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LANGUAGE CIRCLE: Journal lof Language and Literature X/1 (October 2015) p-ISSN 1858-0165

Available online at http://journal.unnes.ac.id e-ISSN 2460-853X



Alim Sukrisno
English Department, Semarang State University, Indonesia

Received: 12 June 2015. Revised: 15 July 2015. Accepted: 1 August 2015


This article deals with English spelling in relation with its segmental and suprasegmental
realizations.The reciprocal relationship between English spelling and its pronunciation is mostly
arbitrary, and thus unpredictable. However, a closer observation on certain verbal markers, one of
which is a verb-marker -fy indicates that to some greater extent itssegmental and suprasegmental
realizations are highly predictable.Firstly, English verbs ending in -fymust be segmentally realized as
[-faI]. Secondly, English verbs ending in -fy must be stressed on the antepenultimate syllable.A
minor exception exists, but a high degree of accuracy is recorded. Owing to the high degree of
predictability of its segmental and suprasegmental realizations, the verb-marker -fylends itself to be a
predictor of accurate pronunciation. Therefore, teachers as well as students of English as an SL or FL
can improve their pronunciation by relying on this observation findings.

Key Words: segmental, suprasegmental, realization, pronunciation, stress, accuracy, and predictor

How to cite: Alim Sukrisno. 2015. English Verb-Markers Serving as an Accurate Predictor of English
Pronunciation: The Case of A Verb- Marker -Fy. Language Circle: Journal of Language and Literature X/1.

INTRODUCTION the most neglected. The skill of

A lot of non-native speakers of English, i.e. pronunciation is not well-groomed in the
Indonesians, demonstrate fluency whenever classroom. Another question appears, that is
they speak English. In order to be able to do Why is English pronunciation neglected in
this, they have to articulate English sounds English classes? One of the asnwers of this
properly. In other words, they have to question is that English teachers who are
master the pronunciation of English. For supposed to be the agents or the guardians of
native speakers, English pronunciation poses instilling good pronunciation are themselves
no problem at all. However, for learners of not good in pronunciation. This is proved
English, pronunciation is a burden. A from what always happen in-servicetrainings
question arises Why do English learners for English teachers or Pendidikan dan
find English pronunciation problematic? Latihan Profesi Guru (PLPG). The
One of the reasons is that pronunciation is participants are teachers of English who
one of the components of English which is undergo the certification program.

LANGUAGE CIRCLE: Journal of Language and Literature, X/1 (October 2015)


During every peer-teaching activity in The -fy ending of the above-mentioned

every batch, their weakness in pronunciation English word group can serve asan accurate
is exposed and brought to notice. They make predictor in pronunciation both segmentally
mistakes in pronouncing common words and suprasegmentally. By being capable of
which they always use in their everyday recognizing what prediction is in store for
teaching. this verbal marker, one will be able to
Their mistakes cover not only segmental reduce the possibility of making
but also suprasegmental realizations. In unnecessary pronunciation mistakes and
segmental pronunciation, for example, they thus subsequently able to improve his/her
pronounced the word giraffe as [dirpI] segmental and suprasegmental pronun-
instead of [dra:f ] BE or [drf] AE. In ciation on the cyclic words ending in -fy.
suprasegmental pronunciation, for example, To show readers, how any predictor of
they stressed the word classify, realize, pronunciation helpsthem to pronounce, we
and demonstrate wrongly. Their mistakes can take one word randomly from another
are that those words are wrongly stressed: cyclic word, for example the word group
classi'fy, re'alize, and de'monstrate. ending in -ize; let say the word
Why do our fellow English teachers make eternalize. The verb-marker -ize in this
such pronunciation mistakes?One of the word means a lot in our determination in
answers is that most of them lack the how to pronounce the word. Segmentally
knowledge of the characteristics of pronounced, the -ize must always be
spellings of English words vis a vis its pronounced as [-aIz], thus eternal[aIz].
pronunciation. Suprasegmentally pronounced, we can
There are more mistakes than what had predict that this word must be strongly
been documented in the above paragraph. stressed on the antepenultimate syllable (or
However, in this article I intend to limit my third syllable of the word counted
discussion tojust the pronunciation mistakes backwards) (Sukrisno, 2015); thus
of the words ending in a verbal marker -fy. e'ternalize. This stress pattern will
The above word groupis some of the generate another pattern or it will serve as
collections of English cyclic word groups another predictor in segmental realization.
(Sukrisno, 2015). As a matter of fact, the The mute letter -r in the second syllable
above mistakes in pronouncing words can be a predictor that this particular
having this verbal marker could have been syllable must be pronounced with a certain
avoided if learners of English know how the length; thus e'[t:]nal[aIz]. The segmental
words containing this verbal morpheme pronunciation of [-aIz] and the
behaves in their phonological realizations. In antepenultimate stress pattern hold true for
fact, under close scrutiny this cyclic English any words ending in the verbal marker
word group demonstrates characteristics ize. Therefore, someone encountering any
which help English learners as a word of this type, will be able to accurately
second/foreign language to find ease in pronounce it not only segmentally but also
pronouncing this particular group of English suprasegmentally. Such characteristic is also
words. possessed by the verb-marker -fy.

Alim Sukrisno.
English Verb-Markers Serving as an Accurate Predictor of English Pronunciation:
The Case of a Verb- Marker -Fy

In brief, by studying the characteristics consonant, and semivowel sounds of a

of -fy verbal marker, we will be able to language(Webster's New World College
learnthat it can act as a good predictor of Dictionary, 2010). Meanwhile, Merriam-
pronunciation. The result of knowing the Webster Dictionary (2003) offers the
characteristics of this verbal marker enables definition of segmental phonemes as one of
us to predict the pronunciation of this the phonemes ) as \k, a, t\ in cat, tack, act) of
particular cyclic English words. The explan- a language that can be assigned to a relative
ation above serves as an introductory sequential order of minimal segments.
bakground to the presentation of this article. Segmental features involve three kinds of
In order to talk about the topic of the phoneme; vowels, diphthongs and
discussion which is elaborated in the title of consonants.
this article, there are a number essestial Suprasegmental features comprise
issues underlining the development of this several noticeable phonemes, such as stress,
paper. These issues are concerned with the pitch, intonation, pause, length, etc. This
concept of pronunciation and the concept of definition complies with that of OALDCEs
the relationship between spelling and its (Oxford Advanced Learners Dictionary of
pronunciation. These important issues will Current English), which refers segmental
be discussed in the following sub-chapters. features as relating to features of speech
such as stress and intonationas opposed to
ENGLISH PRONUNCIATION individual speech sounds (OALDCE,
AMEP Research Centre (2002: 1) defines 2010).Talking about English pronunciation
pronunciation as follows. cannot be separated from talking about
Pronunciation refers to the production of suprasegmental features as a whole.
sounds what we use to make meaning. It However, for this particular discussion, what
includes attention to the particular sounds of is meant by suprasegmental phonemes is
a language (segments), aspects of speech limited to one kind of phoneme, that is
beyond the level of individual sound, such stress.No other suprasegmental features will
as intonation, phrasing, stress, timing, be highlighted here. Stress here is limited to
rhythm (suprasegmental aspects), how the strong or dominant stress.
voice is projected (voice quality) and, in its In verbal communication, stress conveys
broadest definition, attention to gestures and a certain degree of importance, AMEP
expressions that are closely related to the (2002) underlines the importance of stress at
way we speak a language. three distinguishable levels:
Word level---multisyllable words have
From the above definition, essentially one or more syllable s that are stressed,
pronunciation, especially English Sentence level---the most important
ponunciation, materializes itself in two words tend to be stressed, and
phonetic features; segmental features and Contrastive stress---the most important
suprasegmental features. Segmental words carry greater stress.
phonemes refer to features consisting of Inspite of the presence of those three
sound segments; hence, the vowel, levels of stress, this article is only concerned

LANGUAGE CIRCLE: Journal of Language and Literature, X/1 (October 2015)


with word level. The reason is that talking The function of spelling or orthography
about point 2 and 3 must consider the is to represent sounds. Unfortunately, in
intention of the speaker which is beyond the English, there is no one-to-one
scope of this article to discuss. Weanwhile, correspondence between the spelling of a
stress itself is categorized into three degrees, word and its sound realizations. In other
strong, medium and weak stress. In this words, we can say that the pronunciation of
article, the type of stress being discussed is English words is mostly arbitrary. For this,
the strong or dominant stress. Following, Upward and Davidson (2011) remark as
Hornby (2010) the way of marking stress in follows: ... Modern English sound-spelling
orthography is by assigning the sign [-'- relationships are unsystematic and
]before the suspected strong syllable; for unpredictable, and in some cases seem to be
example, almost beyond comprehension. There
en'danger, seems to be a ground of truth in this
'phantom, statement. However, at a closer look, if we
exami'nee, etc. refer to Hill (1974), Sukrisno (2012a;
There are other ways of marking 2012b; and 2012c), and Sukrisno (2015), out
dominant stress in writing, one of which is of this massive amount of unpredictability,
by giving a slanting sign inclining to the there is a certain English spelling or at least
right direction, i.e. [--],on top of the vowel the spelling of part of a word whose sound
or diphthong of the stressed syllable representation is regular and very much
(Ramelan, 2005). However, this paper consistent. This can be proved in the
adopts the stress symbolization for strong verbal marker selected in this article;that is
stress which is recommended by the verbal marker -fy.
bothHornby (2010) and Cambridge Associated to its phonological
Advanced Learners Dictionary (CALD) realizations, the above verbal marker has
(2013). particular characteristics. In turn, these
characteristics can act as a prediction agent
ENGLISH SPELLING AND ITS as to how the word ending in each word
PRONUNCIATION belonging to -fy cyclic word group should
In the English language, the concept of be segmentally and suprasegmentally
pronunciation represented by segmental and pronounced. In order to prove the truth of
suprasegmental phonemes, cannot be the above statement, the characteristics of
separated from the concept of its spelling or the above verb marker as an accurate
orthography which is defined in the predictor ofEnglish pronunciation will be
following way: elaborated in the following section.
The word orthography refers to the
rules for writing a language, such as VERB-MARKER -FY AS AN
conventions of spelling and punctuation. In ACCURATE PREDICTOR OF
an alphabetic script, such as English, this PRONUNCIATION
definition also includes its grapheme- If we take a look at the relationship between
phoneme (letter-sound) conrrespondences English spelling vis a vis its phonological
(My English Language, 2014). realization, we have to refer to the most

Alim Sukrisno.
English Verb-Markers Serving as an Accurate Predictor of English Pronunciation:
The Case of a Verb- Marker -Fy

recent work carried out by Sukrisno (2015). verb-marker. This means that the verb-
Some of the phonetic phenomena dealt with marker -fy can act as a veryaccurate
in this work are concerned with the predictor of segmental pronunciation.
behaviour of 20 cyclic word groups; one of Third, in terms of suprasegmental
which is the cyclic word group ending in - realizations---in this case strong stress, all of
fy. This cyclic word group offers a number the 85 words, save the word defyreceive
of interesting phenomena worth discussing. the prominent stress on the
First, in terms of number, OALDCE antepenultimate (Sukrisno, 2015: 132)
(Hornby, 2005) exhaustively lists words syllable or the third syllable by being
belonging to this cyclic word group counted backward. Lets take the word
amounting to 85 words. The list begins with electrify, simplify and declassify as
the word acidify and ends in the word random examples. These words must be
yuppify. All of these 85 words are multi- stressed on the antepenultimate syllable;
syllabic, except for one word, i.e. defy. thus e'lectrify, 'simplify and de'classify.
(Sukrisno, 2015: 132). The last example indicates whenever the
Second, in terms of its segmental word ending in -fy is prefixed, this
realization, the pronunciation of the ending prefixation does not change the stress
-fy is absolutely predictable. It must be pattern. The accuracy of this prediction
pronounced as [-faI] with the degree of gains 98.82%. If the word defy is removed
accuracy of 100%. This pronunciation does from the list, the suprasegmental prediction
not change even if the word ending in this accuracy becomes optimum, 100%. As
morpheme takes another morpheme, noted earlier the word defy is bisyllabic so
e.g.thepresent participial morpheme -ing, that it stands to reason that the rule does not
the past form morpheme -ed, and the apply to this word. In adition, this
inflectional morpheme -s/-es. Lets take suprasegmental pronunciation rule applies
one word randomly as an example, i.e. when the -fy serves as a verb-marker, no
justify [dstIfaI]. It becomes justifying matter whether it serves as a present
[dstIfaII]; justified [dstIfaId];and participial or past form marker or as a third
justifies [dstIfaIz]. The pronunciation person singular marker. Based on the
of[-faI] remains intact whether the word discussion in this paragraph, the verbal
functions as an infinitive, present participial, marker -fy can also accurately serve as a
past form or as a third person singular. predictor of suprasegmental pronunciation.
However, if the word ending in-fy takes a
noun marker -tion, it becomes a noun and CONCLUSION
its segmental realization changes. For On the basis of what has been discussed in
example, the word justification is the previous paragraphs concerning the
pronounced as [dstIfIkeIn] instead of behaviour of the verbal marker of -fy, two
[dstIfaIkeIn]. From this discussion, it can conclusions are available. First, whenever
be concluded that the -fy of any word someone encounters any word ending in -
belonging to -fy cyclic word group must be fy, this spelling must be pronounced as [-
pronounced as [-faI] when it functions as a faI]. Second, whenever someone

LANGUAGE CIRCLE: Journal of Language and Literature, X/1 (October 2015)


pronounces any word ending in -fy, he/she verb-marker -fy is definitely an accurate
must assign the strong stress on the predictor of English pronunciation.
antepenultimate syllable of the word. By Anyone abiding by the above two rules
referring to the first and second conclusions, will certainly be facilitated in pronouncing
one can derive a third conclusion, that is the English words, especially the pronunciation
of the -fy cyclic word group.

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