шпоры по теор фонетике 2

Phonetics as a branch of a linguistic studies in the broad sense, comprising segmental sounds (vowels and consonants) and prosodic phenomena(pitch, stress, tempo, rhythm). Phonetics as a science is a branch of linguistic. Being a science in its own right, it is at the same time closely connected with other linguistic sciences – grammar, lexicology, stylistic and the history of the language.

4 main Branches of phonetics:

1. Articulatory phonetics is concerned with the study of sound as a result of the activities of speech organs. It deals with our voice-producing mechanism and the way we produce sounds.

2. Perceptual phonetics occupies itself with the study of man’s perception of segmental sounds, pitch variation, loudness, and duration.

3. Acoustic phonetics is concerned with the acoustic aspect of speech sounds.

4. Phonology, or functional phonetics is purely linguistic branch of phonetics. It deals with the functional aspect of sound phenomena. . Phonology sets out to discover those segmental and prosodic features that have a differential value in a language, and it established the system of phonemes and prosodemes.

Articulatory classification of speech sounds.


Classification: according to the horizontal movement of the tongue; to the vertical movement; to the position of the lips; to the degree of the muscular tension of the articulatory organs; to the force of articulation at the end of a vowel; to the stability of articulation; to the length of a vowel.

according to the horizontal movement : close (high), mid and open (low)

to the position of the lips, whether they are rounded, spread or neutral: rounded and unrounded.

to the degree of the muscular tension of the articulatory organs: tense and lax. All the long vowels are believed to be tense, while short vowels are lax.

to the force of articulation at the end of a vowel: free and checked. Free vowels are pronounced in anopen syllable with a weakening in the force of articulation towards their end. These are long monophtongs and diphthongs and unstressed short vowels. Checked vowels are those in the articulation of which there is no weakening of the force of articulation.

to the stability of articulation : monophtongs and diphthongs, diphthongoids.

to the length long and short (differs from the positional length).


An indispensable constituent of a consonant is noise. The source of noise is in obstruction. 3 types of obstruction: 1)complete occlusive, 2) constriction, 3)occlusion-constriction.

According to the type of obstruction and the manner of the production of noise: occlusives(plosives and nasal), constrictives ( Fricatives and oral sonants), occlusive-constrictive.

According to the active speech organ which forms an obstruction: labial (bilabial – p, b, m, w, labio-dental – v, f) , lingual (forelingual – t, d, n, s, z, r, mediolingual – j) , Backlingual – k, g).

According to the place of obstruction: dental, alveolar (t, d, n, l, s, z), post-alveolar(r) , palatal (j) , palato-alveolar (t) , velar.

According to the presence or absence of voice: voiced (b, d, g, v, z) and voiceless (p, t, k, f, s, t).

According to the force of articulation : lenis(muscular tension is weak) and fortis(is strong).

According to the position of the soft palate: oral(p, b, t, d, k, g, f, v,) and nasal (m, n).

3. The phoneme as a linguistic unit. Its definitions and functions.

The phoneme — the smallest linguistically relevant unit of the sound structure of a given language which serves to distinguish one word from another. The phoneme is a minimal abstract linguistic unit realized in speech in the form of speech sounds opposable to other phonemes of the same language to distinguish the meaning of morphemes and words.

Firstly, the phoneme is a functional unit .In phonetics function is usually understood as a role of the various units of the phonetic system in distinguishing one morpheme from another, one word from another or one utterance from another. The opposition of phonemes in the same phonetic environment differentiates the meaning of morphemes and words: e.g. bath-path, light-like. Sometimes the opposition of phonemes serves to distinguish the meaning of the whole phrases: He was heard badly — He was hurt badly. Thus we may say that the phoneme can fulfill the distinctive function.

Secondly, the phoneme is material, real and objective. That means it is realized in speech in the form of speech sounds, its allophones. The phonemes constitute the material form of morphemes, so this function may be called constitutive function.

Thirdly, the phoneme performs the recognitive function, because the use of the right allophones and other phonetic units facilitates normal recognition. We may add that the phoneme is a material and objective unit as well as an abstract and generalized one at the same time.

Basic functions of the phoneme are:

1. Constitutive – phoneme constitutes words, word combinations etc.

2. Distinctive – phoneme helps to distinguish the meanings of words, morphemes

3. Recognitive – phoneme makes up grammatical forms of words, sentences, so the right use of allophones

3. The classification of English consonant sounds

4. Manifestation of phonemes in speech. Phoneme and allophone

Allophones of a certain phoneme are speech sounds which are realizations of one and the same phoneme and witch can’t distinguish words.

allophones of the same phoneme, no matter how different their articulation may be, function as the same linguistic unit. Phonemes differentiate words like tie and die from each other, and to be able to hear and produce phonemic differences is part of what it means to be a competent speaker of the language. Allophones, on the other hand, have no such function: they usually occur in different positions in the word (i.e. in different environments) and hence cannot be opposed to each other to make meaningful distinctions.

5. methods of the identification of phonemes in a language

The distributional method is based on the phonological rule that different phonemes can freely occur in one and the same position, while allophones of one and the same phoneme occur in different positions and can’t be phonologically opposed to each other. This method is purely formal method of identifying the phonemes of a language.

The semantic method is based on the phonological rule that a phoneme can distinguish words when opposed to another phoneme or zero in an identical phonetic position.

6. The system of vowel phonemes. Problems of diphthongs and vowel length

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

Principles of classification provide the basis for the establishment of the following distinctive oppositions. The English diphthongs are, like the affricates, the object of a sharp phonological controversy, whose essence is the same as in the case of affricates are the English diphthongs biphonemic sound complexes or composite monophonemic entities?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

7. The system of consonant phonemes. Problem of affricates

The phonological analysis of English consonant sounds helps to distinguish 24 phonemes: [p, b, t, d, k, g, f, v, θ, ð, s, z, ∫, ж(не нашла ничего лучше ), h, t∫, dж, m, n, ŋ, w, r, 1, j]. Principles of classification suggested by Russian phoneticians provide the basis for establishing of the following distinctive oppositions in the system of English consonants:

Degree of noise

bake — make, veal — wheel

Place of articulation

labial vs. lingual

pain cane

lingual vs. glottal

foam — home, care — hair, Tim — him

Manner of articulation

3.1 occlusive vs. constrictive pine -fine, bat that, bee — thee

constrictive vs. affricates fare — chair, fail -jail

constrictive unicentral vs. constrictive bicentral

same – shame

4. Work of the vocal cords and the force of articulation

4.1 voiceless fortis vs. voiced lenis

pen Ben, ten — den, coat goal

5. Position of the soft palate

5.1 oral vs. nasal

pit — pin, seek — seen

There are some problems of phonological character in the English consonantal system; it is the problem of affricates — their phonological status and their number. The question is: what kind of facts a phonological theory has to explain.

1) Are the English [t∫, dж] sounds monophonemic entities or biphonemic combinations (sequences, clusters)?

2) If they are monophonemic, how many phonemes of the same kind exist in English, or, in other words, can such clusters as [tr, dr] and [tθ, dð] be considered affricates?

To define it is not an easy matter. One thing is clear: these sounds are complexes because articulatory we can distinguish two elements. Considering phonemic duality of affricates, it is necessary to analyze the relation of affricates to other consonant phonemes to be able to define their status in the system.

The problem of affricates is a point of considerable controversy among phoneticians. According to Russian specialists in English phonetics, there are two affricates in English: [t∫, dж]. D. Jones points out there are six of them: [t∫, dж], [ts, dz], and [tr, dr]. A.C. Gimson increases their number adding two more affricates: [tθ, tð]. Russian phoneticians look at English affricates through the eyes of a phoneme theory, according to which a phoneme has three aspects: articulatory, acoustic and functional, the latter being the most significant one. As to British phoneticians, their primary concern is the articulatory-acoustic unity of these complexes.

Before looking at these complexes from a functional point of view it is necessary to define their articulatory indivisibility.

According to N.S. Trubetzkoy’s point of view a sound complex may be considered monophonemic if: a) its elements belong to the same syllable; b) it is produced by one articulatory effort; c) its duration should not exceed normal duration of elements. Let us apply these criteria to the sound complexes.

1. Syllabic indivisibility

butcher [but∫ -ə] lightship [lait-∫ip]

mattress [mætr-is] footrest [fut-rest]

curtsey [kз:-tsi] out-set [aut-set]

eighth [eitθ] whitethorn [wait-θo:n]

In the words in the left column the sounds [t∫], [tr], [ts], [tθ] belong to one syllable and cannot be divided into two elements by a syllable dividing line.

2. Articulatory indivisibility. Special instrumental analysis shows that all the sound complexes are homogeneous and produced by one articulatory effort.

3. Duration. With G.P. Torsuyev we could state that length of sounds depends on the position in the phonetic context, therefore it cannot serve a reliable basis in phonological analysis. He writes that the length of English [t∫] in the words chair and match is different; [t∫] in match is considerably longer than |t| in mat and may be even longer than [∫] in mash. This does not prove, however, that [t∫] is biphonemic.

According to morphological criterion a sound complex is considered to be monophonemic if a morpheme boundary cannot pass within it because it is generally assumed that a phoneme is morphologically indivisible. If we consider [t∫], [dж] from this point of view we could be secure to grant them a monophonemic status, since they are indispensable. As to [ts], [dz] and [tθ], [dð] complexes their last elements are separate morphemes [s], [z], [θ], [ð] so these elements are easily singled out by the native speaker in any kind of phonetic context. These complexes do not correspond to the phonological models of the English language and cannot exist in the system of phonemes. The case with [tr], [dr] complexes is still more difficult.

By way of conclusion we could say that the two approaches have been adopted towards this phenomenon are as follows: the finding that there are eight affricates in English [t∫], [dж], [tr], [dr], [ts], [dz], [tð], [dθ] is consistent with articulatory and acoustic point of view, because in this respect the entities are indivisible. This is the way the British phoneticians see the situation. On the other hand, Russian phoneticians are consistent in looking at the phenomenon from the morphological and the phonological point of view which allows them to define [t∫], [dж] as monophonemic units and [tr], [dr], [ts], [dz], [tð], [dθ] as biphonemic complexes. However, this point of view reveals the possibility of ignoring the articulatory and acoustic indivisibility.

8. problems of the phonemic inventory

The distributional method is based on the phonological rule that different phonemes can freely occur in one and the same position, while allophones of one and the same phoneme occur in different positions and can’t be phonologically opposed to each other. This method is purely formal method of identifying the phonemes of a language.

The semantic method is based on the phonological rule that a phoneme can distinguish words when opposed to another phoneme or zero in an identical phonetic position.


In analyzing speech phoneticians carry out a phonetic and a phonological analyses. Phonetic analysis is concerned with the articulatory and acoustic characteristics of particular sounds and their combinations. Phonological analysis is concerned with the role of those sounds in communication. The main problems in phonological analysis are as follows: 1. The establishment of the inventory of phonemes of a certain language. (The inventory of phonemes of a language is all phonemes of this language. Every language has it’s own inventory of speech sounds that it uses to contrast meaning. English has one of the larger inventories among the world’s languages. Cantonese has up to 52 vowels when vowel + tone combinations are considered. Many languages include consonants not found in English). 2. The establishment of phonologically relevant (distinctive features of a language). 3. The interrelationships among the phonemes of a language.

Problem 1. The establishment of the inventory of phonemes of a certain language. The great variety of allophones complicates the identification of phonemes in connected speech. There are two main methods of establishing phonemes in a language: SEMANTIC and FORMAL, or DISTRIBUTIONAL. The SEMANTIC method attaches great significance to meaning. It is based on the rule that a phoneme can distinguish words when opposed to another phoneme or ZERO in an individual phonetic position. The investigator studies the function of sounds by collecting MINIMAL PAIRS (lexical or grammatical pairs of words that differ in only one speech sound in the same position). If the substitution of one sound for another results in the change of meaning, the commuted sounds are different phonemes. E.g. if we replace /b/ by /f/ in the word PAIR, we get a new word FAIR. This pair of words is distinguished in meaning by a single sound change. So the phonemes /p/ and /f/ contrast in English. The opposition /p/versus/f/ is called PHONOLOGICAL OPPOSITION. In PAIR-AIR, /p/is opposed to /-/, this is called ZERO OPPOSITION. Examples of grammatical pairs; SLEEP- SLEEPY, /-/ v /i/. Allophones can not make up minimal pairs. For example, /pʰ/ in PIN and /p/ in spin are allophones of the phoneme /p/ and no minimal pair can be found to distinguish them. Languages like Cantonese, Mandarin, and Thai distinguish between them and they represent distinct phonemes /p/ and /pʰ/. In Korean /r/ in KOREA and /l/ in SEOUL are allophones of the phoneme /l/. The are perceived by native speakers of Korean as a single phoneme and have a single L letter. The difference is that /r/ is pronounced before vowels. In Spanish, /z/ and /s/ are both allophones of /s/, while /z appears only before voiced consonants, as in MISMO /mizmo/.

A series of minimal pairs, called a MINIMAL SET, can establish a larger group of contrasts. That is how the inventory of E consonantal PH_mes can be established. The series of words PIN, BIN, TIN, DIN, FIN, CHIN, GIN, KIN, SIN, THIN, SHIN, WIN supplies us with 12 words which are different in respect of only one speech sound, the first, consonantal phoneme of the sound sequence. These contrastive elements, or phonemes, are symbolized as /p/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /f/, / ʧ/ /ʤ/, /k/, /s/, /θ/, /ʃ/, /w/. Other sound sequences will show other consonantal oppositions, e.g.: (1) TAME, DAME, GAME, LAME, MAIM, NAME, adding /g/, /l/, /m/, /n/ to the inventory. (2) POT, TOT, COT, LOT, YACHT, HOT, ROT, adding /j/, /hr, /r/. (3) PIE, TIE, BUY, THIGH, THY, VIE, adding /ð/ and /v/. (4) TWO, DO, WHO, WOO, ZOO, adding /z/. Such comparative procedure reveal 22 consonantal phonemes, capable of contrastive function initially in a word. But considering one position in a word is not sufficient. Phonemic opposition in medial position discovers one more consonantal phoneme /ʒ/, in words LETTER, LEATHER, LEISURE. Phoneme /ʒ/ does not occur in initial position and is rare in final position (ROUGE). In final position we do not find /h/, /r/, /w/, and /j/. Phoneme /ŋ/ is common in medial and final positions but unknown initially. The analysis will give us a total of 24 consonantal phonemes in English, of which six are of restricted occurrence. Similar procedures may be used to establish the 20 vowel phonemes of English, which makes the total inventory of 44 units in the English language.

The FORMAL (DISTRIBUTIONAL) method does not resort to the meaning. It is based on the rule that allophones of different phonemes can freely occur in one and the same position, while allophones of one and the same phoneme can not occur in the same position. For example, as /p/ and /f/ freely occur in the same context (as in PEA-FEE, PAN-FAN), they are different phonemes. But we can never find /p/ aspirated and non-aspirated in the same phonetic context in E. These sounds are regarded as the allophones of one and the same phoneme /p/, whereas in Chinese and Hindi aspirated and non-aspirated plosives /p/ are different phonemes: they occur in the same phonetic environment and distinguish words.

10. types of transcription

A transcription which is a visual system of notation of the sound structure of speech. The transcription should provide each phoneme with a distinctive symbol to avoid ambiguity. It is called phonemic transcription, or broad. It contains as many symbols as there are phonemes in the language. /t/

If it is exactness in the differentiation of the allophones of each phoneme that is required, the transcription chould provide either different symbols for each allophone, or introduce special marks to represent the different features of the allophones. Phonetic transcription [t] is used to denote the different features the allophones are characterized by.

One of the principles of this transcription is to use the fewest possible symbols of the simplest possible shape.

11. The structure and functions of syllables in English

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

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

The structure of English syllables can be summarized as follows:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Now we shall consider two functions of the syllable.

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

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

12. Theories on syllable formation and division

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There are different points of view on syllable formation which are briefly the following:

The most ancient theory states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are vowels. This theory is primitive and insufficient since it does not take into consideration consonants which also canform syllables in some languages, neither does it explain the boundary of syllables.

The expiratory theory ( chest -pulse theory) states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are expiration pulses. The borderline between the syllables is, according to this theory, the moment of the weakest expiration. This theory is inconsistent because it is quite possible to pronounce several syllables in one articulatory effort or expiration.

The sonority theory states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are peaks of prominence according to the scale of sonority. Thus, in the word sudden the most sonorous is the vowel / ʌ /, then goes the nasal sonorant /n/ which forms the second peak of prominence, /s/ and /d/ are sounds of low sonority, they cannot be consider» as syllable forming sounds. The sonority theory helps to establish the number of syllables in a word, but fails to explain the mechanism of syllable division because it does not state to which syllable the weak sound at the boundary of two syllables belongs.

4. The «arc of loudness» or «arc of articulatory tension» theory is based on L.V. Shcherba’s statement that the centre of a syllable is the syllable forming phoneme. Sounds which precede or follow it constitute a chain or an arc which is weak in the beginning and in the end and strong in the middle.

If a syllable consists of one vowel, then its strength increases in the beginning, reaches the maximum of loudness and then, gradually decreases. In terms of the «arc of loudness» theory there are as many syllables in a word as there are «arcs of loudness». A syllable begins at the point where a new articulatory effort starts, and the end of the syllable is the point where the articulatory effort drops to the minimum.

So, a syllable can be defined as a phonetic unit, which is pronounced by one articulatory effort, by one muscular contraction, which results auditorily in one uninterrupted arc of loudness.


English has always had its regional pronunciations. Yet as early as the 16 century, one regional accent began to acquire social prestige. For reasong of politics, commerce, and the presence of the Court, it was the pronunciation of the south-east of England, and more particulary, that of the London region, that the prestige was attached. The early phonetician John Hart notes (1569) that it is in the Court and London that ‘the flower of the English toungue is used’. Already in those times pronunciatioin was a marker of position in society: those eager for social advancement felt obliged to modify their accent in the direction of the social standard. With times RP has come to symbolize a person’s high position in society. During the 19th century, it became the accent of public schools, such as Eton and Harrow, and was soon the main sign that a speaker had received a good education. It spread rapidly throughout the Civil Service of the British Empire and the armed forces, and became the voice of authority and power. Because it was a regionally ‘neutral’ accent, and was thought to be more widely understood than any regional accent, it came to adopted by the BBC, when radio broadcasting began in the 1920s. During WW2, it became linked in many minds with the voice of freedom, and the notion of a «BBC pronunciation» grew. Today, with the breakdown of rigid divisions between social classes and the development of the mass media, RP has altered much over just a few decades. Less than 3 per cent of the British people speak it in a pure form now.

It is associated with the south-east, where most RP-speakers live or work, but it can be found anywhere in the country. Accents usually tell us where a person is from; RP tells us only about a person’s social or educational background. RP is a special accent — a regionally neutral accent that is used as a standard for broadcasting and some other kinds of public speaking. RP is widely used is the academic world, both in Britain and globally. Along with General American., it is the most common model accent in teaching English as a foreign lanugage. Many Britons abroad modify their accent to make their pronunciation closer to RP in order to be better understood than if they were using their usual accent.

There are many people in England who do not speak RP though their English in good and correct. They speak Standard Englsih with a regional type of pronunciation. Phoneticians usually divide English speakers into three groups: 1. RP speakers of standard Engslih (those who speak Standard English without any local accent). 2. Non-RP speakers of Standard Englsh (those who speak E with a regional accent). 3. Dialectal speakers Within RP itself three main types are distinguished: 1. The conservative RP, the general RP form, which is heard on the BBC, and the trend-setting , or advanced RP form, associated with certain social and professional groups.


REALIZATIONAL CHANGES: Vowels: /i:/ and /u:/ are diphongized in final position, as in SEE or TWO. // Diphthong /oʊ/ has changed its quality and became /əʊ/, its starting point now is a mid-central unrounded vowel, instead of back and rounded /o/, the transcription of the phoneme was changed in 1962// About 50 years ago /æ/ was considerably less open and tenser than is now customary. Triphthongs may lose their mid element, as in FIRE [faə], SCIENCE may be smoothed to /saəns/, POWER – to [paə]. Similarly, a diphthong will lose its second element when followed by another vowel, e.g., THROWING /ˈθrəʊɪŋ/ will become [θrɜɪŋ]. Consonants: L-vocalization. /l/ in the final position or in a final consonant cluster is now undergoing a process of vocalization (becoming a vowel). Thus in the words such as MILK, SHELF, TABLES, , the tongue tip may make no contact at all with the alveolar ridge. /w/, or rather a new kind of diphthong is used, so that MILK is [miwk] or [miok], SHELF is [∫eof] or [∫ewf], TABLES [‘teiboz], APPLE [‘æpo], ST PAUL’S CAHTEDRAL /powz/.

SYSTEMIC CHANGES: the only recent change that is now completed is the loss of /ɔə/ from the phonemic inventory, as in the words YOUR /jɔə/-/jɔ:/, POOR/pɔə/-/pɔ:/, SURE /ʃɔə/- /ʃɔ:/ TOURIST/’tɔərist/-/’tʊərist/or/’tɔ:rist/.

LEXICAL CHANGES: There is a storng trend towards selecting /ə/ instead of unstressed /i/ in weak syllables. This usually occurs after /l/ and /r/, as in ANGRILY /’æŋgrili/ v. /’æŋgrəli/ , LAZILY (‘leizili/ v. (leizəli).

DISTRIBUTIONAL CHANGES: The most noteworthy trend concerning a change in the occurrence of a phoneme is the loss of /j/ after alveolar consonants /s/ and /l/, as in ALLUDE /ə‘lu:d/, SUPER /’su:pə , SUIT /su:t/. Coalescence /t+j/ and /d+j/ is increasingly common, e.g., /’edju:keit/ — /’eʤu:keit/, STATUE /’stætju:/ — /‘stætʧu:/, TUESDAY /’ʧu:zdi/

STRESS CHANGES: the changes affect adjectives ending in ‘-able’, ‘ible’. It tends now to fall later in the word, as in ‘APPLICABLE – APP’LICABLE, ‘FRAGMENTARY – FRAG’MENTARY, etc. The feminine suffex ‘-ess’ increasingly attracts primary stress in words like ‘COUN’TESS, ‘STEWARDESS. RE’SEARCH has given way to ‘RESEARCH, ‘HARASS to HA’RASS.

The most observably spreading change on the suprasegmental level occurs in sentence intonation. This is especially common among young people, but not exclusively so. The change lies in a tendency to use a rising nuclear tone on a statement where a fall might be expected. The (presumably unintended) effect may be one of reluctance to commit oneself, or of diffidence. We cannot be sure if the rising intonation conveys meaning, or is habitual


There is a wide range of pronunciation varieties of the English language. These varieties reflect the social class the speaker belongs to, the geographical region he comes from, and they also convey stylistic connotations of speech. Some of these varieties are received pronunciations, others are not.

Every national variant of the English language has an orthoepic norm of its own: RP, or Southern English, for British English, GA for American English, the Australian Standard Pronunciation for Australian English. Each of these orthoepic norms tolerates a definite range of phonemic variation, and each of them has its own peculiarities of combinatory phenomena.

It is generally conceded that the orthoepic norm of British English is «Received Pronunciation» , though, as many scholars state, it is not the only variety of British English pronunciation that is recognized as the ortho-epic norm in present—day Britain.

Received Pronunciation (RP) was accepted as the phonetic norm of English about a century ago. It is mainly based on the Southern English regional type of pronunciation, but has developed its own features which have given it a non—regional character, i.e. there is no region in Britain to which it is native. RP is spoken all over Britain by a comparatively small number of Englishmen who have had the most privileged education in the country — public school education. RP is actually a social standard pronunciation of English. It is often referred to as the prestige accent.

But there are many educated people in Britain who do not speak RP, though their English is good and correct. They speak Standard English*with a regional type of pronunciation.

Scholars divide English people by the way they talk into three groups:

RP speakers of Standard English (those who speak Standard English without any local accent) ;

non—RP speakers of Standard English (those who speak Standard English with a regional accent);

(3) Dialect speakers.

Scholars often note that it is wrong to assume that only one type of pronunciation can be correct. If a particular pronunciation is well—established and current among educated speakers, it should not be treated as incorrect. This primarily concerns the Northern and the Scottish types of pronunciation which are used by many educated people in Britain.

One should distinguish between RP and «educated» regional types of pronunciation (such as Southern, Northern and Scottish types of English pronunciation), on the one hand, and local dialects, on the other.

One of the best examples of a local dialect is Cockney. It is used by the less educated in the region of London.

Studies of regional and dialectal pronunciations generally concentrate on the phonemic structures of words and differences in the realizations of definite phonemes. But it appears that these pronunciations, besides that, have differences in their phoneme inventories. For example, the Northern type of pronunciation has no / ʌ /, whereas it has /рэ/. The Scottish pronunciation distinguishes between voiced /w/ and voiceless /m/, but it has no /3: /. Cockney has no [θ] и [ ð] phonemes. There are many /h/—less dialects in England. Therefore there are distinctions in the phoneme inventories of various types of pronunciations. Scholars have recently given more attention to the phonological systems of British English varieties of pronunciations, yet much remains to be done.

(+ see Northern & Scotish dialects)

The Northern regional type of English pronunciation

The Northern regional type of English pronunciation is characterized by features that are common to all the dialects used in the northern part of England.

The main distinctions of the Northern type of English pronunciation, as opposed to RP, are as follows:

/æ/ is more open and more retracted back, as in /a/ (e.g.»back»,»bad»).

/ɑ:/ is fronted compared with RP /ɑ:/ and it approximates to /æ/ inwords which do not contain «r» in spelling (e.g. «glass», «after»),

(c) /ʊ/ is used instead of /ʌ/ (e.g. «cup», «love», «much»), so there is nodistinction between words like «could» and «cud», «put» and «putt».

(d) / ǝʊ / is pronounced as a monophthongal / ɔ:/ (e.g. «go», «home»).

/e/ or are pronounced instead of /ei/ (e.g. «may», «say», «take»).

/ɒə/ is widely used, so they distinguish words like «pore» and «paw»

All tones are drawled and speech is generally slower than in Southern English. The Low Rising Tone is used much oftener than in RP. For example, «Lancashire is the most thickly populated county in England» is pronounced with the Low Rise on the word “Lancashire “. All that tends to give a sing—song quality to speech.

The Scottish type of English Pronunciation

The Scottish type of English Pronunciation is also based on the dialects spoken in Scotland which vary among themselves in some respects. Their common features, which distinguish the Scottish type of pronunciation from RP, are as follows:

/ ɜ:/ is not used in the Scottish type of pronunciation, instead of RP /ɜ:/ they use the sequences /ir/, /er/ or /ʌr/ (e.g. «bird»/bird/ «heard /herd/, «word» /wʌrd/. Similarly monophthongs are used instead of diphthongs in «beard», «there», «pure», «poor», «sure», etc.

/u/ is used instead of /au/ (e.g. «down» /dun/).

The Scottish pronunciation does not distinguish between /æ/ and / ɑ:/; words like «bad», «path», «grass», «dance», «half», «part» are pronounced with /æ/, /a/ or /ɒ/.

All vowels are short. There is no distinction in the length of the vowels in words like «pull» and «pool», «cot» and «caught», with the exception that the vowel in inflected words is not as short as the vowel in non—inflected words («road» — «rowed», «greed» — «agreed»)

/r/ is an alveolar flap not only between and before vowels, as in «hurry» and «brown», but also after vowels, as in «word», «born».

(f) A voiceless labiovelar fricative /m/ is used to distinguish between «which» and «witch», «whine» and «wine», e.g. /hwiʧ/ for which, etc.

(g) In the Scottish type of pronunciation there appears a backlingual fricative /x/, which resembles the corresponding Russian sound (e.g. «loch»). There are certain peculiarities in the intonation of the Scottish type of English pronunciation, such as

(a) Special Questions may end with a high level tone after a fall on the interrogative word, e.g.

RP ‘Who’s ‘having the `grape fruit?

Scot. `Who’s having the ‘grape fruit?

(b)A final vocative does not necessarily continue the tune of the General Questions, e.g.

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