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Universitatea Dunrea de Jos

din Galai
Facultatea de Litere
Specializarea:
Limba i literatura romn Limba i literatura englez

Limba englez.
Fonetic i fonologie
Prof. univ. dr. Mariana Neagu

Anul I, Semestrul 1

D.I.D.F.R.

Dunarea de Jos University of Galati


Faculty of Letters

ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION,
SPELLING AND VOCABULARY

Course tutor:
Professor MARIANA NEAGU, PhD

DIDFR

Table of Contents

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Unit 1
1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.5.1
1.5.2

Unit 2
2.1.
2.1.1
2.1.2
2.2.
2.2.1
2.2.2
2.3
2.3.1
2.3.2
2.3.3
2.3.4

Unit 3
3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6

Unit 4

Introduction

The Sounds of English


Unit objectives
Phonetics and phonology
The connection of phonetics and phonology with nonlinguistic and linguistic sciences
The importance of phonetic studies
Phonetic symbols and types of transcription
Types of standard pronunciation
Received Pronunciation
General American
Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
Answers to SAQs

Differences between British English and American


English
Unit objectives
Pronunciation differences
The vowel system
The consonant system
Differences in spelling
Phonetic spelling tendencies
The omission of superfluous letters
Lexical differences in main subject areas
People and their immediate environment
Human interaction and communication
Social institutions
Natural environment
Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 1
Answers to SAQs

19

Pronunciation and Spelling


Unit objectives
The spelling of consonants
Vowel markers
Keeping a spelling constant
Silent letters
Homographs and homophones
Pronunciation and etymology
Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 2
Answers to SAQs

32

Aspects of Connected Speech

45

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Table of Contents

4.1
4.2
4.2.1
4.2.2
4.2.3
4.2.4
4.3
4.3.1
4.3.2
4.4
4.4.1
4.4.2

Unit objectives
Linking /r/ and intrusive /r/
Assimilation
Regressive assimilation
Progressive assimilation
Reciprocal assimilation
Obligatory and non-obligatory assimilation
Elision
Vowel elision
Consonant elision
Strong and weak forms of function words
Uses of weak forms
Uses of strong forms
Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 3
Answers to SAQs
Bibliography

59

Appendix 1. List of symbols used

61

Appendix 2. Glossary

62

Appendix 3. Practice sets

89

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Introduction

INTRODUCTION

The present course is primarily meant for Romanian


teachers of English engaged in open and distance
education. In this course we discuss the most important
issues from the fields of phonetics, phonology, orthography
and lexis, focusing on difficulties encountered in the
articulation and perception of English sounds and in the
acquisition of pronunciation and spelling rules.
Phonetics is the study and description of speech
sounds and of the elements of pronunciation at large, since
pronunciation is a complex of sounds (vowels and
consonants), syllables, word accent and intonation.
Phonology studies the way in which phonetic elements
function in a language, the way in which phonemes are
organized in a given language, i.e. their combinatorial
possibilities. The phoneme is the minimal unit in the sound
system of a language.
Orthography is very closely connected with phonetics,
which in its turn is connected with lexicology, grammar and
stylistics. Because of the notoriously confusing nature of
English spelling, it is particularly important to think of
English pronunciation in terms of phonemes rather than
letters of the alphabet.

Why is this course important?


Theoretically, the general theory about speech sounds
and how they are used in language, i.e. phonetics and
phonology, is needed by people who are going to work with
English at an advanced level (teachers included) and who
need a deeper understanding of the principles regulating the
use of sounds in spoken English. Ideally, the teacher and
the learner of a foreign language should be able to
recognize and to produce the sounds of the studied
language just like a native speaker.
More specifically, phonetics is important because it
formulates the rules of pronunciation for separate sounds
and sound combinations. Thus, through the system of
reading rules, phonetics helps to pronounce correctly
singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense and past
participle forms of English regular verbs (see sections 1.2
and 4.2.2).
Secondly, through its intonation component, phonetics
can serve to single out the logical predicate of a sentence to
show that an affirmative sentence is a question, etc.
Thirdly, through the right placement of stress we can
distinguish certain nouns from verbs (e.g. object - object),
homonymous words and word groups (e.g. blackbird - black
bird).

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Introduction

Course objectives
At the end of this course you will be able to:
-

recognize and produce the sounds of English just like a


native speaker
be aware of and explain the phonetic and phonological
phenomena that occur in connected speech
use stress and intonation patters correctly in English
understand
the
complex
relationship
between
pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary.

How is this course book organized?


The first unit of the course is concerned with defining
phonetics and phonology, explaining the connection of
phonetics with other branches of science, introducing the
symbols used for teaching the pronunciation of English and
identifying the main types of English standard pronunciation.
As an important purpose of this course is to explain
how English is pronounced in the accents normally chosen
as the standards for people learning English, unit 2 is
devoted to discriminating British English from American
English in terms of pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary.
Unit 3 looks more closely at the connection between
pronunciation and spelling in English and shows that,
because of the etymological nature of English orthography,
learners of English have to cope with the discrepancy
between spelling and present-day pronunciation.
Although English spelling is not a reliable indicator of
pronunciation, the chapter presents some pronunciation
patterns and markers that can still be found.
Unit 4 deals with speech sounds as they occur in
normal, connected speech, i.e. sounds that are not isolated,
fixed and unchangeable, but units that undergo
modifications and affect one another. This unit explains
phonetic phenomena that occur in casual speech: linking
and intrusive /r/, assimilation, elision, etc. As it is practically
impossible to speak English fluently unless the
phenomenon of function word reduction is properly
understood and applied, the unit ends with the use of the
strong and weak forms of function (grammatical) words
(articles, auxiliaries, modals, pronouns, conjunctions and
prepositions).
Each of the units presented above ends with a
summary of the main issues discussed in the chapter, a list
of key concepts meant as a check list for revising the main
notions before going on, and a brief section called further
reading.
Each new technical term that is introduced in the
course is printed in bold type and followed by an asterisk (*),
meaning that the term will be explained in the glossary at
the end of the book.
The course book closes with three appendices
containing a list of symbols used (Appendix 1), a complete
glossary of technical terms (Appendix 2) and four practice
sets (Appendix 3).
6

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Introduction

The practice sets in Appendix 3 are based on


exercises taken from Malcolm Mann and Steve TayloreKnowles. 2003. Skills for First Certificate. Listening and
Speaking. Oxford: Macmillan. The tasks included in this last
section are correlated with the units in this course and
adapted to its specific objectives. Each practice set is
allotted a four hour session of Assisted Activities.

The assignments
Every chapter contains reflection points (Think first!)
and exercises of two types: SAQs (self-assessed questions)
and SAAs (send-away assignments). The former type,
SAQs, signalled by a question mark, is based on the
information you have just read and consists in questions
that break down the texts in order to clarify and consolidate
certain teaching points. You will find suggested answers to
SAQs at the end of each unit.
The latter type, SAAs, signalled by an envelope,
generally involves knowledge of the whole chapter and is
placed at its end. There are four assignments of this type (in
units 2, 3, 4 and 5) that have to be sent to the tutor,
following the instructions given in each particular case. Their
assessment will take into account knowledge of the
information contained in the chapter and correct use of the
English language.
At the end of the course, your final grade will include
the following:

attendance of and contribution to face-to-face


meetings with the tutor and to assisted activities, solving of
SAQs and SAAs: 40%;

final examination 60%.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

UNIT 1
THE SOUNDS OF THE LANGUAGE

Unit outline
Unit objectives

1.1

Phonetics and phonology

1.2

The connection of phonetics and phonology with


non-linguistic and linguistic sciences

1.3

The importance of phonetic studies

1.4

Phonetic symbols and types of transcription

Types of standard pronunciation


Received Pronunciation
General American

9
9
10

Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
Answers to SAQs

11
11
12
12

1.5
1.5.1
1.5.2

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

Unit objectives

1.1.

After you have completed the study of this unit you


should be able to:
define phonetics
explain the connection of phonetics with other
branches of science
point out the importance of phonetics for a teacher of
a foreign language
recognize the symbols used for teaching the
pronunciation of English
identify the main type of English standard
pronunciation.

Phonetics and phonology


Definition of phonetics
Phonetics is the science which studies the sounds
used in speech and provides methods for their description,
classification and transcription*. (Crystal D., 1992: 259).
Speech sounds* can be analysed from several points
of view:
a. acoustic
b. articulatory
c. auditory
d. functional.
Types of phonetics
a. The acoustic aspect falls under the scope of what is
commonly called acoustic phonetics* which studies the
physical (acoustic) properties of speech sounds as
transmitted between the mouth and the ear.
b. The articulatory aspect of speech sound is analysed
by the branch called articulatory phonetics which deals
with speech sounds from the point of view of their
production, i.e. what organs are used to produce them and
what precise movements they perform in order to articulate
them.
c. Auditory phonetics* studies speech sounds from
the point of view of their perception, i.e. the perceptual
response to speech sounds as mediated by the ear, the
auditory nerve and the brain.
d. Functional phonetics or phonology investigates
the functional aspect of sounds, accent*, syllable and
intonation.
Definition of phonology
While phonetics studies speech sounds as sounds, in
all their complexity and diversity, independent of their role in
language, phonology studies speech sounds, as these are
categorised by speakers of a given language; its study unit
is called phoneme. The actually pronounced speech
sounds are called variants or allophones* of phonemes.
In standard British English, there are 44 different
categories of speech sounds called phonemes. Phonemes
are said to differ from each other in terms of certain
distinctive features* such as voice, nasality, etc.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

Phonologists study both phonemes (vowels* and


consonants*) and prosody* (stress and intonation) as
subsystems of a spoken language.

Branches of phonology
The study of speech into distinctive units or phonemes
is called segmental* phonology, whereas the analysis of
prosodic and paralinguistic features in connected utterances
of speech is called non-segmental/suprasegmental
phonology*.
SAQ 1
In the spaces provided, mention which branch of
phonetics is concerned with the following:
a. the perception of the sounds and their interpretation in
the receiver .
..
b. the physical (acoustic) properties of speech sounds .

c. the functional aspects of sounds ..

d. the activity involved in the production of speech sounds

..
Check your answers against those given in the
Answer Key.

1.2 The connection of phonetics and phonology with


non-linguistic and linguistic sciences
The connection with grammar
Phonetics is connected with non-linguistic sciences
such as anatomy, acoustics and physiology. For
example, sounds can be described with reference to
anatomical places of articulation (dental*, palatal*), to their
physical structure (the frequency and amplitude
characteristics of the sound waves) and are articulated by
our organs of speech.
Phonetics is connected with grammar because,
through the system or reading rules, it helps to pronounce
the singular and plural forms of nouns correctly, the singular
third form of verbs, the past tense forms and past participles
of English regular verbs.
The study of the phonological, i.e. sound structure of
morphemes is called morphophonology*. In many
languages, English included, there are phonological rules
which can only be described with reference to
morphological structure. Thus, the morpheme s can be
pronounced /iz/ (e.g. peaches, judges), /z/ (e.g. apples,
rides) or /s/ (e.g. maps, lacks) depending on the final
consonant* of the base form of the verb to which it is
attached.

10

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

Think first!
Give some examples of the phonetic variation
morphemes undergo in combination with one another (e.g.
hoof - hooves, half - halves).

In the next paragraph you will find more examples of


this kind.
One of the most important phonetic phenomena sound interchange - is another manifestation of the
connection of phonetics with grammar. For instance, this
connection can be noticed in the category of NUMBER.
Thus, the interchange / f-v /, /s-z /, // helps to
distinguish singular and plural forms of such nouns as: calfcalves, house - houses, mouth - mouths, etc.
Vowel interchange helps to discriminate the singular
and the plural of nouns of foreign origin: basis - bases /
beisis - beisi:z / and also of irregular nouns such as man men /mn - men/.
Vowel interchange is connected with the TENSE forms
of irregular verbs, for instance: sing - sang - sung.
Lexicology,
semantics,
stylistics
and
pragmatics
Phonetics is also connected with lexicology and
semantics. Homographs* can be differentiated only due to
pronunciation because they are identical in spelling:
bow /bu/ - bow /bau/
lead /li:d / - lead /led/
row /ru/ - row /rau/
tear /te/ - tear /ti/
wind /wind / - wind /waind/
Phonetics is connected with stylistics through
repetition of words, phrases and sounds, lying at the basis
of rhyme, alliteration*, etc.
The connection with the other linguistic branches (i.e.
semantics, pragmatics) is obvious due the role played by
accent, stress and intonation in the act of communication.
For example, the position of word accent in units higher
than a word may have far - reaching semantic
consequences. If we consider compounds such as
blackbird, yellow-hammer, blue-stocking, cheap-jack (in
which the stress falls on the first syllable) and phrases
containing apparently the same words blackbird,
yellowhammer, bluestocking, cheapjack (in which the
stress falls on the second syllable) we notice that the
difference in stress engenders differences in meaning.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

11

The Sounds of the Language

SAQ 2
Which non-linguistic and linguistic sciences are
connected with phonetics? Fill in the blanks with the
corresponding term.
Since speech sounds are articulated by our organs of
speech, phonetics is connected with......................
Since the sounds are transmitted in the form of sound
waves, phonetics is connected with ...
Since some sounds can be described with reference to
anatomical places of articulation, phonetics is connected
with ..
The
connection
between
phonetics
and
can be proved by the different
pronunciations of the grammatical morphemes -s and ed.
Homography is a study area common to both
phonetics and ..
The close interrelationship between phonetics and
.... can be seen in commands and
requests that are distinguished by means of intonation
patterns.
When phrases coincide with compounds, the semantic
difference is made by means of stress, an issue studied by
.. phonetics or phonology.
The answer is given at the end of this unit.

1.3

The importance of phonetic studies


Think First!
Before reading the next section, think of the
importance of phonetics for the foreign language teacher
and write down your ideas in the space provided below.
Your answer should not be longer than two paragraphs.

You will find some ideas as you read this section.


The connection of phonetics with linguistic sciences
(grammar, lexicology, stylistics, semantics and
pragmatics) points to its importance from both a theoretical
and a practical point of view. Theoretically, a complete
understanding and description of a language is not possible
without a description of its sound structure and system. For
instance, the loss of inflections in English is a grammatical
12

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

phenomenon which has phonetic causes, i.e. the strong


dynamic stress on the first syllable of words resulted in the
reduction, weakening and loss of the final unstressed
syllable.
Practically, knowledge of phonetics is indispensable in
the study and teaching of foreign languages. The teacher
and the learner of a foreign language should ideally be able
to recognize and produce the sounds of the studied
language just like a native speaker.

1.4 Phonetic symbols and types of transcription

The International Phonetic Alphabet


To describe the sounds of English (or of any other
language) one cannot depend on the spelling of the words.
The most accurate method of representing sounds is
through the International Phonetic Alphabet* (IPA)
developed by the International Phonetic Association in
1888; this can be used to symbolize the sounds found in all
languages.
The symbols are based on the Roman alphabet, with
further symbols created by inverting or reversing Roman
letters or taken from the Greek alphabet. The main
characters are supplemented when necessary by diacritics.
The International Phonetic Alphabet is less used in
North America than elsewhere, but it is widely used as a
pronunciation aid for EFL (English as a Foreign Language)
and ESL (English as a Second Language), especially by
British publishers and increasingly in British dictionaries of
English.

The broad/phonemic/phonological
transcription
When the sounds of a language are represented
without going into any details about variations, the method
of broad/phonemic/phonological transcription is used.
For example, in English, the /t/ phoneme is represented by
this symbol in all situations, regardless of the fact that the
phoneme is realized by various allophones, e.g. being
aspirated* in a stressed initial position (time) and
unaspirated* after s (stay), and ignoring also the fact that
it may not always have alveolar* articulation.
A broad phonemic transcription is generally felt to be
simplest to use, but knowledge of the allophonic systems of
the language is needed if such a transcription is to be read
aloud, with approximate accuracy.

The narrow/allophonic/phonetic transcription


Variations may be represented by what is known as
narrow//phonetic/allophonic i.e. a transcription which
mirrors all that is known about a sound in a given
environment.
The large number of diacritics makes it possible to
mark minute shades of sound.
Conventionally, the narrow transcription* is given
between square brackets, while the broad transcription*
uses slashes (slant lines).
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

13

The Sounds of the Language

Think first!
Look at the table below and consider the difference
in number between the phonemes of English and those of
Romanian. Which sounds do you think are found in English
but not in Romanian?
Language
English
Romanian

Consonants

Vowels

Total

24
22

20
7

44
29

You can find such instances if you read the next


section.

The English phonemic system


According to traditional phonological theories, the
minimal unit in the sound system* of a language is the
phoneme. Each language operates with a relatively small
number of phonemes (Japanese has about 20 phonemes,
Romanian has 29 and English has 44); no two languages
have the same phonemic system. The English phonemic
system contains 24 consonants* and 20 vowels, while
Romanian has 22 consonants and 7 vowels.
The symbols used for teaching the pronunciation of
English are the following:
Symbols Examples

Symbols for
vowels and
diphthongs

14

[i:]
[i]
[e]
[]
[:]
[
:
[u]
[u:]
[]
:]
[]
[ei]
[ai]
[
[u]
u]
[i]
[]
[u]

Pete
pit
pet
pat
part
pot
port
put
pool
pun
perm
parade
pain
pine
point
pouch
poach
peer
pair
poor

[pi:t]
[pit]
[pet]
[pt]
[p:t]
pt
[p:t]
[put]
[pu:l]
[pn]
[p:m]
[preid]
[pein]
[pain]
[pint]
[paut
[put
[pi]
[p]
[pu]

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

Symbols for
consonants

[p]
[b]
[t]
[d]
[k]
[g]
[f]
[v]
[s]
[z]
[]
[]

[t
[d

[
]
[l]
[r]
[w]
[j]

appear
bubble
attend
hiding
conquer
begin
offer
cover]
assist
razor
ether
mother
nation
measure
cheese
joke
summer

[pi]
[bbl]
[tend]
[haidi]
[knk]
[bigin]
[f]
[kv]
[sist]
[reiz]
[i:]
[m]
[nei
[me]
[ti:z
[duk]
[sm]

any
finger
palace
caress
queen
yes

[eni]
[fig]
[plis]
[kres]
[kwi:n]
[jes]

SAQ 3
What terms correspond to the following definitions?
Write your answers in the spaces provided below.
1. A systematic method of representing in a rather general
way (normally using the symbols of the International
Phonetic Alphabet) how spoken language sounds.
..
2. A system of written symbols designed to enable the
speech sounds* of any language to be consistently
represented.

3. A method which gives a much more accurate indication


of actual speech sounds but requires more symbols and
diacritics.
.
The answer is given at the end of this unit.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

15

The Sounds of the Language

1.5 Types of standard pronunciation


1.5.1 Received Pronunciation* (RP)
Definition
RP is the name for the accent generally associated
with educated British English and used as the pronunciation
model for teaching it to foreign learners.
Origin
Received Pronunciation originates from the prestige
accent of the Court, well established in England by the 17th
century. During the First World War, Daniel Jones (1917)
called it PSP (Public School Pronunciation) because it was
most usually heard in everyday speech in the families of
Southern English persons who had been educated at the
great public boarding-schools.
Who uses RP?
RP is the pronunciation used by national announcers
and presenters on the BBC since its founding in the 1920s
because it was the form of pronunciation most likely to be
nationally understood and to attract least regional criticism
hence the association of RP with the phrase BBC English*.

Is RP still popular on radio and television?


However in the 1970s-1980s there has been a move
towards modified regional accent among announcers and
presenters and towards distinct (but generally modified)
regional accents among presenters on popular radio
channels and meteorologists and sports commentators on
television. In spite of the regionally marked forms of accent
that can be heard on some channels, RP remains the
reference norm that is used for the descriptions of other
varieties of English.
Why are there differences in pronunciation?
Differences in pronunciation result from various factors
such geographical origin, ones age and sex, social class,
educational background, occupation and personality. In
addition, Roach (1994: 190) mentions situation factors such
as the social relationship between speaker and hearer,
whether one is speaking publicly or privately and the
purposes for which one is using language.
RP and EFL teaching
RP is the accent that foreign learners of English are
expected to learn for the sake of convenience and
simplicity; learners of English need to be aware of the fact
that this style/accent/variety is far from being the only one
they can meet. In practice, EFL teachers should do their
best to expose their pupils to other varieties. Actually, in
EFL teaching RP competes more and more with GA
(General American*).

16

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

The Sounds of the Language

1.5.2 General American (GA)


Definition
An accent of English used in the United States that
lacks the especially marked regional characteristics of the
north-east (New England, New York State) and the southeast (the Southern States).
As a concept, GA corresponds to the laymans
perception of an American accent without marked regional
characteristics. It is sometimes referred to as Network
English being the variety most acceptable on the television
networks covering the whole United States. (Wells, 1981:
471).

Summary
This unit has introduced some major issues meant to
underline the idea that an understanding of the principles of
phonetics is a necessary basis for the study of other
branches of linguistics, in the sense that many language
phenomena can be explained only in terms of phonetics.
Therefore, phonetics is equally necessary in the theoretical
and practical study of language.
The difference between phonemes and allophones or
in other words, between phonology and phonetics is so
important that we also note this difference in transcription:
phonetic (or narrow transcription) for which we use square
brackets and phonological (phonemic, broad transcription)
for which we use slashes.
Phonemic variants or allophones are very important
for language learning and language teaching because they
are pronounced in actual speech and though their
mispronunciation does not influence the meaning of the
words, their misuse makes a person s speech sound
foreign.
Because spelling is not a faithful representation of
language, it is useful to have a set of special symbols
whose values are generally agreed upon. This is the
function of the phonetic symbols of the International
Phonetic Alphabet.
English is the national language in many countries,
including the United Kingdom, the USA, Canada, Australia,
New Zeeland, and South Africa. There are great differences
in the pronunciation of English in these countries and even
within the same country one may hear different
pronunciations. From this variety of pronunciations, for
practical purposes, it has been necessary to choose those
which are best suited for learning and using English, i.e.
Received Pronunciation and General American.

Key concepts
The following key concepts have been introduced in
this unit. Use this list and others found at the end of each
chapter as a checklist to make sure that you are familiar
with each before going on.
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

17

The Sounds of the Language

acoustic phonetics
allophone
articulatory phonetics
auditory phonetics
broad transcription
functional phonetics or phonology
General American
morphophonology
narrow transcription
phoneme
phonemic system
Received Pronunciation
segmental phonology
suprasegmental phonology
the International Phonetic Alphabet

Further reading
1.
Finch, Geoffrey. 2000. Linguistic Terms and Concepts.
Palgrave Macmillan, pp. 33-77.
2.
Roach, Peter. 1994. English Phonetics and
Phonology. A Practical Course. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, pp. 3-47.

Answers to SAQs
If your answer to SAQ 1 is not comparable to the one
suggested below, please reread section 1.1.
SAQ 1
a.
b.
c.
d.

auditory phonetics
acoustic phonetics
functional acoustics or phonology
articulatory phonetics

If your answer to SAQ 2 is not comparable to the one


suggested below, please reread section 1.2.
SAQ 2

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.

physiology
physics
anatomy
grammar
lexicology
pragmatics
functional phonetics or phonology

If your answer to SAQ 3 is not comparable to the one


suggested below, please reread section 1.4.
SAQ 3
1. broad transcription
2. the International Phonetic Alphabet
3. narrow transcription
18

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

UNIT 2
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN BRITISH AND AMERICAN
ENGLISH

Unit outline

2.1
2.1.1
2.1.2
2.2
2.2.1
2.2.2

2.3
2.3.1
2.3.2
2.3.3
2.3.4

Unit objectives

14

Pronunciation differences
The vowel system
The consonant system

14
14
16

Differences in spelling
Phonetic spelling tendencies
The omission of superfluous letters in American
English

18
19
19

Lexical differences in main subject areas


People and their immediate environment
Human interaction and communication
Social institutions
Natural environment

21
22
22
23
24

Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 1
Answers to SAQs

24
25
25
25
25

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

19

Differences Between British and American English

Unit
objectives

After you have completed the study of this unit you


should be able to:
discriminate British English from American English
in terms of pronunciation, spelling and vocabulary
avoid a potential source of confusion caused by
some lexical items in the two varieties of English
try to develop a consistent way of speaking and
writing in English
English in the USA differs considerably from British
English. Pronunciation is the most striking difference but
there are also a number of differences in vocabulary and
grammar as well as slight differences in spelling.
Think First!
Before continuing to read this unit, think of which
variety of English you tend to pronounce. Note down some
of the distinguishing features you are aware of and
compare them with the information given in the section
below.

2.1 Pronunciation differences


2.1.1 The vowel system
American drawl
Some Americans are noted for their drawl, i.e. a
lengthening of stressed vowels; this is especially
characteristic of Southern pronunciation.
In contrast with the drawled nature of the way many
Americans speak is the so-called clipped diction of British
English. This is accounted for by the greater tension and
lesser degree of lengthening in stressed vowels.
The American drawl has to do with a less effortful way
of producing sounds and is an aspect of informality of
American English (Kovecses, 2000: 241)
American nasality
Vowels are often nasalized* in American English (the
American nasality or nasal twang*) especially by speakers
from the Middle West. The nasal quality of American vowels
is explained by the longer duration* of the nasalized portion
of a vowel following a nasal consonant
Many British people pronounce /:/ in some words
where Americans pronounce / /, when this vowel is
20

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

followed by fricatives* such as /f/, //, /s/; therefore, the


pronunciation with // before the fricatives /f, s, / and
before the nasals* /m/, /n/ is typical of American English:

British English

Examples

/:/+ /f/, //, /s/

American
English
// + /f /, / /, /s/

/:/+ /n/, /m/

//+/n/, /m/

chance, example

laugh, after, bath, math, ask,

The vowel // is pronounced without lip-rounding and


sounds like /:/ in American English: stop, body, common,
novel, problem:
British
English
//|

American
English
//

Examples
Tom, dollar, lot, hot, box, rock, dog, frog,
crop, body, conflict, novel

The Americans have a tendency to pronounce // instead of


/i/ in unstressed syllables:
British English
/i/

American
English
//

Examples
minute, started, greatest

The reduction of diphthongs* to simple vowels


In British English, words like home, no, are
pronounced with the diphthong /u/ while in American
English the diphthong* is reduced to //, especially in
unstressed final position (in very casual or informal speech):
potato, tomato, fellow, window, piano, mellow, etc. This
points to the well known American tendency towards
simplification. The same tendency can be noticed in the
reduction of /ai/ to /a:/ and of /ei/ to //.
Similarly, the semi-vowel /j/ is dropped into /u/ when
preceded by /t/ or /d/, a characteristic which shows that the
Americans pronounce the words almost the same way
as they are written:
British English

American English

Examples

/u/

//

potato, tomato, fellow

/ai/

/:/

fire, buyer, tired, five


date, fate, great
/ei/
/t/, /d/ or /n/
+/j/+/u/

/t/, /d/ or /n/


+/u/

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

student, tulip, during,


numerous
21

Differences Between British and American English

SAQ 1
Group the following words according to the vowel
sound they contain in American English: class, aunt, dollar,
glass, greatness, fast, pass, castle, window, due, nuclear,
Tom, nude, got, interest, bottle, piano, tigress, mellow,
dance, rock, frog, tune.
1. //: class, glass,
2. //: dollar,
3. // in unstressed syllable: greatness,
4. // in unstressed final position: window,
5. /u/: due,
Check your answers against those given at the end of
this unit.

2.1.2 The consonant system


The flap*
In British English /t/ remains unvoiced* between two
vowels or between a vowel and a voiced* consonant but in
American English intervocalic* /t/ is very close to /d/. This
type of sound is called the flap because the tongue flaps
against the alveolar ridge. In many areas of the United
States, where it can be heard, the flap* makes words such
as matter and madder, writer and rider, latter and ladder,
whiter and wider sound nearly or exactly the same:
British English
Intervocalic
unvoiced /t/|

American English
Intervocalic voiced /t/,
resembling /d/

Exam
ples
writer,
latter,
whiter

Post-nasal /t/
A well known distinguishing feature of American
pronunciation is complete disappearance or voicing of /t/ in
post-nasal position that is after a nasal consonant. Cases in
point are winter, pronounced as winner, enter as enner and
intercity as innercity, in which the voiceless consonant /t/ is
pronounced as voiced /d/.
Further, /t/ and /d/ may be dropped altogether in
casual speech after nasals: twenty /tweni/, candidate,
/kn,deit/, understand /;nrstnd/
Rhotacity
In standard British English /r/ is only pronounced
before a vowel. In American English /r/ is pronounced in all
positions in a word and it changes the quality* of a vowel
that comes after it. So, words like turn and offer sound very
different in British and American speech.
Consequently, American English is considered to be a
rhotic* accent of English, one in which /r/ is pronounced in
22

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

post-vocalic (e.g. bird) and final position (e.g. car).


Pronouncing /r/ is the norm in the Northern, Midland, and
Western dialect region, that is, the greatest part of the
country. Exceptions to this are New England and New York,
which although geographically belonging to the North, do
not pronounce the /r/ in a post-vocalic position and at the
end of words.
Word stress
Word stress tends to fall on the first syllable in
American English: princess, address, research, entire,
museum, resource:
British English

American English

Examples

second syllable is
stressed

first syllable is
stressed

princess, address,
research, entire,
museum, resource

Most of the disyllabic verbs ending in -ate have the


stress on the first syllable: dictate, frustrate, migrate, vibrate.
As for the borrowings, they keep their original stress in
American English: barrage, bouquet, chalet, caf, gourmet,
pt, ballet. In words that have three syllables, Americans
emphasize the ending: secretary, dictionary, laboratory,
conservatory, inflammatory.
SAQ 2
What British - American differences do you know relative to:
1. consonants
2. word stress
Write your answers in the space provided below. Compare them
with the suggested answer given at the end of the unit.

2.2 Differences in spelling


Think first !
Before moving on to differences in spelling, look at the
way some words are spelt in the two standards of English:
British English

American English

1. labour

1. labor

2. centre

2. center

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

23

Differences Between British and American English

3. hospitalised

3. hospitalized

Can you give other examples?

You will find further examples as you read sections


2.2.1.and 2.2.2.
American spelling, in the majority of cases is simpler
and consistently shorter than British spelling. The process of
simplification in spelling started with the spelling reforms at
the end of the eighteenth century, when big names
including Benjamin Franklin, Noah Webster and Mark Twain
attempted at changing the complicated system of English.

2.2.1 Phonetic spelling tendencies


The change from -re to -er
American spelling closely follows the sequence in
which the sounds are actually pronounced, namely it tends
to have what is called phonetic spelling.
For example, when we pronounce words like theatre
(BE) - theater (AmE) and centre (BE) - center (AmE) the
sequence of the final sounds is /t(r)/. Notice that in the
British spelling the sequence of the actual sounds, /+r/, is
reversed, yielding -re in writing.
The shift from -ce to -se
Another best known case of change related to the
phonetic spelling reforms proposed by Webster in 1788, and
subsequently preserved in American spelling is the shift
from -ce to -se, as in defense, pretense, offense.
The change from ise to -ize
Both the ending -ise and -ize are pronounced with a /z/
sound. As the letter z is a more conventional representation
of the sound /z/ than the letter /s/, American English favours
the spelling -ize as in analyze.

2.2.2 The omission of superfluous letters in


American English
A faithful orthographic representation of the
pronunciation of words implies the omission of letters that
are believed to be superfluous, e.g. silent* letters.
The shift from -ll to -l, and from -mme to -m
Words that normally have -ll in British English are
spelled with -l in American English: counsel(l), wol(l)en.
Similarly, -mme in British English turns into -m in
American English: program(me), kilogram(me).

24

The shift from our to -or

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

In British English words ending in -our end in -or in


American English, e.g. colour /color.
The shift from -AmE, -oe to -e
British English seems to have retained both -ae and oe spellings in addition to the -e spellings in words like
mediaeval, foetus, paediatrician, oesophagus, manoeuvre,
anaemia, amoeba. American English seems to prefer the
simplified -e spellings in these cases. Thus, in American
English, the usual spellings of these words are medieval,
fetus, pediatrician, esophagus, maneuver, anemia and
ameba.
SAQ 3
How do you spell these words in American English?
1.

behaviour ....................

2.

humour ....................

3.

honour ....................

4.

metre ....................

5.

criticise ....................

6.

organise ....................

7.

industrialise ....................

8.

defence ....................

9.

offence ....................

10.

licence ....................

11.

mediaeval ....................

12.

enquiry ....................

13.

gipsy ....................

14.

traveller ....................

15.

marvellous ....................

16.

woollen ....................

17.

kidnapped ....................

18.

focussed ....................

Check your answers against those given at the end of


this unit.

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Differences Between British and American English

Think first!
Can you avoid some of the most common confusions
arising between British and American speakers? Try the
following quiz.
1. Where would you take (a) an American visitor (b) a
British visitor who said they wanted to wash up - the
kitchen or the bathroom?

2. Would (a) an American (b) a Brit be expected to get


something hot or something cold if they asked for some
potato chips?

3. Which would surprise you more - an American or a


British man telling you that he wanted to go and change his
pants?

4. You have just come into an unknown office block. If (a)


an American (b) a Brit says that the office you need is on
the second floor, how many flights of stairs do you need to
climb?

5. If (a) an American (b) a Brit asks for a bill, is he or she


more likely to be in a bank or a cafe?

Check your answers against the information given in


section 2.3.1.

2.3 Lexical differences in main subject areas


The main causes of the vocabulary differences
between British and American English are related to social
and cultural developments, technology and linguistic
processes. The range of lexical differences can be
suggested by the large number of lexical entries marked as
Americanisms in Websters New World Dictionary, i.e.
11,000 items, out of which 4,000 items belong to ordinary
vocabulary.
Concerning the subject areas which provide most of
the lexical differences, Kovecses (2000: 148) mentions the
central theme of people and their immediate environment;
slightly removed from this central theme we have the theme
human interaction and communication; next we can set up
the theme social institutions and finally, the theme of
natural environment.

26

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

2.3.1 People and their immediate environment


This theme includes the subcategories household and
building, clothing, food and shopping:
British

American

ground floor
lift
tap
flat (rented)

first floor
elevator
faucet
apartment

cupboard

closet

flat (owned)
dustbin

condominium
trashcan

Clothes

dinner jacket
trousers
underpants
waistcoat

tuxedo
pants
shorts
vest

Food

tin
sweets
chips
jam
biscuit

can
candy
French fries
jelly
cookie

Shopping

bill
queue
shop assistant

check
line
sales clerk

Building
and
household

2.3.2 Human interaction and communication


This subject area involves such subcategories as
travel and accommodation, personal communication
(telephone and post) and transportation (car, train, road).

Accommodation
and travel

Telephone
and post
office

Road, traffic
and
transportation

luggage
left luggage office
receptionist
to book
timetable
toilet(s)
return ticket
single ticket

baggage
baggage room
desk clerk
to make reservations
schedule
restroom
round trip ticket
one way ticket

post code
ring up
postman
parcel

zip code
call up
mailman
package

car park
pavement
motorway

parking lot
sidewalk
freeway

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

27

Differences Between British and American English

roundabout
taxi/cab
traffic lights
high street
underground
coach
tram
sledge

traffic circle
cab/taxi
stop lights
main street
subway
bus
street car
sled

2.3.3 Social institutions


This theme contains such subcategories as school
and education, business and banking, as well as media and
entertainment.

School
and
education

Business
and
finance

Entertainment

lecturer
senior lecturer
professor
reader
professor
professor
hall of residence
mark
postgraduate
secondary school
university
college/university
maths

instructor
assistant
associate
(full) professor
dormitory
grade
graduate
high school

math

current account
account
deposit account
account
shares
note

booking office
film/movie
cinema
interval

checking
savings
stocks
bill

ticket office
movie
movie theater
intermission

2.3.4 Natural environment


The subcategories of plants and animals can be
viewed as parts of this theme:

Plants
and
animals

28

maize
insect
ladybird
cock
Alsatian
shepherd

corn
bug
ladybug
rooster
German

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

SAQ 4
Change the following into British English.
1. Pass me the cookies.
.
2. One-way or round trip?
.
3. Its in the closet.
..
4. He left the faucet on.
..
5. Open the drapes.
..
6. Were leaving in the fall.

7. Weve run out of gas


.
8. I hate waiting in line.

Check your answer against the suggested answer


given at the end of the unit.

Summary
Speakers of American English have developed a form
of communication that requires less attention and effort.
This is reflected by the casual nature of their way of
speaking, generally characterized by nasalizing and drawing
out certain vowels. In contrast with this, the British way of
speaking has a so called clipped nature.
Unlike British English, American English discloses a
tendency towards simplification proved by (1) the reduction
of certain diphthongs* to simple vowels and (2) the
elimination of some unnecessary letters in spelling.
American spelling differs from British spelling in that
the former usually tries to correspond more closely to
pronunciation (showing a tendency towards phonetic
spelling) while the latter preserves its etymological spelling.
British and American vocabularies also reveal
differences related to general themes such as (1) people
and their immediate environment (2) human interaction and
communication (3) social institutions and (4) natural
environment.

Key concepts

American drawl
American nasality
flap
phonetic spelling
postnasal /t/
rhotacity

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

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Differences Between British and American English

Further reading
1. Iarovici, Edith. 1994. Engleza American. Bucureti:
Editura Teora, pp.99-111
2. Kovecses, Zoltan. 2000. American English. An
Introduction. Ontario: Broad View Press, pp.139-155,
240-247
3. Neagu Mariana. 2001. Variety and Style in English.
Buzu: Alpha, pp. 123-148.

SAA No. 1
Which variety of English is taught and preferred by
Romanian teachers and students? Try to find out why that
particular variety is preferred and point out its characteristics,
using the information in Unit 2 and in the books recommended
under Further reading.
Write a 250 word essay and send it to your tutor.
The maximum score for this assignment is 20 points:
- 10 points for providing solid arguments
- 5 points for language accuracy
- 3 points for identifying the variety features correctly
- 2 points for organizing ideas in paragraphs.

Answers to SAQs
If your answers to SAQ 1 and SAQ 2 are not comparable
to the ones suggested below, please reread section 2.1.
SAQ 1
1. :/ in British English (BE) is turned into // in
American English (AmE), when this vowel is followed by
fricatives such as /s/: class, glass, fast, pass, castle. The
same change, that is :/ in BE becomes // in AmE when
it is followed by the nasals /n/, /m/ followed by other
consonants: aunt, dance
2.
BE is pronounced without lip-rounding and
sounds like // in AmE: Tom, dollar, got, bottle, rock, frog
3.
/i/ in unstressed syllables in BE is replaced by //
in AmE: greatness, tigress, interest
4.
/u/ in unstressed final position in British English
is replaced by // in American English: window, piano,
mellow
5.
/ju/ in BE is reduced to /u/| in AmE when
preceded by /t/ or /d/: tune, due. The same reduction, that of
/ju/ to /u/, occurs when /ju/ is preceded by /n/: nuclear, nude
SAQ 2

Intervocalic* /t/ in British English sounds like /d/


in American English: writer, latter, whiter

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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Differences Between British and American English

/r/ is pronounced in all positions in a word in


American English, while in standard British English /r/ is
only pronounced before a vowel: offer, turn, etc.

word stress tends to fall on the first syllable in


American English and on the second syllable in British
English: princess, address, research, entire, museum,
resource.

disyllabic verbs ending in ate have the stress on


the first syllable in American English: dictate, frustrate,
migrate, vibrate. In words that have three syllables,
Americans emphasize the ending: secretary, dictionary,
laboratory, conservatory, inflammatory
If your answer to SAQ 3 is not comparable to the one
suggested below, please reread section 2.2.
SAQ 3
behavior, humor, honor, meter, criticize, organize,
industrialize, defense, offense, license, medieval, inquiry,
gypsy, traveler, marvelous, woolen, kidnaped, focused
If your answer to SAQ 4 is not comparable to the one
suggested below, please reread section 2.3.

1.
2.
3.
4.
5.
6.
7.
8.

SAQ 4
Pass me the cakes
Single or return (trip)?
Its in the cupboard
He left the tap on.
Open the curtains!
Were leaving in autumn.
Weve run out of petrol
I hate standing in a queue.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

31

Pronunciation and Spelling

UNIT 3
PRONUNCIATION AND SPELLING

Unit outline

Unit objectives

28

3.1

The spelling of consonants

28

3.2

Vowel markers

29

3.3

Keeping a spelling constant

30

3.4

Silent letters

33

3.5

Homographs and homophones

34

3.6

Pronunciation and etymology

35

Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 2
Answers to SAQs

36
37
37
37
38

Unit
objectives

32

After you have completed the study of this unit you


should be able to:
discriminate words or parts of words that are spelled
exactly the same way but which are pronounced entirely
differently.
acquire the markers, pronunciation patterns and
spelling rules provided in the unit
Ideally, the spelling system should closely reflect
pronunciation, as is the case in Romanian, but not in
English, which nevertheless presents many regularities
between sound and written symbol. The problem in English
is twofold each sound is represented by more than one
letter or by sequences of letters, and any letters represents
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Pronunciation and Spelling

more than one sound, or it may not represent any sound at


all.
Think first!
What group of letters corresponds to the // sound? Think of
words such as ship, passion, ration, Asian, conscious, Confucian,
issue, machine and luxury.
..
Check your answer against the information given in section
3.1.

3.1 The spelling of consonants


Consonants with a single spelling
Most consonants, at least some of the time, may have
a single-letter 'alphabetic' spelling: <b, d, f, g, h, j, 1, m, n, p,
r, s, t, v, w, y, z>; /k/ has a choice of <c> or <k>. But there is
often 'divergence', where one speech-sound has several
different spellings and spelling may stand for different
speech-sounds.
Consonants with multiple letter spelling
In spite of the available single-letter spelling <f>, the
consonant at the beginning of foot has more complex
spellings in physics, enough, offer. The <s> in easy
represents /z/, the <u> in quick represents /w/ and the <f> in
of represents /v/. The consonant at the beginning of yet,
yellow can also be found as part of the vowel spelt <u(e)> in
cue, cute, pure.
The most divergent consonant is /k/, which has
different spellings in cool, chemistry, sack, accolade,
chukker, key, quay, quite, and as part of the /ks/ in axe.
Six consonants, that is /, t do not have a
single-letter-spelling of their own and require at least two
letters, such as <th>, <sh> or <ch>. These are the
consonants found in the middle of the following words:
method, bother, wishing, measure, patches and the
consonant represented by <ng> in singer when no actual /gl
is pronounced.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

33

Pronunciation and Spelling

The main cause responsible for the departure of


English spelling from the phonemic principle* is that
conservative principles in orthography cannot keep pace
with the phonetic changes in the language.
SAQ 1
Identify the graphs corresponding to /f/, /k/, /s/, /z/,
/in the following words. The first has been done for you
as an example:
1.saphhire: phh: /f/
2. back

3. acclaim

4. biscuit

5. school

6. dress
7. scene
8. racing
9. cousin

10. dissolve

11. dessert

12. mission

13. option

14. ancient

15. conscious

16. ocean

Fill in the blanks with your answers and then check


them with the suggested answers given at the end of this
unit.

3.2 Vowel markers


Five pairs of vowels can have single-letter spellings:
<a> in scrap, scraping, <e> in met, meter, <i> in pip, piper,
<o> in cop, coping, <u> in rub, ruby. There is also <y> in
cryptic, cry, which duplicates the <i> spellings. The
examples given in each pair represent a 'short' and a 'long'
vowel or diphthong.
For this letter-sharing to work, 'markers' are needed in
some contexts to tell you which value the letter has.
Final silent -e
To get the long value of <a> in a single-syllable word,
you have to add a marker <-e>, as in scrape. The <-e> in
bathe, breathe, loathe, wreathe not only marks the vowel as
long but also marks the last consonant as 'voiced' rather
than the 'voiceless'* one in bath, breath, loath, wreath.
Other examples are lathe, lithe, swathe. Mouth and smooth
used as verbs lack this marking.
The marker <-e> in browse, copse, lapse, please,
tease, tense is used to prevent confusion with the plural
forms brows, cops, laps, pleas, teas, tens. It marks the
browse group as single units and as such is called 'lexical <e>'.
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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Pronunciation and Spelling

The double consonant rule


To get the short value before a suffix beginning with a
vowel like <-ing>, you double a final consonant letter, as in
scrapping.
Therefore, the double consonant rule says that a final
consonant in a stressed syllable must be doubled to
preserve the short pronunciation of the vowel when followed
by a syllable beginning with a vowel. Note, for example, the
difference in length between // and /u/ in the pair hopping
- hoping.
The y to i rule
This rule states that final y preceded by a consonant
becomes -i before a suffix (e.g. ed, -s) not beginning with
i (e.g. -ing):
try tried, tries
but
try trying

hurry hurries, hurried


but
hurry hurrying

SAQ 2
Can you give examples of a single vowel letter which can be used
with two values, i.e. short and long, as in scrap - scrape, scrapping scraping?
Write your answers in the space provided below.

Contrast them with the suggested answer given at the end of unit
3.

Keeping a spelling constant


Think first!
Do you believe it would be a good idea if English spelling
represented pronunciation more closely? Before you read the section
below, think of possible disadvantages if English spelling were 100%
phonemic.

Check your answer against the information given in this section.

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Pronunciation and Spelling

The morphological principle


English spelling is based not only on the etymological
principle* but also on the morphological principle,
according to which spelling has to preserve unchanged the
graphic form of every meaningful part of the word
(morpheme) even its actual pronunciation changes, which
happens when the given morpheme is combined with some
other morphemes.
Well-known examples are the grammatical (bound)
morphemes -s and -ed. For instance, the three homonymic
morphemes representing (1) the third person singular
present tense -(e)s, (2) the possessive case of nouns s and
(3) the plural of nouns -(e)s may have three pronunciations,
each depending on the phonetic environment:
a. /z/ when preceded by a vowel or a voiced
consonant: stays, kills.
b. /s/ after a voiceless* consonant: takes.
c./iz/ after consonants such as /s, z, t d:
sneezes, washes, watch, etc.
The verbal ending -ed sounds quite different in
wished, begged, and wanted. If you think that they would be
better spelt phonetically as * <wisht>, ' <begd>, you are
losing the advantage of a constant spelling for the regular
past-tense ending. Therefore, -ed is pronounced:
/d/ after vowels and voiced consonants: opened
/t/ after voiceless* consonants: worked
/id/ after /t/, /d/: wanted, divided
SAQ 3
What do you think of Mark Twains plans for the
improvement of English spelling? Try to remake the
etymological spelling of the words in italics and then rewrite
the text.
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be
dropped to be replased either by k or s, and likewise, x
would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only kase in
which c would be retained would be the ch formation,
which will be dealt with later.

Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and one


would take the same konsonant, wile Year 3 might well
abolish y replasing it with i and iear 4 might fiks the g/j
anomali wonse and for all.

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Pronunciation and Spelling

Jenerally, then, the improvement would kontinue iear bai iear


with iear 5 doing awai with useless double konsonants, and
iears 6-12 or so modifaiing vowlz and rimeining voist and
unvoist konsonants. Bai iear 15 or sou, it wud fainali bi posibl
tu meik ius ov thi ridandant letez c, y and x bai now jast
a memori in the maindz ov ould doderez tu riplais ch, sh,
and th rispektivli.

.
Fainali, xen, aafte sam 20 iers ov orxogrefkl riform, wi wud
hev a lojikl, kohirnt speling in ius xrewawt xe Ingliy-spiking
werld.

Compare your answer with the one given at the end of


this unit

Phonemic variation in derivatives


The morphological principle is also of great help in the
case of derivatives. For example, one may think it awkward
to have Is/ spelt differently in sent and cent. That may be,
but the <c> spelling of both /k/ in electric and Is/ in electricity
keeps the spelling of that unit constant.
Another good example of this principle is provided by
the long and short pronunciations of single vowel letters
seen in word pairs such as:
atrocious - atrocity
female - feminine
omen - omenous
austere - austerity
grateful - gratitude
reside residual
chaste - chastity
legal - legislate
sole - solitude
crime - criminal
mine - mineral
supreme - supremacy
In these pairs the basic long vowel is shortened when
it comes three syllables from the end of the word.

3.4 Silent letters

Silent g, w, h and k

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Pronunciation and Spelling

Keeping a constant spelling may involve the use of socalled 'silent' letters. The <g> does not represent /g/ in sign,
but it does in derived forms resignation, signal, signature,
signify. Similarly we have malign and malignant. Changing
to "<sine>, "<maline> would spoil the visual link. Should we
keep the <w> of two because twenty, twin, between are
remotely related? Should shepherd be re-spelt as *
<sheppard>, a regularized spelling when used as a name?
On the other hand the <g> of gnarled, gnat, gnash,
gnaw, gnome and the <k> of knee, knife, knight, knock,
know, knuckle are quite empty letters. They are the debris
of history and are never pronounced in any derived word
(except for acknowledge). It would be no loss to change to
"<naded>, '"<nab, *<nife>, "<nuckle>, etc.

SAQ 4
Underscore all the silent letters in each of the
following sentences, e.g.:
The psychiatrist was knifed in the knee as he was
walking home.
The psychiatrist was knifed in the knee as he was
walking home.

1. He should have whistled as he fastened his sword to


his belt.
2. You should have left me half the Christmas cake on
Wednesday.
3. They sang a psalm to honour the memory of the
world-famous psychologist as he was laid to rest in
the family tomb.
Compare your answer with the one in the key at the
end of the unit.

Other markers
Some marking is needed to sort out the two distinct
consonants represented by <g>. Before <a, o, u> we have
/g/, as in gap, got, gum and the consonant spelt <j> in jam
before <i, e> in gin, gem. The problem is that there are
some exceptions with /g/ before <i, e>: gear, geese, get,
giddy, gild, gilt, gimmick, girl, give. Some words however
have used the letter <u> as a marker for /g/ in guess, guest,
guide, guild, guilt, guise, guitar. Its use is not very
consistent, since guard, guarantee do not need any <u>
marker (e.g. garden).

3.5 Homographs and homophones

Definition
Words spelt the same but pronounced differently are
called homographs*: <minute> may be an adjective (a
really minute insect) or a noun (half a minute). A minute
steak has to be interpreted by the reader: either a very small
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Pronunciation and Spelling

steak or one cooked for a minute.


Words pronounced the same but spelt differently are
called homophones*: <vain>, <vane>, <vein>, or <foul>,
<fowl> or <meat>, <meet>, <mete>. These variant vowel
spellings clearly make it harder for the writer, but it is often
claimed that such divergence is not always a bad thing for
the reader, since different words should look different on the
printed page.
Even so, a good number of words are both
homographs* and homophones: sounding the same and
looking the same. These are sometimes called homonyms.
For instance, hamper represents two completely different
unrelated words: either 'a basket' or 'to hinder'. Quarry
means either 'a stone quarry or 'a hunted animal'.
SAQ 5
Give the correct pronunciation of the marked homographs
in the following sentences.
Write your answers in the spaces provided.
1 a The lead singer in the group is great. .
b Lead pipes are dangerous.
.
2 a The wind blew the tree down.
.
b Dont forget to wind your watch.
.
3 a Some students in Oxford spent more time learning to
row well than studying.
.
b They shared a flat for ages until they had a row over
money and they split up.
.
4 a They live in a large old house.
.
b The buildings house a library and two concert halls as
well as a theatre.
.
5 a The sow has five piglets.
.
b The farmers sow the weeds in spring..
6 a I bathed the baby this morning.
.
b We bathed in the sea every day when we were on
holiday.
.
Check your answers against the ones given at the end of
the chapter.

3.6 Pronunciation and etymology

French loans
The Old English of the Anglo-Saxons has given the
English their basic stock of words: life, death, earth,
heaven, sun, moon, day, night, black, white, broad, narrow,
teach, learn, seek, find, eat, drink, food, meat, fire, wood,
tree, eye, knee, hand, foot and so on.
Words borrowed from French have sometimes been
altered by anxious academics looking beyond the French
spelling to the distant Latin original. The words debt, doubt,
were medieval borrowings of French delle 'debt', doute
'doubt' without a <b>. The 'silent' <b> was inserted in the
sixteenth century to resemble the original Latin debitum,
dubitare, and to draw attention to the shared meaning of
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39

Pronunciation and Spelling

related English words derived from the same roots, such as


debit, dubitative.
The <c> spelling of the early French loan grocer is a
regular English spelling (racer, slicer), so why not have
gross spelt: <groce> on the lines of race, truce, slice? As it
is, gross is the only English word in which <oss> does not
sound as it does in boss, cross, doss, dross, floss.
Ironically, the regular <groce> was a common medieval
spelling that did not survive.
Since medieval times English has adopted cultural
loanwords from French. The early ones included attach,
certain, chance, conquer, courage, language, money, place,
pleasant, royal, strange, sure, tender, value, and even a
word as common now as very, which at first meant true'.
Modern loanwords from French come with their present
French spelling and a close approximation to French
pronunciation: collage, entourage, rage, piquant, pirouette.
SAQ 6
The list of words given below includes loans from
Latin, Greek, French, Italian, Spanish, Portuguese, Dutch
and German.
apparatus, avalanche, capricio, bourgeois, mosquito,
chamois, banana, champagne, hurricane, chandelier,
tobacco, charade, cruise, coup, mirage, landscape,
etiquette, brochure, plunder, burlesque, catastrophe,
connoiseur, critique, circus, climax, memoir, drama,
nuance, exit, genre, genius, symphony, omen, glacier,
pathetic, picnic, pneumonia, espionnage, scheme,
chauffeur, chef, catastrophe, chic, restaurant, stanza,
depot, umbrella, caf, prairie, malaise, alligator, penchant,
moto, essay, progress, atmosphere, , rendez-vous,
moustache, debris, detail.
Underscore recognizably French loan words and
compare your choices with the suggested answers given
at the end of this unit.

Latin and Greek loans


Technical terms for use in science are often derived
from Latin or Greek. For example, aqueduct, subaquatic are
Latinate counterparts in meaning to ordinary English
waterway, underwater. Similarly, Greek elements make up
scientific terms such as photosynthesis, polyglot,
pyromania. The <-rrh(o)ea> of diarrhoea ('through-How')
recurs in other Greek-based words such as catarrh ('downflow'), seborrhoea ('grease-flow').
Scientists have to learn a mini-language of such
elements. When such terms escape into common use they
often cause spelling problems for the ordinary person. That
leaves a whole array of loanwords that are variously exotic':
kayak is from Eskimo, felucca is from Arabic by way of
Italian. The now familiar tobacco comes from Arawak, an
American-Indian language.
These various subsystems are often marked by their
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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Pronunciation and Spelling

own peculiar spelling correspondences. If you know a yucca


to be an exotic plant, you will not spell it *yuker. The <ch> of
chief, an early French loan, has the same sound as in native
cheap, cheese. The modern loan chef retains its present
French value of <ch> (like the <sh> of shop), as do
chauffeur, charade. The spelling is not altered to * <shef>.
This same <ch> will also spell /k/ in Greek-based words
such as character, chemist, synchronic. Similarly, <ph> is a
(Greek' spelling for If I, as in diaphragm, philosophy, phobia,
symphony.
Borrowing foreign spellings along with foreign
loanwords is not the only way of doing it. In Swedish, for
example, foreign loans are usually spelt with ordinary
Swedish spelling. So French loans coiffure, pirouette are
spell in Swedish as <koaffyr> and <piruett.

Summary
In English a final silent e is said to make a vowel long
and the last consonant voiced, whereas absence of this
silent e makes the vowel of the word short and the last
consonant voiceless: bath - bathe, breath - breathe.
The short pronunciation of a vowel is maintained
before adding a suffix if the final consonant is doubled:
hopping hoping, scrapping scraping.
English orthography transparently connects words
related in form and meaning. For example, a regular pattern
of alternation of long and short vowels is noticed when
endings are added to stems: mine - mineral, supreme
supremacy.

Key concepts

double consonant rule


etymological principle
final silent e lexical e
homograph
homonym
homophone
morphological principle
phonemic principle
silent letter
vowel marker

Further reading
1. Carney Edward. 1998. English Spelling is Kattastroffic.
In Bauer Laurie and Peter Trudgil. eds. Language
Myths. London: Penguin Books, pp. 32-41.
2. Dobo Daniela. 2001. A Handbook of English Phonetics
and Phonology. Iai: Casa Editorial Demiurg, pp. 174196.
3. Makarenko, Tatiana. 1998. Contemporary English
Phonetics. Cluj: Editura Echinox, pp. 32-45
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41

Pronunciation and Spelling

SAA No. 2
After you have studied this unit, use the knowledge
you acquired to do the following exercises:
1. What spelling differences correspond to these
pronunciations?
/tu:/
/rait/
/ail/
/meil/
/rein/

.
.
.
.
..

2. Exemplify the reduction of these consonant clusters*:


kn -> n
gn ->n .
wr->r
mn->m .
mb->m .
3. Give the transcription of these loan words:
queue .
buoy .
silhouette ..
Write your answers in the space provided. Send this
assignment to your tutor. The maximum score for this
assignment is 20 points:
- 7 points for identifying the homophones correctly.
- 10 points for exemplifying the reduction of the
consonant clusters
- 3 points for the correct phonemic transcription.

Answers to SAQs
Should your answer to SAQ 1 be different from the one
suggested below, please reread section 3.1.
SAQ 1
ck (back), cc (acclaim), cu (biscuit), ch (school): /k/
ss (dress), sc (scene), c (racing): /s/
s (cousin), ss (dissolve, dessert): /z/
si (tension), ssi (mission), ti (option), ci (ancient), sci
(conscious), ce (ocean): /
Should your answer to SAQ 2 be different from the one
suggested below, please reread section 3.2.
SAQ 2
The letter o in hop - hope and hopping hoping.

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Should your answer to SAQ 3 be different from the one


suggested below, please reread sections 3.1, 3.2 and
3.3.
SAQ 3
The fragment highlights the difficulties due to the
discrepancies between spelling and pronunciation in
English, where, in many instances, the same sound may be
represented by a variety of spellings and the same spelling
is used for different sounds.
What Mark Twain seems to suggest is the greater
trouble the reader and speller might have if the English
etymological spelling were reformed and turned into
phonemic spelling.
Here is the etymological spelling of Twains text:
For example, in Year 1 that useless letter c would be
dropped to be replaced either by k or s, and likewise, x
would no longer be part of the alphabet. The only case in
which c would be retained would be the ch formation,
which will be dealt with later.
Year 2 might reform w spelling, so that which and
one would take the same consonant, while year 3 might
well abolish y replacing it with i and year 4 might fix the
g/j anomaly once and for all.
Generally, then, the improvement would continue year
by year with year 5 doing away with useless double
consonants, and years 6-12 or so modifying vowels and
remaining voiced and unvoiced consonants. By year 15 or
so, it would finally be possible to make use of the redundant
letters c, y and x by now just a memory in the minds
of old dodders to replace ch, sh, and th respectively.
Finally, then, after some 20 years of orthographical
reform, we would have a logical, coherent spelling in use
throughout the English-speaking world
Should your answer to SAQ 4 be different from the one
suggested below, please reread section 3.4.
SAQ 4
1. The psychiatrist was knifed in the knee as he was
walking home.
2. He should have whistled as he fastened his sword to his
belt.
3. You should have left me half the Christmas cake on
Wednesday.
4. They sang a psalm to honour the memory of the worldfamous psychologist as he was laid to rest in the family
tomb.
Should your answer to SAQ 5 be different from the one
suggested below, please reread section 3.5
SAQ 5
1 a The lead /li:d/ singer in the group is great.
b Lead /led/ pipes are dangerous.
2 a The wind /wind/ blew the tree down.
b Dont forget to wind /waind/ your watch.
3 a Some students in Oxford spent more time learning
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43

Pronunciation and Spelling

to row /ru/ well than studying.


b They shared a flat for ages until they had a row
/rau/ over money and they split up.
4 a They live in a large old house /haus/.
b The buildings house /hauz/ a library and two
concert halls as well as a theatre.
5 a The sow /sau/ has five piglets.
b The farmers sow /su/ the weeds in spring.
6 a I bathed /bthe baby this morning.
b We bathed /beid/ in the sea every day when we
were on holiday.
Should your answer to SAQ 6 be different from the one
suggested below, please reread section 3.6.
SAQ 6
avalanche, bourgeois, chamois, champagne, chandelier,
charade, coup, mirage, etiquette, brochure, burlesque,
connoiseur, critique, memoir, nuance, genre, symphony,
glacier, picnic, espionnage, chauffeur, chef, chic, restaurant,
depot, caf, prairie, malaise, penchant, essay, progress,
rendez-vous, moustache, debris, detail.

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UNIT 4
ASPECTS OF CONNECTED SPEECH

Unit outline
Unit objectives

41

4.1

Linking /r/ and intrusive /r/

41

4.2
4.2.1
4.2.2
4.2.3
4.2.4

Assimilation
Regressive assimilation
Progressive assimilation
Reciprocal assimilation
Obligatory and non-obligatory assimilation

42
42
43
44
45

4.3.1
4.3.2

Elision
Vowel elision
Consonant elision

46
46
47

4.4.1
4.4.2

Strong and weak forms of function words


Uses of weak forms
Uses of strong forms

48
48
50

Summary
Key concepts
Further reading
SAA No. 3
Answers to SAQs

52
52
52
53
53

4.3

4.4

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45

Aspects of Connected Speech

Unit objectives

After you have completed the study of this unit you should be able to:
explain the phonetic phenomena that occur in casual speech. i.e.
assimilation*, elision*, etc
distinguish carefully between cases when function words* are in
focal and non-focal positions
use the strong and weak forms* of function words properly, thus
avoiding an unnatural, visibly foreign pronunciation (that can be a
potential barrier to fluency and a source of misunderstanding)
discriminate careful, standard speech from rapid, non-standard
speech pronunciations
distinguish British from American pronunciation variants
produce casual pronunciations of frequent sound sequences
Normal speech cannot be imagined to be spoken one word at a time,
with pauses* corresponding to the spaces of the written language. Spoken
language is a continuous sequence in which each separate unit of sound is
not pronounced in isolation but as part of a larger unit. In this process,
sounds undergo modifications due to the transition* from one sound unit to
another.

4.1 Linking r* and intrusive /r/*


Linking /r/
Although British speakers pronounce car without the final r, the r often
does emerge if the following word begins with a vowel. Linking /r/ is the
phoneme /r/ in word final position which is pronounced when the next word
begins with a vowel. In standard RP a written word-final r is not pronounced
before a pause* or a following consonant sound. Compare, for example,
the car is there with the car was there. In the first example the r is
pronounced and gets attached to the following syllable. This is the linking
/r/. Further occurrences of linking /r/ can be found in: Here it is, Far away or
theyre at home.
Intrusive /r/
There are instances when the presence of an intervocalic /r/ is not
orthographically justified, as in law and order /l:r nd :d/. This inserted
/r/ between two words or syllables in sequence, where the first ends in a
vowel sound and the second begins with one, and which has no
correspondent r in spelling is called intrusive /r/.
Intrusive /r/ is much criticized, but is quite commonly heard in
standard RP and other non-rhotic accents. It occurs after the vowels, e.g.:
//: idea (r) of it, umbrella (r) organization
/:/: law (r) and order
//: grandpa (r) is ill
// a milieu (r) in which
Both linking /r/ and intrusive /r/ are used in non-rhotic accents to
prevent the vowels of two adjacent syllables to directly succeed one
another. By adding an /r/ the utterance* gains in fluidity. (Meyer, 2002: 91)

4.2 Assimilation
The effect on a speech sound of the articulation of other adjacent
sounds is called assimilation. This is a common feature of speech, though
one that many native speakers are unaware of. Assimilation varies
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Aspects of Connected Speech

according to speaking rate and style; it is more likely to be found in rapid,


casual speech and less likely, in slow, careful speech. In every assimilation
process we distinguish between assimilating and assimilated*
phonemes.

4.2.1 Regressive assimilation


Types of assimilation
Assimilation is regressive when the preceding sound is influenced by
the immediately following one. Regressive assimilation or assimilation of
place (Roach, 1994:124) is most clearly noticeable in some cases where a
final consonant with alveolar place of articulation (e.g. /t/, /d/) is followed by
an initial consonant with a place of articulation* that is not alveolar. For
instance, the final consonant in that
/t / is alveolar /t/. In rapid, casual speech, the /t/ will become /p/
before a bilabial* consonant (e.g. /p/, /b/) as in that person /p p3:sn /,
the /d/ will become /b/ as in good people /gub pi:pl/, etc.
SAQ 1
Transcribe the unassimilated* and assimilated pronunciations of
these phrases:
1. light blue

...

2 . good boy
3. a good man ...
4. this shop

5. ten more

..

Check your transcriptions against those given in the answer


section.

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47

Aspects of Connected Speech

Think First!
Look at these spellings:

stay stays stayed staying

convey conveys conveyed conveying

study studies studied studying

cry cries cried - crying

Can you remember the y to i rule stated in the


previous chapter? If you do, write it down in the space
provided below; if you dont, find it in section 3.2 and
then copy it in the space provided below.

..

4.2.2 Progressive assimilation*


A reverse type of assimilation (progressive assimilation) is found
when a sound is changed by the influence of a previous one.
For instance, the third person singular -s suffix, the -s plural suffix and
the 's possessive suffix, are pronounced /s/ if the preceding consonant is
fortis* (voiceless) and /z / if the preceding consonant is lenis* (voiced):
jumps /dmps/ cats kts/, Pat s /pts vs. runs /rnz/, dogs /dgz/, Pam
s /pmz/.
The pronunciation of the endings s and -ed
Progressive assimilation is an established and regular feature of the
ending s of verbs and nouns, which usually has a voiced /z/ sound (or /z/
after all sibilants*) but after voiceless sounds other than sibilants is /s/ (e.g.
taps tabs, hats - heeds, docks - dogs, griefs - grieves). Similarly, the past
tense ed ending /d/ or /d/ is devoiced* to a /t/ sound after a voiceless
consonant other than /t/ itself: roped, lacked, roofed, pushed versus robed,
lagged, grooved, hated, headed, etc.

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SAQ 2
Give the phonemic transcription of these words to show the
progressive type of assimilation that can occur:
1. Keiths

2. youths

..

3. eyes

4. seems

5. runs

6. dolls

7. pieces

8. daisies

9. offered

10. fitted

11. kidnapped

Write your answers in the spaces provided and then compare


them to those given at the end of the unit.

4.2.3 Reciprocal assimilation


Assimilation is reciprocal (double) when both sounds (the
assimilating and the assimilated one) undergo changes. In twice /w /
becomes partly devoiced under the influence of /t/, while /t/ is rounded
because of /w/.
A particular type of double assimilation is coalescence* in which two
adjacent phonemes mix to such an extent that a third phoneme emerges.
Historically this has occurred in words like soldier, picture, or fissure, where
the reconstructable earlier pronunciation /soldjr/, /pktu:r/, /fsju:r/ has
become /sld/, /pkt /, /f/.
In current colloquial English, similar assimilation occurs in phrases
such as What dyou want? /wt wnt/ or Could you? /kdu:/. This
coalescent* assimilation is also known as yod coalescence or
palatalization*.

SAQ 3
Historically, the phonemes /d/ and /j/ coalesced, i.e. mixed to
such an extent that gave birth to /d/ in a word like soldier. In the same
manner /t/ and /j/ fused and finally produced the affricate* /t/ in
question.
What coalescent* variants can be heard nowadays in:
a. intuition

b. grandeur

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

49

Aspects of Connected Speech

c. duel

Write your answers in the space provided at the right-hand side.


Compare your transcriptions with the pronunciations given at the end of
the unit.

4.2.4 Obligatory and non-obligatory assimilation


Synchronic assimilation may be obligatory (or established) and
accidental (or non-obligatory).
Certain occurrences of assimilation are obligatory in the sense that
they represent the norm in the language. Here are such instances:

unaspiratedness* of /p, t, k/ after /s/ : speak, stake, school


devoicing* of /l, r, w, j/ after voiceless plosives*: close, from
devoicing of /m, n/ after /s/: smile, snake
rounding of preceding consonants by /w/: twenty

Non-obligatory
pronunciations:

assimilation

may

be

illustrated

by

these

give me /givmi:/ or /gimmi/


did you /didju:/ or /diddu:/
let me /letmi/ or / lemmi/
was sure /wzu/ or /w u/
You need to be aware of the phenomenon of assimilation in order to
understand colloquial English and to make a proper use of assimilated*
variants just like English speakers do.

4.3 Elision
Elision is usually referred to as the omission of a sound (sounds) in
connected speech*. This phenomenon occurs when sounds occur in
clusters which are difficult to pronounce (e.g. last month, cost price, next
shop, landscape) or when they appear in unstressed syllables(e.g. round
the corner, night time, handbag). Elision may involve both vowels and
consonants
Like assimilation, elision is typical of rapid, casual speech, and it can
be historical* and contextual or synchronic*. For foreign learners of English
it is important to know that when native speakers of English talk to each
other; quite a number of phonemes that the foreigner might expect to hear
are not actually pronounced.

4.3.1 Vowel elision


Elision of schwa* //
Elision of vowels takes place in unstressed syllables. The common
vowels which are usually omitted are / / and /i/.
// (schwa*) may be lost in an initial unstressed syllable when the next
vowel in the word is stressed as in correct /krekt/.

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The consonant which usually follows schwa can be /l/ as in police


/plis/, buffalo /bflu/, /r/ as in history /histri/, temporary /temprri/, reference
/refrns/, or /n/ as in reasonable.
In British English the elision of schwa is firmly established in many
words ending in -ory (territory) -ery (nursery), -ary (customary), -ury, -ily,
and adverbs ending in -fully, e.g. carefully.
Elision of /i/
/i/ may be lost in such words as geography /dgrfi/, university
/ju:ni'vsiti/.
SAQ 4
Give the corresponding spellings of these pronunciations that can
occur in casual speech:
a. /spuz/

b. /prps/

c. /kfli/

d. /tnait/

Write your answers in the spaces provided. Compare them to the


spellings given in the answer section.

4.3.2 Consonant elision


Elision of /t/ and /d/
The consonants that are most likely to be elided are /t/ and /d/
occurring medially in consonant clusters*.
The elision of /t/ occurs when /t/ follows a fortis consonant and
precedes any consonant (e.g. mostly, exactly, first time /f:s taim/).
The dropping of /d/ occurs when /d/ follows any consonant and
precedes any consonant (e.g. handsome, handbag, friendship)
Final /d/ of the grammatical word and can be omitted before vowels as
well as consonants (e.g. ham and / n / eggs).
Elision of /k/, //, //
/k/ is deleted only in a few forms, e.g. extraordinary /istr:dnri/,
expected /ispektid/, excursion /isk:n/.
Elision also affects /l/ in rapid speech, when preceded by /:/ and
followed by a consonant: alright, already.
/, / are omitted in clusters which are difficult to pronounce: sixth,
months, twelfths, clothes.
In rhetorical terms, the removal of an element from the beginning of a
word is known as aphaeresis (I' ve); the loss of a sound or letter in wordmedial position as called syncope (eer instead of ever) and in word-final
position apocope (snakes and /n/ ladders).
SAQ 5
In casual speech /t/, /d/ and /k/ when medial in three-consonant
clusters may be dropped. Practise and transcribe these words and
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

51

Aspects of Connected Speech

phrases to illustrate the process:


a. last year

b. thousand points

c. kindness .
d. asked him

..

Write your answers in the spaces provided. You will find an


answer in the key section at the end of this unit

4.4 Strong and weak forms of function words


A phonological phenomenon which is characteristic of the English
language and has no equivalent in Romanian is the existence of two
possible pronunciations for the grammatical function) words. Thus, about
sixty words including articles, auxiliaries, modals, pronouns, prepositions,
conjunctions adverbs, pronominal adjectives, may display two forms: a
strong one, when they occur in accented (focal) position and a weak one,
when they are unaccented (in a non-focal position).
Disadvantages of using only strong forms*
It is possible to use only strong forms in speaking and some foreigners
do this. Usually they can still be understood by other speakers of English,
but it is important to learn how weak forms are used. There are two main
reasons: first, most native speakers of English find an all-strong-form
pronunciation unnatural and foreign-sounding, something that most learners
would wish to avoid.
Second, and more importantly, speakers who are not familiar with the
use of weak forms are likely to have difficulty in understanding speakers
who do use weak forms; since practically all native speakers of British
English use them, learners of the language need to learn about these weak
forms to help them to understand what they hear (Roach, 1994:102).

4.4.1 Uses of weak forms

Conjunctions and prepositions


The most frequently used form is the weak one. Several words in
English have more than one weak form: and /nd/ can be /nd/, /n/, /n/:
fish and chips, food and drink.
Prepositions are used with their weak form whenever they carry no
accent:
for is pronounced /f / when the word which follows begins with a
consonant (They called John for me) and /fr/ when it starts with a vowel.
from /frm/ becomes /frm/ in: from time to time, we walked from
school to school
of has the weak form /v/ in: a cup of tea, the end of the road.

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Aspects of Connected Speech

SAQ 6
Practise and transcribe the following phrases, using the weak
form of the function words*:

as fast as he can

for love nor money.

for ever and ever

students and teachers

time and money

Check your transcriptions against those given at the end of the


unit.

Auxiliaries
Auxiliaries and modals are usually pronounced in their weak form:

am pronounced /m, m/: I'm in a hurry /aim in hri/


are pronounced /, r /: When are they coming /wen ei kmi/
does pronounced /dz, z, s/: What does it mean? /wt dz it

have pronounced /hv, v, v/: Where have you been? /we v ju

'mi:n/
bin/

was pronounced /wz/ : He was seen by everybody /hi wz si:n


bai evri bdi /

were pronounced /w/ + consonant: Where were they working?


/we w ei w3:ki/

will pronounced /l/: I think I'll stop here /ai ik ail stp hi/
Think first!
Must is pronounced in its weak form /mst/, or in its strong form,
/mst/, depending on whether it shows:
supposition (You must be exhausted)
or
obligation (You must study those books as indicated).
Give the pronunciation of must in the following sentences:
1. You must be tired.

2. Of course we must try.

3. They must obey the rules of the game.

4. You must have met him in England.


.
5. He must buy it and so must I.
..
6. We must learn it by heart.
..
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53

Aspects of Connected Speech

Compare your answers with the information below.


Modals
could pronounced /kd/: He could have been more helpful /hi kd v
bin m: helpful/
should pronounced /d/: They should come earlier /ei d km 3:li/
must pronounced /mst/: I must answer that letter /ai mst ans t
let/.

Weak forms of modal verbs are more often used in colloquial speech
than strong forms.
SAQ 7
Practise reducing the auxiliary and modal verbs in the following:

have watched

were to do

could try

should go

would make

You can find the suggested answer in the key section at the end
of unit 4.

4.4.2 Uses of strong forms


In general, function words are used in their strong (unreduced) form
when they are uttered in isolation and for reasons of contrast (when
emphasis is implied).

Prepositions
Prepositions are used in their accented form when they are situated at
the end of sentences or sense groups:

at /t/: He was being laughed at.


for /f:/: I was called for at ten.
of /v /: What is it made of?
to /tu/: Who are you talking to?

The strong or weak forms of prepositions may be used when they


occur before unstressed pronouns: He was unknown to me.
/hi wz nnun t/tu: mi/.

Auxiliaries and modals


The strong forms of auxiliary and modal verbs are used when they act
as main verb substitutes:
does pronounced /dz/: Of course, he does.
should pronounced /ud/: Yes, I should.
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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Aspects of Connected Speech

can pronounced /kn/: Of course, he can.


must pronounced / mst / yes, I must.
The strong form of modals is also compulsory when they are used in
the negative contracted form. Compare:
You can do it /ju kn du: it/
with
You cant do it /ju k:nt du: it/
The modal verb have is always used in its strong form, /hv/:
I have to leave now.

There adverb and empty pronoun (in there is/are)


As for there, it is pronounced /e(r)/ when it is a demonstrative (Don't
go there) and /(r)/ in the verbal phrase there is, there are (There aren't
any flowers).

SAQ 8
Read and transcribe these phrases and sentences, noting carefully
the difference between there as an adverb and as a semantically empty
pronoun:
a. over there

b. Theres a car in front of the house


.
c. Is there any coffee left?

d. Whats there?
.
Check your answers against those suggested in the answer
section.

That (demonstrative and conjunction)


The demonstrative that is pronounced /t/ when it is a conjunction or
a relative pronoun: I hope that he will. Its strong form /t/ is used when it
is a demonstrative: I don't like that book.

Summary
Connected speech causes individual words to be adapted in various
ways. Linking elements may have to be added between words ending and
beginning with a vowel, elision may be needed, and especially consonants
may be adapted to each other, which is known assimilation.
Many function words (e.g. articles, auxiliaries, modals, pronouns,
prepositions, conjunctions) change in quality and/or quantity according to
whether they are unstressed (as is usual) or stressed (in special situations
or when in isolation).
The tendency to weaken vowels towards schwa in conversational
English may be to be a difficult aspect of English to learn for most nonnative speakers, partly because of an over-reliance on spelling as a guide to
pronunciation.

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

55

Aspects of Connected Speech

Key concepts

accidental assimilation
intrusive /r/
linking /r/
obligatory assimilation
progressive assimilation
reciprocal assimilation
regressive assimilation
consonant elision
strong form
vowel elision
weak form

Further reading
1. Chioran, Dumitru i Hortensia Prlog. 1989. Ghid de pronunie a
limbii engleze. Bucureti: Editura tiinific i enciclopedic, pp. 140147
2. Meyer, Paul Georg et al. 2002. Synchronic English Linguistics. An
Introduction. Tubingen: Gunter NarrVerlag Tubingen, p. 87-91
3. Prlog, Hortensia. 1997. English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti:
Editura ALL, pp. 114-119.
SAA No. 3
Give the transcription of the following phrases and sentences.
Identify the phonetic phenomena which may occur in rapid, colloquial
speech:
1. closed door
2. blocked passage
3. in my room
4. What you want?
5. Would you?
6. In case you want?
7. Has your car come?
8. We sang and danced.
9. I saw Helen and Nick and Bob.
10. The car that is broken belongs to their firm.
11. Whats that for?
12. Which book do they need?
13. I do try to cook your lunch.
14. He must buy it and so must I.
15. We must learn it by heart.
Send your answer to the tutor.
The maximum score for this assignment is 20 points:
- 15 points for correct phonemic transcription;
- 5 points for correct identification of phonetic phenomena.

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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Aspects of Connected Speech

Answers to SAQs
Should your answers to SAQ 1, SAQ 2 and SAQ 3 be different from the
ones suggested below, please reread section 4.2.
SAQ 1
a. /lait blu:/ and /laip blu:/
b. /gud b
c. gud mn/ and / gub mn/
d. /is p /and / p/
e. /ten m:/ and /tem m:/
SAQ 2
a. /kis/
b. /ju: s/
c. /aiz/
d. /si:mz/
e. /rnz/
f. /dlz/
g. /pi:siz/
h. /deiziz/
i. /:fd/
j. /fitid/
k. /kidnpt/
SAQ 3
a. intuition /IntuI()n/
b. grandeur /grnd/
c. duel /dul/
Should your answer to SAQ 4 be different from the one suggested
below, please reread section 4.3.1.
SAQ 4
suppose
perhaps
carefully
tonight
Should your answer to SAQ 5 be different from the one suggested
below, please reread section 4.3.2.
SAQ 5
a. /l:s ji:/
b. /auzn pnts/
c. /kainns/
d. asked him /:st im/
Should your answer to SAQ 6 be different from the one suggested
below, please reread section 4.4.1.

SAQ 6
as fast as he can /z/
for love nor money /f/
for ever and ever /fr/, /nd/
students and teachers /n/
time and money /n/
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Aspects of Connected Speech

Should your answer to SAQ 7 be different from the one suggested


below, please reread sections 4.4.1 and 4.4.2.
SAQ 7
/hv wt
/w t du/
/kd trai/
/d gu/
/wd meik/
Should your answer to SAQ 8 be different from the one suggested
below, please reread section 4.4.2
SAQ 8
a. uv /
b. /riz k : in frnt v hus/
c. /iz r ni k
d. /w/

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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Bibliography

Bibliography
1. Balan Rada, Cehan Anca, and al. 2003. In-service Distance
Training Course for Teachers of English. Iai: Polirom.
2. Bejan N. and Elena Croitoru. 1979. Contemporary English
Language. Galati: Tipografia Universitii, pp. 3-59.
3. Carney Edward. 1998. English Spelling is Kattastroffic. In
Bauer Laurie and Peter Trudgil. (eds.) Language Myths.
London: Penguin Books, pp. 32 41.
4. Celce-Murcia Marianne and Elite Olshtain. 2000. Discourse
and Context in Language Teaching. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press, pp. 30-50.
5. Chioran, Dumitru. 1978. English Phonetics and Phonology.
Bucureti: Editura didactic i Pedagogic.
6. Chioran, Dumitru and Hortensia Prlog. 1989. Ghid de
pronunie a limbii engleze. Bucureti: Editura stiintific i
enciclopedic.
7. Chioran Dumitru, Augerot, James and Hortensia Prlog.
1984. The Sounds of English and Romanian. Bucureti:
Bucharest University Press.
8. Chioran, Dumitru and Lucreia Petri. 1977. Workbook in
English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti: Editura
didactic i pedagogic.
9.Crystal, David 1991. A Dictionary of Linguistics and
Phonetics, Oxford: Blackwell.
10. Dauer, Rebecca. 1993. Accurate English. A Complete
Course in Pronunciation. New Jersey: Printice Hall.
11. Dima, Gabriela. 1996. Outlines of English Phonetics and
Phonology. With Pronunciation Drills for Learners of
English. Brila: Evrika.
12. Dirven, Rene and Marjolin Verspoor. 1998. Cognitive
Exploration
of
Language
and
Linguistics.
Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Bejamins, pp. 107-137.
13. Dobo Daniela. 2001. A Handbook of English Phonetics and
Phonology. Iai: Casa Editorial Demiurg.
14. Finch, Geoffrey. 2000. Linguistic Terms and Concepts.
Palgrave Macmillan, 33 - 77.
15. Goglniceanu, Clina. 1993. The English Phonetics and
Phonology. Iai: Editura Fundaiei "Chemarea"
16. Hulban, H., Lctuu T., Goglniceanu, T. C. 1983.
Competen i performan, exerciii i teste de limba
englez. Bucureti: Editura stiinific i enciclopedic.
17. Iarovici, Edith. 1994. Engleza American. Bucureti: Editura
Teora, pp.99 111.
18. Ilovici, Edith. 1972. Indreptar de ortografie i punctuaie a
limbii engleze. Cu exercii practice. Bucureti: Editura
didactic i pedagogic.
19. Jones, Daniel. 1963. [1956] Everymans English
Pronouncing Dictionary, 11th Edition, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press.
20. Knowles, G. 1987. Patterns of Spoken English. London:
Longman Group Ltd.
21. Kovecses, Zoltan. 2000. American English. An Introduction.
Ontario: Broad View Press
22. Leontyeva, S. F. 1988. A Theoretical Course of English
Phonetics, Moscow.
23. Malcolm Mann and Steve Taylore-Knowles. 2003. Skills for
First Certificate. Listening and Speaking. Oxford: Macmillan
24. Makarenko, Tatiana. 1998. Contemporary English
Phonetics. Cluj: Editura Echinox.
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

59

Bibliography
25. Matthews, P.H. 1997. Oxford Concise Dictionary of
Linguistics. Oxford: Oxford University Press
26. Meyer, Paul Georg et al. 2002. Synchronic English
Linguistics. An Introduction. Tubingen: Gunter Narr Verlag
Tubingen, pp. 56-94 (Chapter 2 Phonetics and Phonology)
27. Mc Carthy, Michael and Felicity ODell. 1994. English
Vocabulary in Use. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press
28. Neagu Mariana. 1997. English Phonetics and Phonology: A
Coursebook. Braila: Editura Evrika.
29. Neagu Mariana. 2000. Language, Culture and Civilization.
English In and Outside the British Isles. Galai: Editura
Fundaiei Dunrea de Jos. pp.106-124.
30. Neagu Mariana. 2001. Variety and Style in English. Buzu:
Alpha. pp. 123-148.
31. Nicolescu, Adrian. 1977. Tendine n engleza britanic
contemporan. Bucureti: Editura Universitii Bucureti
32. Prlog Hortensia. 1997. English Phonetics and Phonology.
Bucureti: Editura ALL.
33. Roach, Peter. 1994. [1983]. English Phonetics and
Phonology. A Practical Course. Cambridge: Cambridge
University Press
34. Rogers, Henry. 2000. The Sounds of Language. An
Introduction to Phonetics. Harlow Essex: Pearson Education
Ltd.
35. O'Connor, J. P. 1978. Phonetics, London: Penguin Books
36. Taylor, D. 1996. Demystifying Word Stress in English
Today. vol. 12, No.4 (October 1996), Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press
37. The Oxford Spelling Dictionary.1990 [1986]. Oxford: Oxford
University Press
38. Thorne, Sara. 1997. Mastering Advanced English
Language, London: Macmillan, pp. 48-72 (Chapter 2.
Phonetics and Phonology)
39. Wells, J. C. 1982. Accents of English, vol. I - III, Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press
40. Yule, George. 2006. [1985].The Study of Language. Third
Edition. Thoroughly revised and updated. Cambridge:
Cambridge University Press, pp.29-52.

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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Symbols for vowels and diphthongs

Symbols for
vowels and
diphthongs

Symbols for
consonants

[i:]
[i]
[e]
[]
[:]
[
:
[u]
[u:]
[]
:] or [:]
[]
[ei]
[ai]
[
[u]
u]
[i]
[] or [e]
[u]

as in bead, Pete
as in bid, pit
as in bed, pet
as in bad, pat
as in barred, part
as in rod, pot
as in roared, port
as in hood, put
as in rude, pool
as in bud, pun
as in heard, perm
as in alive, parade
as in bay, pain
as in by, pine
as in boy, point
as in bow (noun), pouch
as in bow (verb), poach
as in beer, peer
as in bear, pair
as in boor, poor

[p]
[b]
[t]
[d]
[k]
[g]
[f]
[v]
[s]
[z]

as in pin, appear
as in bin, bubble
as in tin, attend
as in din, hiding
as in kin, conquer
as in give, begin
as in fought, offer
as in vine, cover
as in sip, assist
as in zero, razor

[]
[]

[t
[d

[
]
[l]
[r]
[w]
[j]

as in thought, ether
as in there, mother
as in ship, nation
as in pleasure, measure
as in chin, cheese
as in gin, joke
as in moon, summer
as in noon, any
as in song, finger
as in lip, palace
as in road, caress
as in well, queen
as in yell, yes

Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

61

Glossary

Glossary
accent
(a) The same as stress.
(b) Stress (in its narrower sense) accompanied by pitch change.
Loosely, accent and stress and their associated pairs of terms
(accented, stress, etc.) are used interchangeably. But some
phoneticians distinguish between accent, defined as including
PITCH change, and stress, which is due to the amount of force or
energy used to produce a sound, but which does not include a
pitch change. By this sort of definition, accent can only occur on a
stressed syllable (whereas stress may not involve accent).
accentual
Relating to phonetic, accent, particularly in the sense of word
stress (rather than nuclear pitch).
acoustic phonetics
That branch of phonetics concerned with the way in which the air
vibrates as sounds pass from speaker to listener.
Acoustic phonetics involves the measuring of sounds with
instruments and electronic equipment that then present the
information in visual form.
affricate
A consonant sound that combines the articulatory characteristics
of a PLOSIVE and a FRICATIVE; there is a complete closure in
the vocal tract so that the following release is a plosive, but the
release is slow enough for there to be accompanying friction. A
speech sound consisting in a stop and a fricative.
Two affricates are recognized in Standard English: /tf/, the
voiceless sound heard at the beginning and end of church, in the
middle of feature, and at the end of catch; and, the voiced sound
at the beginning of gin and jam, the middle of soldier, and the end
of judge.
alliteration
The repetition of the same sound in initial position in a sequence
of words.
allophone
Any of the variants in which an idealized phoneme is actually
realized. Many allophones, that are actual articulations, are
possible for any phoneme of a language, depending on individual
peoples pronunciation, but the main allophones of any particular
language are conditioned by their relationship to the surrounding
sounds. Thus in standard English, the phoneme has a CLEAR
sound when it precedes a vowel (as in listen or fall in); a
somewhat DEVOICED sound when preceded by word-finally after
a vowel (as in fall down) or when it is syllabic (as in muddle).
allophonic
Of or pertaining to an allophone.
alveolar
Pronounced with the constriction of the tip or blade of the tongue
against the alveolar ridge. The main alveolar in English are t
and d (often dental consonants in other languages), which are
alveolar plosives; n an alveolar nasal; and s and z, which
are alveolar fricatives. The actual articulation of these alveolar
phonemes is affected by adjacent sounds so that not all their
allophones are in fact alveolar.

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Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

Glossary
apical
Made with the APEX (tongue tip).
The tip of the tongue is not normally involved in the formation of
English speech sounds, though it is used in the articulation of a
trilled /r/.
approximant
A sound made with an unimpeded airflow; contrasted with STOP
and FRICATIVE. Phoneticians group speech sounds in different
ways. Approximant is used as a general term covering sounds
made in various manners of articulation.
articulation
The physical production of speech sounds.
Speech sounds are described in terms of both their PLACE and
their MANNER of articulation. According to PLACE of articulation,
consonants may be bilabial, labio-dental, dental, alveolar, palatoalveolar, palatal, velar and glottal. From the point of view of their
MANNER of articulation, consonants are classified as plosives,
affricates, fricatives, nasals, laterals, flaps and semivowels.
articulator
Any vocal organ, moving or not, involved in the production of
speech sounds.
articulatory phonetics
The branch of phonetics concerned with the ways in which speech
sounds are physically articulated.
aspirated
Articulated with an audible release of air (contrasted with
UNASPIRATED). Aspirated and voiceless articulations often
occur together, but are distinct phenomena. Voiced and voiceless
refer to the state of the vocal cords throughout the articulation of a
phoneme; aspirated and unaspirated refer to the final release
stage of plosion.
aspiration
Articulation accompanied by an audible release of air.
The fortis consonants /p, t, k /, when occurring initially in an
accented syllable, are accompanied by aspiration, i.e. there is a
voiceless interval of strongly expelled breath between the release
of the plosive and the onset of a following vowel. When /l, r, w, j/
follow /p, t, k/ in such position, the aspiration is manifested in the
devoicing of /l, r, w, j /, e.g. please, pray, try, clean, twice, quick,
pew, tune, queue.
assimilate
Make or become more similar in articulation (to an adjacent
sound) (cause to) undergo assimilation. For example, in the word
Tuesday the opening sequence /tj/ can readily assimilate to /t/, in
Did you? /dj/ to /d/ and in What you? /tj/ to /t/.
assimilated
A speech sound which undergoes assimilation.
assimilating
A speech sound that changes one feature (e.g. voicing,
labialization) of a neighbouring sound.
assimilation
The effect on a speech sound of the articulation of other adjacent
sounds; a kind of COARTICULATION. This is a common feature
Contemporary English Language. Phonetics and Phonology

63

Glossary
of speech, though one that many native speakers are unaware of.
In anticipatory assimilation (or regressive assimilation), the sound
is influenced in its articulation by the following sound and not
pronounced as it would be in isolation. For example, in some
peoples pronunciation of width the voiced /d/ has been
assimilated to /t/ by the following voiceless // and in some
peoples pronunciation of length, the velar // has been
assimilated to /n/ by the following dental //.
In current speech, assimilation frequently occurs across word
boundaries, as when that case becomes /k kes/ or this shop
becomes / p/ or ten more becomes /tem m:/.
A reverse type of assimilation (progressive assimilation) is found
when a sound is changed by the influence of a previous one. This
is an established and regular feature of the ending s of verbs
and nouns, which usually has a voiced /z/ sound (or /z/ after all
sibilants) but after voiceless sounds other than sibilants is /s/ (e.g.
taps, hats, docks, griefs, Keiths; compare tabs, heeds, dogs,
grieves, youths, eyes, seems, runs, dolls, pieces, daisies).
Similarly, the past tense /ed/ ending /d/ or /d/ is devoiced to a /t/
sound after a voiceless consonant other than t itself (roped,
lacked, busses, roofed, pushed versus robed, lagged, buzzed,
grooved, rouged, hated, headed).
auditory phonetics
The study of speech sounds from the point of view of the listener,
concerned with the way the ears and brain process and perceive
speech sounds reaching them.
back
Of speech sound: made in the back part of the mouth.
Vowel sounds are traditionally classified into BACK, CENTRAL
and FRONT vowels, the back vowels being made with the tongue
humped towards the back of the mouth. Examples of back vowels
are /u, :/.
BBC English
Standard English, as supposedly spoken by professional BBC
broadcasters.
In its early days, the British Broadcasting Corporation encouraged
a standard non-regional educated accent among its
broadcasters. BBC English is now only one accent heard from
newsreaders, announcers and other programme presenters.
bilabial
Pronounced with the constriction of the two lips.
The English bilabials are /p/, /b/, and /m/, as in pan, ban and man.
bilateral
With the air released around both sides of the tongue.
A bilateral articulation is the normal articulation of LATERAL
sounds English. It contrasts with unilateral articulation, by which
the air, unusually, is released around one side only.
binary
Designating or relating to a pair o features in language which are
mutually exclusive, or the opposition between them.
The contrasts between nasal and non-nasal or voiced and
voiceless articulation are said to be binary oppositions or binary
features. Such features are sometimes marked with a plus or
minus sign. Thus /p/ is characterized as [-voice] and /b/ as
[+voice].
blade
The tapering section of the front of the tongue, immediately
behind the tip. In describing how speech sounds are articulated it
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is useful to label the speech organs in some detail. Tip, blade and
sides (rims) of the tongue articulate with the teeth in making the
English /th/ sounds, // as in theatre and // as in then.
Consonants primarily involving the blade of the tongue are /t/, /d/,
and /z/.
broad transcription
A systematic method of representing in a rather general way
(normally using the symbols of the International Phonetic
Alphabet) how spoken language sounds. A broad (phonemic)
transcription is generally felt to be the simplest to use, but a
knowledge of the allophonic system of the languages is needed if
such transcription is to be read aloud with even approximate
accuracy. A phonetic transcription omitting details that are judged
to be inessential; hence identical with, or close to, a
representation of phonemes.
cardinal vowel
One of a standard set of 18 vowels, devised by the phonetician
Daniel Jones (1881 1967) as a basis for describing the vowels
of any language. The system is mainly physiological. The vowels
are described primarily in terms of tongue position, and the
amount of lip-rounding is specified. There are 8 primary vowels: 4
front vowels, defined according to the height of the front of the
tongue and 4 back vowels*, where the height of the back of the
tongue is relevant. The 8 secondary cardinal vowels have the
same tongue positions, but the lip-rounding or lip-spreading is
different. Two further vowels are identified as depending on the
center of the tongue being raised.
central vowel
A vowel made with the center of the tongue raised towards the
middle of the roof of the mouth, where the hard and soft palates
meet. In standard English (PR) the central vowels are:
/ / the sound in hut, come, blood;:]
/:/ the sound in bird, nurse, worm;
// the sound at the beginning of ago and the end of mother;
// the sound in foot, put, wolf, could.
centring diphthong
A a diphthong that moves towards a central position for its second
element. Contrasted with CLOSING DIPHTHONG.
Standard RP has 3 centring diphthongs:
// as in dear, here, idea;
// as in tour, during;
/e / as in fair, whare, stare.
close
Of a vowel: made with the tongue high in the mouth; contrasted
with OPEN.
In English /:/ as in feet or sea is a fairly close front vowel, and /u:/
as in food, group, move is a close back vowel. Close vowels are
sometimes called high vowels.
closing diphthong
A diphthong which glides towards a closer sound.
This includes all the diphthongs ending in // and //, and contrasts
with CENTRING DIPHTHONG.
closure
A closing of the air passage by some part of the vocal organs in
the production of certain speech sounds, also called constriction.

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Glossary
A complete closure is a feature of plosives, affricates and nasal.
Most other consonants are produced with incomplete or partial
closure
coalescence
A process whereby two separate speech sounds merge to form a
single new phoneme. (Also called coalescent assimilation or
reciprocal assimilation).
coalescent
Participating in or resulting from coalescence.
These terms are particularly applied to the process (yod
coalescence) in which /t/, /d/, /s/, /z/, merge with /j/ and become
/t/, /d/, //, /respectively.
In present day speech coalescent variants are heard in certain
words, e.g. intuition /ntju:()n/ or /ntu:()n/, grandeur /gr
ndj/ or /grnd/, duel /dju:l/ or /du:l /, and across word
boundaries, e.g. /kdu:/ as an alternative to /kdju:/ for Could
you?
Except where historically established, coalescence tends to be
regarded as colloquial or non-standard.
connected speech
Speech without pauses between words.
In normal speech several words are usually run together in a
single TONE UNIT. This affects the pronunciation of speech
sounds, and results in words being said differently from the way
they would be said in isolation.
consonant
A speech sound that is characterized by constriction in some part
of the mouth and is accompanied by audible friction.
The commonly accepted use of the term consonant is potentially
ambiguous. Most consonants are defined in articulatory terms, but
also share the linguistic or phonological characteristics of being
marginal to a syllable. Some speech sounds, however, overlap
the two categories of vowel and consonant. Southern British /l/
and /r/ have vowel-like articulations, but are usually syllablemarginal; /m/ and /n/ can be either marginal (e.g. man) or syllabic
(e.g. frighten); /w/ and /j/ (the initial sounds in wet and yet) are
phonetically vowel-like but phonologically consonant-like are
classified as SEMI-VOWELS (or semi-consonants).
There are 22 consonants in standard English (RP): 6 PLOSIVES;
9 FRICATIVES; 2 AFFRICATES; 3 NASALS; 1 LABIAL; 1
FRICTIONLESS CONTINUANT.
consonant cluster
A series of consonants, occurring at the beginning or end of a
syllable and pronounced together without any intervening vowels.
Also called consonant sequence.
English has some quite complicated consonant clusters. Initial
clusters can have up to 3 consonants, if the cluster begins with s
(e.g. spread, splendid, street, squint /skwnt/.
Two-consonants clusters are much more usual, but only some
combinations can occur. Initial clusters are heard in beauty
/bju:t/, quite /kwat/, shred /red/, through / ru:/, view /vju:/.
Final clusters can contain as many as 4 consonants, because of
inflectional endings, e.g. texts /teksts/, twelfths /twelfs/, glimpsed
/glmpst/.
continuant
A speech sound made without a complete closure of the vocal
organs.
All vowels are by this definition among the continuants, but use of
the term is often restricted to the classification of sounds with a
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consonantal role. The continuants of English therefore include the
fricatives, the lateral /l/, the semi-vowels and /r/ - i.e., all the
consonants except the plosives and affricates, which involve total
closure (the nasal may or may not be included).
contrastive stress
Stress used to avoid a misinterpretation.
dental
Produced with the constriction of the tongue against the teeth.
A consonant made with the tongue coming in contact with the
teeth.
The English dental consonants are the voiceless fricative // as in
thick and thin and the voiced fricative // as in this, them.
denasalization
Change or process by which a sound is no longer nasal or
nasalized.
devoiced
English voiced sounds are often partly devoiced under the
influence of surrounding sounds. Thus the voiced plosives /b/, /d/,
and /g/ are normally devoiced or may even be completely
voiceless in word-final position. Similarly, voiced fricatives tend to
be partly devoiced except when occurring between voiced
sounds; and /l/, /r/, /w/ and /j/ are usually devoiced when following
initial voiceless sounds, as in please, tray, twice, queue /kju:/.
digraph
A group of 2 letters representing one sound, as ph in phone, or ey
in key.
diphthong
A vowel that changes its quality within the same single syllable.
(Also called gliding vowel).
The English diphthongs in modern standard RP are:
- 3 that glide towards an // sound from different starting points:
/ei/ as in day, late, rain, weigh, hey, great;
/ai/ as in time, cry, high, height, die, dye, aisle, eider;
as in boy, voice;
- 2 that glides towards /u/:
/u/ as in so, road, toe, soul, know;
/au/ as in house, now;
- 3 that glides towards //:
/e / as in care, wear, their, there;
/u/ as in pure, during, tourist;
// as in dear, here, weird, idea.
A diphthong gliding to a closer sound (i.e. one ending in // or // in
English) is called a CLOSING DIHPTHONG; a diphthong finishing
at /e/ is called CENTRING DIPHTHONG.
distinctive feature
A characteristic of a speech sound within the phonology of the
language that distinguishes it from another speech sound.
For example, the set of sounds /p/, /t/, /t
can be distinguished
from the set /b/, /d/, /d/ and /z/ by the feature [voice]. Other
distinctive features of the English consonants refer to orality (nasal) / nasality (+nasal), plosiveness, labiality, etc.
distribution
The set of contexts in which a linguistic unit characteristically
occurs.
Every speech sound and every word or phrase is limited in some
way as to the contexts in which it can occur, and the set of such
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Glossary
contexts is its distribution. Thus the English phoneme /p/ can
occur in initial consonants clusters such as /pl/ (e.g. please), /pr/
(e.g. praise) and /pj/ (e.g. pew), but not is in /pf/ or /pw/.
duration
The linguistic length of a speech sound, as perceived by the
listener.
elision
The omission of a speech sound or syllable.
Two broad types of elision may be distinguished:
(a) elided word forms that are long-established, where the spelling
frequently reflects the earlier, fuller pronunciation;
(b) forms heard today in colloquial or rapid speech but where
unelided forms are also current.
Long-established elisions include the reduction of some
consonants clusters initially: gnome, knight, wrong; medially:
listen, whistle, sandwich; and finally: hymn, lamb along with the
loss of vowels and syllables, as in Gloucester, Salisbury,
Wednesday.
In present-day speech, consonants within clusters often undergo
elision (e.g. facts, handbag, twelfth), but elision of weak vowels is
particularly frequent, with the result that whole syllables may be
lost: fact(o)ry, cam(e)ra, nat(u)ral, batch(e)lor, fam(i)ly, med(i)cine,
p(o)lice, Febr(uar)ry.
emphatic stress
Stress used to draw attention to a word or utterance. For example,
in the utterance Mary has two cars, by placing extra stress on
two, a speaker can express surprise or definiteness.
fall
(n) In the intonation of a syllable or longer utterance, a nuclear
pitch change from (relatively) high to (relatively low); contrasted
with a RISE.
Phoneticians distinguished various kinds of falls, such as the high
fall [ ], starting near the normal high limit of the voice and the low
fall[], with a lower start
falling
Of a diphthong: having most of the length and stress in the first
part of the glide. In English diphthongs, the stress-pulse is a
decrescendo one, starting rather strong and then fading away. A
decrescendo diphthong like this is often called a falling diphthong
because of the fact that the stress falls away from a peak near the
beginning of the diphthong.
Most English diphthongs are normally articulated in this way, and
falling diphthongs is the normal label.
fall-rise
A tone in which the pitch falls and then rises again [ ]
This tone is frequently heard in RP English. It has various
conversational functions, but often suggests reservation or only
partial agreement (yes, but)
A: Did you enjoy the film? B: Yes
fixed stress
The regular occurrence of stress on the same syllable in each
word of a language contrasted with FREE stress.
English is not a fixed-stress language and in this, it contrasts with
some languages where the stress is fairly predictable. For
example, in Polish, polysyllabic words are usually stressed on the
penultimate syllable. However, the stress in individual words in
English is largely fixed so that deviant stressing can lead to
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Glossary
misunderstanding or incomprehension (e.g. Contrast im portant
and impotent).
flap
A consonant sound in which flexible speech organ makes a
momentary contact with a firmer surface.
This is a manner of articulation. In British English the voiced
frictionless continuant /r/ is sometimes replaced by an alveolar
flap [], with the tip of the tongue articulating against the alveolar
ridge. This sound is commonly used in American English where t
or d occur between vowels so that the t and d may sound
identical, as in latter and ladder.
flapping
A process in which a dental or alveolar consonant is changed into
a flap, that is a sound articulated with the tip of the tongue placed
against the alveolar ridge.
fortis
A consonant sound made with relatively strong breath force.
In English the voiceless plosives and fricatives (/p/, /t/, /k/, /f/, /s/,
etc.) tend to be made with stronger muscular effort and breath,
force than their voiced counterparts. Such consonants are
therefore said to be fortis consonants and to be pronounced with a
fortis articulation.
free variation
The possibility of substituting one phoneme for another without
causing any change of meaning. Sounds which contrast with each
other in such a way that meaning is affected (i.e., distinct
phonemes) cannot normally be interchanged. But in some words
two normally contrasting phonemes are both acceptable and are
therefore said to be in free variation.
Among British speakers, a majority are said to prefer the word ate
to be pronounced /et/ to rhyme with met, but a large minority
favour the pronunciation/eit/ like eight. The two pronunciations are
there in free variation.
fricative
A consonant sound articulated by two speech organs coming so
close together that it is pronounced with audible friction.
A fricative (sometimes called friction consonant) may be voiceless
or voiced. There are four pairs of voiceless and voiced fricatives in
RP, plus the voiceless /h/.The pairs are: /f/-/v/, //-//, /s/-/z/, ////.
frictionless continuant
A continuant speech sound lacking friction.
A frictionless continuant is neither a fricative nor a stop. In a very
broad use, the term could be applied to vowels. Among
consonants, several phonemes in RP can be so labelled:
The nasals/m/, /n/, and //
The lateral /l/
The semi-vowels /w/ and /j/
front
(n.) The forward part of the tongue (but not the tip).
(adj.) Related to the front part of the mouth
Standard RP English distinguishes 4 front vowels, so called
because they are articulated with the front part of the tongue
higher than any other part: /I, /.

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Glossary
function word
A word generally unstressed that expresses a primarily
grammatical relation; for example prepositions, auxiliary verbs,
conjunctions, articles, pronouns.
General American (GA)
An accent of English used in the United States that lacks the
marked regional characteristics of the north-east (New England,
New York State) and the south-east (the Southern States). It
corresponds to the laymans perception of an American accent
without marked regional characteristics. It is sometimes referred
to as Network English, being the variety most acceptable on the
television networks covering the whole United States.
generative phonology
A theory about the sound system of language, developed as a
major part of generative grammar.
Instead of treating phonetics as a separate, almost independent,
layer of language, generative phonology seeks to show, for
example, that stress patterns depend on knowledge of syntax,
and at word level to explain relationships difficult to account for in
a strictly phoneme-based analysis.
glide
A gradually changing speech sound made in passing from one
position of speech organs to another.
glottal
Produced with the constriction of the glottis, i.e. the space
between the vocal cords. For example, /h/ in hay. The /h/ sound of
English is made in the glottis and is commonly classified as a
voiceless glottal fricative. Some speakers use a voiced variant of
this sound when it occurs between voiced sounds, e.g. in words
such as perhaps, ahoy, ahead. Whispered speech is also
produced with considerably narrowed glottis.
glottis
The opening between the vocal cords at the upper end of the
windpipe.
grapheme
A written symbol made up of one or more letters that represents a
phoneme, as f, ph and gh for the phoneme /f/. In a phonological
orthography a grapheme corresponds to one phoneme. In spelling
systems that are non-phonemic, such as the spellings used most
widely for written English, multiple graphemes may represent a
single phoneme.
Great Vowel Shift
A series of changes in late Middle English, by which close long
vowels became diphthongs and other long vowels shifted one
step closer. Thus, in the front series, [:] >[:] ], :] > [], []
> [i:], [i:] > [a]; Often interpreted as a unitary phenomenon;
hence as a classic example of a chain shift.
It is in consequence of these and other changes that [e] in name
(formerly [:]) is spelled a, or [a] in shine (formerly [i:]) spelled i.
They are also the main factor in the development of vowel
alternation between long [e] and short [a] (in sane/sanity), long
(
[a] and short [] divine/divinity),
and so on.
half-close
Of a vowel; articulated in the second highest of the 4 levels of
tongue position, i.e. CLOSE, HALF-CLOSE, HALF OPEN AND
OPEN.
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In RP, the front vowel /i/ as in sit, symbol, pretty, build, women, is
slightly higher than half close as is the vowel // heard in put,
woman, good and could.
The front vowel /e/, the vowel of bed, head, many, friend, and
bury, lies somewhere in between half-close and half-open, as
also(in RP) does the back vowel /*:/ of horse, saw, ought, all,
door.
half-open
Of a vowel: articulated with the tongue above open(low) position,
but lower, than half-close according to the cardinal vowel system.
The English central vowel // of sun, son, country, blood, and
does is articulated somewhere near a half-open position. The front
vowel //, as in cat, plait, lies somewhere between half-open and
full-open in RP.
haplology
The omission of a sound sequence (especially a syllable) when
followed by another similar sound or sequence, as when fifth is
pronounced /fi/ rather than /fif/, library as /laibri/ or /laibrri/ or
deteriorate as /ditrrieit/ rather than /ditiri,reit/.
The phenomenon is more often dealt with today under the more
general concept of ELISION.
head
The pre-nuclear part of an intonation pattern starting from and
including the first accented syllable and extending to the nucleus
e.g. I thought it was awful.
hard palate
The part of the roof of the mouth lying behind the ALVEOLAR
ridge but in front of the soft palate (or VELUM.)
The term is used in articulatory phonetics to classify consonant
sounds.
height
The degree of elevation of the tongue towards the roof of the
mouth, as one of the several features determining the articulation
of vowels.
In the cardinal vowel system, the height of the tongue is described
in terms of four equidistant levels. When part of the tongue is
raised as near to the roof of the mouth as possible without
friction(which would make sound a consonant) it is a High (or
Close) position, with resulting height or close vowels; when the
whole tongue is lowered, LOW (or OPEN)vowels are produced.
Between these two extremes are tongue heights called HALFCLOSE and HALF-OPEN.
heterophone
(syn. homograph) A word having a different sound from another
which is spelt the same. Since a certain similarity is the reason for
considering two words together as some sort of pair e.g. lead
(cause to go) and lead (metal) or row (a quarrel), and row (a line
of things next to each other) an alternative term would be
HOMOGRAPH, or - more loosely - HOMONYM.
hiatus
(Chiefly in historical linguistics). A break between two vowels
coming together in different syllables, as in: cooperate,
Goyaesque, guffawing, realing.
high
1. Of a vowel: produced with (part of) the tongue raised relatively
close to the roof of the mouth. The term is used in the articulatory
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Glossary
description of the vowels. Thus /I:/ as in heat is a HIGH(or
CLOSE) front vowel, in contrast to LOW (or OPEN) // as in hat.
2. (In intonation) Of pitch: produced by relatively rapid vibrations
of the vocal cords, as in a high level pitch
high-fall
A tone which starts near the highest pitch of the individual
speakers voice and glides to the lowest. [] [`]
high-rise
A tone in which the voice raises from a medium to a high pitch []
[].
historical elision
Elision that took place at an earlier stage in the history of the
language
homograph
A word that is spelt the same (Greek homos same) as another
but has a different meaning and origin. Another term, emphasizing
the different pronunciation is heterophone: sow bury seed, sow
female pig
homophone
(syn. heterograph) A word that is pronounced the same as
another.
The term is usually used of partial HOMONYMS which are
distinguished by both meaning and spelling. Another term,
emphasizing the difference of spelling is heterograph. Examples
are: feat feet; no know; none nun; stare stair.
Some English pairs are homophones in some accents but not in
others, e.g.: saw sore; pore - pour , wine - whine. If in fact the
two words in a pair are both pronounced and spelt the same, the
usual term is HOMONYM.
homophone
A word that has the same pronunciation as another, but is
different in meaning and origin. If the spelling is also different,
then it is referred to as heterograph: buy, by, Bye.
initial
In phonology, word-or syllable- initial contrasts with MEDIAL and
FINAL position, since the position of a phoneme conditions its
pronunciation. See ALLOPHONE. Among English phonemes, /h/
can only be syllable-(or word)- initial. The Scottish, Irish and
General American pronunciation of wh- in many words is actually
the sequence /hw/, as in when /hwen/, /hwen/.
intensity
The amount of energy used in the production of a speech sound.
Intensity is a measurable physical phenomenon. The vibrating
vocal cords set of patterns of air vibrations that can be objectively
measured. Intensity is related to LOUDNESS, but is not the same.
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The official phonetic transcription system of The International
Phonetic Association. This system of written symbols is designed
to enable the speech sounds of any language to be consistently
represented. Both the alphabet and the association are
abbreviated IPA.
intervocalic
Between two vowels. The pronunciation of a consonant, when it
occurs between two vowels, may differ from its pronunciation in
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other contexts. For example the voiced plosives (/b/, /d/, /g/) will
probably be fully voiced in this position but are not always so in
other contexts.
intonation
The pitch variations and patterns in spoken language.
Intonation plays a part in speech not unlike punctuation in the
written language
intonation language
Language where pitch conveys meaning at the phrasal or clausal
level (e.g. English, Japanese)
intrusive /r/
The pronunciation of an /r/ sound between two words or syllables
in sequence, where the first ends in a vowel sound, and the
second begins with one and where there is no /r/ in the spelling.
Intrusive /r/ is much criticized but is quite commonly heard in
standard R P and other NON-RHOTIC accents. It occurs after the
vowels /e/ (e.g. umbrella-r-organization), /:/ (e.g. a milieu-r-in
which), /:/ (E.g. grandpa-r-is ill),/:/ e.g. law.
juncture
The transition between two words or syllables and the phonetic
features that mark it.
labial
A speech sound involving the active use of one or both lips. The
term is a rather general one. The lips are of course passively
involved in all speech sounds, but the term labial is confined to
those in which one or both lips actually contribute to the
articulation. English labial consonants are usually more
specifically described as bilabial or labio-dental. With respect to
vowels, the position of the lips is usually described in terms of liprounding or lip-spreading.
labialize
Accompany (a speech sound) with lip-rounding, particularly where
this is an unusual (and optional) feature. The term is applied
particularly where an articulation involves an unusual degree of
lip-rounding which is not a requirement of the phonology. For
example, speakers of standard RP English commonly labialize /r/
if the following vowel has some lip-rounding, e.g. in rude or roar; it
is far less usual to labialize /r/ before unrounded vowels (e.g. in
rat, right). The pronunciation of /r/ with no lip-rounding, and with
no articulation of the forward part of the tongue, leads to the
noticeable substitution of a /w/ sound.
labio-dental
Pronounced with the constriction of the lower lip against the upper
front teeth. English has two labio-dental phonemes, the voiceless
and voiced pair of fricatives: /f/ as in fine, photograph, enough; /v/
as in vine, nephew, of. Other phonemes sometimes have a labiodental realization as a result of assimilation. For example, the
bilabial stops /p/ and /b/ can become labio-dental under the
influence of a following labio-dental sound (e.g. in hopeful,
observe).
labio-velar
A speech sound articulated at the velum and accompanied by
some lip-rounding. The English sounds /w/, as in won, one, why,
quick, suite, is classified as a labio-velar semivowel.

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Glossary
larynx
The hollow muscular organ situated in the upper part of the
trachea (the windpipe).
lateral
Produced by a deformation of the tongue so that the air stream
flows over its size, as in [l] in low. In RP there is a single lateral
phoneme, /l/ which is usually voiced and non-fricative. The tip of
the tongue articulates with the centre of the alveolar ridge, and air
escapes at the side. Being a continuant, /l/ has some vowel-like
qualities and is often syllabic (e.g. in apple, final, camel). It is,
however, normally classified as a consonant.
lateral plosion
Release of a stop consonant at the side of the tongue. (Also
called lateral release). When English /t/ or /d/ is followed by /l/, as
in cattle, muddle, the alveolar stop can be released laterally
instead of the usual way. This is known as a lateral plosion.
lax
Articulated with less effort than is normal: contrasted with tense.
Lax voice and tense voice are used by some phoneticians as
middle terms among several others to describe different degrees
of glottal stricture. Lax and tense are among the BINARY
contrasts held in one theory of phonology to be among features of
vowels.
lexical stress
Type of stress which refers to the accentual patterns of words. It is
also called word stress or word accent.
lenis
A consonant sound made with relatively weak breath force. In
English, voiced plosives and fricatives (e.g. /b/, /d/, //) tend to be
made with less muscular effort and less breath force than their
voiceless counterparts. They are therefore called lenis consonants
linking /r/
The pronunciation of a written word-final r as /r/ when the next
word begins with a vowel. In standard RP a written word-final r is
not pronounced before a pause or a fallowing consonant sound.
However it is usually pronounced when the following word begins
with a vowel (as in Here it is or far away).
lip position
The configuration of the lips during the articulation of a speech
sound. Each English vowel has its own characteristic lip position,
and these are variously described. One binary distinction is
between rounded and unrounded. Other terms used are spread,
neutral, close-rounded and open-rounded. English /i:/ (as in bead)
is usually said with lip-spreading; /a:/ (as in hard) is pronounced
with the lips neutrally open; while /u:/ (as in boot) is a rounded
vowel, said with lip-rounding.
liquid
A cover term for /l/ and /r/ in English.
loudness
A perceptual category, along with pitch, sound quality, and length,
in terms of which speech sounds are heard. Loudness is primarily
related to intensity, but the two are to be distinguished. Intensity is
the speakers physical effort used in producing a speech sound
and is objectively measurable. Loudness is a matter of the
listeners perception which is affected by factors such as pitch of
voice and length.
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low
Low fall [] or [ ] low rise [] or [ ].
1. Of a vowel: produced with the tongue raised only a small
degree towards the roof of the mouth. Also called OPEN.
Contrasted with HIGH (or CLOSE). The sound // as in RP hat is
a low front vowel, and /:/ as in hard and heat is a low back
vowel.
2. (In intonation) Of pitch: produced by relatively slow vibrations of
the vocal cords. A low fall glides from a mid pitch to the lowest
pitch of the speakers voice, while a low rise extends from a low
pitch to somewhere about the middle range.
manner of articulation
The method by which a speech sound is made, described in terms
of the degree or type of closure of the speech organs.
Manner of articulation, along with PLACE OF ARTICULATION,
forms a major part of the framework used in describing the
production of speech sounds, particularly consonants. According
to the manner of articulation or the type of closure made by the
vocal organs, consonants may be classified as: PLOSIVES,
AFFRICATES, FRICATIVES, NASALS, LATERALS, FLAPS and
SEMIVOWELS.
minimal pair
Two words that sound alike in all but one feature, e.g. bin versus
fin.
monophthong
A vowel in which there is no change in the position of the vocal
organs during articulation. English monophthongs are usually
referred to as PURE VOWELS.
monophthongize
Change in vowel quality from a diphthong to a monophthong.
morphophonology
The study of the permitted combinations of phonemes within
morphemes and of the phonemic variation which phonemes
undergo in combination with one another.
mutation
(Especially in historical linguistics) A change in a phoneme in a
particular word context under the influence of adjacent sounds.
In the history of English, the most important form of mutation was
i-mutation (or i/j- mutation umlaut). In English, the results of this
mutation can be seen in
(a) the plurals of seven nouns (foot, goose, louse, man, mouse,
tooth, woman) which are sometimes called mutation plurals.
(b) The comparative and superlative elder, eldest
(c)
Derivate verbs such as bleed (beside blood), fill (beside
full), heal (beside whole) etc.
(d) Derivate nouns such as breadth (beside broad), length
(beside long), filth (beside foul), etc.
This cannot be considered to have a live functional role in
modern English, however.
narrow transcription
A method of representing the sounds of spoken language in fine
detail. Contrasted with Broad Transcription. A narrow transcription
gives a much more accurate indication of actual speech sounds
but more symbols and diacritics. The word tall in a broad
transcription could appear as /t:l/. A narrow transcription would
show, for example, that the t is aspirated and that the /l/ is dark.
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Glossary
nasal
A speech sound made with an audible escape of air through the
nose while the soft palate is lowered. English has three nasals, all
of which are consonant phonemes: bilabial /m/ as in more, whim,
alveolar /n/ as in no, win, velar // represented by ng in wing and
n in wink (and never world-initial in English).
nasalize
Articulate with the air escaping through the nose rather than, as
would be usual, through the mouth.
nasalization
English vowels can become nasalized under the influence of
adjoining nasal consonants, e.g. in manning or meaning.
nasal plosion
Or nasal release refers to the release of a normally oral plosive
through the nose, usually under the influence of a following
nasal. Thus nasal plosion may sometimes be heard in such
words as: one-upmanship, submerge, cotton, not now, wooden.
nasal twang
A colloquial term used for the accent of an individual speaker in
which sounds are more nasal than in the average speakers voice.
neutral
Of the position of the lips: neither SPREAD nor ROUNDED. The
term is often used in describing the articulation of vowels.
Although vowel quality is largely dependent on the height of the
tongue, vowel sounds are affected by lip position. Spread and
neutral are sometimes lumped together as unrounded, but the two
may be distinguished. Compare the typically spread lips required
for English /i:/ in meet, seed with the more neutral li position in
mat or sad.
nucleus
The obligatory element of an intonation pattern consisting of the
accented syllable of the most important word in an utterance.
Nucleuses are analyzed into various types such as fall, rise , fallrise, rise-fall , and these are further distinguished as high fall, low
fall, etc. In a clause or sentence said unemphatically, the nucleus
(nuclear pitch) occurs on the last accented syllable.(e.g. what are
you doing?)
onomatopaeia
The formation of the word with sounds imitative of the thing which
they refer to: the use of such a word e.g. cuckoo, cock-a-doodledo, neigh, miaow.
The term is sometimes extended to cover words in which a sound
is felt to be appropriate to some aspect of meaning, although the
words do not necessarily denote sounds or sources of sound. The
combination sl- often occurring in words with unpleasant
connotations, is sometimes cited as an example of such
secondary onomatopoeia (e.g. slag, slattern, slaver, sleazy, slime,
slop, sluggard, slurp, slut). Other terms for onomatopoeia are
PHONAESTHESIA and SOUND SYMBOLISM.
open
Of a vowel: made with the tongue low in the mouth, and the mouth
somewhat open. (Also called LOW). Contrasted with CLOSE.
English RP // as in hat is the most open front vowel; /:/ as in
father, car, heart, clerk, half, is the most open back vowel.
Compare HALF-OPEN.
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Glossary
oral
Of a speech sound: articulated with the velum raised. All normal
English sounds, except for the three nasal consonants, have oral
escape or release that is, the air is expelled through the mouth,
and there is no nasal resonance.
organ of speech
A part of the mouth and adjoining organs involved in the
production of speech sounds: e.g. the lips, alveolar ridge, soft
palate, larynx, etc.
palatal
Produced with constriction of the front of the tongue against the
hard palate, as for /j/ in ewe. The term tends to be restricted to
consonants. British (RP)English has one distinctly palatal
phoneme, the sound /j/ which is heard at the beginning of yes/jes/
or useful /ju:sf()l/ and before the vowel in cure /kj/ .This sound
is commonly classified as a SEMI-VOWEL, approximant or
frictionless continuant rather than as a full consonant.
palatalization
A rather common process in which the phoneme /j/ causes a
preceding phoneme to be articulated in the palatal region.
Palatalization may occur across word boundaries or within a word:
/d/+/j/ -> /d
(e.g. did you); /t/+ /j/ -> /t/ (e.g. hit you); /z/+ /j/ > // (e.g. please you); /s/ /+ /j/ -> // (e.g. issue).
palatalize
Make (a sound) palatal by articulating it with the FRONT of the
tongue raised towards the hard palate. Use of this term is mainly
confined to secondary articulations, that is, to speech sounds
where this articulatory feature is secondary to the position of the
speech organs. This is in fact an essential part of four English
phonemes which also have an alveolar articulation. (i.e. /d, t, z, s/)
palate
The roof of the mouth. In the articulatory description of speech
sounds the upper surface of the mouth behind the alveolar ridge is
divided into the bony HARD PALATE and the soft palate or
VELUM.
palato-alveolar.
Designating a speech-sound in which the TIP (or TIP and BLADE)
of the tongue articulates with the alveolar ridge, while at the same
time the FRONT of the tongue (the part behind the tip and the
blade) is raised towards the hard palate.
English has two pairs of palato-alveolar consonants consisting of
one voiced and one voiceless consonant each.
- the palato-alveolar affricates: /t/ as in church, nature
/d/as in judge, general
- the palato-alveolar fricatives: // as in shop, machine, sugar
// as in prestige.
pause
A break in speaking.
Connected speech is more of a continuum than written language
suggests by its spaces between words. Pauses do however occur
in speech; obviously for breathing and also for communicative
reasons at grammatical boundaries. Various efforts have been
made to incorporate an analysis of pauses into a theory of
speech.
pharyngeal
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Glossary
Of speech sounds: articulated with the roof of the tongue pulled
back in the pharynx, the cavity behind the nose and the mouth
connecting them to the oesophagus.
There are no pharyngeal consonant phonemes in standard
English. The English vowel /:/ can be described as pharyngeal;
but place of articulation is not usually part of the description of the
vowels, and so this vowel is normally described simply as an open
back vowel.
pharyngealize
Articulate (a speech sound) with the roof of the tongue retracted
so as to obstruct the air-stream at the pharynx.
phonemic principle
Principle that points to a direct letter-to-phoneme correspondence
as in fog, got, did, pen, fit, lest, etc.
phonotactics
That part of phonology which comprises or deals with the rules
governing the possible phoneme sequence of a particular
language.
pitch
The relative height of the tone with which a sound or syllable is
pronounced. Acoustically, the height of the human voice depends
on the rapidity of the vibrations of the vocal cords.
Various typical pitch changes/pitch patterns or tones have been
identified, e.g. fall, rise and level.
In tone languages, identical syllables with different patterns or
tones form words with totally different meanings. In non-tone
languages (e.g. English and most other European languages),
basic word meaning is not affected by pitch variations (though
emotional attitudes may be distinguished) and intonation patterns
are studied over sequences of words.
place of articulation.
(A part of) one of the vocal organs primarily involved in the
production of a particular speech sound. Place of articulation,
along with MANNER of articulation, is a major part of the
framework for describing the production of speech sounds,
especially. For this purpose, the vocal organs are
diagrammatically divided up and the places labeled, as BILABIAL,
LABIO-DENTAL, ALVEOLAR, PALATAL VELAR, UVULAR,
PHARYNGEAL, and GLOTTAL. Place of articulation is less
satisfactory as a parameter for vowels, which are more dependent
on tongue-height, lip-rounding, etc.
plosion
Sudden expulsion of air as the final stage of a PLOSIVE; the
release stage.
plosive
(A consonant sound) that has total closure at some place in the
vocal organs, followed by a `hold` or compression stage and a
third and final release stage. (Also called stop or stop consonant)
The English plosives consist of three pairs of sounds (each pair a
corresponding voiceless and voiced sound): /p/ and /b/ as in poor
,bore, tap, tab (bilabial plosives) /t/ and /d/ as in true, drew; cat,
cad (alveolar plosives) /k/ and /g/ as in cold, gold; whack, wag
(velar plosives).
postvocalic
Of a consonant: occurring after a vowel. The articulation of a
phoneme is affected by its phonetic context, which may condition
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Glossary
the use of different allophones. Thus in RP, a postvocalic /l/
followed by silence or another consonant is always dark.
prehead
That part of a tone (tone unit) consisting of the unaccented
syllables before the head e.g. I thought it was awful.
primary stress
The principal stress in a word. Primary stress (or primary accent)
(marked with a superior vertical bar preceding the relevant
syllable ['] contrasts with secondary stress (marked with an inferior
vertical bar [,] and even tertiary stress. The difference can be
heard in long words, (e.g. polytechnic, appetizing) which have
their own basic patterns, even though the pattern may be modified
by the overall intonation of the utterance in which it occurs.
Primary stress is always on a syllable where pitch change can
potentially occur.
progressive assimilation
Assimilation in which elements are changed to match features of
elements that precede them: e.g. the ending s is voiced /z/ in
words like sees /si:z/, but in writes or weeps it is assimilated to the
preceding voiceless consonant: /rats/, /wi:ps/.
prominence
The perceived importance or conspicuousness of speech sounds.
What the listener perceives as `loudness` may be due to other
factors, such as stress, pitch, phoneme quality and duration rather
than simply greater volume sound.
prosodic
Of phonetic features: extending beyond individual phonemes.
(Also called suprasegmental).
prosody
A phonological feature having as its domain more than one
segment.
Prosodies, in some models, seem to be synonymous with the
class of supra-segmental features such as intonation, stress, and
juncture.
pure vowel
A vowel made without a glide: contrasted with DIPHTONG.
It is not in fact possible for a vowel to be held without any
movement for the speech organs involved, but some vowels
change relatively little during articulation.
English (RP) has twelve pure vowels:
/i:/ see, me, wheat, piece, machine,
/I/ fit, pretty, private, build,
/e/ bed, head, many,
// pan, plain,
/:/ far, bath, heart, clerk, calm, aunt,
// dog, what, cough, sausage,
/:/ force, saw, bought, daughter,
/u:/ food, who, soup, rude, blue, chew,
// put, woman, good, could,
// hut, son, enough, blood, does,
/:/ bird, earn, turn, word, journal,
// [always unstressed] ago, mother,
quality
The distinguished characteristic(s) of a sound.
The distinctive features of a sound, which make it recognizable as
a particular phoneme, constitute its sound quality, which is distinct
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Glossary
from such features as length, pitch or loudness. Hence the
difference between two phonemes (e.g. between the vowels of pat
and part) can be said to be a QUALITATIVE difference.
quantity
The relative time taken in the articulation of speech sounds. This
is length as perceived by the listener.
Received Pronunciation
The pronunciation of that variety of British English widely
considered to be least regional, being originally used by
educated speakers in southern England. (Also called Received
Standard English. Abbreviated RP). The use of Received in the
context of pronunciation variety was initiated by the phonetician A.
J. Ellis (1869); the term Received Pronunciation was given
pedagogical and quasi-academic status in the studies and
dictionaries of the phonetician Daniel Jones (1881-1967).
resonance
Transmission of air vibration in the vocal tract. The significance of
this term is that resonance at different frequencies in the vocal
tract help give speech sounds, and particularly vowels, their
distinct and characteristic patterns.
retroflex
Articulated with the tip of the tongue turned back behind the
alveolar ridge. A retroflex articulation is characteristic of the
pronunciation of the phoneme /r/ in many accents of English (e.g.
in Ireland), though not generally in RP. In some rhotic accents
(that is where a postvocalic /r/ is pronounced in such words as
birth, heard, term) anticipatory retroflexion may affect the vowel,
making it an r-coloured vowel. Alternatively, such words may be
articulated with a single vowel sound. Retroflexed /t/ and /d/ are
characteristic of the pronunciation of some Indian speakers.
reversal
A slip of the tongue in which two words or two phonetic segments
are interchanged.
rhotic
Designating a pronunciation in which the consonant sound /r/ has
not been lost before another consonant or a pause. (Also called rpronouncing, r-full). In Scottish, Irish, General American and a
number of regional English accents /r/ is pronounced before a
consonant (as in bird, are fine) and in final position before a pause
(e.g. Thats not fair!).
rhythm
The pattern of stressed and unstressed syllables in language.
rim
The edge of the tongue, in particular the sides (excluding the tip).
The term is used in describing the pronunciation of the lateral /l/.
rise
In the intonation of a syllable or longer utterance, a nuclear pitch
change from relatively low to relatively high. Various kinds of rise
are distinguished, such as the low rise [,], starting near the bottom
of an individual speakers pitch range and the high rise [`], starting
higher and, of course, going higher still.
rise-fall
A tone in which the pitch rises and then falls [^]. This tone often
conveys feelings of surprise, approval or disapproval.
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Glossary
rising
Of a diphthong having most of the length and stress, the greater
prominence on the second element. This type of diphthong is
unusual in English.
roll
An articulation characterized by a series of rapid closure or taps of
the tongue (or the uvula) (also called trill). Articulate (the sound /r/)
with a roll. The /r/ phoneme, normally, a frictionless continuant in
RP, is sometimes pronounced with a lingual roll (rapid taps of the
tongue against the back of the tongue).
schwa
The name of the most frequent vowel phoneme in English, the
weak unstressed vowel // that frequently occurs in small
function words like the, and and for, especially in running speech.
secondary
Designating the next most important stress after the primary
stress.
secondary stress
Type of stress that involves less energy and is heard as less loud.
than primary stress: microcomputer /maIkrkm,pju:t/ (primary,
secondary), anti-aircraft /;ntiekr:ft/ (secondary, primary)
segment
The term is particularly used in descriptions of speech and the
analysis of a language into phonemes.
segmental
Referring to phonemes, i.e. consonants and vowels

semi-vowel
A speech sound produced in the same way as a vowel but unable
to form a syllable on its own, as /w/ in way. A sound which is
phonetically vowel-like because it is a glide but phonologically
consonant-like in being marginal to a syllable. In English, the
phonemes /j/ as in you, use, view, and /w/ as in way, suave, choir,
are semi-vowels.
sentence stress
Type of stress which refers to the way in which some words in an
utterance are stressed and others not. In general, lexical words
(nouns, verbs, etc) are stressed, and form words (articles,
prepositions, etc.) are not. Strictly speaking, this kind of stress is
not a characteristic of the sentence but of the tone unit.
sibilant
(A speech sound) made with a hissing effect. Sibilant describes
an auditory quality, a hissing perceived by the listener. In English,
four fricatives phonemes are sibilants: /z/ as in zoo, rise, dessert
// as in ship, chute, issue, ocean; // as in genre, mirage, vision,
leisure plus the AFFRICATES /t/ and /d/. They contrast with nonsibilant fricatives.
silent
Designating a letter in the written form of a word which is not
sounded in speech.
Given the vagaries of English spelling, many letters could be said
to be silent in certain conditions. The term however tends to be
applied particularly to silent e, as in done, infinite, corpse, have
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81

Glossary
(although in many cases, such as hope, rate as compared with
hop, rat. Final e in fact indicates the pronunciation of the
preceding vowel - it is childrens magic e.
sonorant
(A sound) produced with the vocal organs so positioned that
spontaneous voicing is possible; a vowel, a glide, or a liquid or
nasal consonant.
sound symbolism
A (fancied) representative relationship between the sound making
up a word and its meaning. Various kinds of sound and meaning
correlations are said to exist; specialized terms include
ONOMATOPOEIA (e.g. chiffchaff- warbler whose song alternates
a higher and a lower note) ICONICITY, PHONASTHESIA, etc.
sound system
The phonemic system of a language.
speech chain
The series of links between speaker and listener. The speech
chain, beginning with the speakers brain and ending with the
listeners brain, is of considerable interest to phoneticians. What
happens in the brains of listener and speaker are the most difficult
parts to understand, but considerable progress has been made
with the intermediate stages.
speech organ
Any part of the mouth, nose, throat, etc. involved in the
pronunciation of speech sounds. Hence the lips, alveolar ridge,
soft palate, larynx, and so on, are all referred to as speech organs
and are sometimes distinguished as ARTICULATORS.
speech sound
An elementary sound occurring in a language, considered
phonetically without regard to the oppositions and combinations in
which it may occur (which are the concern of phonology)
spelling pronunciation
The pronunciation of a word according to its written form.
stress
The accent or emphasis on a syllable generally produced by
higher pitch and greater intensity or voice; stress is classified as
primary, secondary, tertiary or weak or depending in its relative
intensity.
The terms stress and accent are often used interchangeable, but
some phoneticians use these terms more precisely, relating stress
to the energy involved in the production of speech.
Acoustically, stress is perceived as involving greater loudness and
greater force than the ordinary syllable pulse (or chest pulse)
Lexical stress (also called word stress or word accent) refers to
the stress (or accent) patterns of words. In English, these are for
the most part fixed for each word, though the stress occurs on
different syllables in different words, e.g. yesterday, tomorrow,
understand.
Tertiary stress is recognized by some phoneticians.
Sentence stress refers to the way in which some words in an
utterance are stressed, and others are not. In general, lexical
words (nouns, verbs, etc) are stressed, and form words (articles,
etc) are not. Tonic stress is stress on the NUCLEUS (also called
nucleus stress)

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Glossary
stressed syllable
A syllable that sounds louder, has clearer vowels, begins with
stronger consonants, and may be longer than other syllables in a
word or phrase; changes in pitch often occur on stressed
syllables.
stress shift
A phenomenon of connected speech. Words containing
secondary stress may change their stress patterns, as in The
princess but the ,Princess Royal ,number thirteen but ,thirteen
people.
stress-timed
Of a language: having the stressed syllables occurring at regular
intervals, irrespective of how many unstressed syllables there may
be. English is predominantly stressed-timed, in contrast to
syllable-timed languages (such as French) in which the syllable
occurs at more or less regular intervals. Thus, in the sentence,
Both of them are mine, the unstressed syllables (of them are) are
compressed with vowel weakening (/v m /), while the
monosyllable mine takes roughly as much time as the preceding
Both of them are. This does not mean that all sequences
containing one stress are of absolutely equal length, but the
rhythms of stress-timed and syllable-timed languages are
noticeably different.
strong
Having some prominence of phonetic quality. Contrasted with
WEAK.
strong form: the form of a FORM WORD that contains a strong
vowel. Many FORM WORDS (or GRAMMATICAL words) have
two pronunciations: a strong form and a weak form. The strong
form, containing a strong vowel, is used when the word is spoken
in isolation or occurs in a prominent position (e.g. at the end of a
sentence) or is stressed for emphasis.
strong vowel
A stressed vowel or any instance of a vowel that retains the same
quality in unstressed position as it has when stressed (contrasted
with WEAK vowel)
All vowels in stressed syllables are clearly identifiable and
therefore strong.
suprasegmental
Designating a feature of intonation extending beyond the
phoneme. Contrasted with SEGMENTAL. Features of intonation
such as pitch, stress and juncture are suprasegmental.
syllabic
Relating to or constituting a syllable. In some phonetic analyses,
syllabic and non-syllabic are contrasted features, particular in
relation to those consonants which can be pronounced as
separate syllables.
syllabic consonant
Consonant which has a syllabic function, such as /m/ in the
pronunciation of mm, /n/ as in button and /l/ as in apple. Some
phoneticians describe these sounds as actually having an
extremely weak // in front of them. In rhotic accents such as
American English, /r/ also sometimes has a syllabic function, for
example in words such as metre, where the final syllable in a nonrhotic accent would be //.

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83

Glossary
syllabification
The division of a word into syllables. Phonetic syllabification and
orthographic syllabification do not necessarily correspond. For
example, the word syllable itself is phonetically a three-syllable
word, but when written across two lines it could only reasonably
be split at one place, i.e. as syll-able.
syllable
A unit of pronunciation forming the whole or part of a word and
having one vowel phoneme (a pure vowel, a diphthong, or a
syllabic consonant), often with one or more consonants before and
after it (up to three consonants before and up to four after it).
syllable-timed
Of a language: having each syllable pronounced with roughly the
same duration. Romanian is considered to be syllable-timed,
whereas English is STRESSED-TIMED, but these are tendencies
rather than absolute distinctions.
synchronic elision
A term used to refer to instances of elision taking place in presentday English.
suprasegmental
Referring to features of speech that extend over more than one
phoneme: length, stress, pitch, intonation.
tail
That part of tune unit that comes after the nucleus and consists of
stressed or unstressed syllables. E.g. Isn't she pretty?
A tail can contain stressed words (but without pitch change). e.g.
Well, 'say something, then.
tone
The way in which pitch is used in language, a distinctive pitch or
pitch contour. In languages such as English, objective word
meanings are not affected by intonation, although different tones
can convey different attitudes. Thus, All right with differing
intonation can convey grudging acquiescence, enthusiastic
agreement, a question, sarcastic disagreement and so on.
tone unit
The basic unit of intonation. It is also called intonation pattern. A
tone unit/group must contain a nuclear tone (a nucleus), that is
marked by pitch change. Optionally, it may contain a pre-head
and/or a head before the nucleus and a final tail, e.g. Ive ,just
,told you.
tonic stress
Stress on the nucleus. It is also called nucleus stress.
tonic syllable
A particularly prominent syllable in an utterance which is
prominent not only because it is stressed, but because it carries a
change of pitch, usually a fall or rise (or more complicated variant)
but occasionally a level pitch. A tonic syllable forms the nucleus of
a tone unit.
tongue
The principal organ of speech. The tongue is involved in some
way in the production of most speech sounds and therefore
figures in articulatory descriptions.
Vowel articulations are described in terms of tongue HEIGHT and
whether the FRONT or BACK or CENTRE of tongue is highest.
transcription
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Glossary
The representation of spoken language in phonetic symbols.
The aim of transcription is to indicate speech sounds consistently.
But transcription also makes it possible to represent the
assimilation and elision of actual speech and (if required) the
idiosyncrasies of an individual's speech on a particular occasion.
The most widely used script (or NOTATION) is the International
Phonetic Alphabet, usually with adaptation according to the level
of accuracy required and according to the particular purpose of
the transcription. Transcriptions are primarily PHONETIC or
PHONEMIC. A phonetic transcription aims to represent actual
speech sounds objectively and accurately, according to
articulatory and auditory criteria. A high degree of accuracy can
be achieved with special additional symbols if necessary and
diacritics indicating such things as aspiration or the nasalization of
vowels. A very detailed transcription is a NARROW transcription;
one with few details is BROAD.
transition
A glide from one sound to another. A technical term used to
describe, for example, a plosive (or stop) consonant in terms of
three stages: the closing stage, the hold stage and the release (or
explosion) stage. In the first stage, a transition (or non-glide) may
link the preceding sound to the beginning of the plosive, and in the
final stage another transition (this time an off-glide) may link the
plosive to the following sound.
triphthong
A vowel sound in which the vocal organs move from one position
through a second to a third. There are no triphthongs among the
English phonemes, but such sounds occur when a closing
diphthong is followed by //. At least, they theoretically occur in a
careful pronunciation of such words as: player /pleI/, shire /aI/,
royal /roIl/, slower /sl/, hour /a/ However, the glides
between the elements of such triphthongs may be very slight, and
the sounds actually articulated and heard are often more like
diphthongs or even single long vowels.
trisyllabic
Having three syllables. As with the related terms,
MONOSYLLABIC and DISYLLABIC, the term is particularly used
with reference to adjectives and adverbs. Trisyllabic or longer
adjectives and adverbs have to take periphrastic comparison.
(e.g. more delicious, most extraordinary, more hastily).
tune
The pitch pattern heard over a whole tune unit.
With an utterance consisting of a single syllable (e.g. Yes!), tune
and tone unit are the same, so the terms may be confused. A
tune, however, depends on the overall pitch pattern and the height
of any prehead or head (i.e. whether this is high or low).
unaspirated
Articulated without an audible release of air. For example, the
English plosives /p/, /t/, /k/ have little or no aspiration when
occurring initially in unstressed syllables (e.g. permission), when
preceded by s- (e.g. story) or in final position, i.e. followed by
silence (e.g. Bad luck!).
unmarked
Not marked. E.g. voiceless [t] in German is unmarked ([- voice]) in
opposition to voiced [d] ([+ voice]); singular book is unmarked ([plural]) in opposition to plural books ([+ plural]).

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Glossary
unrounded
(Vowel, consonant) produced either without rounding of the lips or
specifically with the lips spread: e.g. the [b] and [] of bin, as
opposed to both the [b] and the [u] of book.
unstressed syllable
A syllable that tends to be weaker, shorter and more reduced than
a stressed syllable in a word or phrase; major pitch changes do
not begin on unstressed syllables.
unvoiced
Voiceless, especially as the result of devoicing.
unilateral
Of articulation with the air released (rather unusually) around only
one side of tongue. Contrasted with BILATERAL.
utterance
A stretch of spoken language which is often preceded by silence
and followed by silence or a change of speaker. It is often used as
an alternative to sentence in conversation analysis since it is
difficult to apply the traditional characteristics of a written sentence
to spoken language.
utterance and utterance meaning
Anything spoken on a specific occasion. Often opposed to
sentence: e.g. the words Come here!, spoken by a specific
speaker at a specific time, from an utterance which is one
instance of a sentence Come here!
Hence utterance meaning, as the meaning of something as
spoken on a specific occasion, vs. sentence meaning, as the
meaning that a sentence is said to have independently of any
such occasion.
velar
Sound formed using the soft palate (or velum) and the back of the
tongue like /k/ in kick,
// (velar) in tongue and /g/ in get.
velarization
The addition of a secondary, velar articulation to a speech sound.
Secondary articulation in which the back of the tongue is raised
towards the soft palate (velum). E.g. an l at the end of a word is
velarized ([l]) in many forms of English.
velarize
To add a secondary, velar articulation to a speech sound. The socalled dark l allophone of the English /l/ is a velarized sound,
articulated with the back of the tongue raised towards the velum.
velum
The soft palate. The velum is the back part of the roof of the
mouth, lying behind the bony hard palate, with the UVULA at its
own back extremity. The velum is raised for ORAL sounds, and,
lower for NASAL sounds.
vibration
See VOCAL CORDS.
vocal cords
Two folds of muscle and connective tissue situated in the larynx,
which are opened and closed during the production of speech.
(Also vocal folds).
The main function of the vocal cords in the production of speech is
to vibrate and produce VOICED sounds. This happens when they
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Glossary
are held closely enough together for them to vibrate when
subjected to air pressure from the lungs. When the cords are held
rather wider apart they do not vibrate, and VOICELESS sounds
are produced or a GLOTTAL STOP.
vocalic
Vowel-like, designating a sound produced with a comparatively
free passage of air (i.e. with no major obstruction).
vocal tract
1. The whole of the air passage above the LARYNX, including the
ORAL tract (the mouth pharyngeal area and the NASAL tract (the
air passage through the nose when the soft palate lowered).
2. The entire area involved in the production of speech sounds,
including the larynx, trachea, lungs.
vocoid
A vowel phonetically defined by the way it is produced, as
distinguished from a vowel in a phonological sense, defined by its
role in the structure of words and syllables. Thus, in English, the
semivowels [j] (as in yes) and [w] (as in wed) are vocoids, though
phonologically consonants.
voiced
A speech sound made with the vocal cords vibrating.
In standard English, all the vowels are voiced, as are thirteen of
the consonants and the semi-vowels.
voiceless
A speech sound made without vibration of the vocal cords.
There are nine voiceless phonemes in standard English, all of
them consonants.
voicing
A feature of vowels by some consonants produced by vibration of
the vocal cords as in zip versus sip. Although voicing is part of the
description of all vowel phonemes in English and of a majority of
consonants, the amount of voicing in the production of a particular
phoneme, in a particular utterance, may be affected by
phonological context.
vowel
A speech sound produced with the vocal tract quite open. Vowels
typically function as the nucleus of a syllable.
vowel height
One of the main parameters in the classification of vowels. In the
system of cardinal vowels, a close vowel is described as one
produced with the highest point of the tongue as close as possible
to the roof of the mouth. An open vowel is one produced with the
highest point of the tongue as far away as possible from the roof
of the mouth; close-mid (or half-close) and open-mid (or halfopen) represent intermediate points, perceived as auditorily
equidistant, between these. Alternatively, close vowels are high,
open vowels are low, and a vowel at an intermediate point is
mid.
vowel quality
The characteristics that distinguishes one vowel from another.
The auditory character of a vowel as determined by the posture of
the vocal organs above the larynx. Thus the quality of [a] remains
the same, whether it is produced loudly or softly, or with a high
pitch or a low pitch. But its quality is different from that of [i], which
is produced with the lower jaw and tongue much closer to the roof
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Glossary
of the mouth or that of nasal [], in which the passage through the
nose are open.
vowel quantity
Length as a feature of a vowel articulation.
weak
Of the phonetic quality: obscures, lacking prominence. Contrasted
with STRONG
weak form
The pronunciation of a form word (grammatical word) when
unaccented and in a non-prominent position. As grammatical
words usually receive little stress or prominence. Their weak
forms (containing weak vowels) are their usual pronunciation.
Common words having weak forms are: (determiners) a, an, the,
some (auxiliaries) am, are, be, been, is, was, were, can, could, do,
does, had, has, have, must, shall, should, will, would; (nouns)
saint, Sir; (prepositions) at, for, from, of, to; (pronouns) he, her,
him, his, me, she, them, us, we, who, you, your; (conjunctions and
adverbs) and, but, as, not, than, that, there.
word stress
Stress that is intrinsic to a word, as opposed to sentence stress.
The term lexical stress may be used of stress associated with a
unit of a lexicon, as opposed to morphological stress determined
e.g. by a specific affix.

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Practice sets

Practice sets
This section is designed to reinforce theory and
includes further exercises that can be done in class, in the
language lab or at home. The tasks (based on exercises
taken from Malcolm Mann and Steve Taylore-Knowles.
2003. Skills for First Certificate. Listening and Speaking.
Oxford: Macmillan) have been grouped in four practice sets,
each set being approximately four hours long and containing:

listening-comprehension activities;
vocabulary exercises;
spelling exercises.

The first type of exercise (listening-comprehension


activities) asks you to listen to samples of spoken English
recorded on the tape so that you become accustomed to the
speed at which people on the recording speak. The focus is
on English as it is actually spoken, including reductions,
simplifications, variations. It is important to listen very
carefully to the directions and to each recorded person.
When you repeat words and sentences aloud you should
always try to imitate the overall rhythm, pausing, linking,
relative syllable length and intonation. Both fluency (saying
everything smoothly without stopping) and accuracy (saying
all vowels and consonants correctly without dropping any)
need to be worked on. In order to better connect practice
with theory we have mentioned (within brackets) the unit the
activities relate to.
The second type of exercises (vocabulary exercises)
provides vocabulary development and are labeled as Word
perfect in Mann and Taylore-Knowles book.
The third type of exercises (spelling exercises) has
been included to help you improve your spelling and writing
skill.
SET I

listening-comprehension activities
Activity 1 (related to Unit 1, section 1.4)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise B, page 5. Listen to the five people
talking about films and make a list of words containing long
vowels.
Activity 2 (related to Unit 1)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise A, Part 1, page 32. Listen to the
people speaking in eight different situations and pay
attention to the pronunciation of diphthongs.
Activity 3 (related to Unit 2)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, Grammar Focus, page 81. Listen to the five

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Practice sets

statements and pay attention to the pronunciation of the -ing


ending. Record yourself saying the same sentences.
Activity 4 (related to Unit 2)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise E, page 84. Listen to each series of
four words and group the words which have the same vowel
sound.
Activity 5 (related to Unit 2)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, Grammar Focus, page 27. Listen to the
recording, identify and note down the clues to British English
(e.g. the pronunciation of /r/ and /:/, or the stress in the
word museum).

vocabulary exercises
For these activities see the Word perfect section in
Mann and Taylore-Knowles book, Skills for First Certificate.
Listening and Speaking, pages 7, 13, 19, 25

spelling exercises
For these activities see Mann and Taylore-Knowles
book, Skills for First Certificate. Listening and Speaking.
page 15 (Grammar Focus) and page 54 (exercise E).

SET II

listening-comprehension activities
Activity 6 (related to Unit 3, section 3.2)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise I, page 7. Listen to the descriptions
and spell the words that contain // (voiced th) and //
(voiceless th). What is the usual spelling for voiced <th> at
the end of words? Do function words begin with voiced <th>
or voiceless <th>?
Activity 7(related to Unit 3, section 3.3)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise D, page 5. Listen to the five
speakers and identify the pronunciation of the -s ending in
different phonetic environments. Make a list of the
pronunciations you identify.
Activity 8 (related to Unit 3, section 3.4)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, exercise G, page 84. Listen to the six
statements, write them down and then underline the letters
that are not pronounced.
Activity 9 (related Unit 3)
For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, Grammar Focus, page 9. Write the sentences
said by the five people.

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Practice sets

Activity 10 (related to Unit 4, sections 4.2 and 4.3)


For this activity see Skills for First Certificate. Listening
and Speaking, Grammar Focus, page 57. Listen to the
people talking and note down cases of elision and
assimilation.

vocabulary exercises
For these activities see the Word perfect section in
Mann and Taylore-Knowles book, Skills for First Certificate.
Listening and Speaking, pages 31, 37, 43, 49.

spelling exercises
For these activities see Mann and Taylore-Knowles
book, Skills for First Certificate. Listening and Speaking,
page 54 (exercise F) and page 57 (Grammar Focus).

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