is mainly due to the varying significance which is attached to
vowel quality and quantity. Now we shall discuss two kinds of broad tran
scription which are used for practical purposes in our country. The first type
was introduced by D. Jones. He realized the difference in quality as well as
in quantity between the vowel sounds in the words sit and seat, pot and port,
pull and pool, the neutral vowel and the vowel in the word earn. However, he
aimed at reducing the number of symbols to a minimum and strongly in
sisted that certain conventions should be stated once for all. One of these
conventions is, for instance, that the above-mentioned long and short vow
els differ in quality as well as in quantity. D. Jones supposed that this con
vention would relieve us from the necessity of introducing special symbols
to differentiate the quality of these vowels. That is why he used the same
symbols for them. According to D. Jones' notation English vowels are de
noted like this: [I] - [i:], [e] - [ee], [A] - [a:], [J] - [J:], [u] - [u:], [a] - [a:].
This way of notation disguises the qualitative difference between the vowels
[I] and [i:], [J] and [J:], [u] and [u:], [a] and [a:] though nowadays most pho
neticians agree that vowel length is not a distinctive feature ofthe vowel, but
is rather dependent upon the phonetic context, i. e. it is definitely redun
dant. For example, in such word pairs as hit - heat, cock - cork, pull- pool
the opposed vowels are approximately of the same length, the only differ
ence between them lies in their quality which is therefore relevant.
More than that. Phonetic transcription is a good basis for teaching the
pronunciation ofa foreign language, being a powerful visual aid. To achieve

1.3. Main Trends in the Phoneme Theory


good results it is necessary that the learners of English should associate each
relevant difference between the phonemes with special symbols, i. e. each
phoneme should have a special symbol. If not, the difference between the
pairs of sounds above may be wrongly associated with vowel length which is
non-distinctive (redundant) in modern English.
The other type ofbroad transcription, first used by V. A. Vasilyev, causes
no phonological misunderstanding providing special symbols for all vowel
phonemes: [I], [i:], [e], [ee], [a:], [A], [n], [J:], [u], [u:], [3:], [a]. Being a good
visual aid this way of notation can be strongly recommended for teaching
the pronunciation of English to any audience.
But phonemic representation is rather imprecise as it gives too little
information about the actual speech sounds. It incorporates only as much
phonetic information as it is necessary to distinguish the functioning of
sounds in a language. The narrow or phonetic transcription incorporates
as much phonetic information as the phonetician desires, or as he can
distinguish. It provides special symbols to denote not only the phoneme as
a language unit but also its allophonic modifications. The symbol [h] for
instance indicates aspirated articulation, cf. [k(h)eIt] - [skeIt]. This type
of transcription is mainly used in research work. Sometimes, however, it
may be helpful, at least in the early stages, to include symbols representing
allophones in order to emphasize a particular feature of an allophonic
modification, e. g. in the pronunciation of the consonant [1] it is often
necessary to insist upon the soft and hard varieties of it ("clear" and
"dark" variants) by using not only [1] but also [1] (the indication of the
"dark" variant).

1.3. Main Trends in the Phoneme Theory

Now that we have established what the phoneme is, le.t us view the main
trends ofthe phoneme theory. Most linguists agree that the phoneme serves
to distinguish morphemes and words thus being a functional unit. However,
some ofthem define it in purely "psychological" terms, others prefer phys
ically grounded defmitions. Some scholars take into consideration only the
abstract aspect ofthe phoneme, others stick only to its materiality. This has
divided various "schools" of phonology some of which will be discussed
below. Views of the phoneme seem to fall into four main classes.
As you see from the definition of the phoneme suggested above the au
thors ofthe book share L. V. Shcherba's view, because it is obviously impor


Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

tant to look upon the phoneme as a unity of its three aspects: material, ab
stract and functional.
The "mentalistic" or "psychological" view regards the phoneme as an
ideal "mental image" or a target at which the speaker aims. Actually pro
nounced speech sounds are imperfect realizations of the phoneme existing
in the mind but not in the reality. Allophones of the same phoneme cannot
be alike because of the influence of the phonetic context.
According to this conception allophones of the phoneme are varying
materializations of it. This view was originated by the founder of the pho
neme theory, the Russian linguist I. A. Baudauin de Courtenay. Similar
ideas were expressed by E. D. Sapir. This point of view was shared by other
linguists, A. Sommerfelt (Sommerfelt 1936) for one, who described pho
nemes as "models which speakers seek to reproduce".
The "psychological", or "mentalistic" view ofthe phoneme was brought
back into favour by generative phonology, and the idea of the phoneme as a
"target" was revived, albeit under different terminology by N. Chomsky
Chomsky, M. Halle, 1968), M. Tatham (Tatham 1980) and others. Now
the basic concepts ofgenerative phonology attract much attention because
of the rapid development of applied linguistics.
The so-called "functional" view regards the phoneme as the minimal
sound unit by which meanings may be differentiated without much regard
to actually pronounced speech sounds. Meaning differentiation is taken to
be a deftning characteristic of phonemes. Thus the absence of palatalization
in [I] and palatalization of [1] in English do not differentiate meanings, and
therefore [I] and [1] cannot be assigned to different phonemes but both form
allophones of the phoneme [1]. The same articulatory features of the Rus
sian [n] and [n'] do differentiate meanings, and hence [JI] and [JI'] must be
assigned to different phonemes in Russian, cf. MOA MOAb, A02 - /lif2. Ac
cording to this conception the phoneme is not a family of sounds, since in
every sound only.a certain number of the articulatory features, i. e. those
which form the invariant of the phoneme, are involved in the differentiation
of meanings. It is the so-called distinctive features of the sound which make
up the phoneme corresponding to it. For example, every sound of the Eng
lish word ladder includes the phonetic feature oflenisness but this feature is
distinctive only in the third sound [d], its absence here would give rise to a
different word latter, whereas if any other sound becomes fortis the result is
merely a peculiar version of ladder. The distinctiveness of such a feature
thus depends on the contrast between it and other possible features belong
ing to the same set, i. e. the state of the vocal cords. Thus when the above

.3. Main Trends in the Phoneme Theory


mentioned features are distinctive, lenisness contrasts with fortisness. Some

approaches have taken these oppositions as the basic elements of phono
logical structure rather than the phonemes in the way the phoneme was
deftned above. The functional approach extracts non-distinctive features
from the phonemes thus divorcing the phoneme from actually pronounced
speech sounds. This view is shared by many foreign linguists. See in particu
lar the works ofN. Trubetskoy (1960), L. BloomfIeld (1933), R. Jakobson,
M. Halle (1956), who deftne the phoneme as a bundle of distinctive fea
The functional view of the phoneme gave rise to a branch oflinguistics
called "phonology" or "phonemics" which is concerned with relationships
between contrasting sounds in a language. Its special interest lies in estab
lishing the system of distinctive features of the language concerned. Pho
netics is limited in this case to the precise description of acoustic and psy
chological aspects ofphysical sounds without any concern to their linguistic
function. The supporters of this conception even recommend to extract
phonetics from linguistic disciplines which certainly cannot be accepted by
Russian phoneticians.
A stronger form of the "functional" approach is advocated in the so
called "abstract" view of the phoneme, which regards phonemes as essen
tially independent of the acoustic and physiological properties associated
with them, i. e. of speech sounds. This view ofthe phoneme was pioneered
by L. Hjelmslev (1963) and his associates in the Copenhagen Linguistic
Circle, H. 1. Uldall and K. Togby.
The views of the phoneme discussed above regard the phoneme as an
abstract concept existing in the mind but not in the reality, i. e. in human
speech, speech sounds being only phonetic manifestations of these con
The "physical" view regards the phoneme as a "family" of related
sounds satisfYing certain conditions:
1. The various members of the "family" must show phonetic similarity
to one another, in other words be related in character.
2. No member of the "family" may occur in the same phonetic context
as any other.
The extreme form ofthe "physical" conception as suggested by D. Jones
(1967) excludes all reference to non-articulatory criteria in the grouping of
sounds into phonemes. And yet it is not easy to see how sounds could be as
signed to the same phoneme on any other grounds than that substitution of
one sound for the other does not give rise to different words and different

Chapter L The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


meaning. The representatives ofthis approach view the phoneme as a group

of similar sounds without any regard to its functional and abstract aspects.
Summarizing we may state that the conception ofthe phoneme first put
forward by L. V. Shcherba may be regarded as the most suitable for the pur
pose of teaching.

1.4. Methods of Phonological Analysis


The aim of phonological analysis

Now that you have a good idea of what a phoneme is, we shall try to
establish the aim of phonological analysis ofspeech sounds, to give an over
view of the methods applied in this sort of analysis and show what charac
teristics ofthe quality ofsounds are ofprimary importance in grouping them
into functionally similar classes, i. e. phonemes.
To study the sounds of a language from the functional point of view
means to study the way they function, that is to find out which sounds a
language uses as part of its pronunciation system, how sounds are grouped
into functionally similar units. The final aim of phonological analysis of a
language is the identification of the phonemes and finding out the patterns
of relationships into which they fall as parts of the sound system ofthat lan
There are two ways of analyzing speech sounds: if we define /s/ from the
phonological point of view it would be constrictive foreliIlb'1lal fortis, this
would be quite enough to remind us of the general class of realization ofthis
segment; for articulatory description we would need much more informa
tion, that is: what sort of narrowing is formed by the tip of the tongue and
the alveolar ridge, what is the shape of the tongue when the obstruction is
made (a groove in the centre of the tongue while the sides form a closure
with the alveolar ridge), and so on. So if the speech sounds are studied from
the articulatory point of view it is the differences and similarities of their
production that are in the focus of attention, whereas the phonological ap
proach suggests studying the sound system which is actually a set of rela
tionships and oppositions which have functional
Each language has its own system of phonemes. Each member of the
system is determined by all the other members and does not exist without
them. The linguistic value of articulatory and acoustic qualities of sounds is
not identical in different languages. In one language community two physi

104. Methods of Phonological Analysis


cally different units are identified as "the same" sound, because they have
similar functions in the language system. In another language community
they may be classified as different because they perrorm a distinctive func
tion. Consider the following comparison: the two English [1] and[l] sounds
(clear and dark) are identified by English people as one phoneme because
the articulatory difference does not affect the meaning. English speakers are
not aware of the difference because it is of no importance in the communi
cation process.
In the Russian language a similar, though not identical difference be
tween [JI] and [JI'] affects the meaning, like inAYK andAlOK. So these sounds
are identified by Russian speakers as two different phonemes. Analogically,
the speakers of Syrian notice the difference between the [th] of English ten
and the [t] of letter, because it is phonemic in Syrian but only allophonic in
Thus a very important conclusion follows: statements concerning pho
nological categories and allophonic variants can usually be made of a par
ticular language.
So the aim of the phonological analysis is, firstly, to determine which dif
ferences of sounds are phonemic and which are non-phonemic and, sec
ondly, to find the inventory of the phonemes of a language.

1.4.2. Distributional method of phonological analysis

There are two most widely used methods of finding out what sounds are
contrastive. They are the formally distributional method and the semanti
cally distributional method.
The formally distributional method consists in grouping all the sounds
pronounced by native speakers into phonemes according to the two laws of
phonemic and allophonic distribution. The laws were discovered long ago
and are as follows:
1. Allophones of different phonemes occur in the same phonetic con
2. Allophones of the same phoneme never occur in the same phonetic
The sounds of a laIlb'1lage combine according to a certain pattern charac
teristic of this language. Phonemic opposability depends on the way the pho
nemes are distributed in their occurrence. That means that in any language
certain sounds do not occur in certain positions, like [h] never occurs word
finally while [D] never occurs word initially. Such characteristics permit iden


L The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

tification of phonemes on the grounds of their distribution. Ifa sound occurs

in a certain phonetic context and another one occurs in a different phonetic
context no two words of a language can be distinguished solely by means of
the opposition between those two. The two sets ofphonetic contexts are com
plementing each other and the two sounds are classed as allophones of the
same phoneme. They are said to be in complementary distribution. Consider
the following: ifwe fully palatalize [I] in the word "let" it may sound peculiar
to native speakers but the word is still recognized as "let" but not "bet" or
"pet". The allophones lack distinctive power because they never occur in the
same phonetic context and the difference in their articulation depends on dif
ferent phonetic environment. To be able to distinguish the meaning the same
sounds must be capable ofoccuqing in exactly the same environment like [p]
and [b] in "pit" and "bit". Thus two conclusions follow:
I. If more or less diflerent sounds occur in the same phonetic context
they should be allophones of different phonemes. In this case their distribu
tion is contrastive.
2. If more or less similar sounds occur in different positions and never
occur in the same phonetic context they are allophones ofone and the same
phoneme. In this case their distribution is complementary.
There are cases when allophones are in complementary distribution
are not referred to the same phoneme. This is the case with the English
and [lJ]: [h) occurs only initially or before a
distribution is mod
dially or finally after a voweL In this case
similarity/dissimilarity. Articu
ified by addition ofthe criterion
latory features are taken into account.
So far we have considered cases when the distribution of sounds was
or complementary. There is a third possibility, namely,
sounds occur in the language but the speakers are inconsistent in
the way they use them, like in the case ofthe Russian KGflOlUU - ZGflOlUU. In
such cases we must take them as free variants ofa single phoneme. The rea
son for the variation in the realization of the same phoneme could be ac
counted for by dialect or other social factors ..

1.4.3. Semantically distributional method of phonological analysis

There is another method of phonological analysis widely used in Rus
sian linguistics. It is called the semantically distributional method or seman
tic method. It is applied for phonological analysis of both unknown lan
guages and languages already described. The method is based on a phonemic

1.4. Methods of Phonological Analysis


rule that phonemes can distinguish words and morphemes when opposed to
one another. The semantic method of identifying the phonemes of a lan
guage attaches great significance to meaning. It consists in systemic substi
tution of the sound for another in order to ascertain in which cases where
the phonetic context remains the same such substitution leads to a change
of meaning. It is with the help ofthe informant that the change of meaning
is stated. This procedure is called the commutation test. It consists in find
ing minimal pairs of words and their grammatical forms. By a minimal pair
we mean a pair ofwords or morphemes which are differentiated by only one
phoneme in the same phonetic context.
Let's consider the following example: suppose the scholar arrives at the
sequence [pin]; he substitutes the sound [p] for the sound [b]. The substitu
tion leads to the change of meaning. This proves that [p] and rbl can be re
garded as allophones of different phonemes.
Minimal pairs are useful for establishing the phonemes
If we continue to substitute [p] for [8], [d], [w] we get minimal pairs of
words with different meaning sin, din, win. So [8], [d], [w] are allophones of
different phonemes. But suppose we substitute [ph] for [p], the pronuncia
word would be wrong from the point ofview of English pronun
ciation norm, but the word would be still recognized as pin but not anything
else. So we may conclude that the unaspirated [p] is an allophone of the
The phonemes ofa language form a system ofoppositions in which any
phoneme is usually opposed to other phonemes of the language in at least
one position, in at least one minimal pair. So to establish the phonemic
structure of a language it is necessary to establish the whole system of op
positions. AU the sounds should be opposed in word-initial, word-medial
and word-final positions. There are three kinds of oppositions. If members
ofthe opposition differ in one feature the opposition is said to be single, like
in pen - ben. Common features: occlusive, labiaL Differentiating feature:
fortis -lenis. Iftwo distinctive features are marked the opposition is said to
be double, like in pen den. Common feature: occlusive. Differentiating
features: labial - lingual, fortis voiceless - lenis voiced. If three distinctive
features are marked the opposition is said to be triple (multiple), like in
pen - then. Ditlerentiating features: occlusive constrictive, labial - den
tal, fortis voiceless lenis voiced.
The features ofa phoneme that are capable of differentiating the mean
ing are termed as relevant or distinctive. The ones that do not take part in
differentiating the meaning are termed as irrelevant or non-distinctive. The


Chapter 1. The Functional A~pect of Speech Sounds

latter can be oftwo kinds: a) incidental or redundant features like aspiration

ofvoiceless plosives, presence ofvoice in voiced consonants, length ofvow
els; b) indispensable or concomitant features like tenseness of English long
monophthongs, the checked character of stressed short vowels, lip round
ing of back vowels.
So the phonological analysis of the sounds of a language is based on
such notions as contrastive distribution, minimal pairs, free variation. To
this we must add one more concept, native speaker's knowledge. All the
rules referred to above should account for the intuition of the native speaker
and that is the real reason why we adopt them. It is the native speaker's feel
ing that makes us treat the allophones of [lJ] and [h] as different phonemes.
Summing up we might say that the phonemic system of a language is
patterned. It is the aim ofphonological analysis to systematize the sounds of
the language, i. e. to group them into functionally similar classes.

1.4.4. Methods of establishing the phonemic status of speech sounds

in weak positions. Morphonology
Continuing the overview of the approaches to establishing the phone
mic status of speech sounds we should consider the cases when the sounds
are in the weak position, or the position of neutralization. In this position
some of the distinctive features are neutralized. For vowels it is the position
in the unstressed syllables. Consonants are in their strong position before
vowels and in the intervocalic position, they are in the weak position when
they are word final or precede other consonants.
This problem is tackled by morphonology or morphophonemics, which
studies the relationship between phonemes and morphemes. Morphonolo
gy is concerned with the way in which sounds can alternate as different re
alization of one and the same morpheme. A morpheme is a minimal unit of
meaning. Consider the words "windy", "dusty", "sunny". Evidently they
have two morphemes. The meaning of "wind", "dust", "sun" is obvious.
But what function does the morpheme "-y" perform? It appears that the
function of"-y" is to convert a noun into an adjective. This morpheme has
a grammatical meaning. Now then what is meant by the identification of
alternated sounds?
The following pairs of words exemplifY a sound alternation in one and
the same morpheme of two different parts of speech.
malice [,mcehs] - malicious [ma'hjas]
active [,cektIv] - activity [ak'tIVltI]

104. Methods of Phonological Analysis


abstract ['cebstrakt] - abstract [ab'strcekt]

conduct ['knndakt] - conduct [kan'dAkt]

contrast ['kontra:st] - contrast [kan'tra:st]

There may be different solutions to the problem of phoneme identifica

tion in weak positions of alternated sounds. The problem is by far more
significant for the Russian language because of the widely spread voiced!
voiceless assimilation and vowel reduction in the language:
a) MOP03 [MAp6c] MopmbI [MAp63bI]

6) Koca [KAca] KOChl [K6cbI]

Scholars of different trends are not unanimous in treating the problem.

The so-called morphological school represented by P. S. Kuznetsov, A. A. Re
formatsky, R. 1. Avanesov, v: P. Sidorov, M. v: Panov supported the theory of
neutralization of phonemes, which is said to occur when two or more close
ly related sounds which are in contrast with each other in most positions
like ",lJ,OM" - "TOM", are found to be non-contrastive in certain other posi
tions, like in "cy,lJ," [CYT] - CY,lJ,HTb [CY,lJ,'HT']. In such cases the opposition
between the two sounds is said to be neutralized. The loss of one or more
distinctive features of a phoneme in the weak position is called phonemic

Moscow philologists claim that the interchange ofsounds manifests close
connection between phonetics as the science of the sound system and mor
phology of the language which studies grammatical meanings. Alternations
are observed in one and the same morphological units, in a morpheme, and
actualize the phonemic structure of the morpheme. Thus, the phonemic
content of the morpheme is constant. The supporters of the morphological
trend defme the phoneme as follows: 3TO .pYHKUI10HaJIhHaH .poHem'fe
CKaH e,lJ,I1HMua, rrpe,lJ,CTaBJIeHHaH PMOM rr03HUHOHHO 'fepe,11,YIOlIJ,l1XCH
3BYKOB)} (I1aHoB, 1979: 107).
The notion of .poHemqeCKHH PM, suggested by R. f. Avanesov, dem
onstrates positionally determined realizations of the phoneme. Positionally
alternating sounds are grouped into one phoneme even if they are similar or
have common features (that is common allophones) with other phonemes.
The Russian preposition c + noun may have the following realizations:
c TMMornen:
c faJIen:


c illypoH [rn]

c )KeHen: [)K]

c qYKOM [rn:]


Chapter T. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

In the morphological conception the alternations of the phonemes are

not analyzed apart from the morphemes, as form and content make a dia
lectical 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 it is not en
tirely satisfactory since ordinary speakers are in no doubt that the sound
that occurs in the above-mentioned combinations is the preposition c.
St. Petersburg phonological school (L. R. Zinder, M. I. Matysevitch) as
sert that the phoneme is independent of the morpheme. SO [A] in Bo,Ua
belongs to the [a] phoneme while [0] in BO,UhI to the [0] phoneme; [c] in
the word MOP03 belongs to the [c] morpheme and [3] in MOP03bI - to
the [3] phoneme respectively. The supporters of this conception claim that
the phoneme cannot lose any of its distinctive features.
As far as the English language is concerned, the neutral sound [a] in the
word "activity" and the sound [;:e] in the words "act", "active" is the [;:e]
phoneme. It seems that according to this point of view the unity between
the form and the content is destroyed, thus phonology is isolated from mor
In conclusion we have to admit that the described conceptions are arbi
trary, none is ideal. The morphological conception seems complicated, but
appears to be effective for theory and practice.

1.5. The System of English Phonemes

In this section we are going to give a brief overview of the problems
which scholars face when trying to describe the English sounds from the
functional point of view. We shall try to explain what is understood by the
quality of a sound, what articulatory characteristics may be considered the
constituents of quality and to determine which of them are phonologically
There are two major classes of sounds traditionally distinguished by
phoneticians in any language. They are termed consonants and vowels. The
distinction is based mainly on auditory effect. Consonants are known to
have voice and noise combined, while vowels are sounds consisting ofvoice
only. From the articulatory point ofview the difference is due to the work of
speech organs. In the production of vowels no obstruction is made. In the
production ofconsonants various obstructions are made. So consonants are
characterized by the so-called close articulation, i. e. by a complete, partial

1.5. The System of English Phonemes


or intermittent blockage of the air passage by a speech organ. As a result

consonants are sounds which have noise as their indispensable and most
defining characteristic.
Now we shall consider each class of sounds independently.
1.5.1. The system of consonants
On the articulatory level each consonant may be identified by stating
two general facts about it:
1) what sort of articulatory posture it is formed by;
2) whereabout in the vocal tract it is produced.
Besides these major characteristics the particular quality ofa consonant
may depend on a lot of factors, i. e. by what articulatory organ (or organs)
an obstruction is made, how the vocal cords work at the moment of produc
tion, what cavity is used as a resonator, what is the force of articulatory
fort and many others. So in our view the particular quality of a consonant
would be best thought of as a complex bundle of features. Each sound is
known to have three aspects: articulatory; acoustic and auditory; and there
fore can be studied on three levels. For the sake of analysis each aspect can
be considered and described independently, though it is obvious that there
is no sharp dividing line between them.
Trying to work out a classification ofsuch complex units as speech sounds
one should specifY those properties ofsounds which are relevant to the subject
under discussion, so the attempts to classifY sounds should have a theoretical
foundation. Besides, each classification should not only aim at linguistic de
scription but should be applicable in teaching a language. Therefore the clas
sification should include if possible both the principal relevant features and
the ones that are redundant from the phonological point of view; but are im
portant for the articulation ofthe sound. Here we should say that the phono
logical description ofsounds will be made in terms ofarticulatory leveL
It is suggested that the first and basic principle of classification is the
degree of noise. It leads to dividing English consonants into two big
A - noise consonants;
B - sonorants.
It is easy to see that the term "degree of noise" belongs to auditory level
analysis. But it is generally acknowledged that there is an intrinsic con
nection between articulatory and auditory aspects of describing speech
sounds, so that sometimes it is impossible to account for the former except


Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

in terms of the latter. In the above mentioned case it is the terms of auditory
level that defme the characteristic more adequately.
Sonorants are consonants that phoneticians traditionally have a lot of ar
guments about. Sonorants are sounds that differ greatly from all other conso
nants of the language. This is due to the fact that in their production the air
passage is fairly wide, much wider than in the production of noise conso
nants. As a result the auditory effect is tone, not noise. This peculiarity of ar
ticulation makes sonorants sound more like vowels than consonants. Acous
tically sonorants are opposed to an other consonants because they are
characterized by a sharply defined formant structure and the total energy of
most of them is very high. However, on functional grounds according to their
position in the syllable sonorants are included in the consonantal category.
The great articulatory and acoustic difference of noise consonants and
sonorants could be very well relied upon as having classificatory value. The
phonological relevance of this factor (the degree of noise) could be proved
by the following oppositions:
[berk - merk]
[vi:l- wi:l]

bake make
veal - wheel

(noise consonant - sonorant)

(noise consonant sonorant)

The manner of the production of noise and the type of obstruction is

another characteristic of English consonants. On this ground three classes
of consonants are distinguished:
a) occlusive, in the production of which a complete obstruction is
b) constrictive, in the production ofwhich an incomplete obstruction is
c) occlusive-constrictive consonants (affricates), in the production of
which the obstruction is complete at the beginning of production, then it
becomes incomplete.
The phonological relevance of this feature could be exemplified in the
following oppositions:

[si: ]
[si:d] [si:z]
[ti:z] [tJi:z]
[si:z] - [si:d3]
[pefS] - [perd3]

tea sea
seed seas
tease cheese
cease siege
pace - page

(occlusive constrictive)
(occlusive - constrictive)
(occlusive - afIricate)
(constrictive - atIricate)
(constrictive - affricate)

The following scheme might be helpful to understand the system built in

accordance with the above-mentioned order ofarticulatory characteristics:

1.5. The System of English Phonemes

Figure 5




The place ofarticulation is another characteristic ofEnglish consonants

which we should consider from the phonological point ofview. The place of
articulation is determined by the active organ of speech against the point of
articulation. According to this principle the English consonants are classed
1) labial;

2) lingual;

3) glottal.

The class of labial consonants is subdivided into: a) bilabial; b) labio

dental, and among the class of lingual consonants three subclasses are dis
tinguished. They are: a) forelingual; b) mediolingual and c) backlingual.
The classification of consonants according to this principle is illustrated
I he following scheme:
Figure 6





The importance of this characteristic as phonologically relevant could

he proved by means of a sjmple example. In the system of English conso

Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


nants there could be found oppositions based on the active organ of speech
and the place of obstruction:

- [t~nJ
[walJ [lalJ
[plk] [klk]
[les J - [jes]

[del] [gel]
[salJ - [hal]
[fi:t] - [si:t]

why lie
pick- kick
less yes
sigh - high
feet - seat

(bilabial forelingual)
(bilabial forelingual)
(bilabial- backlingual)
(forelingual mediolingual)
(forelingual- backlingual)
(forelingual glottal)
(labio-dental- fore lingual)

Another sound property is voiced - voiceless characteristic which de

pends on the work ofthe vocal cords. It has long been believed that from the
articulatory point of view the distinction between such pairs of consonants
as [p, b], [t, d], [k, g], [s, z], [f, v], [I, 3], [tf, d3J is based on the absence or
presence of the vibrations of the vocal cords or on the absence or presence
of voice or tone component. However, a considerable body of experimental
work on physiological and acoustic aspects ofthese sounds showed that this
is not the only difference between them. It is obvious now that there is also
energy difference. All voiced consonants are weak (lenis) and all voiceless
consonants are strong (fortis). Now there is a considerable controversy con
cerning the phonetic feature involved in the above-mentioned oppositions.
In the intervocalic position, like in "latter - ladder" the voicing difference
is important, since it is the distinctive feature of the consonants. In word
initial and word final positions the pronunciation of consonants tradition
ally considered to be voiced may well be voiceless. In these positions it is the
energy difference that serves as a differenciating feature, like in "cap - cab",
"not nod", "pick - pig". In initial positions aspiration would be a more
important feature for stops, like in "tick - dick", "cap - gap", "pit - bit".
In a word-final position it is the length of the preceding vowel that would
constitute the chief difference (the vowel of "bead" is longer than that of
It is perfectly obvious that the presence or absence ofvoice in the above
mentioned oppositions is not a constant distinctive feature. Thus it may be
said that these oppositions are primarily based on energy difference, i. e. on
fortis lenis articulation, which are phonologically relevant features. It is
for this reason that such characteristics as voiceless - voiced have given
place to "fortis lenis" distinction.
There is one more articulary characteristic which is important from
classificatory point ofview, that is the position of the soft palate. According

1.5. The System of English Phonemes


LO this principle consonants can be oral and nasal. There are relatively few
consonantal types in English which require a lowered position of the soft
palate. They are the nasal occlusive sonorants [m], [n], and [uJ. No differ
ence of meaning in English can be attributed to the presence or absence of
nasalisation. It is for this reason that it cannot be a phonologically relevant
Ii~ature of English consonants. So it is an indispensable concomitant feature
of English nasal consonants.
Summarizing we could state that the following articulatory features are
considered to be relevant from phonological point ofview:
I) type of obstruction;
2) place of articulation and active organ of speech;
3) force of articulation.
The above mentioned articulatory characteristics are the primary ones
as they specify the essential quality of a consonant which is enough to de
scribe it as an item of a system. On this level of analysis it is the point where
the distinction becomes phonemic that matters.
However, from the point of view of pronunciation teaching we should
gain some additional information about the articulation ofa consonant like
apical- dorsal; dental, alveolar, post-alveolar, palato-alveolar; oral- nasal;
flat narrowing - round narrowing characteristics. They provide necessary
information for comparison between the English and Russian consonants.
It is for this reason that these characteristics are normally included into de

1.5.2. The system ofvowels

As was mentioned earlier, vowels unlike consonants are produced with
no obstruction to the stream of air, so on the perception level their integral
characteristic is tone not noise.
A minimal vowel system of a language is likely to take the form of:

The most important characteristic ofthese vowels is that they are acous
tically stable. They are known to be entirely different from one another both
articulatory and acoustically. Consequently they may well be said to form
boundaries ofthe"phonetic field ofvowels" in modern man's language. The


Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

commonest vowel system adds two other vowels to the minimum triangle to
give a five vowel system of the type:

As regards the English language it would be fair to mention that due to

various reasons it has developed a vocalic system of a much larger number
of phonemes.
The quality of a vowel is known to be detennined by the size, volume and
the shape ofthe mouth resonator which are modified by the movement ofac
tive speech organs, i. e. the tongue and the lips. Besides, the particular quality
of a vowel can depend on a lot of other factors (articulatory characteristics)
such as the relative stability of the tongue, the position of the lips, physical
duration of the segment, the force of articulation, the degree of tenseness of
speech organs. So vowel quality could be thOUght of as a bundle
articulatory characteristics which are sometimes interconnected and interde
pendent: the back position of the tongue makes it rise higher in the mouth
cavity, the lengthening of a vowel makes the organs of speech tenser at the
moment of production and so on. So the isolation and distinction of the
above-mentioned articulatory features are made for the sake of analysis with
the purpose of describing the vocalic system of the English language.
The analysis of the articulatory constituents of the quality of vowels al
lowed phoneticians to suggest the criteria for classificatory description.
They are:
a) stability of articulation
b) tongue position
c) lip position
d) character ofthe vowel end
e) length
1) tenseness
In the part that follows each of the above-mentioned factors will be
considered from phonological point ofview.
Stability of articulation specifies the actual position of the articulating
organ in the process ofthe articulation ofa vowel.
There are two possible varieties: a) the tongue position is stable; b) it
changes, that is the tongue moves from one position to another. In the first
case the articulated vowel is relatively pure, in the second case the vowel

.5. The System of English Phonemes


(:onsists of two clearly perceptible elements. There exists a third variety; an

intennediate case, when the change in the tongue position is fairly weak. So
according to the principle of stability of articulation the English vowels are
b) diphthongs;
c) diphthongoids.
point ofview is not shared by British phoneticians. A. Gimson, for
example, doesn't distinguish between monophthongs and diphthongoids,
considering the latter to be pure vowels.
English diphthongs are monophonemic units, while Russian combina
tions of sounds are byphonemic clusters, like in: IOZ, pau, 6ya/lb and so on.
Both elements in the clusters are equally energetic and distinct. So special
attention should be given to the pronunciation of English diphthongs which
consist oftwo elements, the first ofwhich is strong and distinct and the sec
ond, the glide, is very weak and indistinct.
The position ofthe tongue, another principle for consideration, is char
acterized from two aspects: horizontal and vertical movement.
According to the horizontal movement five classes of vowels are distin
1) front:
[i:], [e],
[~], [(a)];
2) front retracted: [I), [I(a)];
3) central:
[3:], [a], [3(U)], [a(u)J, [a(I)];
. back:
[n], [;:,:J, [u:J, [a:], [;:,(r)];
5) back adVanced: [u], [u(a)].
According to the vertical movement three classes of vowels are distin
guished, each ofwhich is realized in one ofthe two variants, broad or narrow:
I) close
a) narrow:
b) broad:
[1], [u], [r(a)],
2) mid
a) narrow:
[eJ; [3:],
b) broad:
3) open
a) narrow:
[;:,:], [;:'(1)];
b) broad:
[~], [a(r)],
[n], [a:].
The phonological relevance of this articulatory characteristic can be
easily discovered in the following oppositions:


p~n] pen

pm] pen pin
- bi:n] bin - been

[k~p - ku:p] cap - carp

[k~p - kAp] cap - cup

[bAn - ba:nJ bun - barn


Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

Lip rounding is another articulatory feature which is included into the

principles of classification of English vowels. Traditionally three lip posi
tions are distinguished: spread, neutral and rounded. For the purpose of
classification it is sufficient to distinguish between two lip positions: round
ed and unrounded or neutral. In English lip rounding is not relevant phono
logically since no two words can be differentiated on its basis. Lip rounding
takes place rather due to psychological reasons than to any other. The fact is
that any vowel in English is produced with rounded lips, the degree of
rounding is different and depends on the height of the raised part of the

tongue. So lip rounding is a phoneme constitutive indispensable feature be

cause no back vowel can exist without it.

Another property of English vowel sounds is traditionally termed check

ness. This quality depends on the character of transition from a vowel to a,
consonant. This kind of transition is very close in English unlike Russian.
As a result all English short vowels are checked when stressed. The degree of
checkness may vary and depends on the following consonants. Before
voiceless consonant it is more perceptible than before a lenis voiced conso
nant or sonorant. All long vowels are free.
It is important to know that though this characteristic has no phono
logical value it is of primary importance for Russian learners of English. It
should be remembered that since all Russian vowels are free, special atten
tion should be given to making English short vowels checked. It is not the
length of vowels that should be the point of attention but the character of
the transition of a vowel into a consonant. Such words as body, seven, better,
matter should be divided into syllables in such a way so that the vowels
should remain checked unlike Russian EOPIl, Ce6a, Puma, MIlma.
Length or quantity of vowels is another articulatory characteristic that
should be considered from phonological point of view.
The English monophthongs are traditionally divided into two classes
according to their length:
a) short vowels: [I], [e], [;:e], [u], [A], [a], [n];

b) long vowels: [i:], [a:], [;):], [3:], [u:].

It is common knowledge that a vowel like any sound has physical duration
time which is required for its production. When sounds are used is connected
speech they are influenced by one another. Duration is one ofthe characteristics
ofa vowel which is modified by and depends on the following factors:
1) its own length;

2) the accent of the :'Vlli::lUlv

3) phonetic context;


I's. The System of English Phonemes

4) the position of the sound in a syllable;

5) the position in a rhythmic group;
6) the position in a tone group;
7) the position in a phrase;
8) the position in the utterance;
9) the tempo ofthe whole utterance;
10) the type of pronunciation;
11) the style of pronunciation.
The question is whether vowel length can be treated as a relevant feature
of the English vowel system.
The theoretical conclusion here is based on two laws characterizing any
l. A relevant feature must characterize a number of units. Let us con
sider palatalization in Russian. Compare: ell - eJlb, pao PIlO, Hoe - H06b
so on. Those oppositions form a correlation system. Any correlation
have a number of oppositions. A sign of correlation is a distinctive
rcature ofa number of phonemes. The analysis of English vowels shows that
Lhey can hardly form quantitative correlation. The correlations that are of
len brought about are as follows:



Let us analyze each of these pairs.

In actual speech the sounds [i:] and [u:] are normally realized in RP as
diphthongized vowels. So [1] and [u] are opposed to diphthongoids but not
to long monophthongs.
The opposition [3:1- [a] is a fairly specific one because the [a] phoneme
never occurs in a stressed syllable and forms the core ofunstressed vocalism
in English. The phoneme [3:] seldom occurs in an unstressed position.
The opposition [a:] - [A] is arbitrary. As a result there is only one pair of
opposed phonemes remaining, [;):] [n]. That means that quantitative cor
relation exists only in one position, so on this ground it cannot be treated as
a phonologically relevant feature.
2. A feature can be systemic ifit does not depend on the context. As to the
absolute length of English historically long and historically short vowels it var
ies and depends on a lot offactors, the first being phonetic context. A. C. Gim
son points out that [i:] in beat is only half about as long as the fi:l of bee and


Chapter 1. The Fu~ctional Aspect of Speech Sounds

may approximately have the same duration as the [I] vowel in bid because it is
generally known that a voiced consonant following a vowel increases its
length. But still the words bid and bead are perceived as different words be
cause the vowels are different in quality, [I] being front-retracted, pure
monophthong, and [i:] being front close (narrow variation) and a diphthon
gized vowel. The conclusion that follows is that vowel quantity cannot be
considered a minimal distinctive feature since it varies under the influence of
different phonetic context. So it is an incidental feature that characterizes
vowels of a certain quality. Summarizing we may say that this is an approach
to quantity of English vowels from phonological point ofview.
It may be worth mentioning that the [ee] vowel being classed as histori
cally short tends to be lengthened in Modern English, especially before
lenis consonants [b], [d], [g], [d3], [m], [nl, [z].ln this position [ee] has the
same quantity as long vowels [i:], [a:], [J:], [u:], [3:]. This extra length, as
A. C. Gimson points out, serves an additional distinctive feature and the
qualitative-quantitative relation of [ee] - [e] tends to become of the same
type as [i:] [I]. From this point ofview [ee] can possibly belong to the sub
class of long vowels, and consequently the twelve English long vowel pho
nemes may be divided into six phonetic pairs which members differ both in
quality and in quantity and of the two factors it is likely that the quality car
ries the greater contrastive weight.
There is one more articulatory characteristic that requires our attention.
That is tenseness. It characterizes the state ofthe organs ofspeech at the moment
ofthe production ofvowels. Special instrumental analysis shows that historically
long vowels are tense while historically short vowels are lax. This characteristic is
of extra-phonological type so tenseness may be considered an indispensable
concomitant feature ofEnglish long vowels. On these grounds it can be included
into classificatory description of vowels because it might be helpful in teaching
students ofEnglish since there are no tense vowels in Russian.
Summarizing we could say that phonological analysis of articulatory
features of English vowels allows us to consider as functionally relevant the
following one characteristic: tongue position.
The rest of the features mentioned above, i. e.lip position, character of
vowel end, length and tenseness are indispensable constituents of vowel
quality. Though they have no phonological value they are quite important in
teaching English phonetics.
We might conclude by saying that we have tried to look at the consonan
tal and vocalic systems of the English language from phonological point of
view. This sort of analysis enables us to defme what properties displayed by

,5. The System of English Phonemes


I \nglish sounds are significant in making them items of a system. Special

(beus should be given to phonologically relevant features because they form
(he basis of the pronunciation system of the language. Non-relevant indis
pensable features should also be acquired as they form the basis of what is
t'ulled a "foreign accent". \\Ie should remember that the quality of a speech
tiuund is constituted by articulatory features of both kinds.
1.5.3. Modifications of speech sounds in connected speech
In connected speech sounds do not function as isolated units, theIr ar
Ikulation is affected by their phonetic environment. In other words, speech
Nounds influence each other in the chain ofspeech. Modifications ofspeech
floLlnds that occur due to this influence are called assimilation, accomoda
lion and elision.
Assimilation is the modification of a consonant under the influence of
t lie neighbouring consonant. Accommodation is the process ofmutual influ
ence of consonants and vowels. Elision is a complete reduction of sounds,
vowels and consonants.
These processes are generally accounted for by two factors. The first is
(hc economy ofpronouncing efforts on the part ofthe speaker, whose aim is
lu convey information effectively within the shortest possible time. The sec
ond is purely physiological: it is the degree of mobility of particular organs
speech. Under the influence of these factors segments undergo certain
dlanges and all sorts of simplifications take place. It should be mentioned
Ihat these phonetic modifications do not affect the meaning of utterances
lind do not create barriers in communication, since they are perceived by
(he listener as normal allophonic realisations. However, foreign learners of
I (nglish should be aware of phonetic adjustments in connected speech, be
l;llUse ignoring them may lead to a strong accent.

or Modifications of consonants

In modern English consonants undergo various qualitative changes in

(lie chain of speech. The most common type of such changes is assimila
I ion. Assimilation takes place when a consonant is adjusted in order to be

more like a neighbouring sound. Assimilation occurs both within a

word and at word boundaries. Assimilation can affect the place of articula
tion, manner of articulation, work of the vocal cords and force of articula
Iion, lip position.


Chapter I. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


Changes in the place ofarticulation

1. The alveolar allophones [t, d, n, 1] are replaced by dental variants when

followed by the interdental [8, (j] (incomplete regressive assimilation):

eighth, at the, breadth, on the, all that.

2. The alveolar [t, d] become post-alveolar under the influence ofthe post
assimilation): tree, true, dry, the third

3. [5, z] turn into UJ before [J] (complete regressive assimilation): horse

shoe, ['h::>:JJu'], this shop _
4. Nasal sonorants [n, m] are influenced by the following consonant: bila
bial [m] and alveolar [n] become labio-dental when followed by labio
dental [f, v]: triumph, infant, comfort, symphony. [n] becomes palato
alveolar before the affricate [tf], pinch; in thank it assimilates to the velar
[k] and becomes velar.

Changes in the manner ofarticulation

1. Loss ofplosion. In the sequence oftwo plosive consonants the first los
es its plosion (incomplete regressive assimilation): glad to see you,

great trouble, an old clock, big cat.

2. Nasal plosion. When a plosive is followed by nasal sonorants [m, n], at
the release stage the soft palate is lowered and the air escapes through
the nasal cavity with a slight plosion (incomplete regressive assimila
tion): sudden, not now, at night, let me see.
3. Lateral plosion. In the sequence ofa plosive immediately followed by
lateral sonorant [1] the release is made with lowering of the sides
of the tongue and the air escapes along the sides of the tongue with
lateral plosion: settle, table, at last (incomplete regressive assimila

Changes in the work ofthe vocal cords

This type of assimilation affects the work of the vocal cords and

force of articulation.

1. English sonorants [m, n, r, w, 1] are partially devoiced when preceded by

fortis voiceless consonants [p, t, k, 5] (incomplete progressive assimila
tion): smart, tray, quick, twins, play, pride. This type of assimilation is
common in English, but very rare in Russian.
2. Fortis voiceless/lenis voiced type regressive assimilation can be observed
in such words as newspaper (news [z] + paper), gooseberry (goose [5] +
berry). At word boundaries voiced lenis fricatives are commonly assimi

1.5. The System



lated to the initial voiceless fortis consonant of the following word: she's
jive, have to do it, does Pete like it? It should be noted that only fricatives
are affected by this type of assimilation, while plosives [b, d, g] remain
voiced in similar context, big size, goodfellow.
3. Contracted forms of the verbs "is" and "has" may retain voice or be
devoiced depending on the preceding consonant (incomplete progres
sive assimilation): that's [5] right; Tom's [z] gone; Jack's [s] done it.
Assimilative voicing and devoicing can also be observed in the pro
nunciation of the possessive suffix's or s', the plural suffix of nouns (e)s
and the third person singular Present Simple of verbs: girl's, beds, reads,

Pete's, desks, writes.

Changes in the
When followed by the bilabial sonorant [w] consonants change their lip
position: they become labialized: twinkle, quite, swan.
There are also adjusment processes that are a result of the consonant
vowel interaction. They are generally described as accommodation or con
sonant vowel coarticulation. Here are some most common types of ac
Consonants tend to be labialized when followed by a rounded
alzed) vowel: cool, pot, rude.
Vowels are slightly nazalized under the influence ofthe preceding or fol
lowing sonorants [m] and [n]: and, nice, men, morning.
Alveolar plosive [tl in the intervocal position before unstressed vowels is
replaced by a voiced tap: pretty, better.
It should be noted that the allophonic realizations of phonemes can be
described as obligatory for all the members of the language community re
gardless of the style of speech. It is obvious that the extent to which coar
ticulation and simplification processes are displayed in connected speech
depends on the style and tempo of speech. In formal speech the articulation
is more careful and precise. In informal casual discourse (fast colloquial
speech) these processes are more marked. They will be described in Chap

lerv' Modifications ofvowels
The phonetic process that affects English vowels in connected speech is
called reduction. By vowel reduction we mean shortening or weakening of
I he sound, or, in other words, shortening in length that is usually accompa

Chapter 1. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds


nied by a change in quality. \bwel reduction in unstressed syllables is very

common both in English and in Russian.
In connected speech vowels can be exposed either to quantitative and
qualitative reduction or both. These changes of vowels are determined by a
number of factors, such as the position ofa vowel in a word and in an utter
ance, accentual structure, rhythm, tempo of speech.
Quantitative reduction or shortening of vowel length takes place in the
following cases:
1. The length of vowel depends on the immediate phonetic environment
(positional length). Vowels are the longest in the final position, they
are shorter before a voiced consonant and the shortest in a syllable
closed by a voiceless consonant, knee - need - neat.
2. Long vowels in form words are shortened in unstressed positions: At last

he [i'] has come.

Modifications in quality occur in unstressed positions. The most

common form of vowel reduction is reduction to schwa [a]. In its pro
duction the tongue is the closest to the neutral position, the lips are
unrounded and it is the shortest of all vowels. The pronunciation of
schwa instead of some other vowel saves articulatory effort and time.
Man [meen] sportsman ['sp;:dsman], conduct ['knndakt] - conduct
[kan'dAkt]. You can easily do it [ju' kan i:zrlI ,du
Schwa is considered to be the most frequent sound in English. It
is obviously the result of the rhythmic pattern in which stressed sylla
bles alternate with unstressed ones. Unstressed syllables are given only
a short duration and the vowel in them is reduced.
3. Vowels are slightly nasalized when preceded or followed by a nasal con
sonant like in man, no, then, mean.
We would like to conclude by saying that certain interrelation
which we observe between the full form of a vowel and its reduced
forms is conditioned by the tempo, rhythm and style of speech.

The phoneme is a minimal abstract linguistic unit realized in speech in
the form of speech sounds opposable to other phonemes of the same lan
guage to distinguish the meaning of morphemes and words.
According to this definition the phoneme is a unity of three aspects:
functional, material and abstract.



The phoneme performs the distinctive function. The opposition ofpho

nemes in the same phonetic environment differentiates the meaning of
morphemes and words.
The phoneme is realized in speech in the form of speech sounds, its al
lophones. Allophones of the same phoneme possess similar articulatory
features. The difference between the allophones is predictable and is the
result of the influence of the neighbouring sounds.
The actually pronounced speech sounds (phones) are modified by pho
nostylistic, dialectal and individual factors.
Native speakers abstract themselves from the difference between the al
lophones of the same phoneme because it has no functional value but they
have a generalized idea ofa complex ofdistinctive features, which cannot be
changed without the change of meaning. This functionally relevant bundle
ofarticulatory features is called the invariant ofthe phoneme.
The articulatory features which distinguish meaning and form the in
variant of the phoneme are called distinctive or relevant. The articulatory
features which do not serve to distinguish meaning are called non-distinc
tive or irrelevant.
Transcription is a set of symbols representing speech sounds. Broad (or
phonemic) transcription provides special symbols for all the phonemes of a
language and is used in EFL teaching. Narrow or allophonic transcription
gives special symbols for allophones and is mainly used in research.
There exist various conceptions of the phoneme which can be grouped
into the following main classes: "psychological" or "mentalistic" view (spe
cial attention is given to the abstract aspect of the phoneme), "functional"
view (concentrates on the ability of the phoneme to distinguish meaning),
"physical" view (is concerned with the material aspect). The conception of
the phoneme first put forward by L. V Shcherba is a comprehensive one: it
gives equal importance to the three aspects of the phoneme.
The aim ofthe phonological analysis is, firstly, to determine the distinc
tive features of sounds (or their phonemic status) and, secondly, to create
the inventory ofthe phonemes ofa language (the phonemic system of a lan
guage). In other words, phonological analysis is aimed at identifYing the
phonemes and classifying them.
There are two methods of phonological analysis: formally distributional
method and semantically distributional method. Formally distributional
method is focused on the position ofa sound in the word, or its distribution.
The semantically distributional (semantic) method is based on the phone
mic rule that phonemes can distinguish words and morphemes when op


Chapter II

Chapter I. The Functional Aspect of Speech Sounds

posed to one another in the same phonetic context. The main procedure is
called commutation test. It consists in finding minimal pairs of words and
their grammatical forms, i. e. pairs of words or morphemes which differ in
only one sound in the same phonetic context. To establish the phonemic
structure of a language it is necessary to establish the whole system of op
positions. All the sounds should be opposed in word-initial, word-medial
and word-final positions.
There are special difficulties in establishing the phonemic status of
sounds in their weak position. This problem is approached in different ways
by the Moscow and St. Petersburg phonological schools.
The application of phonological analysis shows that English phonemes
are grouped into classes according to the distinctive (phonemic) features.
The following features are distinctive for consonants: type of obstruction
(manner of articulation), place of articulation and active organ of speech
and force of articulation. The phonemic feature of vowels is vowel quality
(tongue position).
The articulation ofsounds in connected speech is affected by their pho
netic environment. Speech sounds influence each other in the chain of
speech. Modifications of speech sounds that occur due to this influence are
called assimilation, accommodation, reduction and elision.



The Phenomenon of the Syllable

Syllable Formation
Syllable Division (Phonotactics)
Functional Aspect ofthe Syllable

2.1. The Phenomenon of the Syllable

This chapter is concerned with the syllable as a phonetic and phono

logical unit.
It is generally known that speech is a continuum. However it can be
broken into minimal pronounceable units into which sounds show a ten
dency to cluster or group themselves. These smallest phonetic groups are
given the names of syllables. Being the smallest pronounceable units, the
syllables are capable of forming language units of greater magnitude, 1. e.
morphemes, words and phrases. Each of these units is characterized by a
certain syllabic structure. Consequently we might say that a meaningful lan
guage unit has two aspects: syllable formation and syllable division which
form a dialectical unity.
Figure 7

Two Aspects of the Syllable

syllable fonnation

syllable division

Before we look at the English syllable in detail we should note that the
study of the syllable has for a long time occupied an important place in Iin


Chapter II. Syllabic Structure of English Words

guistics as a field of theoretical investigation. A considerable body of ex

perimental work has been done but we have to admit that the problem ofthe .
syllable is still an open question in linguistics and phonetics.
The point is that the syllable is a fairly complicated phenomenon and
like the phoneme it can be studied on four levels: acoustic, articulatory, au
ditory and functional and so it can be approached from different points of
view. This fact gave rise to a number oftheories the most consistent ofwhich
are: the so-called expiratory theory, experimentally proved by R. H. Stetson;
the sonority theory put forward by O. Jespersen; the theory of muscular ten- .
sion which wa<; sketched by L. V. Sherba and modified by V. A. Vasilyev, and
the loudness theory, worked out by N. I. Zhinkin. Each of these theories is
(in either explicit or implicit way) based on the idea of pulses the structure
of which form what can be called an arc which correlates with the level of
speech production and can be identified on the level of perception.
Since the syllable is not a simple concept no phonetician has successed
so far in giving an exhaustive and adequate explanation of what the syllable
is. In short, there exist two points of view:
1. Some linguists consider the syllable to be a purely articulatory unit
which lacks any functional value. This point of view is defended on the
grounds that the boundaries of the syllable do not always coincide with
those ofthe morphemes.
2. However the majority of linguists treat the syllable as the smallest
pronounceable unit which can reveal some linguistic function.
We should note here that the articulatory level of analysis suggests the
existence of universals, that is categories applicable for all languages, while
the functional level of analysis suggests treating each language separately,
because as A. Gimson points out a similar sound sequence can be defined
differently in different languages.
The definition of the syllable from the functional point ofview makes it
possible to single out the following features of the syllable:
a) the syllable is a chain of phonemes of varying length;
b) the syllable is constructed on the basis of contrast of its constituents
(which is usually of vowel consonant type);
c) the nucleus of the 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 can be performed
d) the distribution of consonants in syllable structure follows the rules
which are specific for a particular language.


Division (Phonotactics)


2.2. Syllable Formation

In English syllable formation is based on the phonological opposition
vowel - consonant. Vowels are usually syllabic while consonants are not
with the exception of [1), [m], [n], which become syllabic if they occur in an
IInstressed final position, proceeded by a noise consonant, for example
Illlt!] -little, ['blusm] blossom, [,ga:dn] garden.
The structure of the syllable is known to vary because of the number and
HITangement of consonants. In English four types of syllables are distin
1) open
2) closed
[ud] odd VC
3) covered
note CV(C)
4) uncovered [30] oh, [30k] oakV(C)

Here we should point out that due to its structure the English language
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
II umber ofthe syllable structural varieties is 23. The structure ofthe English
syllable reveals variations in the number of prevocalic consonants from I
to 3 and post vocalic consonants from I to 5.
As to the number ofsyllables in the English word it can vary from one to
oight, like in [kAm] come, ['SIb] city, [,fcem(a)li]jamily, fSlm'phsltI] simplicity,
IAI1'ncetJ(a)r(a)li] unnaturally, fmkampceU'blhti] incompatibility, ['Amn'tehd3i
'1)JI<lti] unintelligibility.
So far we have described some of the aspects of syllable structure of
English. The other aspect is syllable division.

2.3. Syllable Division (Phonotactics)

The linguistic importance ofsyllable division in different languages is in
11 nding typology of syllables and syllable structure of meaningful units of a
Ilinguage, i. e. morphemes and words. It is the syllable division that deter
mines the syllable structure of the language, its syllable typology.
Syllabic structure of a language is patterned like its phonemic structure,
which means that the sounds ofa language can be grouped into syllables ac
cording to certain rules. The part of phonetics that deals with this aspect of
n language is called pbonotactics. Phonotactic possibilities of a language
determine the rules of syllable division.


Chapter II. Syllabic Structure of English Words

As the phoneticians point out in the English language the problem of

syllable division exists only in the case of intervocalic consonants and con
sonant clusters like in the words ['sIb] city, [a'gri:] agree, ['ekstra] extra and
others. In such cases the point of syllable division is not easily found. Let us
consider the first case. Theoretically two variants are possible:
a) the point of the syllable division is after the intervocalic consonant;
b) the point of the syllable division is inside the consonant.
In both cases the first syllable remains closed according to the phonetic
rules ofthe English language because the short vowel should remain checked.

The results of instrumental analysis show that the point of syllable division

in words like ['plh] pity, ['tupIk] topic, ['me3a] measure, [,bubI] Bobby is inside

the intervocalic consonant. This conclusion is of great importance for Rus

sian learners of English. They should keep in mind that in the Russian lan

guage the stressed syllable in the structure (C) VCV (C) is always open, like

in y-xo, Mfl-ma, 0-6y6b, while in English this kind of syllable is always

closed if the syllable vowel is short and checked. So it is necessary to make

transition from a vowel to a consonant very close.

Another type of intervocalic consonant clusters is the VCCV(C) type
like in words [a'gri:] agree, [a'brApt] abrupt and so on. The syllabic boundar
ies in these words can be determined with the help ofphonological criteria.
In the above mentioned examples the words should be divided into syllables
in the following way: [a-'gri:] [a-'brApt] because such combinations ofconso
nants as [gr] and [brl are permissible initial clusters for the English lan
guage. On the other hand there are clusters that can never occur in the word
initial position and consequently should be broken by syllable boundary like
in the following cases [~d-'malal admire, [ab-'hJ:] abhor.
There are more complicated cases when the number of intervocalic
consonants is three or more like in the word ['ekstra] extra and we have to
state the possible points of syllable division.
a) ['ek-str~] - back street

b) ['eks-tr~] - six trees

c) ['ekst-r~] - mixed ray

In such cases it is the native speaker's intuition that could be relied on.
The subconscious feeling of a new pronunciation effort makes him divide
the words ofsuch types into [,ek-stral. This natural way ofdivision is fixed in
the pronunciation dictionary.
In compounds word like ['t3ustrcek] toast-rack it is the morphological
criterion that counts because the boundaries of the syllable should corre
spond to morpheme boundaries.

2.4. Functional Aspect ofthe


2.4. Functional Aspect of the Syllable

Now we shall consider two very important functions ofthe syllable.
The first is the constitutive function. It lies in the ability ofthe syllable to
be part of a word or a word itself. Syllables form language units of greater
magnitude, that is words, morphemes and utterances. In this respect two
things should be emphasized. First, the syllable is the unit within which the
relations between the distinctive features of the phonemes and their acous
tic correlates are revealed. Second, within a syllable (or a sequence ofsyl
labIes) prosodic characteristics of speech are realized which form the stress
pattern of a word and the rhythmic and intonation structure of an utter
ance. In sum, the syllable is a specific minimal structure of both segmental
and suprasegmental features.
The other function of the syllable is its distinctive function. The syllable is
characterized by its ability to differentiate words and word-forms. To illustrate
this a set ofminimal pairs should be found so that qualitative and/or quantita
tive peculiarities of certain allophones should indicate the beginning or the
end ofthe syllable.
So far only one minimal pair has been found in English to illustrate the
word distinctive function in the syllable, i. e. [naI-'trelt] nitrate - [nalt-'relt]
night-rate. The distinction here lies in:
a) the degree of aspiration of [t] sound which is greater in the first mem
ber of opposition than in the second;
b) allophonic difference of [r], in the first member of opposition it is
slightly devoiced under the influence of initial [t];
c) length of the diphthong [al], in the second member of the opposition
it is shorter because the syllable is closed by a voiceless plosive
So the syllable division changes the allophonic contents of the word be
cause the realization ofthe phoneme in different syllable positions is different.
The analogical distinction between word combinations can be illustrat
ed by many more cases:

an aim - a name
mice kill - my skill
an ice house - a nice house
peace talks - pea stalks
plate rack - play track
Sometimes the difference in syllabic structure might differentiate the
semantic structure of an utterance:

Chapter III

Chapter II. Syllabic Structure of English Words


I saw her eyes. - I saw her rise.

I saw the meat. - I saw them eat.


Summarizing we might say that on the functional level of description

the syllable could be considered as the smallest pronounceable unit with
potential linguistic importance. That is why it reveals its functional value
occasi onally.
By way ofconclusion we could enumerate the following peculiarities of
the syllabic structure of English which are relevant for learners of English:
1) syllabic boundary is inside intervocalic consonant preceded by a short
checked vowel;
2) the sonorants [1], [m], [n] are syllabic, ifthey are preceded by noise
consonants: little, blossom, sudden;
3) the typical and most fundamental syllable structure is of (C)CVC
Russian learners of English should be aware of the regularities govern
ing the structure of monosyllabic and polysyllabic words. Wrong syllable
division on the articulatory level may lead to inadequate perception of
phrases and consequently to misunderstanding.

3.1. Definition. The Nature of Stress

3.2. English Word Stress. Production and Per
3.3. Degrees ofWord Stress
3.4. Placement of Word Stress
3.5. Tendencies in the Placement of Word
3.6. Functions of Word Stress

3.1. Definition. The Nature of Stress

The sy][able is the sma][est pronounceable unit capable offorming mor
phemes, words and phrases. As a meaningful language unit it has two aspects:
syllable formation and syllable division which form a dialectical unity.
The syllable is a complicated phenomenon which can be viewed on four
levels: acoustic, articulatory, auditory and functional. There exist numerous
theories of the syllable. Some of them consider the syllable to be a purely
articulatory unit without any functional value. The majority oflinguists re
gard the syllable as the smallest pronounceable unit which can perform
some linguistic function.
In English syllable formation is based on the phonological opposition
vowel - consonant. Four types of syllables are distinguished: open, closed,
covered and uncovered.
The syllable division determines the syllable structure of the language,
its syllable typology. Phonotactic possibilities of a language determine the
rules of syllable division.
The syllable performs two functions: constitutive and distinctive.


The sequence of syllables in the word is not pronounced identically:

some syllables are more prominent than the others. They are called
stressed syllables. So stress is a greater degree of prominence of a syllable
or syllables as compared to the other syllables of the word. A particular
combination of varying prominence ofsyUables in a word forms its stress
The effect of prominence of the stressed syllable is achieved by a num
ber of phonetic parameters such as pitch, loudness, length, vowel quality
or their combination. As a result there appears a contrast between stressed
and unstressed syllables.
There is another term widely used in phonetic literature to describe
this phenomenon - accent. The term "accent" generally refers to the
pitch component of syllable prominence. Stress is a more general term
I han accent because it includes both pitch and other components ofsyl
lable prominence.
It should be mentioned that the word "accent" can also be used when
I he syllable is perceived as accented due to the pitch prominence and the
word is viewed as an utterance or part of an utterance. Even when we pro

Chapter III. \VOrd Stress


nounce just one word there is a certain pitch change typical of a spoken
sentence. This phenomenon will be considered in the section of this book
devoted to intonation.
The nature of word stress can be studied from the point of view of pro
duction and perception. The production of stressed syllables requires more
muscular energy. Greater muscular effort and muscular activity produce
higher subglottal pressure and an increase in the amount of air expelled
from the lungs. On the acoustic level this extra articulatory activity leads
to the increase of intensity, duration and fundamental frequency of the
stressed syllable. On the perception level it corresponds to the increase of
loudness, length and pitch.

3.2. English \VOrd Stress. Production and Perception

3.2. English Word Stress. Production and Perception


Table 1
Production and Perception ofthe Stressed Syllables
Production and Perception

Stressed syllable

Production level

Greater muscular effort

Acoustic level


Perception level

Increase ofioudness,

intensity, duration, fundamental fre-

The balance of these components may be different in different lan

guages. There are two main types of word stress in the languages of the
world: dynamic and tonic (musical). The dynamic stress is achieved by
greater force with which the syllable is prononuced. Greater intensity
and duration of the stressed syllable which contains a vowel of full ar
ticulation contribute to the effect of prominence. European languages
such as English, German, French, Russian, have dynamic word stress.
Musical stress is observed in Chinese, Japanese, Vietnamese and other
languages. This type of stress is the result of the change of pitch in the
stressed syllable.
Figure 8
Types ofWord Stress
word stress

tonic (musical)


As regards the English word there is no agreement among linguists about the
role of particular acoustic parameters in creating the effect of syllable promi
nence. In other words, they have not arrived at the conclusion yet as to which of
them contributes to a greater extent to our perception of a syllable as a stressed
one. The English linguists D. Crystal (1969) and A. Gimson (1981) agree that
English word stress is a complex phenomenon, marked by the variations in force,
pitch, quantity and quality. Different scholars rank these parameters in different
ways, however each description of English word stress includes loudness, pitch,
length and quality. Let us give a brief overview ofeach of these parameters.
When we hear a word we often perceive the stressed syllable as louder than
unstressed ones. It is the result ofgreater muscular effort which forces the stream
ofair between the vocal cords which vibrate more vigourously. It creates the ef
fect of greater loudness. However it is impossible to increase the loudness only
without changing other characteristics ofthe syllable.
The syllable is perceived as prominent ifthere is a change ofpitch on it. The
acoustic correlate of pitch is the frequency ofthe vibrations of the vocal cords.
"Ifall syllables are said with low pitch except for one said with high pitch, then
the high-pitched syllable will be heard as stressed and others as unstressed"
(Roach, 2001). The placement of pitch change marks the seat of the stress. It
be noted that it is not the direction of pitch change that matters here,
what counts is the movement itself. The fIrSt syllable in the word 'import will be
perceived as stressed both when pronounced with the falling or the rising tone
(.import, )mport). The shift of stress to the second syllable (import) will be ac
companied with a pitch movement on the second syllable.
The length of syllable contributes to the effect of prominence. A greater
amount of energy in the production of stressed syllable leads to the increase of
its length as compared to the unstressed syllables.
The quality of vowels also plays a certain role in creating the effect ofstress.
A syllable tends to be perceived as prominent ifit contains a vowel which is dif
ferent in quality from the vowels in other syllables. \bwels in unstressed syllables
are affected by quantitative and qualitative reduction and vowels in stressed syl
lables are not. It creates a contrast which increases the prominence of
stressed syllable.
To sum up, it is generally acknowledged that English word stress is a com
plex phenomenon formed by interdependent components: loudness,
length and vowel quality. As regards the ranking ofthe components they are not
equally important, but they generally work in combination.

Chapter III. Word Stress


3.3. Degrees of Word Stress

The syllables in a word are characterized by different degrees of prorni
nence. Objectively, there are as many degrees of stress in a word as there are
syllables. A. Gimson, for example, shows the following distribution of the
degrees of stress in the word examination (Gimson, 1981). However, it is
important to distinguish the degrees of stress, which are linguistically rele
In English they generally distinguish three degrees (levels) of stress: pri
mary (strong, main, principal), secondary (half-strong, half-stressed) and
weak (unstressed). In the word hdmtndti6n the primary stress is the stron
gest (marked 1), the secondary stress is second strongest (marked 2), all the
other syllables (3, 4,5) are weak. So, all the other degrees ofstress are termed
American phoneticians (B. Bloch, G. Trager, H. Gleason) distinguish
four contrastive degrees of word stress: primary, secondary, tertiary and
weak. Tertiary stress does not show much difference from secondary stress,
but it has a different placement in a word. It is generally associated with
American English, where it marks the last but one syllable in the words
with suffixes -ary, -ory, -ony (,revo'lutio,nary, 'dictio,nary, 'cere,mony). It is
argued that the secondary stress precedes the primary stress and the ter
tiary stress follows it. For example, in the verbs with the suffIxes -ate, -ize,
_y tertiary stress can be observed (,demonst,rate, 'orga,nize, 'simplify). Some
British linguists share this point of view, because there is a tendency to use
a tertiary stress in a post-tonic syllable in the words with an unreduced
vowel in the last syllable in British English (,black,board, 'demonst,rate, 're
A. Gimson, for example, distinguishes four degrees of stress, which
are realized mainly by the change of pitch, to be more exact, he describes
four degrees of word accent: primary accent, marked by the last major
pitch change in a word; secondary accent, marked by a non-final pitch
change in a word; a minor prominence produced by the occurrence of a
full vowel, but containing no pitch change; a non-prominent syllable con
taining no pitch change and one of the vowels [I, U, a] (Gimson, 1981).
According to J. C. Wells "tertiary stress is the location of a potential rhyth
mic beat either after the primary stress or between the secondary and the
primary" (Wells, 1993).
However, in terms of teaching English as a foreign language the Brit
ish conception of three degrees of word stress is more acceptable.

3.4. Placement ofWord Stress


3.4. Placement of Word Stress

According to its placement in a word stress can be fixed and free. In lan
guages with a fIXed stress the position of the word stress is restricted to a
particular syllable in a multisyllabic word. For example, in French word
stress is normally fixed on the last syllable ofthe word, in Finnish and Czech
it falls on the first syllable, in Polish on the last but one syllable.
There is linguistic data that in 94% of 306 languages with fixed word
stress the stress falls on final, penultimate (last but one) and initial syllable.
This placement of word stress indicates the word boundaries and thus per
forms the identificatory (demarkative) function (J. Laver, 1995; T. Shevchen
In languages with a free stress its location is not confined to a specific po
sition in the word. In one word it may fall on the first syllable, in another on
the second syllable, in the third word - on the last syllable and so on. To be
more exact, stress can be placed on any syllable of the word. The number of
languages with free word stress is relatively small: English, Russian, Italian,
Greek, Spanish and some others (English - 'appetite, be'ginning, ba'lloon),
Russian - o3epo, nOi?oiJa, MOJlOKO).
In English (as well as in Russian) the word stress is not only free, but it
is also shifting, which means that it can change its position in different forms
of the word and its derivatives: 'contrast - con'trast, 'music - mu'sician, 'hab
it - ha'bitual, 60iJbl - 60iJa - 600flH0i1, ttyoHafl - ttyiJHafl.
Table 2

'JYpes of Word Stress according to its Placement

'JYpe of Word Stress

Position of Stress


restricted to a particular syllable


is not restricted, stress can be placed on any syllable

Admittedly it is difficult to predict the location of English word stress.

Some linguists suppose that the speaker has to memorize the stress pattern
of each word as it is learned. However, there exist some generalizations con
cerning the placement of word stress which the native speaker of English
makes unconsciously and stores in the mind (Ph. Carr, 1999; P. Roach,
2001). To define the position ofword stress in each individual word it is nec
essary to take into account a number of factors:
- phonological structure of the syllables;
- the number of syllables in the word;


Chapt.er HI. \\brd Stress

_ morphological factor (whether the word is simple, complex or com

_ the part of speech the word belongs to (noun, verb, adjective, etc.).
The phonological structure of the syllable, or synable weight is related to .,
the status of a particular syllable in terms of the degree of sonority. The
sounds that possess a greater degree of sonority contribute to the greater
prominence (weight) ofsyllable. A syllable is considered to be strong (heavy)
when it contains a long vowel or a diphthong or a short vowel followed by
two consonants. The influence ofthis factor can be illustrated by the follow
ing example: in English verbs the stress falls on the last syllable ifit is strong
and on the last but one syllable if the last one is weak (light), e. g. a'rrive

The number of syllables in a word influences the number ofstresses and

to a certain extent the position of stress. There are stress patterns typical of

two-syllable words, three-syllable words and so on. In multi-syllable words

there appears secondary stress.

Another factor to be considered is the morphological factor, in particu

lar, whether the word is simple, complex or compound. In complex words
the placement of stress depends on the type of suffIx. Suffixes are divided
into those which do not affect the stress placement in the stem ( stress
neutral ), those which influence stress in the stem (stress-fIXing) and those
which carry stress themselves (stress attracting).
In the word with a stress-neutral SuffIX the stress remains on the same syl
lable in the stem. This group includes such suffIxes as -aI, -able, -en, -jul,
-lng, -ish, -less, -ness, -ly, -ment, -ous and others (re'fuse re'fusal, 'comfort

'comfortable, a'maze - a'mazing, 'happy - 'happiness, agree a'greement).

Stress fixing suffIXes determine the placement of stress on a particular
syllable ofthe stem. SuffIXes -ion, -ic, -tty, -ial, -ive attract stress to the syl
lable that precedes them, 1. e. the last syllable ofthe stem ('peifect - perfec
tion, 'proverb - pro'verbial, 'curious cun"osity). Verbal suffix -ate in words of
more than two syllables fixes the stress on the third syllable from the end

Stress attracting suffIXes include such suffIXes as -ade, -eer, -ee, -esque,
-ette (cru'sade, mounta'neer, refu'gee, ,ciga'rette, pictu'resque).
In some cases this factor is to be considered together with another one
the number ofsyllables in a word. For example, the verbal suffix -ate is stress
attracting in the words containing two syllables (migrate), but in words con
taining more than two syllables it is stress-fIXing; it fixes the stress on the
third syllable from the end (com'municate).

3.4. Placement. of\\brd Stress


Besides complex words we should also consider compound words. Com

pounds contain more than one root or more than one word, but they function
as one word. Compounds can be spelled in different ways: as one word (suit
case), with a hyphen (good-tempered), or as two words (work day). According
to P. Roach "the most familiar type ofcompound is the one which combines
two nouns, and normally has the stress on the first element" (P. Roach, 200 I).
This stress pattern can be observed in the following compounds: 'sunrise, 'type
writer, 'greenhouse, 'bedroom. However, quite a number of compounds take
stress on the second element: bad-'tempered, second-'class, North-'West, i/l
'treat. Another typical stress pattern is: secondary stress on the first element +
primary stress on the second element (t::lear-'cut).
British phoneticians (Ph. Carr, P. Roach) suggest a rule that sums up the
most typical tendencies in the placement of word stress in compounds:
stress goes on the first element if it is a noun ('wine glass, 'suitcase) and on
the second element if the first is adjectival in meaning, in other words if it
performs the function of an attribute (,heavy-'handed, .five-'finger, .first
'rate). It should also be mentioned that compounds can have only one pri
mary stress (J. C. Wells), if there are more than one stressed syllables sec
ondary stress might be used. "The model with two primary stresses was
replaced by a more productive model secondary + primary in the 60s-70s of
the 20 th century" (T. Shevchenko, 2006)
We should mention here that the location of word stress in connected
speech is influenced by the position of the word in the sentence. You can
compare the placement ofstress in the following pairs:

pagefourteen - fourteen pages

Westminster Westminster Abbey
She is bad-tempered. - She is a bad-tempered girl.
This variability ofword stress is accounted for by the influence ofspeech
rhythm, which tends towards a regular alteration between stressed and un
stressed syllables.
The fourth factor which should be considered is the dependence ofword
stress on the grammatical category the word belongs to. The influence of
this factor can be illustrated by the pairs of words, in which adjective and
noun are contrasted to verbs: 'insult - in'suit, 'record re'cord, 'peifect - per

'fect, 'present - pre'sent.

So to predict the assignment ofword stress it is necessary to identifY and
consider the factors that independently or in combination determine the
placement of stress. Philip Carr, for example, views these factors in the fol


3.6. Functions of Word Stress

Chapter III. Word Stress


ute - distribute, 'aristocrat a'ristocrat. The stress on the initial syllable is

caused by the diachronical recessive tendency or the stress on the second
syllable under the influence of rhythmical tendency.
The third tendency is called retentive. A derivative retains the stress of
the original (parent) word, e. g. 'similar - as'similate, recom'mend - ,recom
men'dation. Sometimes in the derivative the primary stress of the original
word turns into secondary stress, e. g. 'demonstrate - ,demonstration.

lowing order: the syntactic category of the word (nouns behave differently
from verbs and adjectives), syllable weight, morhological structure (the ad
dition of suffixes can have consequences for the way that a word is stressed)
(Ph. Carr, 1999).
The study of the factors listed above can give some guidance as regards
the placement of word stress in Modern English. However, it is generally
acknowledged that the accentual pattern of English words is liable to insta
due to the inner typological proccesses that are a result of the histori
development of the language. These processes are described as tenden
cies in the placement of word stress.

Figure 9

Tendencies in the Placement of Word Stress

3.5. Tendencies in the Placement of Word Stress

recessive tendency

retentive tendency

They generally distinguish three tendencies which account for the

ations of stress patterns in English: recessive, rhythmical and retentive ten

Recessive tendency is the tendency to stress the beginning of the word
typical of Germanic languages.
In Germaic languages, where short one or two-syllable words predomi
nated, the stress originally fell on the initial syllable or the second syllable, the
root syllable in words with prefixes. Unrestricted recessive tendency is ob
served in the native English words with no prefix (,mother, 'daughter, 'brother,
'swallow, 'carry) and in assimilated French borrowings Creason, 'colour). Re
stricted recessive tendency marks English words with prefixes, some ofwhich
no longer exist as such (fore'see, with'draw, be'gin, a'part,/otget).
A great number of words of Anglo-Saxon origin are monosyllabic and
disyllabic words with the stress on the first or the second syllable. They al
ternated in the chain of speech with unstressed form words, which created
the peculiar rhythm of English speech. The rhythmical tendency reflects the
rhythm of alternating stressed and unstressed syllables. This tendency
caused the appearance of the secondary stress in the multi syllable French
borrowings, e. g. revo'lution, ,organi~~ation, as,simi'lation, etc. It also explains
the placement of primary stress on the third syllable from the end in threefour-syllable words, e. g. 'cinema, 'situate, atticulate, significant. The
LvlTelation of recessive and rhythmical tendencies can be traced in bor
rowed three-syllable words, e. g. 'family, 'library, 'faculty, 'possible. In most
cases, however, these two tendencies contradict each other, which leads to
the existence of such accentual variants as 'hospitable - hos'pitable, 'distrib&,

3.6. Fnnctions of Word Stress

Word stress performs the following functions:

Word stress organizes the syllables into a word. It creates a particular
pattern of relationships among syllables, making some syllables more prom
inent than others and thus shapes the word as a whole. Thus word stress
performs the constitutive function.
Word stress makes it possible for the listener to identify a succesion of
syllables with a definite recurrent stress pattern as a word. In other words, it
helps us to recognise the word in the chain ofspeech. This function is called
identificatory ( recognitive).
Word stress is capable of differentiating the meaning of words or their
forms, thus performing its distinctive function. Primary stress placement can
- the grammatical category (morphological class) of the word in the
oppositions 'import - im'port, 'insult - in'sult, 'conduct - con'duct, in which
the stress falls on the first syllable in nouns and on the last syllable in verbs;
the meaning of the word, e. g. 'billow be'low;
- compound nouns from free word combinations, e. g. 'blackboard
'black 'board, 'greenhouse - 'green 'house. In compound nouns primary stress
is placed on the first element, while in word combinations adjective + noun
there is primary stress on both elements.


Chapter Ill. Word Stress

In Russian word stress also performs the distinctive function, differen

tiating lexical meaning of words (l.Iye)ftaR - Ltye)JltiFt, 3CtM01C - 3aMo,,) and
grammatical forms of words (3UMbl 3UMbl, 6eabl- 6eabl).
Discussing the functional aspect of word stress we should mention that
the accentual structure of compound words is very closely connected with
their semantic value. Some authors describe this phenomenon as a semantic
tendency in the placement of word stress: the stress is generally assigned to
the elements which have a greater semantic, distinctive weight.
By way of illustration we shall look at the placement of stress in com- "
pound words. In the examples given above ('blackboard - 'black 'board) and
in such pairs as (gentleman - gentle 'man) the placement ofstress on the first
morpheme in compound nouns signifies that the words "have a single
meaning, not made up from the meanings of sub-parts" (Ph. Carr, 1999),
while two equal stresses on both parts of word combinations show that each
element has its own meaning.
Basically, the stressed element has a greater semantic value than the un
stressed one. We can also say that the stress falls on the element which conveys
new important information. For example, in such compound nouns as 'din
ing-room, 'bathroom, 'bell boy, 'ballet dancer the first element is more signifi
cant, more informative, which is expressed by the placement of stress on the
first morpheme. Here are some more examles: 'powder-like, 'oval-shaped.

\\brd stress is a greater degree ofprominence ofa syllable or syllables as
compared to the other syllables of a word.
The stressed syllables are pronunced with more muscular energy than the
unstressed ones. On the acoustic level stressed syllables are characterized by
increased intensity, duration and fundamental frequency, which correspond
to increased loudness, length and pitch on the perception level.
There are two types of word stress: dynamic and musical (tonic).
English word stress is a complex phenomenon formed by interdepen
dent components: loudness, pitch, length and vowel quality.
The syllables in a word have different degrees ofprominence. In English
they generally distinguish three linguistically relevant degrees of stress: pri
mary, secondary and weak. Some scholars also include tertiary stress, but
the first classification is more acceptable for teaching English as a foreign



According to its placement stress can be fixed or free. Both in English

and in Russian word stress is not only free, but it is also shifting, it can
change its position in different forms ofthe word.
To define the position ofword stress in an individual word it is helful to
consider the following factors: the phonological structure of a syllable (syl
lable weight), the number of syllables in the word, the morphological factor
(if the word simple, complex or compound) and the grammatical category
the word belongs to.
They generally distinguish three tendencies that account for the varia
tions of stress patterns in English: recessive, rhythmical and retentive ten
Word stress can perform the following functions: consitutive (it orga
nizes the syllables into a word), identificatory, or recognitive (it helps the
listener to recognise the word in the chain of speech) and distinctive (it can
distinguish grammatical forms and meaning of words).
The correct selection of a syllable or syllables to stress in an English
word causes a lot of difficulties to Russian learners. So in teaching pronun
ciation special attention should be given to the aspects which present diffi
culties due to the instability of English stress structure, on the one hand,
and the differences in English and Russian word stress:
stress in multi-syllable words, containing secondary stress;
- stress in complex words containing suffixes;
stress in compound words;
- word-class pairs with shifting stress ('insult - in'sult).

Chapter IV
4.1. Definition of Intonation
4.2. Components of Intonation
4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit of
4.4. Notation
4.5. Functions of Intonation
4.5.1. Communicative function as the basic
function of intonation
4.5.2. Distinctive function
4.5.3. Organising function
4.5.4. Intonation in discourse
4.5.5. Pragmatic function
4.5.6. Rhetorical function

4.6. Rhythm
4.6.1. Speech rhythm. Definition. Typology
4.6.2. Rhythmic group as the basic unit of
4.6.3. Rhythm in different types of discourse
4.6.4. Functions of rhythm

4. 1. Definition of Intonation
In this chapter we shall focus on intonation, the topic ofparticular theo
retical and practical interest. It is the sphere of suprasegmental phonetics.
The flow ofspeech does not consist only ofsegmental units (speech sounds),
there are also other phonetiC means that characterize a sequence of speech
sounds. They are called suprasegmental or prosodic means.
Intonation is a language universal. There are no languages which are
spoken as a monotone, i. e. without any change of prosodic parameters. But
intonation functions in various languages in different ways.

4.1. Definition of Intonation


What is the role intonation plays in the language? Intonation is indis

pensable in communication, because it is instrumental in conveying mean
ing. No sentence can exist without a particular intonation. No meaning can
be expressed without it.
Intonation can be described on the acoustic level (in terms of its acous
lie characteristics), on the perception level (in terms of the characteristics
perceived by human ear) and on the linguistic level (in terms of meanings
expressed by intonation). We would like to start with the description of in
lonation on the perception and acoustic levels and then pass over to its lin
guistic function.
What is intonation? It is quite impossible to describe intonation in a
word or two. Sometimes the ups and downs of pitch and loudness are com
pared to the waves of the ocean. "The surface of the ocean responds to the
forces that act upon it in movements resembling the ups and downs of the
human voice" (Bolinger, 1972).
There exist various approaches to the description of intonation and dif
ferent definitions of this phenomenon. This polyphony of views can be ac
counted for by the complex nature of intonation itself.
According to most Russian linguists on the perception level intonation
is defined as a complex, a whole, formed by significant variations of pitch,
loudness and tempo (the rate ofspeech and pausation) closely related. Some
definitions also include timbre (voice quality), which is sometimes regarded
as the fourth component of intonation. In our opinion timbre should not be
part of the definition, because it has not been sufficiently described yet.
Neither its material form nor its linguistic function has been objectively in
vestigated. Though speech timbre can definitely convey certain shades of
attitudinal or emotional meaning there is no good reason to consider it
alongside with the three basic components of intonation, 1. e. pitch, loud
ness and tempo.
In the British and American tradition intonation is restricted to the
pitch (tone) changes only. Intonation is identified with pitch movements
(or melody), because pitch has the greatest linguistic value. This approach
to intonation goes back to the definitions given by the prominent British
phoneticians in the first halfof the XX century. "Intonation may be defmed
as the variations which take place in the pitch of the voice in connected
speech" (D. Jones, 1976). This point of view is shared by contemporary
linguists. "Intonation involves the occurrence of recurring pitch patterns,
each of which is used with a set of relatively consistent meanings, either on
single words or on groups ofwords ofvarying length" (A. Cruttenden, 1986).


IV. Intonation

"Intonation is the use of pitch variation to convey meaning" (P. Roach,

It can be seen that Russian scholars have a broader view of intonation.
We are convinced that it is impossible to restrict intonation to pitch param
eters only because generally all the three prosodic paramelers function as a
whole. Giving priority to the pitch variations, we will adopt a broader defi
nition, which will allow us to consider the semantic value of all the three
components ofintonation.
There is another term "prosody", which is used in slIprasegmental pho
alongside with the term "intonation". The term "prosody" refers to
the variations of the same parameters (pitch, loud ness, li.lIlll)() and is wide
ly used in linguistic literature.
It should be noted that British phoneticians view prosody us a broader
notion than intonation and single out such prosodic fcnturcs as pitch, loud
ness, tempo and rhythm (D. Crystal, 1. Wells and olh(]l's). According to
1. Wells "the prosodic (or suprasegmental) charactcrisliGs of speech are
those of pitch, loudness and speed (or tempo, or speech rate). They com
bine together to make up the rhythm of speech... " (J. Wells, 2006).
We are not going to dwell here on differentiation ofllle !lotions "intona
tion" and "prosody". \\e shall use the term "intonation" because it is gen
erally used in teaching practice, however reference willlliso bll Inade to pro
sodic features.

4.2. Components of Intonation

As we have already said, the components of in tonal ion, or supraseg..:
mental features that form intonation can be viewed 011 I.Iw IWollstic level.
Each of them has its own acoustic correlate and can Ill' Ol*lctively mea
sured. The acoustic correlate ofpitch is fundamental frC(llI(lllcy ofthe vibra
tions of the vocal cords; loudness correlates with intensity. (l'll II)() correlates
with time (duration) during which a speech unit lasts.
Acoustic analysis ofintonation is used in experinlclllnlll'Hcnrch. Here
intonation will be described in terms of perception , which is 1II000e accept
able for the aims ofteaching.
It is generally acknowledged that each component
guistically relevant and can be described as a system.
system oftones (fall, rise, fall-rise and so on), pitch levols
be high, medium and low, and pitch ranges (wide, medilllll illlilllurrow).

4.2. Components of Intonation


\ariations in voice pitch occur within the normal range of the human
voice, 1. e. within the interval between its upper and lower limits. Three pitch
levels (keys, registers) are generally distinguished: high. medium and low.

- - - - - - - - - - medium

- - - - - - - - - - low
The pitch range is the interval between two pitch levels. When we speak
about the pitch range of the whole intonation unit we mean the interval be
tween the highest-pitched and the lowest-pitched syllables. Pitch ranges
maybe normal, wide and narrow.



Loudness is described as normal, increased (forte) or low (piano).

Tempo includes rate of speech and pausation.

The rate of speech can be normal, slow and fast. Generally, the parts

of the utterance which are particularly important are pronounced at a

slower rate, while in less important parts the rate of speech tends to be
Any stretch of speech can be split into smaller segments by means of
pauses. A pause is a complete stop of phonation. Pauses are classified ac
cording to their length, their position in the utterance (final - non-final)
and their function.
rn teaching English intonation it is sufficient to distinguish the follow
ing types ofpauses:
l. Short pauses which may be used to separate intonation groups within a
2. Longer pauses which normally manifest the end of the phrase.
3. Very long pauses which are used to separate bigger phonetic units (pho
Functionally, there may be distinguished syntactic, emphatic and hesi
tation pauses.
Syntactic pauses separate phonopassages, phrases, intonation groups.
Emphatic pauses serve to make some parts of the utterance especially


Chapter IV. Intonation

She is the most I charming girll've ever seen.

The subject ofthis talk is I intonation. I

Hesitation pauses are mainly used in spontaneous speech to gain some

time to think over what to say next. They may be silent (unfilled) or fIlled.

She is rather a Igood student.

Where does she live? - Um, notfar from here.

4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit ofIntonation

A phrase (a sentence actualized in oral speech) may contain one or sev

eral intonation groups. The number of intonation groups depends on the
length of the phrase and the semantic importance given to various parts of
the phrase:

This v bed 'was 'not 'slept .in.

It is clear that pauses can perfonn various functions. Besides the seg
mentation ofthe speech continuum, pauses contribute to the temporal and
rhythmical organization of speech.
As it was already said pauses are easily perceived when there is a stop of
phonation. However there are cases when we perceive a pause when there is
no stop ofphonation. It happens because a stop ofphonation is not an
factor indicating an intonation group boundary. Thus, the impression ofthe
boundary between speech segments may be created by perceivable pitch
change, either stepping down or stepping up, depending on the direction of
the nuclear tone movement.
All the three components ofintonation, i. e. pitch, loudness and tempo
form the intonation pattern, the basic unit of intonation.


II -

This bed I was v not 'slept .in. I

An additional nuclear tone on this contrasts "this bed" to "other beds".

Here is another example:


-+ Last tSummer v we
-+ Last tSummer v we

went to 'stay with my 'sister in ,London.

went to 'stay with my tSister I in ,London. I

The phrase above can be pronounced with either two or three intona
tion groups.
The intonation pattern may include the following components: the nu
clear tone (nucleus), the head, the pre-head and the taiL Now we shall dwell
in more detail on each of these components.
Figure 10

Intonation pattern and its components

intonation pattern

4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit of Intonation

Eachsyllable in the speech chain has a special pitch colouring. Some of
the syllables are characterized by significant moves of tone up and down.
Each syllable bears a definite amount ofloudness. Pitch movements are
separably connected with variations of loudness. Together with the tempo
of speech they fonn an intonation pattern which is the basic unit ofinton a
An intonation pattern has one nuclear tone (nucleus) and may contain
other stressed or unstressed syllables preceding or following the nuclear
tone. The boundaries of an intonation pattern may be marked by stops of
phonation, i. e. temporal pauses.
Intonation patterns serve to actualize syntagms in oral speech. A syn
tagm is a group of words which is semantically and syntactically complete.
In phonetics actualized syntagms are called intonation groups (tone groups).
Each intonation group may consist ofone or more potential syntagms. For
example, the sentence I think he is coming soon has two potential syntagms:
I think and he is coming soon. In oral speech it is nonnally actualized as one
intonation group.


nuclear tone

Not all the stressed syllables in the intonation group are of equal prom
inence. To highlight the most important word the speaker accents it, adding
pitch prominence. One of the syllables has greater prominence than the
others. It is the nucleus or the focal point (focus). The nucleus may be de
scribed as a syllable which is marked by a significant change in pitch direc
tion, i. e. where the pitch goes distinctly up or down. The nuclear tone is
most important part ofthe intonation pattern. The intonation pattern can
not exist without it. At the same time the intonation pattern may consist of
one syllable, which will be
The nuclear tones are generally grouped into simple (Low Fall, Low Rise
and others), complex (Fall-Rise, Rise-Fall) and compound (Rise + Fall +
Rise). According to R. Kingdon, the most important nuclear tones in Eng
which should be included in the course of pronunciation for foreign
learners, are: Low Fall, High Fall, Low Rise, High Rise, Fall-Rise (R. King
don, 1958). D. Crystal postulates "a major division of nuclear tones into two



rv. Intonation

types: falling, the fInal direction of pitch movement being downward in each
case, and rising, the fmal direction of pitch movement being upward. The
category oflevel tone retains an ambiguous status in respect of this division"
(D. Crystal, 1969). According to J. \\ells "the most basic distinction among
English nuclear tones is that between falling and non-falling" (J. Wells, 2006).
A. Cruttenden claims that there are three main factors which are the basis for
the classifIcation of nuclear tones in English: the initial movement
nucleus: fall or rise or level; the beginning point ofthis initial movement: high
or low; a second change of pitch direction following the nucleus, which pro
duces such tones as rise-fall and fall-rise. He distinguishes seven nuclear
tones: Low Fall, High Fall, Low Rise, High Rise, Fall-Rise, Rise-Fall and
Mid-Level (A. Cruttenden, 1986).
The meanings of nuclear tones are difficult to specify in general terms.
Roughly speaking, the falling tone of any level and range expresses "fInali
ty", "completeness", "certainty", "independence".

Where is John? - He ~hasnJt ,come yet.

What~., the time? - It's "'nearly'jive o',clock.

A rising tone of any level and range expresses "incompleteness", "de

pendence", "uncertainty". This tone conveys the impression that the con
versation is not fInished and something else is to follow. The rising tone is
used when the speaker wants to encourage further conversation.

I think I'll go now. - ~Are you ,ready?

Michael is coming to London. - '>I.Is he 'coming ;I'oon?

The rising tone is frequently used in polite requests, invitations, greet

ings, farewells and other strategies of social interaction.

What shall I do now ? ~Do go pn.

Couldyoujoin us? ~Not ,now.

The Fall-Rise is often used in English and conveys a variety of mean

ings. When used at the end of the phrase it expresses reservation, that is it
asserts something and at the same time suggests that there is something else
to be said, e. g.

Do you like pop-music? ~ v Sometimes.

It's very interesting. v Yes,

The Fall-Rise can also be used in non-final intonation groups. It ex

presses non-finality and indicates that another point is to follow:

4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit of Intonation


'" Those who 'work in the voffices I "'ought to take 'plenty of ,e:xerci~e.
"'When ['come Vback I we will ~talk about it a,gain.
The Fall-Rise is also chosen by speakers when they want to refer to
something already mentioned in the conversation or to the information
shared by the speakers and the hearers.

Let's go to the cinema on Friday. - I'm going to the v cinema I on ,Thurs


This coat is beautiful. - It's vbeautiful, I but ~very eX,pensive.

1. Wells calls this nuclear tone

is used when the speaker says one thing
(J. Wells, 2006):

Fall- Rise", because it

implies something further

When can we meet? - We could meet on v Sunday (but not on Monday, but
it might not suit you).
The falling-rising tone, as its name suggests, consists of a fall in pitch
followed by a rise. If the nucleus is the last syllable of the intonation group
the fall and rise both take place on one syllable the nuclear syllable. Other
wise the rise occurs in the remainder ofthe tone unit:

Do you agree with him? - v Yes.

What can I do to mend matters?

You could ap,ologize to fier.

Level tone is used in two main contexts. According to P. Roach, in short

utterances it conveys a feeling of saying something routine, uninteresting
and boring (P. Roach, 2001). It is frequently used at intonation group
boundaries conveying non-finality.

I'm afraid I can't manage it. - In vview o/'all the >circumstances I "'whv not
'try a,gain ?
'>I. First we'll dis'cuss >one othing IVthen will 'pass on to a,nother.
Mid- Level tone is particularly common in spontaneous speech func
tionally replacing Low Rise.
We should also mention such nuclear tones as Rise-Fall and Rise-Fall
Rise. They add refmement to speech, but it is generally recommended to
introduce these tones at the advanced level, when foreign learners have al
ready mastered the basics of English intonation.
We have given a very general overview of the basic nuclear tones. Each
of these tones can express other meanings in particular contexts. Some of
them will be considered in the section "Functions of Intonation".


Chapter IV. Intonation

Returning to the structure of the intonation pattern, we should say

that the tone ofa nucleus determines the pitch ofthe rest ofthe intonation
pattern following it, which is called the tail. Thus after a falling tone the
rest of the intonation pattern is at a low pitch. After a rising tone the rest
of the intonation pattern is in an upward pitch direction.
,No, oMary. - ,Well, OMary.
The nucleus and the tail form what is called terminal tone.
The two other sections of the intonation pattern are the head and the
pre~head. They form the pre-nuclear part of the intonation pattern. The
head contains the syllables beginning with the first stressed syllable up to,
not including, the nucleus. The pre-head consists of unstressed or
half-stressed syllables preceding the head. The head, the pre-head and the
tail are optional elements of the intonation pattern.
We were "'wondering ifyou could 'come to 'dinner to,morrow.
The pre-nuclear part can take a variety of pitch patterns. Such varia
tions do not usually affect the grammatical meaning of the utterance,
but they often convey attitudinal or stylistic meanings. The character of
pitch movements in the pre-nuclear part is often quite complex and
heterogeneous. Generally three common types of pre-nucleus are dis
tinguished: a descending type in which the pitch gradually descends to
the nucleus; an ascending type in which the syllables form an ascending
sequence and a level type when all the syllables are more or less on
same level:
Descending type

Ascending type

Level type

Compare the types ofhead in the following phrases:
"'"Why are you 'making such a 'mess of it?

.."."Why are you 'making such a 'mess of it?



" ....

4.3. Intonation Pattern as the Basic Unit of Intonation



are you 'making such a ,mess of it?

... ..
The examples show that different types of pre-nuclear patterns do not
affect the grammatical meaning of the sentence but they can convey
speaker's attitude.
Summing up, we may say that minimally an intonation pattern con
sists of one syllable, which is its nucleus, Maximally it may include three
other elements: the head, the pre-head and the tail.
The meaning of the intonation group is the combination ofthe mean
conveyed by the terminal, pre-nuclear part, pitch level and pitch
Obviously the elements of the intonation pattern can be combined in
various ways and express a variety of meanings, Compare the meanings of
the following utterances:
Not at ,all. (calm, reserved)
~ Not at ,all. (weighty, considered)
~ Not at ,all. (encouraging, friendly)
~ Not at 'all. (questioning)
~ Not at 'all. (surprised)
~ Not at \fall. (protesting)
The number of possible combinations is more than a hundred, but not
all of them are of equal importance. So in teaching it is necessary to select
a limited number ofintonation patterns which are frequently used in Eng
lish discourse and which have a particular communicative value.
In these sections we have considered in a very general way the compo
nents of intonation. It follows from this overview that all of them are
closely interconnected in the processes of speech production and speech
perception. We must point out here that the changes in pitch, loudness
and tempo are not accidental variations. The rules governing these chang
es are highly organized. Irrespective of the individual prosodic character
istics that can be traced in each speaker, these changes tend to become
standardized, so that all speakers of the language use them in similar ways
under similar circumstances. These characteristics of intonation struc
tures may be called intonation units which form the prosodic system of


Chapter IV. Intonation

4.4. Notation
What is the best suitable way of representing intonation in the text?
There are a variety ofmethods for recording intonation patterns in writ
ing and we can look at the advantages and disadvantages of some of the
commoner ones. The first three methods reflect variations in pitch only:
1. The method introduced by Ch. Fries (1965) involves drawing a line
around the sentence to show relative pitch heights:

He's gone to the /o/Vice.

2. According to the second method the syllables are written at different heights
across the page. The method is particularly favoured by D. Bolinger (1972):

I absolutely deny it.

Bolinger's book has the cover title:




symbols, i. e. by a downward and an upward arrow or a slantwise stress mark.

More than that. Pitch movements in the pre-nuclear part can be indicated
too. Thirdly, it is very convenient for marking intonation in texts.
One ofthe disadvantages ofthis method is that there is no general agree
ment about the number of terminal tones and pre-nuclear patterns English
intonation system requires in order to provide an adequate description. So
the simplest (D. Jones) recognizes only two tones, a fall and a rise easy to
distinguish, but not sufficient for phonetic analysis. We should definitely
give preference to a more complex system, such as J. D. O'Connor and
G. F. Arnold's, which has no fewer than ten different nuclear tones. It is
quite sufficient for teaching pronunciation even to advanced learners. The
most detailed indication of the pre-nuclear part of the intonation pattern is
introduced in the textbook npaI<'I'Jl'IeCKM Q:>oHeTHKa aHf.JIHHCKoro H3blKa
(CoKOJIOBa M. A. I1 )]p., 2001) in whichJ. D. O'Connor and G. F. Arnold's
system underwent further modification. All the relevant pitch changes in
the pre-nuclear part are indicated by arrows placed before the first stressed
syllable instead of an ordinary stress-mark, cf. :

That 'isn't as 'simple as it 'sounds.


4.5. Functions ofIntonation

That -+isn't as 'simple as it 'sounds.

That "'isn't as 'simple as it 'sounds.
That isn't as 'simple as it 'sounds.

This method is quite inconvenient as its application wants a special

model of print.
3. According to third, "levels" method, a number of discrete levels of
pitch are recognized, and the utterance is marked accordingly. This method
was favoured by some American linguists such as K. L. Pike (1958) and others
who recognized four levels ofpitch: low, normal, high and extra-high, num
bering them from 1-4. Since most linguists who have adopted this method
have favoured low-to-high numbering, we shall use this in our example:

3 1

He's gone to the office.

This notation corresponds to the pattern of the example illustrating the
first method.
4. The fourth method is favoured by most of the British phoneticians
such as D. Jones, R. Kingdon, J. O'Connor and G. Arnold, M. Halliday,
D. Crystal and others, as well as by Russian phoneticians who have success
developed it. This method has a number of advantages. Firstly, not
onlyvarlations ofpitch but also stressed syllables are marked. Secondly, dis
tinct modifications of pitch in the nuclear syllable are indicated by special

We believe it is clear from the above that this system deserves recogni
tion not only because it reflects all relevant variations of the two prosodic
components of information but also because it serves a powerful visual aid
for teaching pronunciation.
Our further point will be the description of the functional aspect ofinto
nation in different textual discourse units. To establish the linguistic relevance
ofprosodic features it is necessary to look for contrasts or oppositions, which
can show their linguistic significance. In the next section we are going to look
at each component of intonation, or, in other words, each prosodic feature,
pitch, loudness and tempo and the way they function in speech.

4. 5. Functions of Intonation
4.5.1. Communicative function as the basic function ofintonation
Our further point will be the description of intonation on the func
tionallevel. Intonation is functional, i. e. it is used in a language for par


Chapter IV, Intonation

ticular purposes and is never merely decorative. Within any language into
nation is systemic: different speakers tend to use the same patterns for the
same purposes. If the speaker uses wrong intonation he can easily slip in
accent or can even be misunderstood.
Intonation is a powerful means of human communication. It has a
great value for expressing ideas and emotions and contributes to mutual
understanding between people. One of the aims of communication is the
exchange of information between people. The meaning of an English ut
terance, i. e. the information it conveys to a listener, derives not only from
the grammatical structure, the lexical composition and the sound pattern.
It also derives from variations of intonation, in other words the prosodic
parameters ofthe utterance.
Because of the complex nature of intonation and its high linguistic
potential, there is no agreement among phoneticians about the functional
aspect of intonation. The functions of intonation have been very differ
ently described and classified. Thus, T. M. Nikolaeva (2004) names three
functions: the functions of delimitation, integration and semantic func
tion. N. V. Cheremisina (1982) singles out the following functions: com
municative, distinctive (or phonological), culminative (accentual), inte
grative, delimitating, expressive, aesthetic. According to A. Gimson
(1981) intonation has two basic functions: accentual and non-accentual.
The classification of P. Roach (2001) includes attitudinal, accentual,
grammatical and discourse functions. D. Crystal (1995) distinguishes the
following functions: emotional, grammatical, informational, textual, psy
chological, indexical. J. C. Wells (2006) recognizes such functions as at
titudinal, grammatical, focusing (accentual, informational), discourse
(cohesive), psychological, indexicaL
It can be argued that since intonation is viewed as a powerful means of
communication, its basic function is communicative. It follows from this
that it is impossible to divorce any function of intonation from that of
communication. No matter how many functions are named, all of them
may be regarded as the realization of the communicative function.
The communicative function of intonation embraces all its numerous
uses, which can be grouped in the following way: the use of intonation to
distinguish meanings and the use of intonation to organize, or structure
the oral text. The first can be described as the distinctive (phonological)
function and the second - as the organizing function of intonation. In this
chapter we shall also give an overview of pragmatic, rhetorical and social
functions of intonation.

4.5. Functions of Intonation


4.5.2. Distinctive function

To demonstrate how intonation performs the distinctive function we must
view it on the phonological level. Phonology has a special branch, intonology,
whose domain is larger units ofconnected speech: intonation groups, phrases
and even phonetic passages. The same as in the case ofsegmental phonemes
the phonological approach to intonation involves the analysis based on a sys
tem ofoppositions. By oppositions here we mean minimal pairs of phrases of
identical grammar structure and lexical composition, in which the difference
in meaning is expressed by intonation only.
The descriptions of intonation show that phonological facts of intonation
system are much more open to discussion than in the field of segmental pho
nology. Descriptions differ according to the kind ofmeaning attributed to into
nation and the significance attached to different parts ofthe tone-unit (intona
tion pattern). J. O'Connor and G. Arnold claim that the major function of
intonation is to express the speaker's attitude to the situation he is placed in,
and they attach these meanings not to the pre-head, head and nucleus sepa
rately, but to each often "tone-unit types" as they combine with each offour
sentence types: statement, question, command and exclamation.
M. Halliday supposes that English intonation contrasts are grammatical.
He argues that there is a neutral or unmarked tone choice and explains all
other choices as meaningful by contrast. Thus, if one takes the statement "I
don't know", the suggested meanings are: Low Fall - neutral, Low Rise
non-committal, High Fall - contradictory, Fall-Rise
with reservation,
Rise-Fall with commitment. Unlike J. O'Connor and G. Arnold, M. Hal
liday attributes separate significance to the pre-nuclear choices, again taking
one choice as neutral and the others as meaningful by contrast.
D. Crystal presents an approach based on the view that "any explanation
of intonational meaning cannot be arrived at by seeing the issues solely in
their grammatical or attitudinal terms. " He ignores the significance of pre
head and head choices and deals only with terminal tones.
There are other similar approaches which possess one feature in com
mon: little attention is paid to the phonological significance ofpitch level and
pitch range.
In this book intonation is viewed on the phonological level as a complex sys
tem of all the prosodic parameters and a powerful means ofcommunication.
What kind of meanings can be distinguished by intonation? Intonation
is capable of distinguishing the syntactic type of sentence, the attitudinal
meaning and the actual meaning of the utterance.


Chapter IV .Intonation

a) Intonation is used to distinguish the syntactic, or communicative type

of sentence, in other words, it can indicate whether the utterance is a state
ment, a question, a command or an exclamation.

-7Isn't it ,wondeiful? (general question)

Isn't it 'wondeiful! (exclamation)


"'Will you 'stop Jalking?(command)

"'Will you 'stop ialking? (request)

It can be seen from these examples that it is the change of the nuclear
tone that leads to the change of the syntactic type of sentence.
The following sentence can be pronounced in different ways.

It's a lovely day.

When pronounced with the Low Fall this sentence is a statement,
pronounced with the High Fall it becomes an exclamation, when it is said
with the Low Rise it is a question.
An important role of intonation is to express attitudes of the speakers.
It can convey a wide range ofattitudes, thus performing the attitudinal func
tion. When people speak they can sound angry or happy, pleased or surprised,
interested or indifferent, and so on. The same sentence can be pronounced in
different ways and thus express a variety ofattitudinal meanings.

difficulties to foreign learners of English. Special attention should be given

to using the appropriate intonation to convey attitudes.
c) Intonation can differentiate the actual meaning of the sentence. The
change of meaning is achieved by the opposition of nuclear tones.

Have you read the book?

Not ,once.

When pronounced with Low Fall it means that the speaker has not read
the book.

Have you read the book?

Not Vance.

When pronounced with Fall-Rise it means that the book has been read
several times.
Similarly, the meaning is changed in the following phrases:

I "'don't 'want you to 'read ,anything. (You should avoid reading.)

["'don't 'want you to 'read vanything. (You should be more particular
about your choice of reading matter.)
The change ofmeaning can also be the result ofthe shift ofterminal tone.

He's a -7 French ,teacher. (He comes from France.)

He's a ,French teacher. (He teaches French.)
Figure 11
Distinctive Function of Intonation

When can you do it? ,Now. (detached, reserved)

When did you finish? - 'Now. (involved)

You are to do it right now. - v Now? (astonished)

How omuch did you JJay for it? (cool, reserved)

How omuch did you 'pay for it? (lively, interested)


4.5. Functions ofIntonation

intonation can differentiate

syntactic types of sentences

attitudinal meaning

It is not only the nuclear tone but the pre-nuclear pattern as well
head, the pre-head) that can differentiate the attitudinal meaning.

It was -7quite a 'good .lecture. (matter-of-fact, uninvolved)

It was v quite a 'good 'lecture. (impressed)

It should be noted that the changes in pitch are usually accompanied by

changes in the rate of utterance , loudness and voice quality.
When we speak about attitudes and emotions we mean both the attitude
to what is said, to the listener, to the situation and the emotional state ofthe
speaker. So it is a fairly complex phenomenon which may present particular

As you have seen from the examples given above it is the opposition ofter
minal tones that can differentiate all kinds of meaning: the syntactic type of
sentences, attitudinal meaning and the actual meaning of the sentence. The
number of terminal tones which indicates the number ofintonation groups in
an utterance is also relevant for the meaning. Different phrasing, or subdivision
ofsentence into intonation groups, may result in differences in meaning.
For example, the sentence My sister, who lives in the South has just ar
rived may be interpreted in two different ways.


Chapter rv. Intonation


My sister I who lives in the South I has just arrived. I It means "My only
sister who happens to live in the South ... "
My sister who lives in the South Ihas just arrived. I It means "That one of
my sisters, who lives in the South ... "
In a written text this difference in meaning is sometimes marked by
punctuation, while in oral speech it is expressed by intonation.
As regards the other components of the intonation pattern (the pre
head, the head) they differentiate only attitudinal meaning. Being pro
nounced with the high pre-head, "Hello" sounds more friendly than when
pronounced with the low pre-head:

Hel,lo! - -Hel,lo!
More commonly, however, different kinds of pre-heads, the same as
pitch ranges and levels fulfil their distinctive function not alone but in com
bination with other prosodic constituents.

-Very 'clever, .isn't he?

-That's quite 'interesting.
Finishing the overview ofthe distinctive function of intonation we must
look at the relationship of intonation, syntactic structure and lexical com
position in an utterance. Generally intonation is in balance with other lan
guage means. For example questions express a certain amount of interest,
which is normally conveyed both by their syntactical structure and inter
rogative intonation. However, there are cases when intonation is in contra
diction with the syntactic structure and lexical composition of the utter
ance, neutralizing and compensating them. For example, a statement may
sound questioning: He was late a,gain?
There are cases when intonation neutralizes or compensates the lexical
content ofthe utterance as it happens, for instance, in the command -;.Phone
him at .once, please, when the meaning of the word please is neutralized by
-;.How 'very ,nice. Due to intonation this utterance sounds negative in
contrast to the syntactic structure and the wording.
Lack of balance between intonation and word content, or intonation
and grammatical structure of the utterance may serve to create special
speech effects, irony, for example:

Very >clever, Jsn't he?

-;.1hat's 'quite .interesting.


4.5. Functions ofintonation

There are cases when groups of intonation patterns may be treated as

synonyms. It happens when fine shades of meaning in different situations
modify the basic meaning they express. The basic meaning of any falling
tone in statements is finality. Low Fall and High Fall both expressing final
ity have their own particular semantic shades. Pronounced with Low Fall a
statement will sound detached and reserved. High Fall together with final
ity may express concern, involvement:

Where's my copy?

,Peter took it for you.

or: 'Peter took it for you.

Isn't it a lovely view?

or: De'lightful.

4.5.3. Organizing function

As it was already mentioned, intonation serves to structure the text. On
the one hand, it delimitates the text into smaller units, on the other hand, it
ties together smaller units into bigger ones. These two processes take place
When we speak about delimitation (or segmentation) we mean that into
nation can divide the text into phonopassages (or dialogue blocks), phrases,
intonation groups. In spoken English the smallest piece of information is
associated with an intonation group, that is, a unit ofintonation containing
a nuclear tone. There is no eXact match between punctuation in writing and
intonation groups in speech. Segmentation ofspeech into intonation groups
depends on a number of factors, such as the length of syntactical units, the
intention of the speaker to give emphasis to particular parts ofthe message,
the degree of formality ofdiscourse, the tempo of speech and others. A sin
gle phrase may contain just one intonation group, but when its length goes
beyond a certain point, it is difficult not to split it into two or more chunks
of information.

The man told us we could park it here. I

The man told us I we could park it at the railway station. II
The man told us I we could park the car I in front ofthe pub I in the street
over there. II
As we have already mentioned, the number of intonation groups in an
utterance may affect its meaning. Compare:


Chapter IV. Intonation

"'Jane 'put the 'book on the .table.

Jane I "'put the 'book on the .table.


SO, together with nuclear tones pauses perform the function of de

limitation, dividing the text into smaller units.
Intonation also serves to combine smaller units and organize them
into bigger ones: intonation groups - phrases phonopassages texts.
Intonation shows what things belong more closely together than
others. It also shows what is subordinate to what. Thus, intonation con
nects textual units with other textual units and contributes to the cohe
sion of the spoken text, thus performing the integrative function. Admit
tedly, integration and delimitation are not formal things, these processes
are the realization of the information content of the text.
Now, we will consider in more detail the role of intonation in con
veying the information content of an utterance. Intonation highlights the
most important information in an utterance, which helps to distinguish
which information is new and which information is known to the lis
The information in a message is divided into new (the rheme) and
given (the theme). Given information is something that, as the speaker
assumes, the listener already knows. New information is something that
the speaker thinks the listener does not know. Here is an example:

What did John say to you?

He was talking to ,Mary I not to ,me.

In the response "he was talking" is given information. It should be

mentioned that "given information" can be retrieved not only from the
verbal context (something that was already mentioned or referred to) or
the situation. It is also associated with the knowledge that the speaker and
the listener share. For example, if both participants know that several
people are expected to come, the phrase "The doctor has come" will be
pronounced with the nuclear tone on the word "doctor", though no verbal
context preceded it. So the context here is to be taken in a very broad
New information is the most important part of the message. It is con
centrated in the information centre, which may consist of a single word or
be spread over a number ofwords. The nuclear tone marks the nucleus of
the information centre, 1. e. the information focus.

Jack went to Paris. II

I'd like a new DVD. II

4.5. Functions ofIntonation


Notice that the decision as to whether some information is retrievable or

not has to be made by the speaker on the basis ofwhat he thinks the addressee
can take for granted from the situation, etc. The speaker must, in framing the
utterance, make many assumptions, and he does this rapidly and to a large
degree unconsciously. He then arranges his intonation groups and assigns nu
clear tones accordingly. But in any particular situation, the speaker's assump
tions run the risk ofbeing wrong: what he takes to be retrievable information
may not in fact be retrievable for the addressee. In this case there is a break
down of communication, and the listener will probably seek clarification:

I'd like a new DVD.

The position ofthe nuclear tone on the last notional word ofthe intona
tion group (end-focus position) is viewed as the basic, neutral, unmarked.
In actual speech the rheme and the nuclear tone may be placed differ
ently. Such position of the nuclear tone is called marked.

Did Jack go to Paris? - No, Mark went to Paris.

The nuclear tone is shifted when the speaker wants to give focus to a
particular part ofthe intonation group, usually to contrast it with something
already mentioned, or understood in the context. In the marked position
the nuclear tone is sometimes called contrastive focus or logical sentence
stress. Compare the placement of the nuclear tone in the following dia

Where was he born? - He was born in London.

Did your brother study in London? - No, he was born in London.
Any part ofspeech (even pronouns, prepositions, auxiliaries) may carry
new information and be in the focus position.

It's not vour book, it's ours.

The book is not on the table, it's in the tab/e.
Whlch syllable ofthe word is stressed, ifit has more than one syllable, is
determined by ordinary conventions of word stress: to'morrow, 'picture,
An important conclusion to be made here is that intonation plays a very
important role in structuring the discourse: it organizes words into a mean
ingful phrase, it ties phrases together within a text, showing in the process
where divisions come, which things are more important, what is subordi
nate to what and so on. In other words, intonation signals how phrases go


Chapter IV Intonation

together in a spoken discourse. At the same time intonation reflects the in

fluence of the context, both verbal and extralinguistic, on the speech real
Let us consider the sentence "It was an unusually rainy day". At the be
ginning ofa story the last three words would be particularly important, they
form the semantic centre with the nucleus on the word "day". The first
three words playa minor part. The listener would get a pretty clear picture
ofthe story's setting if the first three words were not heard because of some
outside noise and the last three were heard clearly. If the last three words
which form the semantic centre were lost there would be virtually no infor
mation gained at all.
The same sentences may be said in response to the question "What sort
ofday was it?" In this case the word "day" in the reply would lose some ofits
force because the person who asks the question already possesses the neces
sary information. In this situation there are only two important words
"unusually rainy" and they would be sufficient as a complete answer to
the question. The nucleus will be on the word "rainy". In reply to the ques
tion "Did it rain yesterday?" the single word "unusually" would bear the
major part of the information, would be, in this sense, more important than
all the others and consequently would be the nucleus of the intonation pat
The word "was" has little value in the previous examples, but ifthe sen
tence were said as a contradiction in the reply to "It wasn't a rainy day yes
terday, was it?", then "was" would be the most important word of all and
indeed, the reply might simply be ((It was" ,omitting the following words as
no longer worth saying. In this phrase the word "was" is the nucleus of the
semantic centre.
These variations of intonation achieved by shifting the position of the
terminal tone show how the opposition ofthe distribution ofterminal tones
fulfils integrating function. Together with delimitation, integration can be
viewed as the basic aspect of discourse.
In the next section we will view the functions ofintonation with refer
ence to discourse.
4.5.4. Intonation in discourse
We have so far confined our description ofthe functional aspect ofinto
nation to phrases, now we want to look at the functions of intonation with
reference to discourse.

4.5. Functions oflntonation


In recent years there has been an increasing interest of linguists in

analyzing "the way sentences work in sequence to produce coherent
stretches oflanguage" (D. Crystal, 2007). Linguistic disciplines that deal
with these problems are called text linguistics and discourse analysis.
Some scholars apply the term "discourse" to spoken language, while the
term "text" is used to describe the structure of written language. However,
since our primary concern is the functional aspect of intonation in oral
speech we are not going to specify the particular meaning of the terms and
look at the prosodic organization of oral discourse, or text.
The study of oral discourse, i. e. structures extending beyond the sen
tence, demonstrates that intonation is ofcentral importance for the mean
ing and interpretation of spoken language.
Probably one of the most important functions of intonation is tying
the major parts together within the phrase and tying phrases together
within the text showing in the process what things belong more closely
together than others, where the divisions come, what is subordinate to
what, and whether one is telling, asking, commanding or exclaiming. In
other words, in the previous sections we considered aspects of meaning in
isolation, but now we shall focus on how meanings may be put together
and presented in an oral discourse.
It is demonstrated in recent phonetic investigations that intonation
plays a very important role in the semantic organization of textual units.
Here is a brief account of how intonation contributes to structuring an
oral monologue.
. Firstly, intonation is a cue to boundaries between discourse segments.
This boundary is perceived due to the pitch parameters and pauses. Gener
ally the beginning of a topical textual unit is marked by a high onset, in other
words, the pitch range in the initial syntagm is comparatively wide and it
gradually becomes narrower at the end of the textual unit. There is a marked
change ofpitch at the boundaries between textual units which may be accom
panied by a rather long pause and sometimes a change of loudness.
In the example presented below (an extract from a lecture) the begin
nings of textual units are in bold print:
The origin ofthis lecture I may perhaps be I a purely British problem. II And
I hope this will emerge perhaps I in the course ofdiscussion afterwards, II but it is
concerned with the role ofliterature, I reading and discussing literature I in the
teachingofforeign languages. III
The first point I that J need to make I is that modem languages I the study of
foreign languages in England Iwas established at university level relatively late. III


Chapter IV. Intonation

Besides marking boundaries intonation is an important means of bind

ing textual units together thus creating cohesion of spoken discourse. It is
generally acknowledged that sentences in a text do not occur at random,
there is a mutual dependence ofelements that form the text. Intonation acts
as an indicator of semantic relationships of both between and inside textual
units. By the placement of the nuclear tone, or accentuation, it is shown
which lexical items carry new information. So the elements of the text
which convey important information are marked by prosody, while others
remain unmarked which contributes to expressing and developing the in
formation content oftextual units and whole texts.
Intonation can show which phonopassages are more important in terms
of information they convey. Their prosodic organization is generally char
acterized by higher key, wider pitch range, greater loudness as compared to
the phonopassages which convey additional or less important information.
The following extract from a talk given by a student of Cambridge is an il
lustration of how intonation actualizes the information content of textual
units: the lexical items carrying new information are in bold print, phrases
conveying low-key information are underlined.

Television Iis really still Ithe dominantform ofentertainment in England. II

And you know I there are 5 channels: I RRC 1, 12, IlTV, IChannel 4 I and re
cently Channel 5 has started out. II Rut in my opinion 1the RRC I is still Iyou
know I the best channell to put it plainly'. II It:~ very well respected abroad and
at home. II It gives very good news coverage I it produces great dramas I orher
types oLprogrammes. III
A" regards the prosodic organization ofdialogues, or conversational in

teraction there are two aspects to be taken into account here: the role of
intonation in organizing dialogues and the role ofprosody in structuring the
interaction itself (turn taking, interruptions and so on).
We shall start with the organization of connections between phrases,
with considering how one idea leads on to another. Intonation is one of
the means that fulfils this connection, performing the integrating func
Obviously, in a spoken discourse a phrase does not exist in isolation, it
is closely connected to other phrases, especially to the one preceding it.
So a phrase exists in a certain verbal context and is relevant to this context.
Let's look at the following dialogue:
A: Where is John?

B: He is in the house.

4.5. Functions of Intonation


In this dialogue phrase A is the context for phrase B, while B is a re

sponse to A and thus is relevant to A as a response to a special question.
Relevance is the phenomenon that enables humans to converse. It is clear
that if we take phrase B in isolation its meaning will be obscure. So rele
vance exists only ifthere is a context.
If we take an utterance like "John" in isolation, we cannot say much
about its structure or meaning. But as soon as we make it relevant to a con
text, both the structure and meaning become clear.

Who is in the house?


We can
that it is an elliptical sentence and the meaning is"John is in
the house"'. The same phrase will have a different structure and meaning in
a different context:

Who did they see?


The full form of response is "They saw John", a phrase in which the
sequence "John" is now an object. So the two utterances "John" appear
identical in isolation, but different contexts allow us to see their differ
Analysing the role of intonation in discourse we must consider both
the verbal context and the speech situation. The example given above il
lustrates the connection between the information structure, L e. the
placement of the nucleus, with the verbal context and the speech situaSo the study of intonation in discourse is based on detailed analysis
of the context, both the immediate verbal context and broader context
of speech interaction.
When we view intonation in relation to discourse special attention is
given to the relevant factors which determine the choice of intonation in
particular context. Generally two areas are considered in this respect: the
use ofintonation to focus the attention ofthe listener on the most impor
tant elements of the message and the use of intonation to regulate the
conversational behaviour (A. Cruttenden, P. Roach, A. Wichmann).
As regards the first area, it was already mentioned that in speech in
teraction the placement of the nuclear tone depends on the verbal con
text, i. e. on what has already been said. Compare the position of the
nuclear tone in the following short conversations.

How does the story start?

"It was an unusually dark night... "


Chapter IV. Intonation

In this case the position of the nuclear tone is unmarked, it is the so

called broad focus, and the whole phrase is perceived as new, important
information. Here are some examples of the marked position ofthe nuclear
tone (narrow focus):

What sort ofnight was it?

It was an unusually dark night.

Nights are usually dark here.

It was an unusuallY dark night.

The night was not very dark yesterday.

It was an unusually dark night.

Focusing the attention of the listener on a particular part ofthe message

can also be achieved by creating contrast between less important (low-key)
information and more important (high-key) information.

4.5. Functions oflntonation


leaving problem to go in the tail, can be interpreted as implying that life is a

succession ofproblems. " (J. C. Wells, 2006). The use ofFall-Rise expresses
reference to the knowledge shared by the speaker and the listener.
Another aspect of how intonation functions in discourse is the ability of
intonation to regulate conversational behavior. Various prosodic signals can
be used to show that one person has finished speaking, that he wants to con
tinue speaking, that he is expecting an answer or that he is encouraging an
other person to continue the conversation. It can be observed in turn-taking
in a dialogue.

Hello, Anna. It's ages since I've seen you. How are you doing?

- Not so bad. Busy as usual with exams. And you?

- Oh, still at the same place, you know, but enjoying it.

The High Fall at the end of the first utterance and the High Rise at the
end ofthe second utterance signal that it is the turn ofthe other participant
Last time I as I am sure YOU remember I we discussed the functions ofinto
to speak. The rising tone encourages further conversation.
Similarly, intonation can show what particular type ofanswer is expect
Thank you very much for coming I nice of you to give us your time.
ed from the listener. Compare two short dialogues:
prosodic characteristics of the intonation group containing low
- Who do you think will help?
key information as compared to the other intonation groups in the utter
- ,Jack will, ,won't he?
ance are lower pitch level, narrower pitch range, increased tempo, lower
- Well, I hope so.
loudness. As a result these intonation groups are perceived as subordinate,
The Low Rise in the tag question indicates that the speaker expects an
parenthetical or just less important.
answer and wants his partner to express either agreement or disagreement.
Intonation can also be used as a reference to the information shared by
the participants ofdiscourse. Speakers use falling tones in the parts of the ut
- The food is very expensive here.
terance which they think is unknown to the listener. They use the Fall-Rise
- It .is, .Isn't it?
when they refer to the information shared by themselves and the listeners.
The Low Fall in the
question is a signal that no answer is expected
- What shall we give July?

and the agreement of the partner is assumed.

- As she likes vreading! we could -"give her a ,book.

In the analysis of spoken discourse special attention is given to the in

- How about going out on Friday?

teractional me(lning of language means. To explain how language units

I've got a -"meeting on v Friday.

function in social context scholars rely on the pragmatics of discourse.

In natural speech both the placement and the choice of nuclear tone
reflect numerous implications of social interaction. 1. C. Wells gives an in
teresting example ofthe situation which he witnessed himself. "A taxi-driv
er was picking up two passengers who had a lot ofluggage. The driver loaded
most ofthe cases into the boot ofthe car, but could not find room for the last
one. So he finally placed it on the back seat. One passenger said to the oth
. er: "We've solved that problem". The placement of the nucleus on that,

4.5.5. Pragmatic function

According to contemporary ideas in pragmatics speech communica
tion is effective when people follow special rules which govern speech
interaction and which are recognized by all members of the language
community. "Pragmatics studies the factors which govern our choice of


language means in social interaction and the effects of our choice on

others" (D. Crystal, 1995).
There are two important aspects in this definition. First, our choice
of language means, and prosodic means in particular, is determined by
the rules of speech behaviour in a particular speech situation. For ex
ample, if a person asks a question he or she expects to get an answer, or
if a person wants to engage you in a small talk and makes a comment
about the weather, you are supposed to react in a similar way. Second, by
choosing different language means, including the prosodic means, we
can produce different kinds of influence on the listeners.
As regards the pragmatic function of intonation, it consists in the use
of intonation with a specific purpose. In other words, when used in dis
course, intonation serves to actualize the speaker's pragmatic aim.
the choice of the nuclear tone can be the result of the pragmat
ics of discourse, i. e. what the speaker wants to achieve in the course of
speech interaction. Thus, a statement can be used as a request for infor
mation and then the rising tone will be used instead of the falling tone:

Intonation can contribute to greater expressiveness of an utterance. Slid

ing Head and High Fall in combination with wide pitch range, increased
loudness and slow tempo make the following utterances very expressive:
This ""car is ""terribly ex'pensive.
The ""food was 'terrible, I am oSorry to oSay.
Into""nation 'plays a very im'portant 'role in 'human communi,cation.
Emphatic pauses are often used to make the sentence more expressive.
I was so exhausted I that at the end ofthe holiday I I needed I a holiday.

""Come and ,help me.

....Do be ,careful.
,Wait for ,me.
Here is another example of the pragmatic use of intonation in social
speech interaction. In a British university a pasta dish was offered on the
menu at lunch time. It was served as a complete dish (big portion) or with
vegetables (smaller portion). The students discovered that if they said "I'll
have the pasta" with a final fall, they were served a big portion, because the
caterer presumed that notlling else was to follow. After a pause the students
added "and chips, carrots and peas, please" so the caterer had to add vege
tables to the already full plate. "The pasta fall" is a good illustration ofhow
the choice of nuclear tone affects the meaning of tile utterance and how
intonation is used for very practical purposes (A. Wichmann, 2000).
It should be mentioned that the pragmatic use of intonation is also as
sociated with its ability to affect the intellect and emotions of the listener.


The pragmatic function of intonation is manifested in all types of dis

course, but it is particularly vivid in the discourse which is specifically
designed to implement pragmatic goals. Admittedly, it is especially
vant in literary texts and in public speaking. In this context the pragmatic
function is referred to as the rhetorical function of intonation.

4.5.6. Rhetorical function

You are ,coming?

You really be,lieve it?
A command which is normally pronounced with a fall will function as a
polite request when said with a rise or a warning when pronounced with a


4.5. Functions ofIntonation

Chapter IV. Intonation

In rhetorical discourse the main goal of the speaker is persuasion. The

public speech is planned, structured and delivered as an oral text aimed at
influencing the intellect, the emotions of the listeners or both. Naturally,
when presenting the speech in public the speaker chooses the prosodic
means which will contribute to the implementation of his or her goals and
objectives and make the speech effective. Here are some examples.
Now Ithe reasonfor thiy was Ithat in the middle ofthe 19" century Iin Britain
Ithere had been a very Iviolent Idebate Iabout thefuture ofeducation.
The phrase is divided into short intonation groups, emphatic pauses
are used. The tempo is slow. The pitch range is wide. Peculiar accentua
tion when every word is stressed, even the preposition in, the use of Slid
ing Head and High Falls make the utterance sound weighty. The whole
utterance is perceived as very expressive.
In rhetorical discourse prosodic parameters are frequently radically
changed, which contributes to the pragmatic effect. When the speaker
wants to convey important information the tempo is slowed down and the
length of pauses increases.
English has never been a syllable-timed language.

III Until nowll.

Another technique is the use of repetitions, when prosodic parallelism

often accompanies syntactic parallel constructions.


Chapter IV. Intonation

I could have given a quick account ofthe history II could have said what it
was like to be a student here a hundred years ago I I could have told you about
the great museums I and libraries Iand college chapels.

Besides conveying information intonation is used to impress, affect

the listeners and thus it performs the pragmatic or rhetorical function.
Summing up, we can say that intonation plays a very important role
in making communication effective.
Discussing the use of intonation in discourse we should mention an
other important function, which is referred to as social, or indexical.
Intonation is a marker of personal and social identity. According to D.
Crystal, lawyers, preachers, sports commentators, teachers are readily
identified through their distinctive prosody (D. Crystal, 1995). Intona
tion can be an indicator of the social status of an individual and his or
her social role.
In particular speech situations intonation can express the dominance
of one of the participants. He might use wider pitch range, slower tem
po, use the rising tone instead of fall-rise as a referring tone and so on.

You were supposed to have done it by the twenty fourth.

- The twenty-tSixth, IOthink.

- The twenty sixth ofMay? Surely not.

It is important to note here that discourse can take many forms, deter
mined by the situation in which it takes place, the participants and their
relationships. Intonation is subject to variation depending on the extralin
guistic situation. These recurrent variations are described in terms ofpho
netic styles. Intonation can perform the stylistic function, which will be
described in Chapter V.

4.6. Rhythm


4.6. Rhythm

time. It can be observed in the succession ofseasons, heart beating, breath

ing, in music, dancing and other forms ofart.
Speech rhythm is traditionally defined as a regular occurrence ofstressed
syllables in a speech continuum. Speech rhythm is also described in terms
of acceleration and slowing down, of relaxation and intensification, length
and brevity, similar and dissimilar elements. The type ofrhythm depends on
the language. Languages are divided into two groups: syllable-timed, like
French, Spanish, Italian, Greek and others, and stress-timed, such as Eng
lish, German, Dutch, Russian and other languages.
In syllable-timed languages an approximately equal amount of time is
given to each syllable, regardless of it being stressed or unstressed. In other
words, "all syllables, whether stressed or unstressed, occur at regular time
intervals and the time between stressed syllables will be shorter or longer in
proportion to the number ofunstressed syllables" (P. Roach, 2001). In these
languages there is practically no reduction of unstressed vowels.
stress- timed languages stressed syllables tend to occur at relatively
equal intervals of time, According to the stress-timed theory time intervals
between stressed syllables are approximately the same irrespective of the
number ofunstressed syllables between them, which is generally described as
a tendency to isochrony. In such languages rhythm is based on a larger unit
than syllable. This rhythmic unit is called the foot or the rhythmic group. The
stressed syllables in the rhythmic group form peaks of prominence.
As it was already mentioned, the duration ofrhythmic groups is consid
ered to be equal. However, this principle which is accepted by most phone
ticians has not been experimentally verified (A Cruttenden, P. Roach, A
Gimson). Despite the insufficiency of acoustic data, the perception of
stress-timing in English is evident. This effect is particularly noticeable due
to the reduction and elision of vowels in unstressed syllables. Also due to the
changes in length, pitch, loudness and vowel quality in the stressed syllables
they are perceived as prominent in contrast to the unstressed syllables,
which creates the abrupt, spiky effect of English rhythm.

Rhythm in Different Languages

4.6.1. Speech rhythm. Definition. JYpology

The description of English intonation and the phonetic aspect of con
nected speech is incomplete without some reference to speech rhythm.
Rhythm is viewed as a kind offramework of speech organization.
In a broad sense rhythm is understood as periodicity in time and space.
The notion of rhythm implies that something occurs at regular intervals of




equal amount oftime is



stressed syllables occur at equal intervals oftime and form

peaks ofprominence in rhythmic groups

to each syllable, stressed or


Chapter IV. Intonation

4.6.2. Rhythmic group as the basic unit of rhythm

The basic unit of rhythm is the rhythmic group (the foot, the phonetic
word), which can be defined as a speech segment containing a stressed syl
lable and unstressed syllables attached to it. The stressed syllable is the nu
cleus of the rhythmic group. The unstressed syllables preceding the stressed
syllable with which they are grouped are called proclitics, those following
the stressed syllable are called enclitics.
There are two alternative views among phoneticians concerning the
grouping of stressed and unstressed syllables. According to the first point of
view the grouping is based on the semantic principle: the unstressed sylla
bles tend to be drawn either to the stressed syllable of the same word or to
the lexical unit with which they are semantically connected:.

They decided I to go I to the country Ifor the weekend.

According to the other point ofview the unstressed syllables tend to join
the preceding stressed syllable. This theory is called enclitic. According to
the enclitic principle the same phrase will be divided into rhythmic groups
in the following way:

They decided to Igo to the I country/or the I weekend.

The enclitic tendency is considered to be more typical of-English,
though experimental data show that the type of division into rhythmic
groups depends on the tempo and style of speech. The enclitic tendency is
observed in rapid colloquial speech, while in careful slow speech the se
mantic tendency prevails.
It is generally acknowledged that the rhythmic group is the basic unit of
rhythm. It functions as such in all types of texts. But the description of
rhythm is not limited to the rhythmic group. According to A. M. Antipova
(1984), the rhythmic structure of speech continuum is a hierarchy of rhyth
mic units of different levels. Rhythmicality created by interrelation of lexi
cal, syntactic and prosodic means, marks every text segment: rhythmic
groups, intonation groups, phrases and phonopassages.

4.6.3. Rhythm in different types of discourse

An important factor which regulates speech rhythm is the style of
speech. Thus, rhythm has a great rhetorical potential in public speaking.
Admittedly, it possesses great aesthetic value in literary texts, especially in
poetry. As far as spontaneous conversation is concerned, its rhythmic orga


4.6. Rhythm

nization will be very different and may even produce the effect of arhyth
micality. P. Roach comments on such variations in English speech rhythm
in the following way: " ... in speaking English we vary in how rhythmically
we speak: sometimes we speak very rhythmically (this is typical of some
styles of public speaking), while at other times we speak arythmically (that
is, without rhythm) - for example, when we are hesitant or nervous. Stress
timed rhythm is thus perhaps characteristic of one style of speaking, not of
English speech as a whole; one always speaks with some degree of rhythmi
cality, but the degree will vary between a minimum value (arythmical) and
a maximum (completely stress-timed rhythm)" (P. Roach, 2001). It is true
to say that any style of speech has some kind of rhythm, but the character
and degree of rhythmicality differ in different styles.
Admittedly, maximum rhythmicality is observed in poetry. In verse the
effect of rhythmicality is created by a hierarchy of rhythmic units. The basic
rhythmic units in metric verse are: the foot, the line, the stanza. The foot is
formed by the stressed syllable and the unstressed syllables that precede or
follow it. The line contains one or more intonation groups with an equal
number offeet in them. On the prosodic level the rhythm in a line is secured
by the similar number of syllables, their temporal similarity, descending
melody contour, tone and intensity maximum at the beginning, tone and
intensity minimum at the end and a final pause. These parameters make the
a stable rhythmic unit. The stanza has a fixed number of lines.
Obviously, the effect of poetic rhythm is not created by prosody alone.
There is a number of devices which contribute to this effect: rhyme, asso
nance (repetition of similar vowels), alliteration (repetition of similar con
sonants)' repetition, syntactic parallelism and so on.

Earth has not anything to show more fair.

Dull would he be ofsoul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This city now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty o/the morning; silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields, and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.
(w. Wordsworth)
Poets control the rhythmical patterns they use, because rhythm is a
powerful means of creating poetic images. In the following extracts from
two classical poems this intention of the authors is perfectly clear:

Chapter IV Intonation


Those evening bells! Those evening bells!

How many a tale their music tells,
Oflove, and home, and that sweet time
When last I heard their soothing chime!
(Th. Moore)
The woods are lovely, dark and deep,

But I have promises to keep,

And miles to go before J sleep,

And miles to go before J sleep

(R. Frost)
In prose we can also observe a hierarchy of rhythmic structures. The
basic rhythmic unit here is rhythmic group (one stressed syllable with un
!\tr4~!\!\I~d syllables attached to it). Rhythmic groups blend together into in
tonation groups, which form phrases and phonopassages. The similarity
of the prosodic organization of these text units creates the effect of regu
larity. Thus in prose an intonation group, a phrase and a phonopassage
have a number of common features in their prosodic organization: the
beginning of the rhythmic unit is characterized by the tone and intensity
maximum and the decrease oftempo; the end ofa rhythmic unitismarked
by a pause, the tone and intensity minimum, descending terminal tones.
So it is prosody that forms the rhythmicality of a prosaic text read aloud.
The following extracts from modern fiction illustrate the rhythmic orga
nization of prose:

4.6. Rhythm


In public speaking marked regularity of rhythm, usually based on the

repetition of intonation patterns, is often used as a rhetorical device, which
is aimed at making the presentation more effective.
J couldl I suppose Ihave given a quick account ofthe history II. I could have
said what it was like to be a student here a hundred years ago. II I could have
told you about the famous people who'd come here. II J could have told you
about the great museums, I and libraries, I and college chapelsll, but you could
get all that out ofguidebooks IIand you'll be seeing most ofthese things anyway I
as you walk about.

Rhythmical organization of spontaneous speech is more complicated,

more varied and flexible, than that of a literary text. It is generally associ
ated with physiological and cognitive processes in speech production
speech perception.
Finishing up this brief overview of the tendencies that characterize the
rhythm of oral discourse, we should say that in actual speech communica
tion rhythmical patterns used by speakers vary considerably. If speakers
used the same rhythmical patterns, they would sound monotonous. So
alongside with regularity of rhythm we can observe all kinds of variations
and irregularities.
4.6.4. Functions of rhythm

Rhythm serves to organize segments of speech: smaller units are or

ganized into larger ones, larger units include smaller ones. Rhythm
unites text segments into a whole and at the same time divides discourse
The west ofEngland was once remote, Iinaccessible I and inconvenient. II
into elements. On the one hand, the stability of rhythm contributes to
Somerset, I Devon, I Cornwall. II Country cousins lived there, I whose uncouth
the integration of the text and its parts. On the other hand, the change of
accents Iprovoked ridicule I when they came up to town. II It was picturesque in
rhythm marks the boundaries between parts of the text. So rhythm per
those parts, I but barbarous I and to be avoidedl except for purposes ofabsentee
forms the functions of delimitation and integration which form a dialec
landownership. III
tical unity.
(Penelope Lively)
Another function of rhythm is aesthetic. Rhythmically organized
is easily perceived and produces a certain emotional effect on
Some hours before dawn I Henry Perownel a neurosur.geonl wakes to find
beings. It is assumed that the regularity of speech rhythm is in
himself already in motion, I pushing back the covers from the
and then rising to his feet. II It's not clear to him I when exactly he became con with biological rhythm. This use of rhythm is of special sig
nificance in poetry.
sciousl, nor does it seem relevant. II He's never done such a thing before, I but
Rhythm can also make discourse expressive and thus increase its
he isn't alarmedl orevenfaintly surprised, Ifor the movement is easy, and plea
pragmatic potential. This function of rhythm is of special value in public
surable in his limbs, I and his back and legs Ifeel unusually strong. II
speaking. In rhetorical terms rhythmically organized speech is more
(Ian McEwan)


Chapter Iv. Intonation

fective. Admittedly, rhythmical effect in public speaking is achieved by a

combination of lexical, syntactic and prosodic means. For example,
rhythmicality may be created by repetitions, in which syntactic parallel
ism may be accompanied by the repetition of intonation patterns.
In conclusion we must consider the problem of the acquisition of
English rhythm by Russian learners of English. In spite of the fact that
Russian belongs to the group of stress-timed languages as well as Eng
lish, correct usage of English rhythm proves to be rather difficult for
Russian learners. The following aspects are to be considered here:
1. The traditional exercise that is recommended is to beat the rhythm so
that to practice regular rhythm. Despite the arguments among pho
neticians about the isochrony of English rhythm it is necessary to
master stress-timed rhythm. Special focus in such exercises should
be given to the contrast between stressed (strong) and unstressed
(weak) syllables, since it is a very important aspect of English
2. It is important to use weak forms in prepositions, articles, auxiliaries,
conjunctions, personal and possessive pronouns, which generally
occur in unstressed positions.
3. Russian learners should be particularly careful in rhythm-unit break.
The division into rhythmic groups does not necessarily coincide with
potential sense groups.
4. For advanced learners it is essential to master the rhythmic organiza
tion of larger rhythmic units with regard for the style and genre of

Intonation is a language universal. It is indispensable in communi
Intonation is defined as a complex, a whole, formed by significant
variations of pitch, loudness and tempo (the rate of speech and pausa
tion) closely related. The term "prosody" is used in suprasegmental
phonetics alongside with the term "intonation".
Each component of intonation can be described as a system. Pitch is
described as a system of tones (Fall, Rise, Fall-Rise and so on), pitch



levels (keys), which can be high, medium and low, and pitch ranges
(wide, medium and narrow). Loudness is described as normal, increased
(forte) or low (piano). Tempo includes rate of speech and pausation.
The rate of speech can be normal, slow and fast. Pauses are classified ac
cording to their length, their position in the utterance (final - non-fi
nal) and their function (syntactic, emphatic and hesitation pauses)
Viewed on the acoustic level each component of intonation has its
own acoustic correlate. The acoustic correlate of pitch is fundamental
frequency of the vibrations of the vocal cords; loudness correlates with
intensity, tempo correlates with time (duration) during which a speech
unit lasts. All of them are closely interconnected in the processes of
speech production and speech perception
The intonation pattern is the basic unit of intonation. It serves to
actualize syntagms into intonation groups. The nuclear tone is the most
important part of the intonation pattern. The nuclear tone may be fol
lowed by the tail. The two other components of the intonation pattern,
the head and the pre-head form its pre-nuclear part.
Intonation is as a powerful means of communication. The commu
nicative function of intonation embraces all its numerous uses, which
can be grouped into the following functions: distinctive or phonological;
organizing; pragmatic; rhetorical; social; stylistic.
Performing its distinctive function intonation can differentiate the
syntactic (communicative) types of sentences, attitudinal meanings, the
actual meaning of sentences.
Intonation serves to structure the text. On the one hand, it delimi
tates the text into smaller units, on the other hand, it ties together small
er units into bigger ones.
Intonation conveys the information content of an utterance. It high
lights the most important information in an utterance and helps to dis
tinguish which information is new (the rheme) and which information is
known to the listener (the theme).
Intonation plays a very important role in structuring spoken dis
course. At the same time it reflects the influence of the context, both
verbal and extralinguistic, on the speech realization.
Speech rhythm is defined as a regular occurrence of stressed sylla
bles in a speech continuum. English is a stress-timed language. In such
languages rhythm is based on a larger unit than syllable, the rhythmic
group. The stressed syllables in the rhythmic group form peaks of prom


Chapter 1V. Intonation

Speech rhythm is regulated by the style of speech. Maximum rhyth

micality is observed in poetry. Rhythm performs the functions of de
limitation and integration, aesthetic and pragmatic functions.

Chapter V

5.1. The problems of Phonostylistics

5.1.1. Phonostylistics as a branch of phonet
5.1.2. Extralinguistic situation and its compo
5.1.3. Style-forming factors
5.1.4. Classification of phonetic styles

5.2. Stylistic modifications of speech sounds

5.3. Stylistic use of intonation
5.3.1. Phonostyles and their registers
5.3.2. Informational style
a) spheres of discourse
b) informational texts (reading)
c) infonoational monologues (speaking)
d) informational dialogues
e) press reporting and broadcasting


Academic style
Publicistic style
Declamatory style. Artistic reading
Conversational style

5.1. The problems ofPhonostylistics

5.1.1. Phonostylistics as a branch of phonetics
So far we described phonetic units as part ofthe language system. When
language is used in speech phonetic units undergo various changes so it can
be assumed that pronunciation is not homogeneous. These variations of
phonetic units are the result of numerous factors which are referred to as
extralinguistic, because they lie outside the system of the language. The
bundle of these factors forms the extralinguistic situation.


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

The chapter that follows is based on the idea that the information about
stylistic variations is significant for teaching phonetics. The branch ofpho
netics which carries this information is phonostylistics. The purpose ofthis
chapter is to offer a brief introduction into the main topics covered by pho
studies. It would not be accurate to say that phonostylistics is a
new branch of phonetics. It is rather a new way of looking at phonetic phe
nomena, which came as a result of detailed analysis of spoken discourse.
Nobody would want to deny the fact that oral speech is the primary me
dium oflanguage expression. So when linguists became involved in investi
gating language in use they realized that language is not an isolated phe
nomenon, it is part of society. In real life people fmd themselves in various
situations. In these situations language is used appropriately, i. e. people
select from their total linguistic repertoires those elements which match the
needs of particular situations.
This fact changed the whole approach to the language. Rather than
viewing the language as an object with independent existence, a thing to be
described for its own sake, it became evident that it must be seen as a tool,
a means ofcommunication, and it is only in the context of communication
situation that the essential properties of a linguistic system can be described
It is obvious that much of what people say depends directly or indirect
lyon the situation they are in. Here we should point out two things. On the
one hand, variations of language means in different life situations are nu
merous, on the other hand, these variations have much in common as they
are realization of one system. That means that there are regular patterns of
variation in language, or, in other words, language means are characterized
by a certain pattern of selection and arrangement.
The principles ofthis selection and arrangement, the ways ofcombining
the elements form what is called "the style". Style integrates language
means constructing the utterance and at the same time differentiates one
utterance from another.
It must be noted that the category of style is not new in linguistics. The
branch oflinguistics which is concerned with styles is called stylistics (func
tional stylistics), it studies the expressive potential ofthe language elements,
for the most part the levels of grammar and lexis. However, the phonetic
level has its own characteristics and qualities and needs specific methods of
As it was already mentioned, certain nonlinguistic features can be
correlated with language use. The latter can be studied on the phonetic


5.1. The Problems of Phonostylistics

level, which is the area ofphonostylistics. Its aim is to analyse all possible
kinds of spoken utterances with the main purpose of identifying the pho
netic features, both segmental and suprasegmental, to explain why such
features are used and to classify them into categories with regard for their
5.1.2. Extralinguistic situation and its components
Before describing nonlinguistic factors and their phonetic correlates it
is necessary to explain what is understood by the extralinguistic situation.
The analysis shows that it can be described in term.'l of three component'l,
i. e. purpose, participants and setting. These components distinguish situa
tions as the context in which speech interaction takes place. Thus, a speech
situation can be defmed by the co-occurrence of the following elements:
two or more participants related to each other in a particular way,
particular aim of communication, communicating about a particuI<ll
in a particular way.
Figure 12

Components of Extralinguistic Situation

Extralinguistic situation



Let us consider each of the components.

Purpose can be described as the motor which sets the chassis ofpartici
and setting going. It directs the activities ofthe participants through
out the situation to complete a task. Such purposes can be viewed in terms
ofgeneral activity types and in terms ofthe activity type plus a specific sub
ject matter. There appear to be a considerable number of general types of
activities, such as working, teaching, learning, conducting a meeting, play
ing a game, etc. Such activity types are socially recognized as units ofinter
action that are identifiable.
It should be noted that activity type does not identifY directly the pur
pose in a situation. It only specifies the range of possible purposes that par
ticipants will orient toward in the activity. The notion of purpose requires
the specification of contents as a more detailed level than that of activity
types. This can be called "subject matter" or "topic".


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

By participants we mean people involved in communication. Speech is

a marker of various characteristics of people, both individual and social. In
other words, the way people speak retlects their background. "Certain as
pects of social variation seem to be of particular linguistic consequence.
Age, sex and social class have repeatedly shown to be ofimportance when it
comes to explaining the way sounds, constructions and vocabulary vary"
(D. Crystal, 1995: 364).
Age can be associated with the role structure in the family and in social
assignment ofauthority and status and with the attribution
UlHvlvm levels of competence. According to D. Crystal, "age is one of
the most noticeable features in speech. We have little difficulty identifying a
baby, a young child, a teen-ager, a middle-aged person, or a very elderly
person from a tape recording" (D. Crystal, 2007: 283). The speech behav
iour ofa person does not only convey information about his/her age but also
about the age ofthe listener, or the receiver ofthe verbal message. Thus, old
people speak and are spoken to in a different way from young people. For
instance, an elderly person usually speaks in a high-pitched voice, the
speech rate is slower. People generally use higher pitch levels speaking to
younger children.
Gender is another factor which is included into the "partlclpants com
ponent. Gender differences in pronunciation are quite numerbus and in
most cases there is a marked phonetic contrast between male and female.
For instance, there is a tendency for women to produce more standard,
careful pronunciation as opposed to more careless speech of men in which
certain sounds may be omitted. Women tend to use certain intonation pat
terns that are seldom used by men, etc.
There is one more characteristic to be taken into account. That is the
emotional state ofthe speaker at the moment ofspeech production which is
likely to be retlected in his pronunciation.
Another characteristic to be considered here is the social status of the
participants, i. e. their belonging to a particular class, their education, oc
cupation and so on. There are distinctive features of pronunciation which
are associated with "educated" and "uneducated" speech,
or absence of articulatory precision. Admittedly, "the famous linguistic
nal of social class in Britain is the pronunciation offinal ng in such words as
running" (D. Crystal, 2007: 309). In socio-cultural terms we must consider
the social status ofthe speaker, what social group orc1ass he belongs to. Ob
viously, the pronunciation of an Oxford don will be very different from that
of a London cab driver.

5.1. The Problems of Phonostylistics


Another important aspect is the character of participants' relation

ship which is retlected in the tenor of discourse, which can be formal or
informal, friendly or unfriendly. It affects greatly the choice of intona
Speech behaviour also retlects the social roles that people exercise:
head ofthe family, son, teacher, friend and so on. So when we identify the
social identity of a person and the way it is retlected in pronunciation we
are to consider both his/her belonging to a particular social group and the
social roles he/she performs.
Setting, or scene can be defined by several features: The first of them
is a physical orientation of participants, which is to some extent deter
mined by the activity they are engaged in. It is quite obvious that a public
speech and face-to-face interaction are bound to be different in phonetic
terms in a number ofways.
Scenes may be arranged along bipolar dimension offormal-informal.
The kind of language appropriate to scenes on the formal, or "high" end
of the scale is then differentiated from that appropriate to those on the
or "low" end. Comparing English and Russian we could assume
such differentiation follows universal principles, so that "high" forms
oflanguage share certain properties such as elaboration of syntax and lex
icon, phonetic precision and rhythmicality, whereas "low" forms share
properties including ellipsis, repetition, speed and slurring. So pronunci
ation features may be expected to be markers ofthe scene or at least of its
position in the formal-informal dimension.

5.1.3. Style-forming factors

We have attempted to give an outline of what is generally understood
by the extralinguistic situation and its constituents. It is easy to see, how
numerous the factors, determining variation in language usage, are. Ad
mittedly, we are mainly interested in the variation of phonetic means. To
analyze and describe them we must single out constant and definite fea
tures of the situational circumstances of the lan!,'Uage event that are rele
vant for the phonetic level of analysis. These features, or factors, that re
sult in phonostylistic variety are:
- the purpose, or aim ofcommunication;
- the degree offormality of the situation;
- the degree of spontaneity;
- the speaker's attitude.


Chapter V Phonostylistics

We should mention here that the purpose, or aim of communication

may be called a style forming factor, while all the others cause modifications
within a particular style, which accounts for the existence of different ldnds
and genres of texts within each phonetic style.
All the above-mentioned factors are interdependent and interconnected.
They are singled out with the purpose ofdescribing phonetic phenomena.
Now we shall consider each ofthe factors and try to explain what sort of
phonetic variations may correlate with each of them.
The aim ofcommunication can be described as the general strategy ofthe
language user. In other words, it is what the language is being used for: is the
speaker trying to persuade, to exhort, to discipline. Is the speaker teaching,
advertising, amusing, controlling, etc. ? The speaker selects a number of
functional phonetic means which would make the realization of the par
ticular aim more effective.
For the purposes ofthis book we consider it adequate to distinguish
following aims of communication:
giving information
- educating
- producing emotional impression
- influencing a person's mind (persuading)
- conversing.
Inside these basic aims we can distinguish many more minor types, that
cause variations of phonetic means.
Among the extralingustic factors determining the use ofphonetic means
it is the fonnality of the situation which is often referred to. It is obvious that
the process of speaking is based on the recognition of social roles and rela
tionships. The interaction of individuals depends upon their learning and
accepting the roles of social behaviour. Social relationships are reflected in
the degree of formality of the discourse. The degree of formality indicates
how the speaker interacts with the listener.
As it was already mentioned, formality results from the character of re
lationships among the participants of language events, ranging from ex
treme degrees of formality to extreme degrees of informality. So we might
say that spoken language shapes relationships, it defmes and identifies them,
and it is the category of formality which shows ifwe speak the right kind of
language. According to the degree offormaJity speech situations are gener
ally described in terms offormal- informal, official unofficial.
There is another factor which is often mentioned in connection with
the degree of formality. It is the number of addressees. Discourse can be

5.1. The Problems ofPhonostylistics


public or non-pUblic. Speech is qualified as public when the speaker is lis

tened to by a group of people; non-public communication occurs in face
to-face interaction. It would be fair to mention that there is no direct cor
relation between the formality of the situation and public - non-pUblic
character ofcommunication. Thus, a public presentation may be rather in
formal, while speech interaction involving two participants may be quite
Another important extralinguistic factor is the degree of spontaneity. If
we examine speech situations we can distinguish between those in which
people speak spontaneously as opposed to those in which they speak non
spontaneously, as actors and lecturers generally do. The types of speech sit
uations that lead to spontaneous speech are: everyday conversation, sports
commentaries of an event actually taking place and so on.
Analyzing the most important characteristics of a spoken spontaneous
text we should first of all mention a phenomenon called "hesitation". The
hesitation phenomenon breaks the regularity and evenness of the phonetic
form. There appear pauses of various length and quality, which seldom oc
cur at phonetic juncture; lengthening of sounds within words and in the
word final position. A spontaneous text is characterized by a number of rel
evant features both on segmental and suprasegmentallevels: simplification
ofsound sequences, non-systematic rhythm; incomplete melody contours;
abundance of pauses, varying loudness, narrow pitch range, varying tempo
(from very fast to very slow).
In teaching English, especially spoken English one should be well aware
of specific phonetic markers of natural speech. A student of English should
be specially taught such peculiarities. Otherwise a spoken text would sound
The speaker's attitude is another category which is included into the set
of style-forming factors. It is common knowledge that a communication
situation is part of a human being's life situation. So it is natural for a lan
guage user to consider the situation from his/her point of view, revealing
personal interest and involvement in what he or she is saying. Obviously, the
attitude ofthe speaker both to the message and to the other participants of
communication is reflected in his/her choice of phonetic means.
We should mention that all these extralinguistic factors in their combi
nation determine the choice of phonetic means in different fonns of com
munication. Generally two forms of communication are distinguished ac
cording to the number of participants involved in a speech activity:
monologue and dialogue. A monologue is the participation of one individ

Chapter V. Phonostylistics


ual in speech production. A dialogue involves the participation of others.

An important feature to be considered here is that in monologuing the
speaker does not expect an immediate response, while in a dialogue there is
interaction: participants expect each other to respond. PhonostyJistic pecu
liarities ofdifferent forms of communication will be described in 5.3.

5.1.4. Classification of phonetic styles

All the extralinguistic factors that were described contribute to the for
mation of a particular phonetic style. It should be mentioned that there ex
ist different classifications of phonetic styles. Each of these classifications is
based on the criterion, which the scholar who created it considers to be the
most reliable. Thus, S. M. Gaiduchick distinguishes five phonetic styles:
solemn (TOp)[(eCTBeHHbIH), scientific-business (Hay'mO-)l.eJ10Bolt), official
business (TOp)[(eCTBeHHO-)l.eJ10Bolt), everyday (6bITOBOH) and familiar (He
rrplfHY)[()l.eHHblli) (S. Gaiduchick, 1972) As we can see the above-men
tioned classification correlates with the system of functional styles of the
language. The styles are differentiated on the basis of spheres of discourse.
A different principle of classification is suggested by Y A. Dubovsky who
singles out the following five styles: informal ordinary, formal neutral, for
familiar and declamatory. The divisioIi is based on
different degrees of formality or rather familiarity between the speaker and
the listener. Within each style subdivisions are observed. But as the author
himself writes, it is rather a principle of presenting texts for description and
analysis because "no theory has yet created a completely symmetrical clas
sification of speech acts" (Y Dubovsky, 1978).
We think that the classification ofphonetic styles should be based on the
purpose of communication, which is the most significant extralinguistic
factor. However, when choosing an adequate criterion for the classification
we should take into consideration the difference between the segmental and
suprasegmental levels of analysis. The point is that stylistic variations of
sounds and intonation result from different combinations of extralinguistic
factors. Thus, stylistic modifications of sounds are caused primarily by the
degree of formality, while variations of intonation are basically determined
by the aim of communication. The degree ofthe influence of each factor is
also different as regards segmental and suprasegmental units. So in the clas
sification of phonetic styles presented here we tried to combine both seg
mental and suprasegmental characteristics oforal discourse not only for the
purpose ofphonostylistic analysis but also for the purpose ofteaching Eng

5.1. The Problems ofPhonostylistics


lish pronunciation. Further on we are going to look in more detail at the

stylistic modifications of sounds and intonation and specify the particular
extralinguistic factors which bring about these modifications.
Table 4

The Influence of Extralinguistic Factors

on Segmental and Suprasegmental Characteristics of Speech

Phonetic units

Extralinguistic factors

Segmental (speech sounds)

degree of formality, degree of spontaneity

Suprasegmental (intonation)

purpose of communication, degree offonnality, de

gree of spontaneity, speaker's attitude


Five phonetic styles can be singled out according to the purpose of com
I. Informational style;
2. Academic (Scientific) style;
3. Publicistic (Oratorial) style;
4. Declamatory (Artistic) style;
5. Conversational (Familiar) style.
Figure 13
Classification of Phonetic Styles




We could add that any style with very few exceptions is seldom real
ized in its pure form. Each text is likely to include phonetic characteristics
of different styles. In such cases we talk about overlapping or fusion of
We might conclude by saying that we hope this will be a useful
knowledge for a learner of English because to be able to communicate ef
it is necessary to develop the awareness of different phonetic
styles of the language. He or she should learn to discover the patterns
which differentiate style varieties to understand why people speak in a
certain way and to determine what form of phonetic expression they may
choose, because the style should be as natural as dress and fit the time, the


Chapter V Phonostylistics

place and the person. The awareness of phonostylistic variations ofspeech

is essential both for the correct interpretation of spoken discourse and for
the adequate speech production, in fact it is a basic component of speech
culture and communicative competence.

5.2. Stylistic Modifications of Speech Sounds

Stylistic sound variations are brought about by the extralinguistic
situation of the discourse. The first thing that counts in the stylistic
modifications ofsounds is the character of relationship between the par
ticipants of discourse, which is manifested in the degree of formality. It
is assumed that in formal situations the participants tend to monitor
their linguistic behaviour, their pronunciation tends to be careful and is
characterized by articulatory precision. In informal situations where
speakers are more relaxed speech is generally faster and less careful. In
formal speech used in everyday conversation is often referred to as fast
(rapid) colloquial speech.
It is obvious that the extent to which coarticulation and simplifica
tion processes are displayed in connected speech depends on the style
and tempo of speech. In formal speech the articulation is more careful
and precise. In informal casual discourse (fast colloquial speech) these
processes are more marked. In this section we shall give an overview of
the modifications of speech sounds in the chain of speech which take
place under the influence of the extralinguistic factors.
The most frequent modifications of consonants in rapid colloquial
speech are:
alveolar stops [t], [d] and in some cases [n] are modified underthe in
fluence ofthe following velar or labial consonant, e. g.

that place ['o<ep 'pleIs]

that book r'O<eD 'buk]

hardproblem ['hu:b 'prnblClm]

hard blow ['hu:b 'b13u]
good morning [gug 'm;ml!)]

[s], [z] assimilate more often than in formal speech, they are modified
under the influence of the following palatal [j] and become palato

miss you
this year

as you [Cl3 ju:]

as yet [Cl3 jet]


5.2. Stylistic Modifications of Speech Sounds

[d] are affected by the following [j] in a similar way: and turn into
palato-alveolar affricates. Tn this case both the place and the manner of
articulation are involved in assimilation:

would you ['wud3U']

can't you ['ku:ntJu']

mind you ['mamd3u']

about you

in informal casual speech complete assimilation of consonants often

takes place:

let me ['lemrnt]
nice shoes ['nalf'Ju:z]

ten minutes ['tem'mmIis]

[t] tends to be reduced to a glottal stop before a plosive consonant:

didn't go ['dld!)?'kg3U]

Great Britain ['rel?'pbrltn]

In fast colloquial speech we can also observe elision of consonants. Eli

sion can be defined as a complete loss or disappearance of a speech sound,
usually due to the increased rate of speech. The most typical cases of con
sonant elision are:
elision of [h] in personal and possessive pronouns he, his, her, him and
the auxiliary verbs have, has, had: What has he done? [-7wutClZ r ,dAn];
tends to be elided when preceded by [;x]: always [';XWIZ], all right
[t] and [d] are often elided in consonant clusters when followed by an

other consonant: next day ['neks 'del], mashed potatoes ['m~J

next point [,neks 'p;)mt], second term ['sekn 't3:rn];

in the definite article the can be elided: and the reason for this [Cln
o'rtzn fCl OIS].
As regards stylistic modifications of vowels we should point out that the
realization of reduction as well as assimilation and accommodation depends
on the style of speech. In rapid colloquial speech reduction may result
vowel elision, the complete omission of the unstressed vowel. Elision may
occur both within one word and at word boundaries: history ['hIstn], factory
['f~ktn], phonetics [f'netlks], correct [krekt], perhaps [ph<eps], come along
['k1l.m 'luI)] , get another [get 'n1l.0Cl], after all
In contrast to slow formal speech in which vowels have comparative
quality stability, in rapid informal speech we can observe frequent sound
variability. Typical simplification processes in fast colloquial speech are:


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

reduction of [i:] and [u:] both in quantity and quality

1 don't believe it [A daon(t)

a new aspect [a 'n(j)u
monophthongization of diphthongs

here and there ['hIr an '0]

really strange ['[ah 'stremd3]
now they ['na
South ofItaly ['sa9 av 'dahl
and now we come to [an nA wr 'kAm ta]
hope to settle it [ha ta
elision of schwa in the preposition or particle to:

next to the door ['nekst t oa 'dJ:]

to see them ['ts!"
back to London ['b<ek t 'iAndn]
elision of [I] in initial position

extremely [kstri:mh]
it's necessary [is 'nesasan]
it's paid well [ts
Numerous simplification processes that were described are an attribute of
informal casual speech, while prepared educated speech is characterized by
articulatory precision. In terms of pronunciation teaching it is necessary to
familiarize the foreign learners of English with these segmental modifica
tions, because they must be ready to recognize and decode them in the chain
ofspeech. However, they should be aware oftheir stylistic colouring and avoid
extreme forms ofsimplifications outside fast colloquial speech.. As regards the .
modifications of speech sounds that are the result ofcoarticulation processes
in connected speech they should definitely be practised and mastered.

5.3. Stylistic Use of Intonation


5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation

In our view the conception that the intonational style markers are restricted
to certain kinds of situational contexts and above all to the speakers' aim in
communication is extremely valuable. Thus the intonational style is seen as
some kind of additive by which a basic content of thought may be modified.
Style is seen asthe variable means by which a message is communicated.
It is already widely accepted that the purpose of communication deter
mines the types of information conveyed in oral texts. They may be intel
lectual, attitudinal (emotional, modal) and volitional (desiderative). Each
of these types is realized by means of specific prosodic parameters.
It may be said that there is a strongly marked tendency for prosodic fea
tures to form a basic set of recurrent patterns, which is occasionally accom
panied by the introduction of specific prosodic and paralinguistic effects.
The set of stylistically marked modifications of all the prosodic features
represents the model ofa particular phonetic style.
It should be mentioned here that each phonetic (intonational) style ex
ists in a number of variants which depend on a particular combination of
extralinguistic factors. We call these variants registers. Registers can be ob
served in specific spheres of discourse.
Prosodic characteristics which form the model of a particular style are
modified according to the forms of communication (monologue, dialogue,
polylogue) and the types of speech production (speaking and reading), the
degree of spontaneity and formality and also in some cases methods of de
livery (see Tables 5, 6).
We must admit, however, that any intonational style is an extremely
complex and heterogeneous phenomenon. Even a single speech act involves
an extraordinary range of factors and could be considered from different,
sometimes even conflicting points of view.
Confronted with all these difficulties a specialist in phonostylistics must
ask himself/herself what the goal of analysis is and direct his/her attention
.to the essentials. In this book the description will be focused on those style
forming features that may be of interest for would-be teachers of English
and find practical application in their work.
Figure 14
The Role of the Degree of Formality in Phonetic Style Formation

5.3.1. Phonostyles and their registers

This section sets out to give a detailed description of each phonetic
style, to provide and explain a framework for understanding variations of
style which match the needs of particular situations.

~onal informal



Chapter V. Phonostylistics

5.3. Stylistic Use of Intonation


5.3.2. Informational Style

Table 5

a) spheres of discourse
phonetIC style is sometimes qualified as "neutral", since it is the least
marked kind of situationally influenced English. It is perceived as neutral be
cause the main purpose ofthe speaker is to convey information without the ex
pressing personal concern and involvement. Evidently, there are theoretical and
practical reasons to use it as the starting point ofphonetic styles description.
Where is this style manifested in its pure form? First of all, in the written
variety of an informational text read aloud. The written speech, the reading,
should not be subjected to the contextual variables and the commonest and
"ideal" situation for this register is the reading ofsuch texts in class. They may
be labeled as informational texts.
Press reporting and broadcasting, especially the reading ofthe news cov
erage over the radio is another variant ofinformational style.
The news bulletin and broadcast talk have both written and spoken
tences which are of equal importance for the simple reason that they were
written specially to be read aloud. The informational style is realized in other
spheres ofcommunication: business and legal intercourse, thli reading of ad
ministrative documents and so on (see Table 5).
The degree of formality in the character of participants' relationship in
different variants ofthe informational style presentation may smooth the bor
derline between them. Thus it would be wrong to identifY this style as formal,
because the degree offormality may vary. As it was stated earlier, the contours
of the intonational styles in speech reality have not been very defmitely out
lined yet and there are overlaps ofphonetic styles. So the most informal real
ization ofany kind ofinformation in the form of a dialogue may be identified
as conversational style, and, respectively, extra formal presentation of infor
mation may be attributed to an academic style talk and so on.
We shall limit out description ofinformational style to two common vari
ants: educational information and press reporting/broadcasting. The table
below shows the correlation between the informational style registers, and
speech typology (see Table 5).
Roughly speaking, any variety of the language, both written and spoken,
may be presented either by reading or speaking in a prepared or spontaneous
way in a formal or informal manner.
We would like to attempt now to suggest certain spheres of discourse in
which the informational style could be heard in relation to forms of com
munication and the number of participants involved (see Table 6).



Speech typology











<:> ~


~ Zl

Q.I 01



.8 .9


'" =:



...=<:> '"'"





. .....,=

i style registers









I8. ..











1 l
~ .s.

: I

Educational in

Press reporting
and broadcasting

Table 6
\1lrieties of the language and forms of communication
of dis

Written variety of the language


Spoken variety of the language (Speaking)






















a lis



a lis




the TV

a lis



talks of


in class


Reading Read
covernewsage over paper
the ra
to a
dio, Tv, lis
reading tener







Chapter V. Phonostylistics

Now that we have outlined the contours of the style, our next step
will be to analyse prosodic characteristics of this particular intonational
style. The following prosodic parameters should be considered: pitch
(variations of pitch direction, pitch level, pitch range), loudness, tempo
(the rate of the utterance and pausation). It also includes rhythm and
timbre as they have very specific suprasegmental expression of various
emotional, expressive and evaluative overtones.
It would be fair to admit here that when faced with a text of some
kind what appears to be a mass of coordinated data a starting point
for analysis is often difficult to choose.
As it was suggested above, the ideal start is an informational text,
most commonly heard in class. The analysis of it here is carried out by
the procedure of systematic phonological opposition: the phonostylistic
organization of reading will be systematically compared with the spoken
version (in the forms of a monologue and dialogue).
The description of the informational phonetic style will proceed in
the following order:
1. The phonostylistic analysis of the written informational texts
2. The analysis of the spoken variety of such texts.
3. Comparative analysis of spoken and written informational mono
b) informational texts (reading)

recent years it has become fashionable in education to extol the

importance ofspoken language with a depreciation ofthe values of read
ing, consequently the skill in reading now is often inadequate. This situ
ation needs considerations. As was stated, there is a gap between spoken
and written varieties of the language and the task of the teacher is to dif
ferentiate these forms of the language appropriate to speech and writing
and to assign to each their "proper" sphere. It is perhaps just to say that
many teachers and lecturers recognize the gap but are unable to improve
this state of affairs because of the lack of materials and methods.
These two varieties of the language are a result of two activities that
differ in psychological and intellectual terms.
Talking is easier than the laborious solitary acts of reading. The re
luctant reader will have to be given more cogent reasons for the eftorts
required to him. Reading aloud is even harder. In class it has purely edu

5.3. Stylistic Usc ofIntonation


cational purposes to stimulate pupils or students for prose and poetry

appreciation and comprehension. Needless to say a written passage does
not always coincide with a phonopassage. In reading aloud a written
passage may be broken into several phonopassages or, on the contrary,
short passages may be combined into one long lasting phonopassage.
As it has been mentioned, reading and speaking differ totally in the
speech production activity. In teaching to read we are simply helping to
transfer from one medium to another. Reading and speaking each re
quires differently directed intensive efforts. Obviously, the phonetic fea
tures of these varieties of texts will show considerable differences.
We would like to start the phonostylistic analysis of the reading of
the text, in which some customs and traditions of Cambridge University
life are described.
May Week in Cambridge
The -+most 'interesting and bi'zarre time of the year to visit ,Cambridge
I is during ,May Week. II This is -+neither in ,May, I nor it is a
II For
-+some ,reason \ which nobody now re>members I 'May Week is the 'name
'given to the t first 'two 'weeks in June. I the -+very end of the University
'year. III
The "'paradox is "'pleasantly 'quaint. I but is "'also "'in a way "'{!]!1. II
"'May Week denotes 'not so much a particular 'period q(,time I as the "'gen
eral'atmosphere ofreldxation and un,winding \ at the -+end of the year's

Any phonostylistic analysis falls into several steps. Obviously the
first procedure will be the description ofthe speech situation which com
prises the purpose, setting and participants. In reference to this text we
may say that the main purpose of the reader is to give information. The
speaker sounds dispassionate and rather reserved.
The presenter of the text is a student of Oxford University who has
advanced RP accent. The reading is addressed to a group of students,
Russian learners of English.
The next step is to define other extralinguistic factors, the degree of
preparedness among them. The analysed text may be characterized as
half prepared as it was read through beforehand.
communicative centre of a phrase

communicative centre of a phonopassage


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

Now we shall look at the prosodic characteristics. One should un

doubtedly begin
then into phrases, then into intonation groups, correspondingly, the
of pauses is varied according to the textual units. Pauses are made
within the phrase and between them.
Among the prosodic features we should mention the following:
Loudness is relatively stable and normal, but close to the phonopas
sage boundaries there is a gradual decrease of it. Thus it is easy to spot
the boundaries by loudness contrasts between the final and initial into
nation groups of two adjacent phonopassages. The same could be said
about levels and ranges: there is a distinctly marked decrease of them
within the phonopassage.
The rate of utterances is normal or rather slow, not noticeably var
ied. Together with the medium length of pauses the general tempo may
be marked as moderate.
The rhythm may be characterized as systematic, properly organized,
interpausal stretches have a marked tendency towards the rhythmic iso
One of the main style differentiating feature) on the prosodic level is
the accentuation of the semantic centres. It is expressed commonly by
terminal tones, pre-nuclear patterns, pitch range and pitch level, degree
of loudness on the accented syllables, and also by the contrast between
the accented and non-accented segments of the utterance. As regards
this particular text we may say the following:
The most common terminal tone is a
expressive high falls are used; in
low-rising ones are

The -+most 'interesting and bi'zarre time ofthe year to visit ,Cambridge
is during ,May Week.
Pre-nuclear patterns are not greatly varied: falling and level types of
heads prevail. Several falls within an intonation group are typical:

The "'paradox is "'pleasantly 'quaint I but is "'also "'in a way 'apt.


The contrast between accented and unaccented segments of phrases

is not great, which is known to be a marker of any reading in general; the
stress is decentralized, i. e. equally distributed on accented syllables of
pre-nuclear patterns.

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


Table 7
Prosodic Characteristics of Informational Texts Reading
VOice colouring

The speaker sounds impartial, dispassionate, reserved,



The text is divided into phonopassages - phrases inter

national groups; pauses are mostly at syntacticaljuncturcs,
normally of medium length but for the end of the passage


of semantic


normal (piano) throughout the text, varied at the pho

nopassage boundaries

Levels and

decrease ofleveL, and ranges within the passage


normal (moderate) or -slow, not variable


mostly syntactical of normal length, occasional emphatic

ones for the semantic accentuation


systematic, properly organized isochronic, decentralized


Terminal tones

common use offmal categoric falls; in non-final segments

mid-level and low rising tones are often used


common u'>c offalling and level heads or several falls within

one interpausal unit

Contrast be
tween accent
edand unac

not great

c) informational monologues (speaking)

Much has been said earlier about the differences between reading and
speak.ing. Our aim here is to demonstrate them on the prosodic level using
concrete examples. Now the text "May Week in Cambridge" was repro
duced spontaneously by the same speaker in the form of a monologue. He
did it in a rather formal manner and addressed the same group ofstudents.
May Week in Cambridge

-+As you probably >know I the uni"'versities of'Oxford and ,Cambridge I are
the -+two 'oldest universities in
I and be-+c;ause of>that, I because of
their ,age I they have -+many
which to Joreigners \ might -+appear
very ,strange. II-+One ofthese tra>ditions I is 'May Week in 'Cambridge. III This


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

is par'licu/ar/y ~trange I as it "'doesn't 'happen in ,May I and is "'not in 'fact a

II It "'stretches 'over 'two weeks, the and the '8h weeks ofthe 'term. II
There is 'no 'real 'reason for 'calling it May, Week land per>haps \it is "'herald
\ in yavour of'more
ing the 'coming of'Mav I which is till "'then
'serious matters \ like exami'nations. III There're many ....different ac.(ivities I
which ....go on during ,May,Week Ifor the "'most 'part there are 'many >plays
on by indi"'vidual'college so,ciefies, I "'very often 'taking place out,doors I in
....College 'gardens. III There are 'also
Iwith ....crews of,eight I com
races I is when the ,aim is
peting in 'bumping races. III What [ ....mean
>to I >bump I back ofthe 'boat I in front ofyou on the ....Cam ,river. II
The purpose of the communication in the setting described accounts for
the businesslike, dispassionate, detached, impartial voice colouring. Occa
sionally, the speaker sounds interested, involved, especially, when he speaks
about his own experiences.
Speaking about the delimitation of spoken texts it should be pointed out
that it depends on the degree ofspontaneity. The basic writ ofa spoken mono
logue is also a 'phonopassage but its stretch is greatly varied, much greater than
in reading. As in oral speech the rules of syntax are not strictly followed, pas
sages are broken into utterances which do not often coincide with sentences.
Pauses at the end ofthe phrase are commonly optional; hesitation pauses often
break a syntagm into several intonation groups and occur both intentionally
and non-intentionally. They may be filled and non-filled (silent):

Terminal tones are fmal and categoric, the emphasis being achieved by
the use of high (medium) abrupt falls, or several falls within one interpausal
unit. Low rising and Mid-level tones are common for initial or non-final
intonation groups to bind them together into a phrasal unit:

In >Oxford I we don't have a ,May Week.


Types of heads are varied: level heads of one accentuated pre-nuclear

prevail, sometimes several partially accented syllables occur be
tween them. Descending falling heads are also quite common, they are oc
casionally broken by the "accidental rise":

'Personally I I come from 'Oxford University, Iso ....1 know tfar more about
'Oxford. II
As the monologue is quite spontaneous the contrast between accented
and non-accented segments is great; centralized type of stress helps to un
derline the semantic centres:

This is par'ticularly ~trange I as it "'doesn't 'happen in ,May I and is "'not in

'fact a 'week. II
Now the auditory analysis of various informational monologues and
phonetic research allow us to conclude that this description may be applied
to the majority ofspoken monologues produced within the register and may
be treated as a model informational spoken monologue.

What I ....mean ,bumping races I is when the ,aim is >to I >bump \ ....back ofthe
'boat \ in front ofyou I on the ....Cam ,river. III
As the speaker addresses a comparatively small group of people the
loudness is not greatly varied but for the decrease towards the end of the
passage. The increase ofloudness is evident at the start of the phonopassage
and on its emphatic communicative centres. This may be also referred to
levels and ranges.
The rate ofutterances is remarkably varied. In the majority of cases it is
normal, but increases towards allegro on less significant units and decreases
towards lento on emphatic centres of the phrase or supraphrasal units.
The length of pauses depends on their syntactical and semantic value,
the maximum length being at the passage boundaries.
This spoken monologue is characterized by non-systematic rhythrni
cality; the rhythmicality within the phonopassage is achieved by the
nation of all prosodic parameters.


5.3. Stylistic Use oflntonation

Table 8
Prosodic Characteristics of Infonnational Monologue (Speaking)
\bice colouring

The speaker sounds

dispassionate, hll~ine~~like. reserved, occasionally in


The text is divided into

phonopassages phrases - intonation groups; a num
ber of hesitation and breath~taking pauses (filled and
silent) break phrases into a great number of intonation
al groups, destroying their syntactic structure




normal (or piano); contrastive at the passage boundar

ies; diminuendo (decrease) towards the end oht; increase ofloudness on semantic centres

Chapter V. Phonostylistics


tuation of


Levels and

decrease oflevels and ranges within the passage; various

ranges and levels bind together several successive se
quences into a larger unit


variable, allegro on interpolations, lento on emphatic

semantic centres


varied, the length depends on the syntactical and se

mantic value of the segment, the maximum length be
ing at the passage boundaries

5. In spontaneous speech an intonation group doesn't always coincide

with a syntagm. Pauses at the end ofthe phrase are optional.
6. The reading is characterized by a decentralized stress distribution
whereas speaking - by a centralized one.
7. In spontaneous speech communicative centres are more vividly empha
sized; the emphasis is achieved by a wider range of terminal tones,
greater degree ofloudness and prominence of accented segments.
8. The reading is rhythmical, oral speech rhythm is non-systematic, un
predictable, variable.


non-systematic, subjective isochrony, centralized

stress distribution, the rhythmicality within the pho
nopassage is achieved by the alternation of all prosod
ic features

Comparison of Intonation Models of Informational Monologues

Table 8 (Continued)

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


Table 9

common use of final categoric falls on semantic cen

tres, non-fmal falls, mid-level and rising tones on nonfinal intonation group; the emphasis is achieved by the
use of high falls (very abrupt for a male voice)


Varieties of the language




varied, common use oflevel heads with one accentuat

ed pre-nuclear syllable; descending falling heads are of
ten broken by the "accidental rise"


impartial, dispassionate, reserved resonant

dispassionate, businesslike, re
served, occasionally interested

The contrast
between ac
cented and

great, achieved by the centralized stress pattern, in

crease ofloudness, levels and ranges on semantic cen
tres, high categoric falls; emphatic stress on them and
other variations of all prosodic characteristics


phrases - intonation
groups; pauses are
mostly at syntactical
junctures normally of
medium length, but for
the end of the passage

phonopassages - phrases - into

nation groups; a number ofhe sit a
tion and breath-taking pauses
(filled and non-filled) break
phrases into a great number of in
tonation groups, destroying their
syntactic structure


normal (piano)
throughout the text,
varied at the phonopas
sage boundaries

normal (piano), contrastive at the

boundaries, decrease towards the
end of the passage; increase on semantic centres


decrease of levels and

ranges within the pas

decrease oflevels and ranges with

in the passage; various ranges and
levels bind together several se
quences into a larger unit


normal (moderate) or
slow, not variable

variable; allegro on interpolations,

lento on emphatic centres


not greatly varied,

mostly syntactical, oc

varied; the length depends on the

syntactical and semantic value of
the segment, the maximum length
being at the passage boundaries

Our task now is to compare the prosodic characteristics ofthe two vari
eties ofthe language in this register. The results ofthe comparison are shown
in Table 9.
We can make the following conclusion:
1. Written text (read aloud) and spoken text belonging to the same pho
netic style have different prosodic realizations.
2. In oral speech prosodic characteristics are more vivid, expressive and varied.
3. The speaker often uses some hesitation phenomena (hesitation pauses,
semantic noises and temporizers) intentionally, which enables him to
obtain the balance between formality and informality and establish con
tact with the public.
4. The speaker uses various hesitation phenomena unintentionally which
enables him to gain the time in search for suitable expression or idea
and thus not interrupt the flow of speech.



Chapter V. Phonostylistics

By way ofconclusion we would advise future teachers of English to drift

the traditional, non-stylistic approach to the language teacbing in
tbeir future practical work and pay special attention to tbe differences be
tween the two varieties of the language.
d) informational dialogues
Now we shall focus on the dialogues within the sphere of the informa
tional style discourse.
It is quite obvious that there are certain things common to all dialogues
as opposed to monologues and we would like to describe them here.
Firstly, a dialogue is a coordinated simultaneous speech act of two par
ticipants or rather a speaker and a listener. In this form of communication
participants expect eacb otber to respond and conversation is controlled by
generally accepted rules of speech behaviour. The most important of them is
taking conversational turns. It is essential that in any successful conversation
"give-and-take" between the sender and receiver should be maintained.
The attention-getting function is established by putting all sorts ofques
tions, agreement question tags to show the interest and guide the course of
the talk towards a given theme and also by using all sorts of response
non-response words and utterances both of verbal and non-verbal charac
ter. The speakers sometimes talk simultaneously. The utterances tend to be
incomplete since the context can make perfectly plain to them what was be
ing intended thus making redundant its vocal expression.
Hesitation phenomena are of primary significance in dialogues. Voice
less hesitation is very frequent, it tends to occur relatively randomly, not just
at places of major grarnmaticaljunctions, which is more the pattern ofwrit
ten English read aloud. \biced hesitation consists of hesitant drawls, verbal
and non-verbal fillers such as el, ehm, mm.
Dialogue is often accompanied by means of non-verbal communica
tion facial expressions (a raised eyebrow, a glance towards the partner,
etc.), gestures, body movements and noises such as artificial clearing of the


Use ofIntonation


throat, snorts, sniffs, laughs and other paralinguistic features of signifi

On the lexical and grammatical level there is a comparatively high
proportion of errors which do not seem to bother the speakers.
Interpolations are commonly inteJjectional, their function is primarily
to indicate that attention is being maintained.
We should also mention here all sorts of introductions, afterthoughts,
parenthetical words.
Dialogues are commonly characterized by a large number of loosely
coordinated clauses, the coordination being stmcturally ambiguous, and
loosely coordinated sentence-like structures.
The phonostylistic analysis of a sample of informational dialogue will
allow us to single out the prosodic distinctive features, marking this variety
of dialogues.
The talk is about two oldest universities of Britain - Oxford and Cam
bridge. This is a mono-thematic talk, though the speakers display some ob
vious differences of opinion on the subject matter.

Oxford and Cambridge Universities

A: I think some .....people might be

interested >to \ oknow Iwhat>the \prin
cipal 'differences are \ between the "'sort ofedu'cation you >get I at . . .Oxford
and ,Cambridge I and "'any 'other 'type of Uni'versity edu,cation. II
B: > Um... 11
A: > What? \ '" What:y the 'sort of>thing \ that you would 'hif!hlighl? II
B: ,Natura/JJ!. \ >difJerences I in
A: 'Yes. "
B: I sup,pose... I
A: >Well, I what the university
one. I >Why, \for example one would
>choose... II
B: Ah, I I ,see. II
A: Xes ... to "'go to 'one ofthose uni>versities \ orapp'ly to one ofthose universi
ties \ "'other to 'take the 'extra exam. II
B: ,Yes. II >Er, I ,certainly, I >er, I I thinkjust >this I is 'social life in inverted
thing about the university \ >which
'commas >is \ >er \ a >very I
in a way's I "'certainly a I part of edu'cation you rej:eive I when you go to
'Oxford or 'Cambridge ... II
A: The tu.. . torial ,system I I >think I is a
good system I >which's
been \par"'ticularly "'finely 'turned up in (bford and ,Cambridge...
B: Xa. II


Chapter V Phonostylistics

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


Occasional emphatic pauses and frequent use of hesitation pauses (both

A: ...though it ,does exist in ,other universities. II You have a "'great 'deal more
filled and silent) are also characteristic of this talk:
,freedom I about what you are going >to \ "'what 'course of >study you are
pre-+cisely going to >follow. II
B: .Yes. II >Er, I ,certainly, I>er, II thinkjust >this I'social life in inverted 'com
B: ,Ya.11
mas \ >is \ >er \ a >very at'tractive thing about the university...
A: There's "'very much 'left >to \one's own ,choice. You >have... II In 'my course
I remember II could look up -+pages and 'pages ofthings that I could poten
Among style-marking prosodic features we should mention the follow
tially ,do. II
B: ,Yes. II
Loudness is normal or reduced (piano), varied at the block boundaries.
A: It was -+really just a ,question of ,one .sitting 'out I what I "'really wanted to
variation in loudness suggests the degree of seriousness of the
,tin. III
thematic information. Sometimes the speakers lower their voices to an in
audible mumble or simply trail off into silence, which is undoubtedly con
The participants are post-graduates, students ofthe Russian language of
nected with changes in levels and ranges that are lowered and narrowed for
Oxford and Cambridge Universities who know each other quite well. They
many monosyllabic responses.
are in the same age group (mid-twenties) and share the same university ed
The rate is flexible as the speakers wish it to be. A speaks very slowly, B
ucational background as mature students.
a bit faster, but for both of them the speed is characteristically uneven.
They discuss quite spontaneously a serious topic, in which they are
The rhythm is non-systematic, greatly varied, interpausal stretches have
competent, interested, but not emotionally involved and concerned.
tendency towards subjective rhythmic isochrony; rhythmicality
The subject matter is serious and the speakers sound rather formal,
within the block is achieved by the variation of all prosodic parameters.
businesslike, but occasionally interested and even involved.
The accentuation of semantic centres is achieved by the use of emphat
To maintain contact the participants use words like: yes, right, sure, of
ic and compound tones (High Falls, Fall-Rises, Fall + Rises), increase of
course, expressing immediate reaction as well as all kinds of non-verbal
loudness, widening of the range of nuclei, changes in the rate of utterances
sounds and noises like hm, mm, er, um, aha, etc.
and by a great contrast between accented and unaccented segments of
The speakers are relaxed and not worried about the impression they are
creating unlike a lecturer or a public speaker. Slips and errors of grammar
Pre-nuclear fragments are usually very short - heads with one accented
occur and do not bother them. Similarly, slight carelessness of pronuncia
pre-nuclear syllable are most common. High pre-heads occur very often.
tion is common, thus we may speak about occasional deviations from the
The observations made during the auditory analysis of this dialogue and
elaborated code.
a great number of similar dialogues allow us to sum up the phonostylistic
As any dialogue is a simultaneous act on the part of the sender and ad
characteristics of informational spontaneous dialogues.
dressee' they are both mutually dependent and adapt to each other's strate
gies. Intonation contributes to establishing and maintaining contact be
Table 10
tween the participants.
Prosodic Characteristics of Informational Spontaneous Dialogues
The dialogue falls into coordinated blocks, split into dialogical units
(stimulus - response). Each unit is characterized by semantic and phonetic
businesslike, detached, occasionally interested
integrity, by certain prosodic interrelated features. The ends of utterance
pauses are frequently absent due to the rapid taking up cues:
coordinated block - dialogical units (stimulus re

B: Isuppose
A: Well, what the university offers one. fJihy, for example one would choose...
B: Oh,Isee.


sponse) - phrases - intonation groups, frequent absence

of end-of-utterance pauses due to the rapid taking up of
cues; frequent use of hesitation pauses (filled and silent),
occasional silence for purposes of emphatic pause

Chapter V. Phonostylistics


Table 10 (Continued)


nonnal or reduced (piano expression); variation ofit at

block boundaries and also for the accentuation of semantic
centres; occasional inaudible lowered mumbles and trailing
off into silence occurring by the end ofthe segments

Levels and

especially for the contrastive accentuation

of semantic centres; narrowed pitch ranges for many


slow or

and interpolations, I.l1i:1.1i:l.I.lvj

as one wishes it to be



may be of any length; their length being the marker of

contact between the speakers; simultaneous speaking is
quite common; silence ofany stretch occurs for the sake
of emphasis and as a temporizer to gain some time before
the view


non-systematic, greatly varied, interpausal stretches have

a marked tendency towards the subjective rhythmic i80
chrony; rhythmicality within the block is achieved by the
variation of all prosodic parameters




uneven, as flexible


regular use offalling (high and medium) final and cate

goric tones, the increase of the range of the nuclei on the
semantic centres; occasional usage oflevel and low rising
tones in non-fmal groups, of emphatic tones (High Fall,
Fall-Rise, Rise-Fall) on emphatic semantic centres; high
nrvnrvrti.-." of narrow ranges throughout the responses



common use oflevel heads, usually with one accented pre

and high pre-heads, longer pre-nuclear
do occur, then sudden
within the segments characterize them

The contrast
cented and

the variations in all prosodic parame

Comparing informational monologue - dialogue l'HUHU"LY

acteristics we can make the following conclusions:
1. The structural hierarchy of a monologue is: phonopassages - phrases
intonation groups; whereas the one of a dialogue is: dialogue blocks
dialogue units - phrases - intonation groups.

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


2. In a dialogue there is a wider range ofcontrasts in prosodic and paralin

guistic effects.
3. In a dialogue there is a strong tendency to keep the utterances short, to
break up potentially lengthy intonation groups wherever possible. The
average length of units in the majority of cases falls within the range of
words. Relatively high proportion of incomplete phrasal segments
is noticeable. Phrases are commonly short at the beginning, longer as
topics are introduced, longer still as argument develops and short again
as the end approaches.
4. In a dialogue there is no stable pattern of rhythm.
5. The tempo (rate + pauses) in a monologue is normally less varied but in
both cases it is conditioned by the importance of information, the flu
ency of speakers, their familiarity with the topic (theme) and experi
ence in speaking. In general in a monologue slower speech is expected.
By way of conclusion we would like to say that informational style is
widely used in classroom interaction which makes it a useful model for
teaching and learning the production of spoken English.
e) press reporting and broadcasting

It has already been stated above that press reporting and broadcasting is
a rather complicated non-homogeneous phenomenon and may be varied
from the stylistic point of view.
The chief function of a newspaper and news bulletin is to inform, to
present a certain number of facts to a reader, a listener, or a viewer with the
effect of giving the impression of neutral, objective, factual reporting. All
types of discourse in that style share some important prosodic features.
It should be noted, however, that the speech of radio and television an
nouncers is somewhat different, because a TV news reader accompanies
vocal expression by non-verbal means of communication (facial expres
sion, gestures). The radio announcer tends to exaggerate certain prosodic
features to be better understood by the listeners.
Here is an example of radio news coverage:

-"Thirty-five vvehicles \ 'were in"'volved in a tmultiple col'Usion \ on the

"'M 'I 'motorway this omorning. II The -"accident oc>curred I about "'three miles
of the 'Newsport 'Pagnell vservice area I when an ar-"ticulated vlm:!:J:. I
"'carrying a 'load of-ySteel bars I 'j1JJ:kknifgd and
II A "'number of
'lorry drivers and vmotorists II were un,able to pull J!Jl in time I and ran 'into the

Chapter V Phonostylistics


overturned v vehicle l-tcausing g/tll!Jilg/pikup. III "'Some ofthe 'steel barsfrom

the >load I were -+flung by the .Impact I across the 'central re'serve into the
'southbound vcarriagewav I which was re-tStricted to 'single-lane 'working be
cause of re'pairs and re- v swfacing I >causing I "'several 'minor ,accidents. I
With "'both 'carriageways vblocked Ipolice
the motorwayfor a ,time Iand
di"'version signs were 'posted at the 'nearest
roads. III "'Breakdown 'vehicles
and vambulances I had con-tsiderable >difJiculty I in reaching the 'scene ofthe
I and the 'flashing 'am
,accident I because of'fgg II This was
ber ,/ightsignals Ihad been -+switched ,on \for-tmostofthe ,night. So jar Ithere
are -+no re>ports I of"'anyone 'seriously
\ in the
Voice colouring may be characterized as unemotional, dispassionate,
reserved, but very resolute and assured, a typical case of a newsreader's
"neutral position", deliberately underlying the effect of objectiveness on
the part of the newsreader.
Loudness ranges from normal to forte; it is especially varied at passage
Levels and ranges are usually normal, but contrasted when each news
item is introduced and also at the semantic emphatic centres.
Pauses tend to be rather long, especially when they occur between pas
sages, longer still between the bulletin items. The location ofpauses is com
monly predictable, syntactically or semantically determined.
Rate is not remarkably varied. It is normally slow, rarely allegro: delib
erately slow (lento) on communicatively important centres.
Rhythm exhibits a stable pattern.
Types of heads vary, the most common being descending (falling and
stepping), very often broken by accidental rises.
Another very common phenomenon is the variation of descending and
ascending heads of different levels to convey the information in a really in
teresting way, especially in the enumeration of the events:

,discipline I was -+much worse in this ,country I than in A'merica II

and the "'habits of'drivers when 'overtaking I were par'ticularly bad. II ,One 'saw
tjar too much 'dangerous "pulling out I without an -+adequate >signai \ having
been .,given.
-+ Lane

Also the semantic centre of the preceding intonation group may be re

peated at the beginning of the next utterance. Lexically it may be the same
word or word combination or a related one. This is done to chain the
es tightly into a phonetic whole (phonopassage). On the prosodic

5.3. Stylistic Use ofTntonation


close connection is expressed by the use of the Low Rising Tone in the ini
tial intonation group:

At the "'opening 'meeting in ,London olast ,night I Sir -+John Stone... 'criti
I the "'standard of'motorway driving in this ,country. He ,said that there
was ,evidence I that "'many ofthe 'basic 'disciplines of ,motorwav use I had yet
to be vlearned I by British ,drivers.
One can see here that in the text sentences are not long and not compli
cated in their structure. The intonation groups are quite short so that the
listener would not lose thread of what is being reported.
Terminal tones are usually final and categoric, falls prevail. Falling-ris
ing tones (or even Rise-Fall- Rises) are often heard in the initial short into
nation groups introduced to draw the listener's attention:

A "'number of'/orry drivers and vmotorists I

to l!1!1l 'YJ2 in time...

With "'both 'carriageways vblocked Ipolice 'closed the motorwayfor a ,time...


Table J I

Prosodic Characteristics of a News Bulletin Reading

(Press Reporting and Broadcasting)


\bice colouring

dispassionate, impartial, but resolute and as

sured; the effect of "chilly distant sounding"
(usually achieved by special training ofthe an


phonopassages - phrases - intonation groups



normal or increased, contrasted at the pho

nopassage boundaries

Levels and

normal; decrease towards the end of the pas

sage; noticeable increase at the start of any
new news item


not remarkably varied; slow, rarely allegro; de

liberately slow (lento) on communicatively
important centres


rather long, especially at the end of each news



stable, properly organized


Chapter V. Phonostylistics
Table 11 (Continued)

tuation of



frequent use of final, categoric falling tones on

the semantic centres and falling-rising or ris

ones in the initial intonation groups


common use of descending heads (very often

broken); alternation of descending and as
cerlolIlg heads


The contrast not great

between the

accented and


Comparing phonostylistic characteristics of the reading of an infor

mational text and a news bulletin we can make the following observa
1. News bulletin read aloud conveys mainly factual infonnation, attitudi
nal function of intonation is of secondary importance here.

2. The prosodic parameters are not greatly varied in both registers of the
style except for such occasions in news bulletins when pitch levels,
types of heads and pauses are alternated to break the monotony of
speech and draw the listeners' or viewers' attention to something very
important in the message. This often happens when events are enu
merated. Marked prosodic variations are also observed at the be
ginning and the end of each new paragraph or topic.
3. Voice quality is a very important marker of news coverage reading. It is
very easily identified, often labelled as "distant", "indifferent", "im
partial", "neutral". It is true, of course, for events of routine charac
ter. When tragic events are broadcast, for instance, all the prosodic
features are changed to convey the meaning.
4. In the "news bulletin reading" the use ofbroken descending heads and
fall-rises on initial intonation groups is more common.
5. Pauses tend to be longer, the general tempo is faster than in the reading
of informational educational texts.
6. The "broadcast" reading is more properly rhythmically organized.
Highly skilled newsreaders are capable of making the meaning clear
by careful control of rhythm.

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


5.3.3. Academic style

This phonetic style is often described as both intellectual and volitional.
The speaker's aim is to get the information across to the listener, to educate,
to instruct. It is frequently manifested in lectures, scientific discussions, at
conferences, seminars and in classes.
It can be suggested here that the most pure manifestation of the aca
demic phonetic style is realized in a lecture. Admittedly, there can be differ
ent types of lectures, they vary in the degree of formality, the competence
and the individual manner of the lecturer and so on.
No public lecture is ever spontaneous, since all of them, even those in
which no notes are used, will have been to some extent prepared in advance
and therefore represent the written variety of the language read aloud.
Here is an example of a carefully prepared lecture read aloud in public
addressed to a fairly-sized audience.

You will "'all have 'seen from the 'handouts I which you have in vfront of
you I that 01 pro"'pose to di'vide this 'course of v lectures I on the 'urban and
'architectural de'velopment of, London I into "'three 'main ,sections, II and per>
-haps I I could 'Just point 'out, 'right at the he.,ginning, I that there will be a
"'good 'deal of 'overlap be.tween them. II T.hey are in-+tended to >stand I as
,separate, I -+self-contained ,units. 111'deed, \ I would 'go as far as to >say I that
'anyone \ who "'tried to 'deal entirely 'senaratelv with the ,past, I the ,present, I
and the ""course ofdevelopment in the yfuture, I would be 'misrepre'senting the
'way in which 'urban 'growth takes ,place. II
Now by -+way ofintro,duction, I I'd "'like to 'try and 'give some indi>cation
of"'how 'London it'selfQ,riginated; II of""what de'velopmental 'treI:lds. were built
,into ,it, as it ,were, \from the -+very ,outset; I and of how -+these >trends have
-+ affected its ,growth. II
It -+started, of,course, I not as vD11, but as
cities. II The, Ramans built
a "'bridge a'cross the >Thames I at a "point where the 'estuary was 'narrow
g'nough to "make this a practical'propo,sition; \ and the en-+campment as.,saci
a1d with this obridge I"'grew 'up on the 'north 'bank ofthe ,river.
The -+principal Jim ofthis enr-ampment Iwas "'on the 'site now 'occupied by the
, Tower. 111-+ Further to the vwest, at a "point where the 'river was ~fordable, I flf.L '~
- Ithe -+Abbey of, Westminster - Iwas ,founded, Iand the "'two 'towns 'grew 'up oSide
by ,side -I ""one centred on the vilomaJ:l camp, Iand the -+otheron the ,Abbey.
-+Now in my ,next ,lecture I I "hope to 'demonstrate in Vdetaill that "'this
'state ofgf'fairs I this double vfocus, I as we might ,call it - I was of"'crucial
importance for the 'subsequent 'growth o!,London as a '@'


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

This is a public lecture about the growth and development of London

addressed to a fairly-sized audience. The lecturer is evidently a specialist,
therefore he sounds very self-assured and comfortable with the subject,
knowledgeable about the topic. The purpose of the lecturer is to deliver the
message across to the audience. To implement this goal he tries to engage
the attention and interest of the listeners, to maintain contact.
The speaker uses all sorts of rhetorical strategies to involve the audience
and to implement his objectives:

1'd like you to consider what happened as the two towns began to expand.
What do you think the main consequences ofthe expansion were?
The speaker outlines the points he is going to lecture about, uses all sorts
of phrases to cla.ri1Y his position and underline each new item in the text:

You will all have seenfrom the handouts which you have infront ofyou that
I propose to divide this course oflectures on the urban and architectural devel
opment ofLondon into three main sections and perhaps I could just point out,
right at the beginning that there will be a good deal ofoverlap between them.
Indeed l wouldgo asfar as to say. ..
Now by way ofintroduction Iid like to try and give some indication of..
Now in my next lecture Ihope to demonstrate in detail. ..
The relationship between the lecturer and the audience is on the whole
rather formal. At the same time he sounds interested, involved, enthusiastic
about the subject of his talk.
Table 12

Prosodic Characteristics of Academic Style Presentation

Voice colouring




edifying, instructive,

Style-marking prosodic

phonopassages - phrases

intonation groups


increased, sometimes to forte

Levels and

remarkably varied within the passage; gradual decrease within the supraphrasal unit


normal, slow in the most important parts ofthe lec

ture (rules, conclusions, examples); rate is as flexible
as the lecturer wishes it to be


5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation

Table 12 (Continued)

-~~ ses

tuation of

rather long, especially between the phonopassages; a

large proportion ofpauses serving to bring out com
municatively important parts of utteranccs; occasion
al use of breath-taking pauses


properly organized, especially while giving the rules,

the laws, drawing conclusions, etc.

I Tel: minal

high proportion of compound terminal tones (High

Fall + Low Rise; Fall-Rise, Rise-Fall-Rise); a grcat
number of high categoric falls

Iton es

Pre -nuclear
pat terns

frequent use of stepping and falling heads; alternation

of descending and ascending heads, especially in enu

Th ~ contrast not great

bet "een the
ace ented and
un :ccented
seg nents

Now we would like to give an outline of the specific characteristics of

the academic style presentation:
1. Academic presentations are generally well prepared and even rehearsed
by a trained lecturer.
2. The lecturer sounds self-assured, authoritative, instructive and edify
3. The degree ofloudness is determined by the size of the audience.
4. The prosodic features of the academic style presentation are varied. We
can observe marked variations of terminal tones, pre-nuclear patterns,
ranges, tempo and loudness.
5. The rhythmical organization of the text is properly balanced by the al
ternation of all prosodic features which gives the acoustic impression of
"rhythmicality" .
6. High falling and falling-rising terminal tones are widely used as a means
of both logical and contrastive emphasis.
We have described common prosodic features which can be viewed as
markers of academic style. It should be mentioned that today academic
presentations vary considerably depending on the following factors: the
topic, the number oflisteners, their qualitative charactersistics (ethnic, so


Chapter V Phonostylistics

cial, cultural, cognitive, psychological), character of speaker/audience re

lationship (formal/informal), method of delivery, individual manner of the
lecturer. All these factors determine the prosodic realization of each par
ticular public presentation.

5.3.4. Publicistic style

The term "publicistic" serves for many kinds of rhetorical activities,
that is why this phonetic style is often called "oratorial". It is a very broad
notion because there is a great deal ofoverlap between academic, publicistic
and declamatory style when the basic aim of the speaker is persuasion. But
in publicistic speeches it is achieved not only through argumentation as in
the academic style or imagery as in the declamatory style, but through a
combination of rhetorical strategies.
This is especially noticeable in public political speeches of some politi
cians whose appeals to the nation are overloaded with all sorts of oratorial
tricks and characterized by various contrasts in all prosodic features to pro
duce a complex vocal effect, thus making the presentations more effective.
Publicistic style is manifested in political, judicial, oratorial speeches,
in sermons, parliamentary debates, at congresses, meetings, press confer
ences and so on.
It has long been believed that public speaking is an art and rhetorical
skills need special training. It is evident, of course, that intonation has al
ways been of primary importance there and surely needed accurate training
and exaggeration to achieve excessive emotional colouring. The use of pro
sodic contrasts makes the speaker sometimes go to extremes and become
needlessly dramatic.
Another important feature of publicistic style speeches is that they are
never spontaneous. It is generally accepted that any professional talk is a
"voyage", and it should be charted, but it is strongly advisable not to use
notes during the speech performance because they might destroy contact
with the listeners. A public speech is generally written and rehearsed before
hand, however, the speaker tries to create the effect of spontaneity and to
avoid the impression ofcomplete preparedness, which contributes to effec
tive interaction with the audience.
As was stated above, the purpose of oratorial performances is to stimu
late, inspire the listeners, to arouse enthusiasm in them; so the kinesic ac
companiment - facial expressions, bodily movements, gestures - is ex
tremely important and helps to achieve the task, to put heart into the talking.

5.3. Stylistic Use oflntonation


On the other hand, the proper response ofthe audience inspires the speaker
and stimulates him for an ever more successful talk.
One would always expect a political and judicial speech to be given in a
forceful and lively manner because the effects offailing to be convincing is
likely to be severe for speakers, politicians and judges especially. These
speeches are easily identified due to a set ofspecific grammar constructions,
lexical means and intonation patterns.
These features are absolutely predictable because they are markers of this
style. For example, a very notable and common stylistic feature used here is
parallelism - the repetition ofsyntactical, lexical and prosodic structures.
Basically political speeches, addresses of Governments tend to be very
formal, so a great number of "high-flown" phrases, set expressions are com
mon to this style as is seen from an imaginary political speech taken as a
model from the Advanced English Course:

The '>I.time has 'almost 'come, 'ladies and ,gentlemen, I when the '>I.Gov
ernment must 'ask 'YOU II the e'>l.lectors of'Great ,Britain I to re-+new, its
,mandate. It is as a -+member ofthe ,Government I that I'>I.stand be'fore you this
,evening. I and the '>I.task I have 'set ll1J:,~1 is to re'>l.view 'many >things I which
the -+Government has (L,chieved I since the '>I.lasf 'General Ejection I and to
-+outline the ,path I which we '>I.hope to 'follow in the future, ,when, I as I am
-+confident will be the ,case, I you re-+turn us to ,office I with an even "greater
'parliamentary maJority.
-+ No one will deny I that ~hat we have been 'able to 'do in the 'past 'five
,vears I is es-+pecially ,striking in -+view ofthe
I which we in'>I.herited from
the 'previous ,Government. With '>I.wages and 'prices 'spiralling, upwards; I with a
'>I.record 'trade >deficit Iorhundretis ofmillions of,pounds, I and with the -+pound
>sterling IaFflicted by the evapo'ration ofinternational >confidence the '>I.coun
try was 'then on the tbrink offi'nancial di,saster I and eco'nomic coUapse...

It should be noted here, however, that in some public speeches there

may be deviations from formality and a contrast is often to be seen between
the highly formal and rather ordinary and in some instances even colloquial
language, when various illustrations, examples, comparisons, jokes, quota
tions are produced. So a good speaker is aware of a proper balance between
intelligibility, formality and informality.
Having outlined briefly the spheres ofthe publicistic style manifestation
we would like to concentrate now on the phonostylistic characteristics of a
publicistic speech (Table 13).


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

On the prosodic level public monologues are characterized by marked

variations and contrasts within the systems of pitch, loudness, tempo and
timbre accompanied by kinesic components.
These prosodic contrast'>, very expressive facial mimics and gestures
identify certain oral texts as belonging to publicistic phonetic style.

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation

Table 13 (Continued)
Accentua- Pre-nudear
tion of

Table 13

Model Intonation Characteristics of Publicistic Oratorial Speech

Voice colouring

dignified, self-assured, concerned and personally in

volved; a variety of attitudinal and modal expressions in
the voice


phonopassages - phrases - intonation groups



enormously increased, ranging from forte to fortissimo;

sometimes instances of diminished loudness are observed
to bring out words and phrases ofparamount importance
and produce certain psychological effect

Ranges and

varied; the predominant use ofwide ranges within

the phonopassage; a very high level of the start ofthe ini
tial intonation groups


moderately slow; the public :,peaker slows down to bring

out communicatively important centres; less important
information entails acceleration of speed


definitely long between the passages; a great number of

breath-taking pauses; pausation is commonly explicable
in semantic and syntactic terms; interpausal segments are
rather short, thus phrases may be overloaded by pauses of
different length; another characteristic feature ofthis reg
ister is a rather frequent stop ofphonation before the em
phatic semantic centre; it serves as a means of bringing
out words and phrases; voiceless hesitation pauses occur
to produce the effect of apparent spontaneity, "rhetorical
silence" is often used to exert influence on the public


properly organized; within the speech segments rhythmic

groups have recurrent alternation, which produces the
acoustic effect ofstrict rhythmicaJity

Aceentua Terminal
tion of

mostly emphatic, especially on emotionally underlined

semantic centres; in non-final intonational groups fall
ing-rising tones are frequent; terminal tones are contrastcd to distinguish between the formal segments of speech
and less formal ones (illustrations, examples, jokes, and


The contrast betweenaccented and


common 0: e of the descending sequence of stressed syl

lables; alaI proportion of falling and stepping
frequently I roken by accidental rises to increa.'IC the em
phasis; ano her common "rhetorical trick" is the tonal
subordinatl on when semantically and communicatively
important j ntonation groups contrast with their surroundings j n all prosodic features; so the high level head
maybe alte nated with the low level head, especially in
enumeratic ns
not great

Paralinguis- agreatnurr ber ofparalinguistic effects, kinesic compo

tic features nents - fac al expressions, bodily movements, gestures
subjected t( the main purpose of the pubJicistic discourse:
to influenc( the audience, involve it into the talk and to
exert the expected response from it

As any public speech is fully prepared and even rehearsed, it usually

goes smoothly and with ease, without hesitation devices. It is marked by its
dignified slowness, careful articulation and impressive resonance on the
most important communicative centres and properly rhythmically orga
nized. Of course, it is not always uniformly so. Occasionally a speaker may
drift from the register and sound less formal or even chatty or needlessly
dramatic. On such occasions the speaker tries to entertain the public and
the speech is characterized by markers of declamatory, academic, informa
tional or conversational styles. There are speakers who usualJy vary the reg
isters to achieve greater effectiveness.
The speakers are usually very enthusiastic about what they say, so they
may go to extremes by enormously increasing the loudness and alternate it
whisper or by pronouncing very long breath groups and suddenly in
terrupt the phonation by using the rhetorical silence. These and other pro
sodic contrasts produce great effects and captivate the attention and interest
ofthe listener.
A characteristic feature of publicistic style presentations is a large
amount of parallelisms on any level, prosodic features including.


Chapter V. Phonostyiistics

All the above-mentioned general characteristics serve to produce a com

plex vocal effect called "oration", designed to make the speech effective.
We have tried to describe here only one register of the style. There are
certainly other spheres of discourse - spontaneous speeches at the meet
ings, debates, after dinner speeches, speeches at anniversaries, prize-giving
Speeches and so on. They will certainly differ greatly on the prosodic level,
but the volitional function of intonation, expressed by the contrast of all
prosodic parameters, will always be in the foreground and mark the publi
cistic style.

5.3.5. Declamatory style. Artistic reading

This phonetic style is also called artistic or stage. It is a highlyemotion
al and expressive style, which needs special training. This phonetic style is
used on the stage, in films or in prose and poetry recitations. Thus we see
that it is always a written form of the language read aloud or recited.
It is a very difficult task to give a detailed description ofthe
in this book as it is the stylization ofall speech styles, especially conversation
al. Conversations on the stage are generally meant to reflect natural speech
interaction, but, addressed to the spectators, they produce an exaggerated
effect: due to such prosodic parameters as loudness, rate and range that are
immediately identified by listeners as "stage speech" characteristics.
The prosodic organization of such texts will vary greatly, depending on
the type of the theatrical performance - whether it is a tragedy, drama or
comedy, the style of the author, and, of course, on the social factors the
social and cultural background of the play characters, their relationships,
extralinguistic context, and so on.
Acting is a two-way conversation, players respond to the "feedback"

from the audience; the "feedback" in their case being almost cer
non-verbal language. Methods of achieving,

1<1111l<.tlllllJ.g this "conversation" with their audience are an

actors' training. Distancing, posture, gesture, facial

expression and timing - all these facets of their art are as important as the
delivery ofwords themselves.
Since declamatory style is a vast area for investigation and description
we would like here to restrict our analysis to the register needed in class for
training would-be teachers of English: prose reading and poetry recitation.
It should be noted that the recitation of prose and poetry has always
been regarded as an art. According to D. Brazil there are marked distinc

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


tions between the ways of reading: "The reader has two entirely different
options: he can either enter into the text, interpret it and "perform" it as if
he himself were speaking to the listener, saying as it were "this is what the
text means"; or he can stand outside the text and simply act as the medium,
saying that is what the text says" (D. Brazil 1980: 83). Artistic reading is
defmitelya skilled activity that can be judged by aesthetic criteria.
Intonation properties ofthe text read out loud depend on the type
written text.
It is common knowledge that prose, which describes an action or a se
ries ofactions to tell a story, is called narrative:

Though it was nearly midnight when Andrew reached Bryngower, he found

Joe Morgan waitingfor him, walking up and down with short steps between the
closed surgery and the entrance to the house.
(A. J. Cronin. The Citadel)
The prose is descriptive when scenes, objects, people, or even a person's
feelings are described in such a way that we can imagine them vividly. In
good descriptive writing an author builds up a picture in words in much the
same way as an artist paints a landscape or a portrait:

We got out at Sonning and went for a walk round the village. It is a most
fairy-like little nook on the whole river. It is most like a stage village that one
builds of bricks and mortar. Every house is smothered in roses and now, in
early June, they were burstingforth in clouds ofdainty splendour. ..
(Jerome K Jerome. Three Men in a Boat)

In order to appreciate a prose passage it is not enough to understand its

meaning: it is necessary to grasp the author's intentions and the artistic
means he uses.
It is necessary, ofcourse, before reading aloud to appreciate the written text.
For this one should firstly read the passage carefully. Then, while reading it a
second time, pay close attention to the sequence of events described or to the
stages, which 1ead to the main event. See if the writer gives reasons why the
event or events described occurred. When you have read a prose passage care
fully you should consider the following aspects: general meaning, detailed
meaning and the intentions ofthe writer and stylistic devices used in the text.
What makes a story a pleasure to read is usually the writer's way
ing it. The way scenes and people are described, the way the characters




Chapter V. Phonostylistics

think, talk or act are as important as the events themselves and contribute
largely to our enjoyment. When appreciating a piece of prose it is necessary
to understand how these qualities or devices help a story to develop and how
they add colour to it.
One should also bear in mind that any story is a unity, though divided
into passages. It is very important to understand how pieces of narrative are
put together. A reader responds to a text, its linguistic clues (internal evi
dence), but also to situational clues (external evidence). In responding to a
text the reader usually takes into account all he/she knows of the environ
ment: what is going on, who is involved as well as what part the language
Evidently the next step will be to break the text into phonopassages that
may not coincide with the written passages. Then the passage should be split
into phrases, the latter into intonation groups. The most necessary proce
dure, of course, is to underline the communicative centres in each intona
tion group and choose the prosodic features which will be appropriate and
will effectively express the meaning.
A writer helps his characters to come alive not only by describing the
way they act but also by letting us hear them speak. Thus narrative or de
scriptive prose can be interrupted by dialogue. Effective dialogue enables
the reader to feel that he is actually witnessing what is going on.
Dialogues are author's reproduction ofactual conversation and in read
ing aloud a reader should bear in mind the characters of the speakers, their
social background and the atmosphere, the environment, in which the con
versation takes place.
The author sometimes provides us with clues as to how the speech ofthe
characters should be interpreted:
He came into the room to shut the windows while we were still in bed and I
saw he looked ill. He was shivering, hisface was white, and he walked slowly as
though it ached to move.
"What's the matter, Schatz?"
"I've got a headache. "
"You'd better go back to bed."
"No, I'm all right. "
"You go to bed. I'll see you when I'm dressed. "
But when I came downstairs he was dressed, sitting by the fire, looking a
very sick and miserable boy ofnine years. When I put my hand on hisforehead
I knew he had a fever.



5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation

"You go up to bed," I said, "you're sick."

"I'm all right, " he said.
When the doctor came he took the boy's temperature.
(E. Hemingway. A Day's Wait)

The conversations are strikingly different in style and for their charac
teristics see corresponding sections of the chapter. We must mention here,
however, that most literary texts comprise descriptions, narrations and dia
The experimental data of the research works on the artistic reading al
low us to say that its prosodic organization depends on the type of the liter
ary text - descriptive, narrative, dialogue; on the character of the described
events, schemes and objects (humorous, tragic, romantic, dreamy, imagi
native and so on) and of course on the skills of the reader. But it is always
clearly marked by its expressiveness, personal involvement on the part ofthe
author, emphasis, by the entire range of prosodic and paralinguistic effects
and it is all felt through skilful reading (see Table 14).
Table 14
Model Intonation Characteristics of the Declamatory Prose Reading
Voice colouring

concerned, personally involved, emotionally rich


phonopassages - phrases - intonaton groups

ing prosodic


varied according to the size ofthe audience and to the

emotional setting

Levels and



deliberately slow, necessitated by the purpose of the

reading: the complete understanding of the author's
message by the listener; changes in the speed of utter
ances are determined by the syntactic structures, impor
tance of information and the degree of emphasis


long, especially between the passages. Disjunctive paus

es tend to be longer than connecting ones. Internal
boundary placement is always syntactically or semanti
cally predictable. A declamatory reading is distinctly
marked by a great number of prolonged emphatic paus
es the device used by the reader to underline the em


properly organized, the isochronic recurrence of

stressed and unstressed syllables


Chapter V. Phonostylistics
Table 14 (Continued)

tuation of



common use of categoric low and high fails in final and

even initial intonation groups and on semantic centres;
occasional use of rising and level tones to break the mo
notonyand in initial groups to connect segments ofthe

varied, contain patterns which have both common emphatic and non -emphatic usage; for the emphasis the
following patterns are most frequently used: Low Head
+ High Fall, High Head + Low Fall, High Head +
High Fal, Stepping Head + High Fall

The con
not great
trast be
tween ac
cented and

On the prosodic level the markers ofthe declamatory style reading are:
1. Slow tempo, caused by the lento rate ofutterances and prolonged paus

es, especially at the passage boundaries.

2. Stable rhythmicality.
3. The use of the falling terminal tones in initial intonation groups, the
increase oftheir range with the emphasis.
Now by way of conclusion we would like to say that we have made an
attempt here to describe one type of the declamatory style reading, which
may be valuable for teachers of English. Language teachers should pay a
great deal of attention to expressive declamatory reading as it helps students
to understand and appreciate literature, broadens their horizons. Artistic
reading can show them the subtleties of the author's intention, unlock his
secrets and pave the way to something new, something different.

5.3.6. Conversational style

aim of this section is to analyse variations that occur in natural
spontaneous, everyday speech. It is the most commonly used phonetic
style and consequently a variety which will be more familiar to the vast
majority of English-speaking people than any other. That is why it is
called familiar. This kind of English is also a means for everyday com
munication, heard in natural conversational interaction between speak

5.3. Stylistic Use ofTntonation


ers. So it is generally called conversational. Some scholars also call it

informal, because this style occurs mainly in informal external and
internal relationships in the speech ofrelatives, friends and the like.
In informal situations, where speakers are more relaxed, less attention
is given to the effect they produce on the listeners, because, as it has al
ready been mentioned, in formal situations they monitor their linguistic
life a more
behaviour, perhaps sometimes unconsciously. But in
natural and spontaneous style will be used. It is the style at the extreme
informal end of the stylistic linear continuum that is known as "vernacu
lar". Thus all speakers have a vernacular style but its variations in the use
of non-standard norms depend on the social background. In this style
variation will be at its most consistent leveL It is the most situationally in
fluenced kind of English. From pedagogical viewpoint this English seems
to be one of the most useful and least artificial kinds of the language to
teach foreign learners.
We would also point out here that in conversational style the emo
reaction to the stimulating speech signals is very important so the
lllluuinal function ofintonation here comes to the fore. Therefore one is
to find here a wider range ofcontrasts at any level than could be ex
pected elsewhere .. We have already outlined specifications of different
types of dialogues, classified them according to the degree offormality, so
here we will attempt to gain some insight into everyday conversations.
Conversations are one of the most complex forms of human behav
iour. When one starts to examine in depth even apparently trivial conver
sations, the complexity soon becomes obvious and, as with most other
aspects of language study, new dimensions to the study appear.
Clearly, a conversation consists of more than verbal language. Com
munication, to be effective, relies on other features than language and a
great deal on what is not said. A measure of common understanding has to
exist between speakers. Where this common understanding is lacking,
failures in communication are apt to occur.
In a conversation we do not just listen to words, we derive the meaning
consciously or unconsciously from a number of other communicative sys
tems and it could be that a lift of an eyebrow, a twitch of the mouth, or a
silence tell us more than a dozen sentences.
But undoubtedly the verbal part of the communication plays a very
important role and has its own systems too but only linked with other ef
fective ways contributed by the speakers. The full effect is achieved
meanings are exchanged even with strangers and about unfamiliar topics.


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

So to study conversational interactions means to study some of the

"rules" of non-verbal behaviour in relation to particular cultures and so
cieties and also to study the linguistic rules governing the talks. Both types
of study are still in relatively early infancy and the study ofthe relationship
between them is even less advanced.
Another complexity in carrying out research of this type of speech lies
in the procedural difficulties ofobtaining reliable data. It is well-known that
most people behave differently ifthey are aware ofbeing tape-recorded, but
unfortunately linguists cannot analyse everyday language without making
tape recordings first.
So of course the recorded samples of spontaneous mlormal conversa
tions are not quite reliable. The only safe way of obtaining data is
the technique of "surreptitious" recording. However, the transcript ofthese
talks doesn't show non-verbal means of communication - postures, ges
tures, facial expressions, manners and other superficial manifestations
which constitute the so-called "silent language" ofpeople. With the inven
tion of "video" one can easily solve this problem and the fieldwork proce
dures using it will be able to achieve quite realistic, objective data and inves
tigate the phenomena in all its complexity and unity.
Unfortunately, in this book we rely only upon the tapescripts of every
day informal conversations recorded for English textbooks.
Spontaneous, colloquial, informal conversations display certain com
mon linguistic characteristics.
1. Firstly, talks ofthis kind are characterized by the inexplicitness ofthe
language as the speakers rely very much upon the extralinguistic factors
etc. This manifests itself in "incompleteness" of many
utterances as the context makes it clear what was meant by the speaker, thus
making redundant its vocal expression:

Well... maybe, but... take responsibility; the ... the ... you don't need
as great a sense ofresponsibility for you ... your kind ofwork as you
do in teaching - all those children, all those parents...
Brenda: No, but you do have your. .. your. .. your colleagues at work you
have a certain amount ofresponsibility to them.

Sometimes the speakers even abrupt the speech suddenly and

silence but the listeners understand them, catch the meaning, because the par
ticipants have a common personal background and the explicitness is tolerated
or even taken for granted and is diagnostic of conversation. Occasionally, the
listeners request recapitulation by all sorts of repeated and echoing questions:

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation

Richard: Well, I'm going tonight in fact.

Tonight?Oh, are you ?
Richard: Yes, most nights really.



Chapter V. Phonostylistics

conduct of conversation. Some of these tactics are verbal, others non-ver

bal, most are culturally determined, some make individual use of cultural
habits and expectations. Together with the "silent language" (posture, ges
facial expression and manners) the space between the speakers also
plays an important part in communication. It is a measure of how intimate
or otherwise the speakers feel, how formal or informal their relationship is.
A "nose-to-nose" distance of I
metres is considered to be most
comfortable for talks and anything nearer than this may be unwelcome ifthe
other is not regarded as an intimate. Of course the "silent language" has
significance at deeper levels and in more complex ways than that exhibited
in gesture or postural language. There are more message systems but they
are not fully investigated yet.
On the grammatical level informal conversation provides delimitation
of utterances and sentences. The length ofutterances is much more variable
here than in any other variety ofEnglish. There is also a problem ofdelimit
ing sentences from each other as our conversations are characterized by a
large number ofloosely coordinated clauses and it is very difficult to decide
whether to take these as sequences or as compound sentences:

Well, ... maybe, but... take responsibility for your kind ofwork as you
do in teaching - all those children, all those parents...

Minor sentences are extremely frequent in responses, many of them are

incomplete. There are a
other points to be noted on the grammatical
1. High proportion of parenthetic compound types of sentence intro
duced by you see, you know, I mean, I say and others.
2. Frequent use of interrogative sentence types and very few imperatives.
3. Common use of vocatives, especially in initial position.
4. Rare use ofnominal groups as subjects; the personal pronouns are more in
evidence, the informal you is quite common in its impersonal function.
5. A great number of question tags.
6. The use of all sorts of repetitions and repetition structures. Even adver
bial intensifiers such as very may be repeated several times.
7. The occurrence of contrasted verbal forms (he's, I'll, I've).
8. The frequency ofcolloquial ellipses.
All these features and many others, not mentioned here, would be con
demned by many teachers of grammar and it would be only just for any
other speech style, but for this type of speech it is a standard and indeed a
valuable part ofinformal conversation. Formal written and informal spoken

5.3. Stylistic Use of Intonation


are totally different varieties of the language and the criteria of

acceptable usage must not be confused.
The most noticeable aspect of everyday conversations is their vocabulary.
It is characterized by colloquial idioms, the use ofwords simple in structure,
the avoidance of phraseology; also the informality of the text is achieved by
the use ofwords and phrases specific for such conversations, e. g. Yeah. Right.
OK. I see. Oh, yes. Yes, yes. Oh, lovely. Oh dear. Alright. Sure. Good heavens!
Thanks! Jolly good! Really? Come offit! Oh, no! Hey! and others.

On the prosodic level the field researchers provide us with data that
us to do some generalizations:
1. Conversations fall into coordinated blocks, consisting of supraseg
mental and supraphrasal units tied up by variations within the length of
pauses, speed, rhythm, pitch ranges, pitch levels and loudness.
2. Since there are no restrictions on the range and depth of emotions
which might be displayed in conversational speech situations they will allow
entire range of prosodic effects.
3. In the description ofprosodic characteristics ofthis phonetic style we will
begin by saying that intonation groups are rather short, their potentially lengthy
tone units tend to be broken. These short interpausal units are characterized by
decentralized stress and sudden jumps down on communicative centres:

-"That's ,going... I to -"make you very un'fit, you know.

4. The heads are usually level, or rarely, falling. Falling heads occur only
in groups consisting ofseveral stressed syllables.
5. As for the nuclei, simple falling and rising tones are common. Em
phatic tones occur in highly emotional contexts. High pre-nuclear syllables
are very frequent, e. g.
-Do you think it ,matters?"
"- I'd -"rather be thin than Jat."

6. The tempo of colloquial speech is very varied. The natural speed

might be very fast but the impression of "slowness" may arise because of a
great number ofhesitation pauses both filled and non-filled (hesitant drawls)
within the block. However, the speakers may have no pauses between
parts, very often they speak simultaneously, interrupt each other.
Also a familiar point about informal conversation is the frequency of
silence for purposes of contrastive pause as opposed to its being required
simply for breathtaking.


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

Pauses may occur randomly, not just at places ofgrammatical junctions,

e. g.
Richard: ,Oh,


seem to I "'realize >that...

III that I .like

So, tempo is very flexible in this style. It is uneven with and between ut
7. Interpausal stretches have a marked tendency towards subjective
rhythmic isochrony.
Now to conclude the description of prosodic characteristics we would
like to point out that the impression that the intonation is rather "chaotic"
in conversations is completely wrong. Suprasegmental features form a basic
set of recurrent patterns which is occasionally disturbed by the
of specific prosodic and paralinguistic effects which depend upon the mo
an individual is
Now we shall examine another, very specific register of conversational
style - telephone conversations. This sphere of communication is limited
in certain important respects by the special situation, which imposes a num
ber of restrictions.
The conversationalists who can see each other are able to place a great
amount of reliance on the facilities otTered by such things as gesture and the
presence ofa common extralinguistic context.
Telephone conversations lack these facilities to a large extent and so
have a tendency to become more explicit than ordinary conversations
a different use of "indicator" words such as pronouns which may be vague
in their reference ifit cannot be seen who or what is referred to.
The telephone situation is quite unique being the only frequently oc
curring case of a conversation in which the participants are not visible to
each other, so there is some uncertainty in keeping up the give-and-take
between the participants.
A different range of situational pressures is exerted upon the partici
pants, and consequently a range of linguistic contrasts which they are per
mitted to choose differs somewhat.
The participants avoid long utterances without introducing pauses.
Pauses cannot be long, because anything approaching a silence may be in
terpreted by the listener either as a breakdown of communication or as an
for interruption which may not have been desired. \biced hesi
the gap (drawls, random vocalizations, repetitions

5.3. Stylistic Use ofIntonation


ofwords) is more frequent here than elsewhere. In view of the purpose of a

call questions (also repeated and echoed), responses and impera
tives are very common.
Vocabulary is characterized by the use ofcolloquialisms, idioms and vo
calization. The opening and closing ofa telephone conversation are marked
by the use of the same formulas, the linguistic devices carrying out these
operations are not numerous and always predicted.
It is obvious that telephone conversations differ from others mainly in
degree offormality and can most realistically be seen as a subprovince
more general notion.
We shall conclude this chapter by examining one more area ofconver
sations, namely, when partners' stretches of speech are not equal: one is
an active speaker, the other is an active listener. It happens when people
stories ofanecdotal character or in the form oflong narratives. It may
be the story of a film or a book or just a story of events that have happened
to us. In this case the speech of the narrator reminds us very much of the
informational monologue, only differs in the degree offormality.
Correspondingly, there is a greater variety in using hesitation phenom
ena (filled or non-filled), vocalizations, repetitions and so on.
The speed of utterances and pausal contrasts vary in accordance
the semantic value of the narration.
The listener responds either non-verbally by using vocalizations, gestures
and facial expressions or by prompting the talk with aU sorts ofphrases show
ing personal concerned interest, like: What then? So what? And? Well? and so
Now by way ofconclusion we would like to say that it is not without sig
nificance that education is now increasingly interested in communicative
studies. Teachers have to find new ways of coming to terms with those they
hope to teach and the study ofinteraction is one way oftrying to enable suf
ficient "conversation" to take place to facilitate teaching and learning.
In a study of interaction there is a real hope for improving teacher's ef
fectiveness. Hut any such study has to be highly complex, and in view of the
difficulty and complexity the question ofwhether such studies can be ofprac
tical value was raised and some useful advice for such attempts was given.
"Language" and "People" are both familiar terms and represent famil
iar things. Hut the "and" between them represents an enormously complex
relationship. This relationship involves cultures and civilizations, individual
human beings, their interaction and their forms of organization, it involves


Chapter V. Phonostylistics

Our book cannot pretend to explore in any depth or with any adequacy
such vast areas, but it seems worth making attempts to trail some of the
more significant strands in the relationships and that's what we tried to do

When used in speech phonetic units undergo various changes under the
influence of extralinguistic factors. The bundle of these factors forms the
extralinguistic situation. The extralinguistic situation determines the choice
oflanguage means, phonetic means in particular.
Phonostylistics is a branch ofphonetics which studies the way phonetic
units (both segmental and suprasegmental) are used in particular extralin
guistic situations.
The extralinguistic situation can be described in terms of three compo
nents, i. e. purpose, participants and setting. These components distinguish
situations as the context in which speech interaction takes place.
Purpose is the most important factor that guides the communication. It
is the task that is achieved in the course of communication. Participants are
people involved in communication. Speech is a marker of various charac
teristics of people, both individual and social: age, gender, family back
ground, occupation, social roles. The scene (setting) includes the physical
orientation of participants, which is connected with the type of speech ac
tivity they are engaged in. Scenes can also be described in the following
tenus: public - non-public (private), formal informal, monologuing
dialoguing - poliloguing. The channel ofcommunication is also to be taken
into consideration: face-to-face interaction telephone communication,
mass media communication.
The extralinguistic factors, that determine the choice ofphonetic means
and result in phonostylistic variation are:
the purpose, or aim ofcommunication;
the degree of formality ofthe situation;
the degree of spontaneity;
speaker's attitude.
The purpose, or aim ofcommunication may be called a style forming fac
tor, while all the others cause modifications within a particular style, which
account for the existence of different kinds and genres of texts within each
phonetic style. All the factors are interdependent and interconnected.



The classification ofphonetic styles is based on the purpose of commu

nication, which is the most significant extralinguistic factor. Five phonetic
styles can be singled out according to the purpose of communication:
1. Informational style;
2. Academic (Scientific) style;
3. Publicistic (Oratorial) style;
4. Declamatory (Artistic) style;
5. Conversational (Familiar) style.
Stylistic variations of sounds and intonation result from different com
binations of extralinguistic factors. Stylistic modifications of sounds are
caused primarily by the degree of formality, while variations of intonation
are basically determined by the aim of communication.
In formal situations pronunciation tends to be careful and is character
ized by articulatory precision. In informal situations speech is generally
faster and less careful. In informal casual discourse (fast colloquial speech)
the processes of simplification take place: assimilation, reduction, elision.
Each of the five phonetic styles is used in a particular sphere of dis
course and is characterized by a set of prosodic features, which in their
combination form the model of the phonetic style.

Chapter VI


6.1. Social Phonetics and Dialectology
6.2. Spread of English
6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of

British English
Received pronunciation
Changes in the standard
Regional non-RP accents of England
Welsh English
Scottish English
Northern Ireland English

6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards

of English
6.4.1. General American

6.1. Social Phonetics and Dialectology

This chapter is concerned with varieties of English in different countries
of the world and geographical areas of Britain and also their social function
in the society.
It is a well-known fact that territorial Englishes are studied by dialec
Dialectology, as a science, is inseparably connected with sociolinguis
tics which deals with social variations caused by social differences and so
cial needs; it studies the ways language interacts with the society. Sociolin
guistics is a branch of linguistics which studies aspects of the language
(phonetics, lexis, grammar) with reference to their social functions in the
society. So sociolinguistics explains the language phenomena in connection
with factors outside the language itself in terms of large-scale social struc
ture and in terms of how people use language in communication.

6.1. Social Phonetics and Dialectology


Though in the past thirty years sociolinguistics has come of age and is a
fast expanding and increasingly popular subject it should be fair to mention
here that language is indissolubly linked with the society; in it we can see a
faithful reflection of the society in which people live.
It is quite clear, of course, that such fields of science as linguistics, so
ciolinguistics, psycholinguistics are inseparably linked in the treatment of
various language structures. For example, the subject matter of ethnolin
guistics gradually merges into that of anthropological linguistics, sociolin
guistics, stylistics and social psychology.
Some scholars consider functional stylistics to be a branch of sociolinguis
tics since it studies the distinctive linguistic characteristics of smaller social
groupings (such as those due to occupational class, age and sex differences).
In the case of English there exists a great diversity in the spoken realiza
tion of the language and particularly in terms of pronunciation. The variet
ies of the language are conditioned by language communities ranging from
small groups to nations. Now speaking about the nations we refer to the na
tiona variants of the language. In their treatment we follow the conception
of A. D. Shweitzer. According to him national language is a historical cat
egory evolving from conditions of economic and political concentration
which characterizes the formation of a nation. In other words national lan
guage is the language of a nation, the standard of its form, the language of a
nation's literature.
It is common knowledge that language exists in two forms: written and
spoken. Any manifestation of language by means of speech is the result of a
highly complicated series of events. The literary spoken form has its na
tional pronunciation standard. A ."standard" may be defined as "a socially
accepted variety of a language established by a codified norm of correct
ness" (Macaulay, 1977: 68).
Today all the English-speaking nations have their own national variants
of pronunciation and each of them has peculiar features that distinguish it
from other varieties of English.
It is generally accepted that for the "English English" it is "Received
Pronunciation" or RP; for "The American English" - "General American
pronunciation"; for the Australian English - "Educated Australian".
Standard national pronunciation is sometimes called an "orthoepic norm".
Some phoneticians, however, prefer the term "literary pronunciation" .
Though every national variant of English has considerable differences in
pronunciation, lexis and grammar, they all have much in common which gives
us ground to speak of one and the same language - the English language.


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties

It would not be true to say that national standards are fIxed and immu

They undergo constant changes due to various internal and external

Pronunciation, above all, subjects to all kinds ofinnovations. There
fore the national variants of English differ primarily in sound, stress and
intonation. It is well-known that there are countries with more than one
national language, the most common case being the existence oftwo nation
al languages on the same territory. For this Canada will be an example,
where two different languages English and French - form the repertoire
of the community. In this case scholars speak about bilingualism in contrast
to monolinguaIism typical of a country with one national language. Here
arises the problem of interference, that is "linguistic disturbance which re
sults from two languages (or dialects), coming into contact in a specifIc sit
(Crystal, 1977: 254).
It may be well to state that every national variety of the language falls
into territorial or regional dialects. Dialects are distinguished from each
other by differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. We must
make clear that, when we refer to varieties in pronunciation only, we use
the word "accent". So local accents may have many features of pronun
ciation in common and consequently are grouped into territorial or area
accents. In Britain, for example, Yorkshire, Lancashire and Cheshire ac
cents form the group of "Northern accent". We must admit, however, that
in most textbooks on phonetics the word "dialect" is still used in reference
to the regional pronunciation peculiarities, though in the latest editions
both in this country and abroad the difference in terms "dialects and ac
cents" is generally accepted. As we see, those terms should be treated dif
ferently when related to different aspects of the language. It is, however,
true that there is a great deal of overlap between these terms. For certain
geographical, economic, political and cultural reasons one of the dialects
becomes the standard language of the nation and its pronunciation or its
accent - the received standard pronunciation. This was the case of London
dialect, which accent became the "RP" ("Received Pronunciation") of
It has been estimated that the standard pronunciation of a country is
not homogeneous. It changes in relation to other languages, and also to
geographical, psychological, social and political influences. In England, for
example, we distinguish "conservative, general and advanced RP" (Gim
son, 1981).
As a result ofcertain social factors in the post-war period - the grow
ing urbanization, spread of education and the impact of mass media,

6.1. Social Phonetics and Dialectology


Standard English is exerting an increasing powerful influence on the re

gional dialects of Great Britain. Recent surveys of British English dia
lects have revealed that the pressure of Standard English is so strong that
many people are bilingual in a sense that they use an imitation of RP
with their teachers and lapse into their native local accent when speak
ing among themselves. In this occasion the term diglossia should be in
troduced to denote a state of linguistic duality in which the standard
literary form of a language and one of its regional dialects are used by the
same individual in different social situations. This phenomenon should
not be mixed up with bilingualism that is the command of two different
languages. In the case of both diglossia and bilingualism the so-called
code-switching takes place. In recent years the effect of these forms of
linguistic behaviour is studied by sociolinguists and psychologists.
As was stated above, language, and especially its oral aspect varies with
respect to the social context in which it is used. The social differentiation
of language is closely connected with the social differentiation of society.
Nevertheless, linguistic facts cannot be attributed directly to class struc
ture. According to A. D. Shweitzer "the impact of social factors on lan
guage is not confined to linguistic reflexes of class structure and should be
examined with due regard for the meditating role of all class-derived ele
ments social groups, strata, occupational, cultural and other groups in
cluding primary units (small groups)" (A. D. Shweitzer, 1983).
Western sociolinguists, such as A. D. Grimshaw, J. Z. Fisher,
H. Bernstein, M. Gregory, S. Carroll, A. Hughes, P. Trudgill and others,
are oriented towards small groups, viewing them as "microcosms" of the
entire society.
Every language community, ranging from a small group to a nation
has its own social dialect, and consequently, its own social accent.
British sociolinguists divide the society into the following classes:
upper class, upper middle class, middle middle class, lower middle
upper working class, middle working class, lower working class.
The validity of this classifIcation is being debated in sociolinguistics.
The problem of social stratification and of group theory has only re
cently been tackled by the science of sociology. The serious study of so
cial dialects must be proceeded, or at least accompanied by significant
advances in sociology and especially in the more precise definition of
the notions, such as class, nation, nationality, society, language commu
nity, occupation, social group, social setting, occupational group, and
so on.



Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

It is well worth to understand that classes are split into different major
and minor social groups (professional, educational, cultural, age, sex and so
on). Correspondingly every social community has its own social dialect and
social accent. D. A. Shakhbagova defines social dialects as "varieties spoken
by a socially limited number ofpeople" (Shakhbagova, 1982).
So in the light of social criteria languages are "characterized by two
plans of socially conditioned variability - stratificational, linked with soci
etal structure, and situational, linked with the social context of language
use" (A. D. Shweitzer, 1983: 6).
Having had our main terms straightened we may speak now of the "lan
guage situation" in terms of the horizontal and vertical differentiations of
the language, the first in accordance with the spheres of social activity, the
second - with its situational variability.
It is evident that the language means are chosen consciously or subcon
sciously by a speaker according to his perception of the situation, in which
he finds himself. Hence situational varieties ofthe language are called func
tional dialects or functional styles and situational pronunciation varieties
situational accents or phonostyles.
It has also to be remembered that the language ofits users varies accord
ing to their individualities, range of intelligibility, cultural habits, gender
and age differences. Individual speech of members of the same language
community is known as idiolect.
Now in conclusion it would be a perfectly natural thing to say that lan
guage in serving personal and social needs becomes part ofthe ceaseless flux
ofhuman life and activity. Human communication cannot be comprehend
ed without recognizing mutual dependence of language and context. The
mystery of language lies, if nowhere, in its endless ability to adapt both to
the strategies of the individual and to the needs of the community, serving
each without imprisoning either. This is what makes sociolinguistics as a
science so important. In this book, though, we shall focus our attention on
territorial modifications of English pronunciation viewing them as an ob
ject of sociolinguistic study.


6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English

speaking English as a mother tongue are Americans. Compared with it

only 55 million speak English in Britain, therefore statistically you are
much more likely to encounter American accents and dialects than Brit
ish ones.
Figure 15

Vclrieties of English Pronunciation

Varieties of English


English -based
pronunciation standards

--{ British English

( English English


pronunciation standards

American English )

----{ Canadian English )

( Welsh English
( Scottish English
( Northern Ireland English
--{ Irish English
-{ Australian English


New Zealand English

--{ South Mrica English )

6.3. English-based pronunciation standards of English

6.3.1. British English

6.2. Spread of English

The famous linguist D. Crystal estimates that roughly more than 400
million people speak English as a mother tongue around the world and of
those 400 million 226 of them live in the USA, thus 2 out of 3 people

As was mentioned before, BEPS (British English Pronunciation Stan

dards and Accents) comprise English English, Welsh English, Scottish Eng
lish and Northern Ireland English (the corresponding abbreviations are EE,
WE, ScE. , NIE).


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

Table 15
British English Accents
English English



Scottish English







.. -.



I. Southern

1. Northern
1--------- -------1------ ----
2. EastAnglia 2. Yorkshire

3. South West

3. North-\\est


4. \\est Midlands



this chapter we are going to look in greater detail at the Received

Pronunciation (RP) and regional non-RP accents of England. Roughly
speaking the non- RP accents of England may be grouped like this:
I. Southern accents:
1) Southern accents (Greater London, Cockney, Surray, Kent, Essex,
Hertfordshire, Buckinghamshire);
2) East Anglia accents (Lincolnshire, Norfolk, Suffolk, Cambridgeshire,
Bedfordshire, Northamptonshire, Leicestershire);
3) South-West accents (G10ucestershire, Avon, Somerset, WIltshire).
2. Northern and Midland accents:

1) Northern accents (Northumberland, Durham);

2) Yorkshire accents;

3) North-West accents (Lancashire, Cheshire);

4) West Mjdland (Birmingham, Wolverhampton).

6.3.2. Received Pronunciation

It has long been believed that RP is a social marker, a prestige accent of
an Englishman. In the nineteenth century "received" was understood in the
sense of "accepted in the best society". The speech of the aristocracy and
the court phonetically was that of the London area. Then it lost its local
characteristics and was finally associated with ruling class accent, often re
ferred to as "King's English". It was also the accent taught and spoken at
public schools. WIth the spread of education cultured people not belonging
to the upper classes were eager to modify their accent in the direction of
social standards.


6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English

We can say that RP is a genuinely region less accent within Britain: you
cannot say which area of Britain the speakers of RP come from, which is not
the case for any other type of British accents.
It is fair to mention, however, that only 3-5% ofthe population of Eng
land speak RP. According to British phoneticians (Ch. Barber, 1964;
A. Gimson, 1981; A. Hughes and P. Trudgill, 1980) RP is not homogeneous.
A. Gimson suggests that it is convenient to distinguish three main types
within it: "the conservative RP forms, used by the older generation, and,
traditionally, by certain professions or social groups; the general RP forms,
most commonly in use and typified by the pronunciation adopted by the
BBC, and the advanced RP forms, mainly used by young people of exclu
sive social groups - mostly ofthe upper classes, but also for prestige value in
certain professional circles" (Gimson, 1981: 88).
In the last edition of ''An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English"
by A. C. Gimson, revised by Alan Cruttenden (2001) a new classification of
RP types is given:
General RP
Refined RP
Regional RP
By "Regional RP" they mean standard pronunCiation norm in particu
geographical regions which are commonly close to the national RP but
reflect regional peCUliarities.
Many native speakers, especially teachers of English, college and uni
versity professors (particularly in the South and South-East of England)
have accents closely resembling RP. P. Trudgill and J. Hannah call them
Near-RP southern.
There is one regional type of RP which is widely discussed now under
the name "Estuary English" which is very close to "Advanced RP" or
"Near- RP accent".
It is often spoken by young people who want to avoid the "snobbish"
accent and at the same time to sound trendy and fashionable
Figure 16
'JYpes of English RP
(Received Pronunciation)
National RP
refined, conservative
Oxford ~ng1ish.
King's ~nglish

BBC English


Estuary English

II other


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

6.3.3. Changes in the standard

As was stated above, changes in the standard may be traced in the speech
of the younger generation of native RP speakers. These changes may affect
all the features of articulation of vowel and consonant phonemes and also
the prosodic system of the language.
Considerable changes are observed in the sound system of the present
English, which are most remarkable since well-known Great Vowel
Shift in the Middle English period ofthe language development. It is a well
established fact that no linguistic modification can occur all of a sudden.
The appearance of a new shade in the pronunciation of a sound results in
the coexistence of free variants in the realization of a phoneme. The choice
between permissible variants of [w] or [A\] in wh-words is an illustration of
what is meant by the process of variability and free variants. In Russian we
observe free variants of the pronunciation of the words of 9Hep2UJl, meMn
type: non-palatalized and palatalized versions of [H] - [H'] and
The degrees of variability are different. The most perceptible and stable
changes are described in the works of British linguists and have been in
vestigated by Russian phoneticians. The RP of recent years is characterized
by a greater amount ofpermissible variants compared to the "classical" type
of RP described by D. Jones, L. Armstrong, I. Ward.
The phenomenon is significant both from the theoretical and practical
viewpoint. The variability concerns mainly vowels. Most of English vowels
have undergone definite qualitative changes. The newly appeared variants
exhibit different stability and range.
The qualitative distinctions manifest new allophonic realizations of the
vowel phonemes.

Changes in Vowel Quality

1. According to the stability of articulation
1) It is generally acknowledged that two historically long vowels [i:], [u:]
have become diphthongized and are often called diphthongoids; the organs
of speech slightly change their articulation by the very end of pronuncia
tion, becoming more fronted. Ch. Barber tries to draw a parallel with the
Great Vowel Shift which took place in Middle English,

zation was just one part of a complete change of pattern in the long vowels.

He claims that there is some resemblance to this process today and other

phonemes may move up to fill the places left vacant.

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of Eng1ish


2) There is a tendency for some ofthe existing diphthongs to be smoothed

out, to become shorter, so that they are more like pure vowels.
a) Thl" is very often the case with [el], particularly in the word final po
where the glide is very slight: [ta'del], [seI], [mel].
b) Diphthongs [aI], [au] are subject to a smoothing process where they
are followed by the neutral sound [a]:
[taua], [fala]
Conservative RP:
General RP:
[taa], [faa]
Advanced RP:
c) Also diphthongs [Ja], [ua] tend to be levelled to [J:]. Thus the pro
nunciation of the words pore, poor is varied like this:
older speakers:
middle-aged speakers:
[pJ:], [pJ:]
younger speakers:
It should be mentioned, however, that this tendency does not con
cern the diphthong [Ia] when it is final. The prominence and length
shift to the glide, this final quality often being near to [A]: dear [dla]

2. According to the horizontal and vertical movement of the tongue

Very striking changes occur in the vowel quality affected by the horizon
tal movement of the tongue. In fact the general tendency is marked by the
centering of both front and back vowels:
the nuclei of [aI], [au] tend to be more back, especially in the male
ofthe pronunciation;
b) the vowel [ce] is often replaced by [a] by younger speakers: [hcev]
[hav], [cend] - [and];
c) the nucleus of the diphthong [3U] varies considerably ranging from
[ou] among conservative speakers to [3U] and [au] among advanced
Conservative RP:
Advanced RP:
This tendency is so strong that the transcription symbol has been
Back-advanced vowels [A], [u] are considerably fronted in advanced
RP: but [bAt] - [bat], good [gud] [gad].
There is a tendency for all short vowels to be produced nearer the cen
tre of the mouth, that is to move towards [a] especially in unstressed posi


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

Centering of short vowels:




~[a]/ [e]

[A] /


Vertical changes may be traced in the following:

final [] and [I] may be very open
better ['beta] > ['bet3]
> ['sIta]
b) [e] [;):] tend to be closer in "advanced" RP
dead [ded] > [ded] as in Russian ".z:\em"
bought [b;):t] > [bu:t]
c) the nuclei ofdiphthongs [el, Ea, ;)a, ua] become more open when these
phonemes are being levelled, particularly the diphthong [a] which is char
acterized by a more opening of the nucleus:
careful ['kEaful] > ['kdul]
The first element of the diphthong [ua] can be lowered considerably
poor [pua] > [po"].
3. Combinative changes
It i,s general knowledge that when sounds are in company they influ
ence each other. These changes are called combinative. They take place
only in certain phonetic contexts. In a diacritic study, however, there is no
sharp boundary between isolative and combinative changes.
I) Changes in [j + u:], [I + u:]. Words like suit, student, super may be pro
nounced either [sju:t] or [su:t], ['stju:dant] or [,stu:dant], ['sju:pa] or ['su:pa].
The tendency is for middle-aged and younger speakers to omit the [j] after
[s] before [u:]. Word-internally [j] tends to be retained as in assume [asju:m].
There is also fluctuation after [I]: word-initially lute [Iu:t] is normal, but it is
possible to pronounce [J'lju:3n] in illusion, for example. These recent devel
opments in combinative RP changes bear remarkable resemblance to Amer
ican Standard pronunciation.
2) Change of [;):] to [u] before [f, s, 9]. Where orthographic "0" occurs
before the voiceless fricative [f, s, 8] older speakers pronounce the vowel [;):]:
loss [b:s]. This pronunciation is currently dying out in RP and being re
placed by [u]: [Ius].
Words like salt and fault still may be pronounced with

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English


4. Changes in length
It is an accepted fact that English vowels vary in length according to
the phonetic context - the consonant they are followed by (voiceless,
voiced), syllabic border, the degree of stress, the types of nuclear tone and
so on.
Actually nowadays there are changes in vowel length that are influ
enced by other factors. There is, for example, a strong tendency for the
so-called short vowels to be lengthened, and it is interesting to note that
this lengthening can be heard sporadically in many words in any posi
The lengtheningof[r] is often heard in big, his, is; of[u] ingood; [A] in
come. It should also be mentioned that [I] is often lengthened in the final
syllable, i. e. very, many: ['veri:], ['meni:].
Short vowels fe, <e] are also very frequently lengthened in yes, bed,
men, said, sad, bad, bag and so on. This tendency has considerably in
creased in the past few years.

Changes in Consonant Quality

1. Voicing and devoicing. As is well known, there is no opposition offinal
RP cons.Onants according to the work of the vocal cords. They are all par
tially devoiced, particularly stops. Such dev.Oiced sounds are clearly heard
after l.Ong vowels and diphthongs as in deed: [di:d]. However, these partly
dev.Oiced c.Onsonants are never identical with their voiceless c.Ounterparts,
because the latter are pron.Ounced with strong breath-f.Orce.
This tendency for devoicing now seems to be on the increase. A,> s.O.On as
the opp.Osition ofvoi.ced voiceless is neutralized in the final position, the
fortis/lenis character of pronunciati.On has become the relevant feature of
The v.Oiced/voiceless distinction of the minimal pairs [sed] - [set],
[dug] [duk] may seem t.O be lost. Actually it does not take place. The weak
consonants are never replaced by their voiceless counterparts, they never
become strong, the stops Ib, d, gJ, though devoiced, never acquire aspira
tion. More than that. The interrelati.On of final consonants and the preced
ing stressed vowels is very close.

He saw his cap. - He saw his cab.

Describing the positional alloph.Ones .Ofthe English stops A. C. Gimson
characterizes the initial lenis [b, d, g] as partially devoiced, finallenis [b, d, g]
as voiceless.


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

The sound [t] in the intervocalic position is made voiced:




2. Loss of [h]. In rapid speech initial

to die out from the language. Even most highly educated people subcon
sciously drop it completely. So instead of: She wants her to come [Ii" ""wnnts
ta JAm] one hears: ti: wnnts 3 ta ,kAm]. It is evident, of course, that the
loss of fh 1in stressed syllables sounds wrong.
3. Initial "hw". Some conservative RP speakers pronounce words like
why, when, which with an initial weak breath-like sound [h] [M]. The gen
eral tendency is, however, to pronounce [w].
4. Loss of final [!J]. The pronunciation of [m] for the termination h!J]
has been restrained as an archaic form of the RP: sittin', lookin'.
These occasional usages are not likely to become general.
5. Spread of "dark" [.l]. This tendency is evidently influenced by the
American pronunciation and some advanced RP speakers are often heard
saying [i] instead of [I] as in believe, for example. There is no threat in
spreading it widely yet but it is quite common for pop singers now. It should
also be mentioned that sometimes final [.l J tends to be vocalized as in people.
But it is not likely to become a norm.
6. Glottal stop. In RP the glottal stop ['l] can appear only in the f'ol
lowing two environments: a) as a realization of syllable-final [t] before a
following consonant as in batman ['bitman] - ['bi'lmn] or not quite
- ['nn'] 'kwalt]; b) in certain consonant clusters as in box, simply
[bn'lks], ['sr'lmplJ], where it is known as "glottal reinforcements". The use
of glottal stop by advanced RP speakers produces a "clipped" effect on a
7. Palatalized final [k'] is often heard in words week, quick, etc.:
8. Linking and intrusive [r]. It has been estimated that all English ac
cents are divided into "rhotic" or "r-full" and "non-rhotic" or "r-less".
Rhotic accents are those which actually pronounce [r] corresponding to

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English


orthographic "r". RP is a non-rhotic accent but most speakers ofit do pro

nounce orthographic "r" word-finally before a vowel: It is a facaway count
ry. It is known as linking "r". Failure by students to pronounce it does not
usually affect comprehension but may result in their sounding foreign.
As a further development and by analogy with linking "r", "r" is in
serted before a following vowel even though there is no "r" in spelling.
This "r" is known as intrusive "r". The actual situation is that younger RP
speakers do have it after [s] as in idea of, China and.
It is said that nowadays in colloquial fluent speech there is a strong
tendency towards elision, reduction and assimilation. This tendency is
reflected in the pronunciation ofthe young generation: tutor ('t[u:ta],
second year ['sekand3Ia], perhaps you [pa'hip[u:], gives you ['9rv3u:1, as
you know [a3ju: 'n3u]; in the transcribed texts of British textbooks: him
[1m], he (i:], her [3'], his [IZ], can [kn],from (frm], than [on], them [am],
some [sm], suppose [Sp3UZ], have to ['hafta], usually ['jU:3walIJ, last time
, and there was no one [an oar wz 'nsu WAn]; even in the tra
ditional spelling: C'm on, baby, Sorry 'bout that. Oh, le'mme see. Oh,
I dunno. Must've put'em all together. Why d'you ask? What dja think?

9. Combinative changes. Sound combinations [tj, dj, sj] are pronounced

as [tf, d3,J] respectively, e. g. actual ['iktjual] - ['ikt[ual], graduate
['gridjuaJt] ['grid3uelt], issue ['Isju:] ['rSu:].
In the clusters oftwo stops, where the loss ofplosion is usually observed,
each sound is pronounced with audible release, e. g. active ['i~tIv] - ['ik
bV], sit down ['sltdaun] - [,Sit 'daun].
[j] is lost following [1, s, z]: suit [su:t] and after I n I: news
Non-systematic wiations in RP Phonemes
Some free phonemes have appeared under the influence of the written
image ofwords, their spelling.
Unstressed prefixes ex- and con- have gained orthographical pronun
ciation: excuse [Iks'kju: z] - [eks'kju:z], exam [Ig'zim] - [eg'zim], continue
[kan'tmju:] - [knn'tmju:J, consent [kan'sent] [knn'sent].
The days of the week: Sunday ['SAndI] - ['SAndel], Monday ['mAndl]
Note also free variants in often: ['nfan]
Other cases: economics [,Ika'nnmlks] - [,eka'nnmlks].


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

Some Changes in Intonation


6.3. English-busI'd 111111111110 11111111 rll,1I1uurds of English


We can al~() 111111' III", IIhlllV northern speakers while they do not have
have [u:J mlllt'l 111,111 H ill words such as hook, book, look. They there
fore distinguish plIII-, III., ";I,d, nnd buck, which in the South sound [buk]
and [bAk], in till' NIlIIII d', 11'11 II. I and [buk]:

a) Spread of rising tones in final intonation groups, especially in de

scriptive monologues:

about my,self I was '"*bom in ,London. My

I'd "'like to
'"*parents were divorced...







b) frequent use of Low Falling tone in tags (disjunctive questions):

. "
\ ay, \lsn
t It.
c) Common use of rising tones in special questions, expressing interest
and personal involvement on the part of the speaker.

'"* Where were you ,born?

Now byway ofconclusion we would like to state that some ofthe changes
are quite stable, others tend to disappear. It is only natural since the language
is a living body and its development is particularly marked in pronunciation.
It is important to be aware of the recent developments in pronunciation,
which in the opinion of many prominent phoneticians may lead to radical
changes in the whole inventory ofvowel and consonant phonemes.

distinguishes northern and southern


....111 II


It 111111




I South

Ih,d I

I [ba:d]

~ 11111



One more major 11111111 Mouth differentiating feature involves the final
[i:] like in words city, /llIIIIr'I" etc. In the north of England they have
the south of England 1111 ',,' words are pronounced with

One of the main differences between these groups of accents is in the
phoneme inventory - the presence or absence of particular phonemes.
Typically, the vowel fAl does not occur in the accents of the north:


Note: Speakers will! 111111(\ strongly regional southern substandard ac

cents may not have ilH' I 11111 htNt or, at most, have a contrast that is variable.
In the South, hown! I, 11'1 is often pronounced as [a:J:

6.3.4. Regional non-RP accents of Engiand

As was stated above, we grouped regional accents of England into south
ern and northern ones. This division is very approximate ofcourse, because
there are western and eastern accents but their main accent variations cor
respond either with southern or northern accentual characteristics. Thus we
would like to point out here the main differences between southern and
northern accents.


Before the vok'l!t-..II II ,IIIWI{ II, s1 and certain consonant clusters con
taining initial [n 1111 I111I I' I i'l pl'Onounced in the North instead of






I'IIIA ni:]


It has been mentiolll'll ilhove that some English accents are, "rhotic" or
"r-full" and others are "ll!1ll"rhotic" or "r-less". Rhotic accents are those
which actually pronoulh',' 11'1, corresponding to orthographic "r" in words


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English


like bar andfarm. This [f] sound is post-vocalic and is most often heard in
6. RP [30] sounds as [eeo]: soaked [s30kt] - [s<okt];
Scotland, Ireland and in the southwest of England.
may be [<d]: now [nao]
7. RP
In most regional accents the glottal stop is more widely used than in RP.
In some areas, especially the north-east of England, East AngJia and North
ern Ireland, the glottal stop may also be pronounced simultaneously with
the voiceless [p, t, k], most strikingly between vowels: pity ['pJt?i:].
1. [h] in unstressed position is almost invariably absent;
Many non-RP speakers use In] in the suffIX "-tng" instead of [u]; sitting
2. [1] is widely spread in Cockney speech: paper ['p<11pd], butterfly
['sltm]. In the western area of central England which includes Birmingham,
['bA1tdflal] ;
Manchester and Liverpool they pronounce lUg]: singer ['SIUgd], wing
3. the contrast between [0] and [f] is completely lost: thin [frn], booth
Now about [j]-dropping. In most accents [j] is dropped after It, s]: stu
4. the contrast between [0] and [v] is occasionally lost: weather ['wevd]
dent ['stu:ddnt], suit [so:t]. In parts of the north the change has progressed a
good deal further, it is lost after [0]: enthusiasm [en'0u:zldzm].
5. when [0] occurs initially it is either dropped or replaced by [d]: this [diS],
In large areas of eastern England [j]
lost after every consonant. In
them [(d)dm];
London [j] is lost after [n, t, d]: news [nu:z], tune [tu:n].
6. [I] is realized as a vowel when it precedes a consonant and follows a
vowel, or when it is syllabic: milk [mlvk], table [teIbv]; when the preced
A. Southern English Accents
ing vowel is [J:], [I] may disappear completely;


We now turn to an examination of regional non-RP accents of England

and we shall first give a brief outline of the group of Southern accents.
As it was stated above, educated Southern speech is very much near-RP
accent whereas non-standard accents are similar to Cockney. So we are go
ing to give a detailed description of this London accent.
It has been long established that Cockney is a social accent typical of
the speech of working class areas of Greater London. Here are some pro
nunciation features of Cockney.

1. [A] is realized as [<1]: blood [blAd] - [bl<id];
2. [ee] is realized as [E] or lEI]: bag [b<g] - [bEg], [bElg];

3. [I] in word-final position sounds as Ii:]: city ('Sib]


4. when [J:] is non-final, its realization is much closer, it sounds like [0:];
pause [pJ:z] - [po:z]; when it is final, it is pronounced as [J:d]: paw
- [PJ:d];

5. the diphthong
['Ialdi:] ;

is realized as [eel] or [al]: lady ['Ieldl]

7. [U] is replaced by [n] in word-final position: dancing ('du:nsm] or it may

be pronounced as [IUk] in something, anything, nothing: ['nAfIuk];

8. [p, t, k] are heavily aspirated, more so than in RP;

9. rtl is affricated, [s] is heard before the vowel: top [tsnp].

B. Northern and Midland Accents

Midland accents, Yorkshire, for example, \\est Midland and North

West accents have very much in common with Northern ones. Therefore
they are combined in this book into one group; peculiar realization of vow
els and consonants will be marked, of course, when each subgroup is de
scribed separately.
The countries ofnorthern England are not far from the Scottish border,
so the influence of Scotch accent is noticeable, though there are of course
many features of pronunciation characteristic only of northern English re
gions. The most typical representative of the speech of this area is Newcas
tle accent. It differs from RP in the following:

I. RP rA1 is realized as

love [IAV]


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

2. RP final [I] sounds like [i:]: city ['sIb]

4. [eI] , [3U] are either monophthongs, or much narrower diphthongs that the
ones in the south of England, or they may even sound as opening diph
thongs [Ie], [uoJ: bay [be:], [bleJ, plate [ple:t), [plJet], boat [bo:t],
5. words that have "al" in spelling - talk, call, all, are pronounced with
[a:]: [ta:k], [ka:l], [a:IJ;

6. RP words with [3:] are pronounced with [J:] in a broad Tyneside accent:
first [hst], shirt [fJ:tJ; sofirst,jorced; shirt, short are homonyms;
7. raIl is [81]: right
may have


6.3.5. Welsh English


3. words like dance, chance which in RP have [a:] are pronounced with
lee]: [deens], [tJeens];

8. words which in RP have

6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of

Wales is a bilingual area. This speech situation in linguistics is known

as exoglossic. In Wales English dominates ovel' Welsh in urban areas, in
the west and north-west of the country the balance being in favour of
Welsh, where English is learnt at schools as a secolid language. At the mo
ment nationalistic feelings are rather strong in Wales and we are witness
ing a movement in favour of the revival of the Welsh language and its
spread in all areas of Wales.
However, Welsh English at the level of educated speech and writing is
not much different from that of English English. Most differences are
found at the level of more localized dialects.
this chapter we shall give a brief outline of Welsh English pronun
ciation standard.

e. g. about [';;1bu:t].
The principal phonological differences between WE and RP are the


1. [IJ is clear in all environments;


2. [hJ is usually present in all positions;

1. The distribution of [ee] and [a:] is as in the north of England. Last,

3. -ing is [m]: shilling

4. [p, t, k] between vowels are accompanied by glottal stop
[,Plt?i:] ;

dance, chance, etc. tend to have [ee] rather than [a:J;


5. in parts of Northumberland and Durham [r] may be uvular (in its pro
duction the tongue and the uvula, not the tongue and the alveolar ridge
take part).

Yorkshire accents
Yorkshire and Bradford accents are identical with northern vowel fea
tures in points 1, 3, 4 (only many speakers pronounce words which have
"ow", "ou" in spelling with [3UJ: know [3U]; with northern consonant fea
tures in point 3.
Now having accomplished the description of regional non- RP accents
of England we would like to say that we didn't attempt to give a detailed ac
count of all the regional differences in accents of remote rural areas. We
concentrated on urban accents which are more likely to be encountered by
foreign tourists.

2. unstressed orthographic "a" tends to be [ee] rather than [;;1], e. g. : sofa

['so:f ee] ;
3. there is no contrast between [A] and [;;1]: rubber ['r;;1b;;1];
4. [I] at the end is a long vowel: city [,slti:];
5. in words like tune, few, used we find [iu] rather than [ju:]: tune
6. reJl, [3U] may becomc monophthongs: bake [bc:.:k], boat [bo:tJ;
7. the vowel [a:llIs in girl is produced with rounded lips approaching [0:];

8, the vowels [101, Ith)1 do not occur in many variants of Welsh English:
fear is ['fi:jal, poor Is I'PU:W;;1].

1. Welsh English is nOIH'hotic, [r] is a tap, or it is also called a flapped
. Intrusive und linking [r] do occur.


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

2. Consonants in intervocalic position, particularly when the preceding

vowel is short are doubled: city ['sltti:].
3. Voiceless plosives tend to be strongly aspirated: in word final position
they are generally released and without glottalization, e. g. pit
[phlth] .

4. fll is clear in all positions.

Intonation in Welsh English is very much influenced by the Welsh lan

6.3.6. Scottish English

we must first make clear that the status ofScottish English is still debated.
Some linguists say that it is a national variant. Others say that it is a dialect.
English has been spoken in Scotland for as long as it has been spoken in
England. In the Highlands and Islands of northern and western Scotland,
however, Gaelic is still the native language of thousands of speakers from
these regions. A standardized form of this language, known as Scots, was
used at the court and in literature until the Reformation. Then it was gradu
ally replaced by English. Incidentally a number of writers and poets of the
likes of R. Burns retained their native language.
Nowadays educated Scottish people speak a form of Scottish Standard
English which grammatically and lexically is not different from English
used elsewhere, although with an obvious Scottish accent. We must admit,
however, that non-standard dialects of Scotland still resemble Scots and in
many respects are radically different from most other varieties of English. It
is very difficult to understand them for students who learn RP.
At the moment there is currently a strong movement in Scotland for the
revival of Scots. Nevertheless Scottish Standard English is still more presti
geous and in this book we concentrate on Scottish English as used and spo
ken by educated urban Scots.
As for the status of Scottish English, in this book it will be treated as a
dialect though it is fair to say that there is much in favour of calling it a na
tional variant of English.
1. Since Scottish English is rhotic, i. e. it preserves post-vocalic [r], vowels
such as RP [Ia], [3:], [lOa], loa] do not occur:


6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English




Scottish English






2. Length is not a distinctive feature of Scottish vowels. So pairs like

pool - pull, cot - caught are not distinguished. It should be noted,
however, that vowels are longer in final stressed open syllables than
3. Monophthongs are pure, there is no trace of diphthongization with the
exceptions of [a I] [81], lao] - [80] and

4. The RP


- [a:(a)] distinction doesn't exist: hat [hat], dance

5. [I], [0] may be centraL

6. In non-standard Scottsih English accent [u:] often occurs when RP has

lao]: house [haos] [hu:s].
7. It is interesting to mention that [u] and

may be not contrasted.

not ________

______ [not]



8. In very many regional accents do, to are pronounced as [da1, [ta J.

9. In some accents words such as ann, after, grass may have [8] rather

[a:]: after

1. Scottish English consistently preserves a distinction between fMl and
[w 1: which [Mltf] witch
2. Initial [p, t, k] are usually non-aspirated.

3. [r] is most usually a flap.

4. Non-initial [t] is often realized as glottal stop [1].
5. f11 is dark in all positions.
6. The velar fricative [xl occurs

a number of words: loch [lux].


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

7. -ingis [Ill].
8. [h] is present.

9. A specific Scottish feature is the pronunciation of [er] as [Ir]: through



6.3. English-based Pronunciation Standards of English

Republic, Donegal, for instance, speak Northern Ireland English, while

some ofthe no.rthern provinces speak Southern Ireland English.
In this chapter we shall deal with Northern Ireland English pronuncia

Non-systematic Difference
Some words have pronunciation distinctively different from RP:


to that of Scottish accents, post-vocalic ret

The vowel system is
used as in Scotland.
roflex frictionless sonol'ant 11'1

Scottish English








6.3.7. Northern Ireland English

It should be stated first of all that English pronunciation standards in
Northern Ireland and in the Republic of Eire are different. The explanation
lies in history.
Tn the Middle Ages almost the whole of Ireland was Irish speaking.
Nowadays, however, native speakers ofIrish are few in number and are con
fined to rural areas even though Irish is the official language of Ireland and
is taught in schools. The English language in Southern Ireland was origi
nally introduced from the West and West Midlands of England
shows signs of this today. This kind of English has spread to cover most of
the Irish Republic. Naturally the pronunciation of these areas retains fea
tures ofwestern parts of England.
The English of northern parts ofthe island with its centre in Belfast has
its roots in Scotland, as large numbers of settlers carne to this part from the
south-west of Scotland from the seventeenth century onwards. Now speak
ing about Northern Ireland, it is true to say that English here is not homo
geneous. Areas ofthe far north are heavily Scots-influenced. Other parts are
marked by less heavily Scots-influenced varieties of English. It is, ofcourse,
obvious that the language distinction is not coterminous with the political
division ofthe Republic ofIreland and Northern Ireland, some areas ofthe



bee _.
pet [pet], bed I
bay [be], bear 1
but [bAt];
pat [pat], bard 11)I]l'dl, halllwll, dance [dans], haif[haf];
put [put], boolll.mli. pull Ipoll, pool I pull, poor [pur];
boat [bot], boartl IIlC11'(j I, pole' Ipoll, knows [noz], nose [noz],pour [par],
pore [par];
paw [P;):], dol/ld,l;ll, /HIIIS(' 11>'1:~,1;
cot [kut];
buy [bal], tic/ellnulj:
bout [buut];
boy [b;)I].

The following

nol~':1 UII

rcad in ";>;>VvlaLIVll

may vary considerably according to the

L in words
tally it may be u dip"l

vuwcl is a monophthong [e], preconsonan

onhc type lea] - [Id]: gate [glat];

2. [;):], [u] are flljl'l,VV~'lIlInl:

3. [;):] and

1.'01 c()lllrw.i ollly bolbl'c [p, t, k];

4. [all, [au] arc W1Y



5. realization oflll:IIlIiIY VBI)' considerably.

1. [I] is mainly l'l"[lI';


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties ofEnglish

2. intervocalic [t] is often a voiced flap

city ['slrli:];

3. between vowels [0] may be lost: mother ['m;):ar]

4. [h] is present.

6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards of English

The American variant of English has been very thoroughly described by
many prominent scholars both in this country and in the USA. In this book,
however, we shall try to follow the conception introduced by A. D. Shweitzer
in his sociolinguistic approach to the treatment of contemporary speech
situation in America.
The sociolinguistic situation in the United States is very complicated. It
is moulded by certain linguistic, cultural, historic, demographic, geograph
ic, political and other factors.
Generally speaking, the situation in the USA may be characterized as
exoglossic, i. e. having several languages on the same territory, the balance
being in favour ofAmerican English.
It is true, of course, that the formation of the American Standard un
derwent the influence of minorities' languages, but its starting point was
English language of the early 17th century. However, time has passed,
American English has drifted considerably from English English though as
yet not enough to give us ground to speak of two different languages.
we speak of the national variant of English in America.
American English shows a lesser degree ofdialect than British English due
to some historical factors: the existence ofStandard English when first English
settlers came to America, the high mobility ofpopulation, internal migrations
ofdifferent communities and so on. As regards pronunciation, however, it is not
at all homogeneous. There are certain varieties of educated American speech.
In the USA three main types of cultivated speech are recognized: the Eastern
type, the Southern type and Western or General American.
1. The Eastern type is spoken in New England, and in New York city. It
bears a remarkable resemblance to Southern English, though there are, of
course, some slight differences.
2. The Southern type is used in the South and South-East of the USA. It
possesses a striking distinctive feature - vowel drawl, which is a specific way of
pronouncing vowels, consisting in the diphthongization and even triphthongi

6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards of English


zation ofsome pure vowels and monophthongization ofsome diphthongs at the

expense ofprolonging ("drawling") their nuclei and dropping the glides.
3. The third type of educated American speech is General American
(GA), also known as Northern American or Western American spoken in
central Atlantic States: New York, New Jersey, Wisconsin and others. GA
pronunciation is known to be the pronunciation standard ofthe USA. There
are some reasons for it. GA is the form ofspeech used by the radio and televi
sion. It is mostly used in scientific, cultural and business intercourse. Also in
two important business centres - New York and St. Louis - GA is the pre
vailing form ofspeech and pronunciation, though New York is situated with
in the territory where Eastern American is spoken, and S1. Louis is within the
region of Southern American. In this chapter we shall give an outline of GA
accent. We will then point to differences between this accent and RP.

6.4.1. General American

1. There is no strict division ofvowels into long and short in GA, though
some American phoneticians suggest that certain GA vowels are tense and
likely to be accompanied by relative length: [i:] in seat, [u:] in pool.
They also admit that a slight rise in tongue position during the pronun
ciation of tense vowels leads to a diphthongal quality of tense vowels which
contrasts to a monophthongal quality oflax vowels.
2. Classification of vowels according to the stability of articulation is a
very controversial subject in GA. Some diphthongs are treated as biphone
rnic combinations. The inventory of GA diphthongs varies from three to
twelve phonemes. Following D. Shakhbagova we distinguish here five diph
thongs in GA: [el], [al], [;)1], [au], [au].
3. Another important feature that causes different interpretations of
diphthongs and vowel length in GA is the pronunciation of [r] between a
vowel and a consonant or between a vowel and a silence: tum [t3f n], bird
star [sta:'].
It has been estimated that 2/3 of American population pronounce
and 1/3 omit it. Thus GA is rhotic. In words likefar, core, when [r] follows
the vowels and ends the word this sound is consonantal and non-syllabic. It
involves the characteristic hindering of the free flow ofbreath which we as">
sociate with consonants. The sound [r] in far closes the syllable more dcH"


Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

nitely than in British Received Pronunciation of the word [fa:]. On the oth
er hand, there is a vocalic or vowel-like and syllabic [r] that occurs in words
like bird, murmur, after a vowel and before a consonant.
4. One more peculiar feature of pronunciation of vowels in American
English is their nasalization, when they are preceded or followed by a nasal
consonant (in such words as take, small, name, etc. ). Nasalization is often
called an American twang. It is incidental and need not be marked in pho
nemic transcription.

S. GA front vowels are somewhat different from RP.

In words like very,pity GAhas [i:] rather than [I]. In word flnalposition
it is often even diphthongized.
The vowel [e] is more open in GA. It also may be diphthongized before
[p], [t], [k]: let [Ieot].

6. There are four mixed or central vowels in GA: [3], [aJ, [A], [a]. They
differ markedly from RP vowels in articulation and distribution.
7. The three RP vowels [u], [ee], [a:] correspond to only two vowels in
GA- [a] and [eel. This combined with the articulatory differences between
RP [u] and GA [a] and a difference in vowel distribution in many sets of
words makes it very complicated. The following chart vividly shows it:





6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards


1. The RP allophonic differentiation of [I] does not exist in GA. In all
positions [I] is fairly dark.

2. Intervocalic [t] as in pity is most normally voiced. The result is neu

tralization of the distribution between [t] and [d] in this position, i. e. latter,
ladder. The original distinction is preserved through vowel length with the
vowel before [t] being shorter.
In words like twenty, little [t] may even drop out. Thus winner and win
ter, for example, may sound identical.
3. GA [r] is articulated differently from RP one. The impression is one
of greater retroflexion (the tip of the tongue is curled back further than in
spelling is represented in GA by [M] sound (or sometimes
as LhW]. So most American speakers make a clear distinction
and "w" words: where - ware, which - witch.
tween a consonant (especialJ

news [nu:z], Tuesday

['stu:pId], during

weakened or omitted altogether in GA

one) and [ttl as in the words:
suit rsu:t 1. tube ftu:b 1. stupid


Besides word distribution of [::>:] , [u] in RP and GAis completely differ

ent. GA [::>] is intermediate in quality between the RP [::>:] and [u]. In its
production the lips are considerably less rounded.

8. Now to the qualities of GA diphthongs.

a) the diphthong fer] is closer in GA as opposed to RP;

b) the nucleus of [3U] tends to be more advanced in GA;

c) since GA is a rhotic accent with non-prevocalic [r], it has the conse

quence that the following RP vowels (derived historically from vowel

+[r]) do not occur in GA: [ra] in dear - GA [drr], lea] in dare - GA
[derr], [ua] in tour - GA [tur].

Non-systematic Differences between General American and Received Pro

1. Many differences involve the pronunciation of individual words or
groups of words. Here are some of these:




['a loa]
['le 3a]

['eI 3 a]



['li:3 ar1







Chapter VI. Social and Territorial Varieties of English

2. Words apparatus, data, status can be pronounced with either [::e] or

in GA, but only with [el] in RP.

3. Words like hostile, missile, reptile have final [ail] in RP.

GA they


6.4. American-based Pronunciation Standards of English

I don't want to go to the theatre.




may have [el].

Stress Differences

Its emphatic variant in Mid-wavy-Ievel Head:

1. In words of French origin GA tends to have stress on the fmal sylla


ble, while RP has it on the initial one:






2. The usual Medium or Low Fall in RP has its rising-falling counter

partin GA:
Come and see me tomorrow.

2. Some words have first-syllable stress in GA whereas in RP the stress

may be elsewhere.










3. Some compound words have stress on the first element in GA and in

RP they retain it on the second element: weekend, ice-cream, hot dog, New
4. Polysyllabic words ending in -ory, -ary, -many have secondary stress
in GA, often called "tertiary": laboratory ['I::ebr<l,bn], dictionary ['dlkJ<l,nen],
secretary ['sekr<l,ten], testimony [,testi,moum].






3. The rising terminal tone in RP in GA has a mid-rising contour:

Do you like it?


Or it may have a level tone in GA:

4. The Fall-Rise nuclear tone is different in RP and GA:




Intonation Differences
GA intonation on the whole is similar to that of RP. But there are, of
course, some differences that shOUld be mentioned here.
I. In sentences where the most common pre-nuclear contour in RP is a
gradually descending sequence, the counterpart GA contour is a medium
Level Head:

These comparisons show that the main differences in intonation con

cern the direction of the voice pitch and the realization of the terminal
tones. In GA the voice doesn't fall to the bottom mostly. This explains the
fact that the English speech for Americans sounds "affected" and "preten
tious" or "sophisticated". And for the English, Americans sound "dull",
"monotonous", "indifferent".

~~~--------======:-:--~---~-.~~-.- ~


Chapter Vl. Social and Territorial varieties of English

It should also be mentioned that the distribution of terminal tones in

sentences types is also different in both variants of English.
1. GA "Yes, No" questions commonly have a falling terminal tone, the
counterpart RP tone would be a rising one:

Shall we stay here?




-. ---

2. Requests in RP are usually pronounced with a Rise, whereas in GA

they may take a Fall-Rise:

Open the door.



.. .-/

3. Leave-takings are often pronounced with a high-pitched Fall-Rise in




In conclusion we would like to say that American phoneticians use a

pitch contour system to mark intonation in the text:
It's a very cold day.

Will you come?

Will you come?

It is certain that we have not covered here all the cases of different into
nation structures used in RP and GA. Recently there have appeared in this
country several papers and books on the subject, so for further information
see those books.

Variations in pronunciation can be accounted for with reference both to
geographical and social factors. In contemporary dialectology phonetic di
versity is explained on the basis of the analysis of regional variants alongside
with such indicators as age, gender, education, occupation.



To describe territorial varieties we refer to the national variants and na

tional pronunciation standards (RP in Great Britain, GA in the USA). Na
tional pronunciation standards are not fIxed, they undergo changes under
the influence of various internal and external factors.
National variants faU into territorial or regional dialects. Dialects are
distinguished from each other by differences in pronunciation, grammar
and vocabulary. When we refer to varieties in pronunciation, we use the
word "accent".
RP as the pronunciation standard ofGreat Britain is not homogeneous.
Three types ofRP are distinguished: conservative (the language ofthe royal
family and aristocracy), general (spoken by educated people) and advanced
(used by the younger generation). Advanced RP is believed to reflect the
new tendencies in pronunciation. There is another classification: general
RP, refIned RP (upper-class accent) and regional RP (representing regional
standards). One of regional types of RP is Estuary English which is very
popular with the younger speakers.
Regional accents of Great Britain can be grouped into Southern Eng
lish accents, Northern and Midland accents, Welsh English, Scottish Eng
lish, Northern Ireland English.
General American is viewed as the pronunciation standard ofthe USA.
The comparison ofRP and GA shows considerable differences in vowel and
consonant systems, placement of stress and intonation.


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