Phonetics as a branch of linguistics. Aspects of the sound matter of language. National and regional pronunciation variants in English. The system of vowel phonemes in English. Alternations of speech sounds in English. Methods of phonetic analysis.
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1. Phonetics as a branch of linguistics. Phonetics and other disciplines. Applications of phonetics
2. Branches of phonetics
3. Aspects of the sound matter of language
4. Components of the phonetic system of language
5. National and regional pronunciation variants in English.
6. British and American pronunciation models.
7. Most distinctive features of BBC English and Network English
8. The articulatory classification of English vowels
9. The articulatory classification of English consonants
10. Phoneme as many-sided dialectic unity of language. Types of allophones. Distinctive and irrelevant features of the phoneme
11. Main phonological schools
12. The system of vowel phonemes in English. Problem of diphthongs
13. The system of consonant phonemes in English. Problem of affricates
14. Modifications of English consonants and vowels in speech
15. Alternations of speech sounds in English
16. Theories on syllable division and formation
17. The structure and functions of syllable in English
18. Word stress in English
19. Intonation and prosody: definition, functions, components, spheres of application
20. The structure of English tone-group
21. The phonological level of intonation
22. Methods of phonetic analysis
23. Phonostylistics. Types and styles of pronunciation in English
24. Phonetics of the spoken discourse
1. Phonetics as a branch of linguistics
2. Aspects and units of phonetics
3. Branches of phonetics
4. Methods of phonetic analysis
1. Phonetics as a branch of linguistics
We begin our study of language by examining the inventory, structure and functions of the speech sounds. This branch of linguistics is called phonetics.
Phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics like lexicology or grammar. These linguistic sciences study language from three different points of view. Lexicology deals with the vocabulary of language, with the origin and development of words, with their meaning and word building. Grammar defines the rules governing the modification of words and the combination of words into sentences. Phonetics studies the outer form of language; its sound matter. The phonetician investigates the phonemes and their allophones, the syllabic structure the distribution of stress, and intonation. He is interested in the sounds that are produced by the human speech-organs insofar as these sounds have a role in language. Let us refer to this limited range of sounds as the phonic medium and to individual sounds within that range as speech-sounds. We may now define phonetics as the study of the phonic medium. Phonetics is the study of the way humans make, transmit, and receive speech sounds. Phonetics occupies itself with the study of the ways in which the sounds are organized into a system of units and the variation of the units in all types and styles of spoken language.
Phonetics is a basic branch of linguistics. Neither linguistic theory nor linguistic practice can do without phonetics. No kind of linguistic study can be made without constant consideration of the material on the expression level.
2. Aspects and units of phonetics
Human speech is the result of a highly complicated series of events. Let us consider the speech chain, which may be diagrammed in simplified form like this:
phonetics linguistics english
Speaker's vocal tract
Transmission of sounds
The formation of the concept takes place in the brain of a speaker. This stage may be called psychological. The message formed within the brain is transmitted along the nervous system to the speech organs. Therefore, we may say that the human brain controls the behaviour of the articulating organs which effects in producing a particular pattern of speech sounds. This second stage may be called physiological. The movements of the speech apparatus disturb the air stream thus producing sound waves. Consequently, the third stage may be called physical or acoustic. Further, any communication requires a listener, as well as a speaker. So the last stages are the reception of the sound waves by the listener's hearing physiological apparatus, the transmission of the spoken message through the nervous system to the brain and the linguistic interpretation of the information conveyed. . The sound phenomena have different aspects:
(a) the articulatory aspect;
(b) the acoustic aspect;
(c) the auditory (perceptive) aspect;
(d) the functional (linguistic) aspect.
Now it is possible to show the correlation between the stages of the speech chain and the aspects of the sound matter.
Articulation comprises all the movements and positions of the speech organs necessary to pronounce a speech sound. According to their main sound-producing functions, the speech organs can be divided into the following four groups:
(1) the power mechanism;
(2) the vibration mechanism;
(3) the resonator mechanism;
(4) the obstruction mechanism.
The functions of the power mechanism consist in the supply of the energy in the form of the air pressure and in regulating the force of the air stream. The power mechanism includes: (1) the diaphragm, (2) the lungs, (3) the bronchi, (4) the windpipe, or trachea. The glottis and the supra-glottal cavities enter into the power mechanism as parts of the respiratory tract. The vibration mechanism consists of the larynx, or voice box, containing the vocal cords. The most important function of the vocal cords is their role in the production of voice. The pharynx, the mouth, and the nasal cavity function as the principal resonators thus constituting the resonator mechanism. The obstruction mechanism (the tongue, the lips, the teeth, and the palate) forms the different types of obstructions.
The acoustic aspect studies sound waves. The basic vibrations of the vocal cords over their whole length produce the fundamental tone of voice. The simultaneous vibrations of each part of the vocal cords produce partial tones (overtones and harmonics). The number of vibrations per second is called frequency. Frequency of basic vibrations of the vocal cords is the fundamental frequency. Fundamental frequency determines the pitch of the voice and forms an acoustic basis of speech melody. Intensity of speech sounds depends on the amplitude of vibration.
The auditory (sound-perception) aspect, on the one hand, is a physiological mechanism. We can perceive sound waves within a range of 16 Hz-20.000 Hz with a difference in 3 Hz. The human ear transforms mechanical vibrations of the air into nervous and transmits them to brain. The listener hears the acoustic features of the fundamental frequency, formant frequency, intensity and duration in terms of perceptible categories of pitch, quality, loudness and length. On the other hand, it is also a psychological mechanism. The point is that repetitions of what might be heard as the same utterance are only coincidentally, if ever, acoustically identical. Phonetic identity is a. theoretical ideal. Phonetic similarity, not phonetic identity, is the criterion with which we operate in the linguistic analysis.
Functional aspect. Phonemes, syllables, stress, and intonation are linguistic phenomena. They constitute meaningful units (morphemes, words, word-forms, utterances). Sounds of speech perform different linguistic functions.
Let's have a look at the correlation of some phonetic terms discussed above.
vibration of the vocal cords
different positions and movements of speech organs
the amplitude of vibrations
the quantity of time during which the sound is pronounced
tempo, rhythm, pauses
The phonetic system of language is a set of phonetic units arranged in an orderly way to replace each other in a given framework. Phonetics is divided into two major components (or systems): segmental phonetics, which is concerned with individual sounds (i.e. "segments" of speech) and suprasegmental phonetics dealing with the larger units of connected speech: syllables, words, phrases and texts.
1. Segmental units are sounds of speech (vowels and consonants) which form the vocalic and consonantal systems;
2. Suprasegmental, or prosodic, units are syllables, accentual (rhythmic) units, intonation groups, utterances, which form the subsystem of pitch, stress, rhythm, tempo, pauses.
Now we may define phonetics as a branch of linguistics that studies speech sounds in the broad sense, comprising segmental sounds, suprasegmental units and prosodic phenomena (pith, stress, tempo, rhythm, pauses).
Let us consider the four components of the phonetic system of language.
The first and the basic component of the phonetic structure of language is the system of its segmental phonemes existing in the material form of their allophones. The phonemic component has 3 aspects, or manifestations:
1. the system of its phonemes as discrete isolated units;
2. the distribution of the allophones of the phonemes;
3. the methods of joining speech sounds together in words and at their junction, or the methods of effecting VC, CV, CC, and VV transitions.
The second component is the syllabic structure of words. The syllabic structure has two aspects, which are inseparable from each other: syllable formation and syllable division.
The third component is the accentual structure of words as items of vocabulary (i.e. as pronounced in isolation). The accentual structure of words has three aspects: the physical (acoustic) nature of word accent; the position of the accent in disyllabic and polysyllabic words; the degrees of word accent.
The fourth component of the phonetic system is the intonational structure of utterances. The four components of the phonetic system of language (phonemic, syllabic, accentual and intonational) all constitute its pronunciation (in the broad sense of the term).
3. Branches of phonetics
We know that the phonic medium can be studied from four points of view: the articulatory, the acoustic, the auditory, and the functional.
We may consider the branches of phonetics according to these aspects. Articulatory phonetics is the study of the way the vocal organs are used to produce speech sounds. Acoustic phonetics is the study of the physical properties of speech sounds. Auditory phonetics is the study of the way people perceive speech sounds. Of these three branches of phonetics, the longest established, and until recently the most highly developed, is articulatory phonetics. For this reason, most of terms used by linguists to refer to speech-sounds are articulatory in origin.
Phoneticians are also interested in the way in which sound phenomena function in a particular language. In other words, they study the abstract side of the sounds of language. The branch of phonetics concerned with the study of the functional (linguistic) aspect of speech sounds is called phonology. By contrast with phonetics, which studies all possible sounds that the human vocal apparatus can make, phonology studies only those contrasts in sound which make differences of meaning within language.
Besides the four branches of phonetics described above, there are other divisions of the science. We may speak of general phonetics and the phonetics of a particular language (special or descriptive phonetics). General phonetics studies all the sound-producing possibilities of the human speech apparatus and the ways they are used for purpose of communication. The phonetics of a particular language studies the contemporary phonetic system of the particular language, i.e. the system of its pronunciation, and gives a description of all the phonetic units of the language. Descriptive phonetics is based on general phonetics.
Linguists distinguish also historical phonetics whose aim is to trace and establish the successive changes in the phonetic system of a given language (or a language family) at different stages of its development. Historical phonetics is a part of the history of language.
Closely connected with historical phonetics is comparative phonetics whose aims are to study the correlation between the phonetic systems of two or more languages and find out the correspondences between the speech sounds of kindred languages.
Phonetics can also be theoretical and practical. At the faculties of Foreign Languages in this country, two courses are introduced:
1. Practical, or normative, phonetics that studies the substance, the material form of phonetic phenomena in relation to meaning.
2. Theoretical phonetics, which is mainly concerned with the functioning of phonetic units in language.
This dichotomy is that which holds between theoretical and applied linguists. Briefly, theoretical linguistics studies language with a view to constructing theory of its structure and functions and without regard to any practical applications that the investigation of language might have. Applied linguistics has as its concerns the application of the concepts and findings of linguistics to a variety of practical tasks, including language teaching.
All the branches of phonetics are closely connected not only with one another but also with other branches of linguistics. This connection is determined by the fact that language is a system whose components are inseparably connected with one another.
Phonetics is also connected with many other sciences. Acoustic phonetics is connected with physics and mathematics. Articulatory phonetics is connected with physiology, anatomy, and anthropology. Historical phonetics is connected with general history of the people whose language is studied; it is also connected with archaeology. Phonology is connected with communication (information) theory, mathematics, and statistics.
4. Methods of phonetic analysis
We distinguish between subjective, introspective methods of phonetic investigation and objective methods.
The oldest, simplest and most readily available method is the method of direct observation. This method consists in observing the movements and positions of one's own or other people's organs of speech in pronouncing various speech sounds, as well as in analyzing one's own kinaesthetic sensations during the articulation of speech sound in comparing them with auditory impressions.
Objective methods involve the use of various instrumental techniques (palatography, laryngoscopy, photography, cinematography, X-ray photography and cinematography and electromyography). This type of investigation together with direct observation is widely used in experimental phonetics. The objective methods and the subjective ones are complementary and not opposite to one another. Nowadays we may use the up-to-date complex set to fix the articulatory parameters of speech - so called articulograph.
Acoustic phonetics comes close to studying physics and the tools used in this field enable the investigator to measure and analyze the movement of the air in the terms of acoustics. This generally means introducing a microphone into the speech chain, converting the air movement into corresponding electrical activity and analyzing (Ксень, это слово у Красы через «s», но, по-моему, тут «z») the result in terms of frequency of vibration and the amplitude of vibration in relation to time. The spectra of speech sounds are investigated by means of the apparatus called the sound spectrograph. Pitch as a component of intonation can be investigated by intonograph.
The acoustic aspect of speech sounds is investigated not only with the help of sound-analyzing techniques, but also by means of speech-synthesizing devices.
Regional and stylistic varieties of English pronunciation
1. Spoken and written language
2. Classification of pronunciation variants in English. British and American pronunciation models
3. Types and styles of pronunciation
1. Spoken and Written language
We don't need to speak in order to use language. Language can be written, broadcast from tapes and CDs, and produced by computers in limited ways. Nevertheless, speech remains the primary way humans encode and broadcast language. Speaking and writing are different in both origin and practice. Our ability to use language is as old as humankind is. It reflects the biological and cognitive modification that has occurred during the evolution of our species. Writing is the symbolic representation of language by graphic signs. It is comparatively recent cultural development. Spoken language is acquired without specific formal instruction, whereas writing must be taught and learned through deliberate effort. The origins of the written language lie in the spoken language, not the other way round..
The written form of language is usually a generally accepted standard and is the same throughout the country. But spoken language may vary from place to place. Such distinct forms of language are called dialects! The varieties of the language are conditioned by language communities ranging from small groups to nations. Speaking about the nations we refer to the national variants of the language. According to A.D. Schweitzer national language is a historical category evolving from conditions of economic and political concentration which characterizes the formation of nation. In the case of English there exists a great diversity in the realization of the language and particularly in terms of pronunciation. Though every national variant of English has considerable differences in pronunciation, vocabulary and grammar; they all have much in common which gives us ground to speak of one and the same language -- the English language.
Every national variety of language falls into territorial or regional dialects. Dialects are distinguished from each other by differences in pronunciation, grammar and vocabulary. When we refer to varieties in pronunciation only, we use the term accent. So local accents may have many features of pronunciation in common and are grouped into territorial or area accents. For certain reasons one of the dialects becomes the standard language of the nation and its pronunciation or accent - the standard pronunciation.
The literary spoken form has its national pronunciation standard. A standard may be defined as "a socially accepted variety of language established by a codified norm of correctness" (K. Macanalay). Standard national pronunciation is sometimes called "an orthoepic norm''. Some phoneticians however prefer the term "literary pronunciation".
2. Classification of pronunciation variants in English. British and American pronunciation models
Nowadays two main types of English are spoken in the English-speaking world: British English and American English.
According to British dialectologists (P. Trudgill, J. Hannah, A. Hughes and others), the following variants of English are referred to the English-based group: English English, Welsh English, Australian English, New Zealand English; to the American-based group: United States English, Canadian English. Scottish English and Ireland English fall somewhere between the two, being somewhat by themselves.
According to M. Sokolova and others, English English, Welsh English, Scottish English and Northern Irish English should be better combined into the British English subgroup, on the ground of political, geographical, cultural unity which brought more similarities - then differences for those variants of pronunciation.
Teaching practice as well as a pronouncing dictionary must base their recommendations on one or more models. A pronunciation model is a carefully chosen and defined accent of a language.
In the nineteenth century Received Pronunciation (RP) was a social marker, a prestige accent of an Englishman. "Received" was understood in the sense of "accepted in the best society". The speech of aristocracy and the court phonetically was that of the London area. Then it lost its local characteristics and was finally fixed as a ruling-class accent, often referred to as "King's English". It was also the accent taught at public schools. With the spread of education cultured people not belonging to upper classes were eager to modify their accent in the direction of social standards.
In the first edition of English Pronouncing Dictionary (1917), Daniel Jones defined the type of pronunciation recorded as "Public School Pronunciation" (PSP). He had by 1926, however, abandoned the term PSP in favour of "Received Pronunciation" (RP). The type of speech he had in mind was not restricted to London and the Home Counties, however being characteristic by the nineteenth century of upper-class speech throughout the country. The Editor of the 14th Edition of the dictionary, A.C. Gimson, commented in 1977 "Such a definition of RP is hardly tenable today". A more broadly-based and accessible model accent for British English is represented in the 15th (1997) and the 16th (2003) editions - ВВС English. This is the pronunciation of professional speakers employed by the BBC as newsreaders and announcers. Of course, one finds differences between such speakers - they have their own personal characteristics, and an increasing number of broadcasters with Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents are employed. On this ground J.C. Wells (Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, 33rd edition - 2000) considers that the term BBC pronunciation has become less appropriate. According to J.C. Wells, in England and Wales RP is widely regarded as a model for correct pronunciation, particularly for educated formal speech.
For American English, the selection (in EPD) also follows what is frequently heard from professional voices on national. network news and information programmes. It is similar to what has been termed General American, which refers to a geographically (largely non-coastal) and socially based set of pronunciation features. It is important to note that no single dialect - regional or social - has been singled out as an American standard. Even national media (radio, television, movies, CD-ROM, etc.), with professionally trained voices have speakers with regionally mixed features. However, Network English, in its most colourless form, can be described as a relatively homogeneous dialect that reflects the ongoing development of progressive American dialects. This "dialect" itself contains some variant forms. The variants involve vowels before [r], possible differences in words like cot and caught and some vowels before [l]. It is fully rhotic. These differences largely pass unnoticed by the audiences for Network English, and are also reflective of age differences. What are thought to be the more progressive (used by educated, socially mobile, and younger speakers) variants are considered as first variants. J.C. Wells prefers the term General American. This is what is spoken by the majority of Americans, namely those who do not have a noticeable eastern or southern accent.
3. Types and styles of pronunciation
Styles of speech or pronunciation are those special forms of speech suited to the aim and the contents of the utterance, the circumstances of communication, the character of the audience, etc. As D. Jones points out, a person may pronounce the same word or sequence of words quite differently under different circumstances.
Thus in ordinary conversation the word and is frequently pronounced [n] when unstressed (e.g. in bread and butter ['bredn 'butэ], but in serious conversation the word, even when unstressed, might often be pronounced [жnd]. In other words, all speakers use more than one style of pronunciation, and variations in the pronunciation of speech sounds, words and sentences peculiar to different styles of speech may be called stylistic variations.
Several different styles of pronunciation may be distinguished, although no generally accepted classification of styles of pronunciation has been worked out and the peculiarities of different styles have not yet been sufficiently investigated.
D. Jones distinguishes among different styles of pronunciation the rapid familiar style, the slower colloquial style, the natural style used in addressing a fair-sized audience, the acquired style of the stage, and the acquired style used in singing.
L.V. Shcherba wrote of the need to distinguish a great variety of styles of speech, in accordance with the great variety of different social occasions and situations, but for the sake of simplicity he suggested that only two styles of pronunciation should be distinguished: (1) colloquial style characteristic of people's quiet talk, and (2) full style, which we use when we want to make our speech especially distinct and, for this purpose, clearly articulate all the syllables of each word.
The kind of style used in pronunciation has a definite effect on the phonemic and allophonic composition of words. More deliberate and distinct utterance results in the use of full vowel sounds in some of the unstressed syllables. Consonants, too, uttered in formal style, will sometimes disappear in colloquial. It is clear that the chief phonetic characteristics of the colloquial style are various forms of the reduction of speech sounds and various kinds of assimilation. The degree of reduction and assimilation depends on the tempo of speech.
S.M. Gaiduchic distinguishes five phonetic styles: solemn (торжественный), "scientific business (научно-деловой), official business (официально-деловой), everyday (бытовой), and familiar (непринужденный). As we may see the above-mentioned phonetic styles on the whole correlate with functional styles of the language. They are differentiated on the basis of spheres of discourse.
The other way of classifying phonetic styles is suggested by J.A. Dubovsky who discriminates the following five styles: informal ordinary, formal neutral, formal official, informal familiar, and declamatory. The division is based on different degrees of formality or rather familiarity between the speaker and the listener. Within each style subdivisions are observed. M.Sokolova and other's approach is slightly different. When we consider the problem of classifying phonetic styles according to the criteria described above we should distinguish between segmental and suprasegmental level of analysis because some of them (the aim of the utterance, for example) result in variations of mainly suprasegmental level, while others (the formality of situation, for example) reveal segmental varieties. So it seems preferable to consider each level separately until a more adequate system of correlation is found.
The style-differentiating characteristics mentioned above give good grounds for establishing intonational styles. There are five intonational styles singled out mainly according to the purpose of communication and to which we could refer all the main varieties of the texts. They are as follows:
Academic style (Scientific).
Declamatory style (Artistic).
Conversational style (Familiar).
But differentiation of intonation according" to the purpose of communication is not enough; there are other factors that affect intonation in various situations. Besides any style is seldom realized in its pure form.
Lecture 3 Classification of English speech sounds
Articulatory classification of English consonants
Articulatory classification of English vowels
1. Articulatory classification of English consonants
There are two major classes of sounds traditionally distinguished in any language - consonants and vowels. The opposition "vowels vs. consonants" is a linguistic universal. The distinction is based mainly on auditory effect. Consonants are known to have voice and noise combined, while vowels are sounds consisting of voice only. From the articulatory point of view the difference is due to the work of speech organs. In case of vowels no obstruction is made, so on the perception level their integral characteristic is tone, not noise. In case of consonants various obstructions are made. So consonants are characterized by a complete, partial or intermittent blockage of the air passage. The closure is formed in such a way that the air stream is blocked or hindered or otherwise gives rise to audible friction. As a result consonants are sounds which have noise as their indispensable characteristic.
Russian phoneticians classify consonants according to the following principles: i) degree of noise; ii) place of articulation; iii) manner of articulation; iv) position of the soft palate; v) force of articulation.
(I) There are few ways of seeing situation concerning the classification of English consonants. According to V.A. Vassilyev primary importance should be given to the type of obstruction and the manner of production noise. On this ground he distinguishes two large classes:
occlusive, in the production of which a complete obstruction is formed;
constrictive, in the production of which an incomplete obstruction is formed. Each of two classless is subdivided into noise consonants and sonorants.
Another point of view is shared by a group of Russian phoneticians. They suggest that the first and basic principle of classification should be the degree of noise. Such consideration leads to dividing English consonants into two general kinds: a) noise consonants; b) sonorants.
The term "degree of noise" belongs to auditory level of analysis. But there is an intrinsic connection between articulatory and auditory aspects of describing speech sounds. In this case the term of auditory aspect defines the characteristic more adequately.
Sonorants are sounds that differ greatly from other consonants. This is due to the fact that in their production the air passage between the two organs of speech is fairly wide, that is much wider than in the production of noise consonants. As a result, the auditory effect is tone, not noise. This peculiarity of articulation makes sonorants sound more like vowels than consonants. Acoustically sonorants are opposed to all other consonants because they are characterized by sharply defined formant structure and the total energy of most of them is very high.
There are no sonorants in the classifications suggested by British and American scholars. Daniel Jones and Henry A. Gleason, for example, give separate groups of nasals [m, n, з], the lateral  and semi-vowels, or glides [w, r, j (y)]. Bernard Bloch and George Trager besides nasals and lateral give trilled [r]. According to Russian phoneticians sonorants are considered to be consonants from articulatory, acoustic and phonological point of view.
(II) The place of articulation. This principle of consonant classification is rather universal. The only difference is that V.A. Vassilyev, G.P. Torsuev, O.I. Dikushina, A.C. Gimson give more detailed and precise enumerations of active organs of speech than H.A. Gleason, B. Bloch, G. Trager and others. There is, however, controversy about terming the active organs of speech. Thus, Russian phoneticians divide the tongue into the following parts: (1) front with the tip, (2) middle, and (3) back. Following L.V. Shcherba's terminology the front part of the tongue is subdivided into: (a) apical, (b) dorsal, (c) cacuminal and (d) retroflexed according to the position of the tip and the blade of the tongue in relation to the teeth ridge. А.С. Gimson's terms differ from those used by Russian phoneticians: apical is equivalent to forelingual; frontal is equivalent to mediolingual; dorsum is the whole upper area of the tongue. H.A. Gleason's terms in respect to the bulk of the tongue are: apex - the part of the tongue that lies at rest opposite the alveoli; front - the part of the tongue that lies at rest opposite the fore part of the palate; back, or dorsum - the part of the tongue that lies at rest opposite the velum or the back part of the palate.
(III) A.L. Trakhterov, G.P. Torsyev, V.A. Vassilyev and other Russian scholars consider the principle of classification according to the manner of articulation to be one of the most important and classify consonants very accurately, logically and thoroughly. They suggest a classification from the point of view of the closure. It may be: (1) complete closure, then occlusive (stop or plosive) consonants are produced; (2) incomplete closure, then constrictive consonants are produced; (3) the combination of the two closures, then occlusive- constrictive consonants, or affricates, are produced; (4) intermittent closure, then rolled, or trilled consonants are produced.
A.C. Gimson, H.A. Gleason, D. Jones and other foreign phoneticians include in the manner of noise production groups of lateral, nasals, and semivowels - subgroups of consonants which do not belong to a single class.
Russian phoneticians subdivide consonants into unicentral (pronounced with one focus) and bicentral (pronounced with two foci), according to the number of noise producing centers, or foci.
According to the shape of narrowing constrictive consonants and affricates
are subdivided into sounds with flat narrowing and round narrowing.
(IV) According to the position of the soft palate all consonants are subdivided into oral and nasal. When the soft palate is raised oral consonants are produced; when the soft palate is lowered nasal consonants are produced.
(V) According to the force of articulation consonants may be fortis and lenis. This characteristic is connected with the work of the vocal cords: voiceless consonants are strong and voiced are weak.
2. The articulatory classification of English Vowels
The first linguist who tried to describe and classify vowels for all languages was D. Jones. He devised the system of 8 Cardinal Vowels. The basis of the system is physiological. Cardinal vowel No. 1 corresponds to the position of the front part of the tongue raised as closed as possible to the palate. The gradual lowering of the tongue to the back lowest position gives another point for cardinal vowel No.5. The lowest front position of the tongue gives the point for cardinal vowel No.4. The upper back limit for the tongue position gives the point for cardinal No.8. These positions for Cardinal vowels were copied from X-ray photographs. The tongue positions between these points were X-rayed and the equidistant points for No.2, 3, 6, 7 were found. The IPA symbols (International Phonetic Alphabet) for the 8 Cardinal Vowels are: 1 -i, 2 - e, 3 - е, 4 - a, 5 - a:, 6 - , 7 - o, 8 - u.
The system of Cardinal Vowels is an international standard. In spite of the theoretical significance of the Cardinal Vowel system its practical application is limited. In language teaching this system can be learned only by oral instructions from a teacher who knows how to pronounce the Cardinal Vowels.
Russian phoneticians suggest a classification of vowels according to the following principles: 1) stability of articulation; 2) tongue position; 3) lip position; 4) character of the vowel end; 5) length; 6) tenseness.
1. Stability of articulation. This principle is not singled out by British and American phoneticians. Thus, P. Roach writes: "British English (BBC accent) is generally described as having short vowels, long vowels and diphthongs". According to Russian scholars vowels are subdivided into: a) monophthongs (the tongue position is stable); b) diphthongs (it changes, that is the tongue moves from one position to another); c) diphthongoids (an intermediate case, when the change in the position is fairly weak).
Diphthongs are defined differently by different authors. A.C. Gimson, for example, distinguishes 20 vocalic phonemes which are made of vowels and vowel glides. D. Jones defines diphthongs as unisyllabic gliding sounds in the articulation of which the organs of speech start from one position and then elide to another position. There are two vowels in English [i:, u:] that may have a diphthongal glide where they have full length (be, do), and the tendency for diphthongization is becoming gradually stronger.
2. The position of the tongue. According to the horizontal movement Russian phoneticians distinguish five classes: 1) front; 2) front-retracted; 3) central; 4) back; 5) back-advanced.
British phoneticians do not single out the classes of front-retracted and back-advanced vowels. So both [i:] and [i] are classed as front, and both [u:] and [Y] are classed as back.
The way British and Russian phoneticians approach the vertical movement of the tongue is also slightly different. British scholars distinguish three classes of vowels: high (or close), mid (or half-open) and low (or open) vowels. Russian phoneticians made the classification more detailed distinguishing two subclasses in each class, i.e. broad and narrow variations of the three vertical positions. Consequently, six groups of vowels are distinguished.
English vowels and diphthongs may be placed on the Cardinal Vowel quadrilateral as shown in Figs. 2, 3, 4.
3. Another feature of English vowels is lip position. Traditionally three lip positions are distinguished, that is spread, neutral, rounded. Lip rounding takes place rather due to physiological reasons than to any other. Any back vowel in English is produced with rounded lips, the degree of rounding is different and depends on the height of the raised part of the tongue; the higher it is raised the more rounded the lips are.
Character of the vowel end. This quality depends on the kind of the articulatory transition from a vowel to a consonant. This transition (VC) is very closed in English unlike Russian. As a result all English short vowels are checked when stressed. The degree of checkness may vary and depends on the following consonants (+ voiceless - voiced - sonorant -).
We should point out that vowel length or quantity has for a long time been the point of disagreement among phoneticians. It is a common knowledge that a vowel like any sound has physical duration. When sounds are used in connected speech they cannot help being influenced by one another. Duration of a vowel depends on the following factors: 1) its own length; 2) the accent of the syllable in which it occurs; 3) phonetic context; 4) the position in a rhythmic structure; 5) the position in a tone group; 6) the position in an utterance; 7) the tempo of the whole utterance; 8) the type of pronunciation. The problem the analysts are concerned with is whether variations in quantity are meaningful (relevant). Such contrasts are investigated in phonology.
There is one more articulatory characteristic that needs our attention, namely tenseness. It characterizes the state of the organs of speech at the moment of vowel production. Special instrumental analysis shows that historically long vowels are tense while historically short are lax.
Phoneme as a unit of language
1. Definition of the phoneme and its functions
2. Types of allophones and main features of the phoneme
3. Methods of the phonemic analysis
4. Main phonological schools
1. Definition of the phoneme and its functions.
To know how sounds are produced is not enough to describe and classify them as language units. When we talk about the sounds of language, the term "sound" can be interpreted in two different ways. First, we can say that [t] and [d], for example, are two different sounds in English: e.g. ten-den, seat-seed. But on the other hand, we know that [t] in let us and [t] in let them are not the same. In both examples the sounds differ in one articulatory feature only. In the second case the difference between the sounds has functionally no significance. It is clear that the sense of "sound" in these two cases is different. To avoid this ambiguity, linguists use two separate terms: phoneme and allophone.
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.
Let us consider the phoneme from the point of view of its aspects.
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.
2. Types of allophones and the main features of the phoneme
Let us consider the English phoneme [d]. It is occlusive, forelingual, apical, alveolar, lenis consonant. This is how it sounds in isolation or in such words as door, darn, down, etc, when it retains its typical articulatory characteristics. In this case the consonant [d] is called principal allophone. The allophones which do not undergo any distinguishable changes in speech are called principal.
Allophones that occur under influence of the neighboring sounds in different phonetic situations are called subsidiary, e.g.:
a. deal, did - it is slightly palatalized before front vowels
b. bad pain, bedtime - it is pronounced without any plosion
с. sudden, admit - it is pronounced with nasal plosion before [n], [m]
d. dry - it becomes post-alveolar followed by [r].
If we consider the production of the allophones of the phoneme above we will find out that they possess three articulatory features in common - all of them are forelingual lenis stops. Consequently, though allophones of the same phoneme possess similar articulatory features they may frequently show considerable phonetic differences.
Native speakers do not observe the difference between the allophones of the same phoneme. At the same time they realize that allophones of each phoneme possess a bundle of distinctive features that makes this phoneme functionally different from all other phonemes of the language. This functionally relevant bundle is called the invariant of the phoneme. All the allophones of the phoneme [d] instance, are occlusive, forelingual, lenis. If occlusive articulation is changed for constrictive one [d] will be replaced by [z]: e. g. breed - breeze, deal -- zeal, the articulatory features which form the invariant of the phoneme are called distinctive or relevant.
To extract relevant features of the phoneme we have to oppose it to some other phoneme in the phonetic context.
If the opposed sounds differ in one articulatory feature and this difference brings about changes in the meaning this feature is called relevant: for example, port -- court, [p] and [k] are consonants, occlusive, fortis; the only difference being that [p] is labial and [t] is lingual.
The articulatory features which do not serve to distinguish meaning are called non-distinctive, irrelevant or redundant. For example, it is impossible to oppose an aspirated [ph] to a non-aspirated one in the same phonetic context to distinguish meaning.
We know that anyone who studies a foreign language makes mistakes in the articulation of sounds. L.V. Shcherba classifies the pronunciation errors as phonological and phonetic. If an allophone is replaced by an allophone of a different phoneme the mistake is called phonological. If an allophone of the phoneme is replaced by another allophone of the same phoneme the mistake is called phonetic.
3. Methods of the phonemic analysis
The aim of the phonological analysis is, firstly, to determine which differences of sounds are phonemic and which are non-phonemic and, secondly, to find the inventory of phonemes of the language.
As it was mentioned above, phonology has its own methods of investigation. Semantic method is applied for phonological analysis of both unknown languages and languages already described. The method is based on a phonemic rule that phonemes can distinguish words and morphemes when opposed to one another. It consists in systematic substitution of one sound for another in order to find out in which cases where the phonetic context remains the same such replacing leads to a change of meaning. This procedure is called the commutation test. It consists in finding minimal pairs of words and their grammatical forms. For example:
Minimal pairs are useful for establishing the phonemes of the language. Thus, a phoneme can only perform its distinctive function if it is opposed to another phoneme in the same position. Such an opposition is called phonological. Let us consider the classification of phonological oppositions worked out by N.S. Trubetzkoy. It is based on the number of distinctive articulatory features underlying the opposition.
1. If the opposition is based on a single difference in the articulation of two speech sounds, it is a single phonological opposition, e.g. [p]-[t], as in [pen]-[ten]; bilabial vs. forelingual, all the other features are the same.
2. If the sounds in distinctive opposition have two differences in their articulation, the opposition is double one, or a sum of two single oppositions, e.g. [p]-[d], as in [pen]-[den], 1) bilabial vs. forelingual 2) voiceless-fortis vs. voiced-lenis
3. If there are three articulatory differences, the opposition is triple one, or a sum of three single oppositions, e.g. [p]- [р], as in [pei]-[ рei]: 1) bilabial vs. forelingual, 2) occlusive vs. constrictive, 3) voiceless-fortis vs. voiced-lenis.
American descriptivists, whose most zealous representative is, perhaps, Zellig Harris, declare the distributional method to be the only scientific one. At the same time they declare the semantic method unscientific because they consider recourse to meaning external to linguistics. Descriptivists consider the phonemic analysis in terms of distribution. They consider it possible to discover the phonemes of a language by the rigid application of a distributional method. It means to group all the sounds pronounced by native speakers into phoneme according to the laws of phonemic and allophonic distribution:
1. Allophones of different phonemes occur in the same phonetic context. In this case their distribution is contrastive.
2. Allophones of the same phoneme(s) never occur in the same phonetic context. In this case their distribution is complementary.
There is, however, a third possibility, namely, that the sounds both occur in a language but the speakers are inconsistent in the way they use them, for example, калоши-галоши, and [`ei?э - `егжэ]. In such cases we must take them as free variants of a single phoneme. We could explain the case on the basis of sociolinguistics. Thus, there are three types of distribution: contrastive, complementary and free variation.
4. Main phonological schools
Let us consider the phrase [на лугу кос нет] and words [вАлы ], [сАма]. Logically, there can only be three answers to the question: which phonemes are represented by the consonant sound [c] in [кос] and by the vowel sound [А] in [вАлы]:
M (1) If [кос] and [вАлы] are grammatical forms of the words коза and вол respectively, then the consonant [c] represents phoneme /з/, while the vowel [А] is an allophone of the phoneme /o/. If [кос] and [вАлы] are grammatical forms of the words коса and вал respectively, then the consonant [c] belongs to the phoneme /с/, while the vowel [А] should be assigned to the phoneme /а/.
СП (2) The consonant [c] in [кос] belongs to the phoneme Id no matter whether it is a form of коза or that of коса, while the vowel [А] in [вАлы] represents the phoneme /a/ no matter whether it is a form of вол or that of вал.
П (3) The consonant [c] represents neither phoneme /з/, nor phoneme Id, while the vowel [А] in [вАлы] does not belong either to the phoneme /a/ or to the phoneme /о/.
Since there are three possible answers to the above questions, there are three schools of thought on the problem of identifying phonemes.
Those linguists who give the first answer belong to the so-called morphological (Moscow phonological) school (R.I. Avanesov, V.N. Sidorov, P.S. Kuznetsov, A.A. Reformatsky, and N.F. Yakovlev). The exponents of this school maintain that two different phonemes in different allomorphs of the same morpheme may be represented on the synchronic level by one and the same sound, which is their common variant and, consequently, one and the same sound may belong to one phoneme in one word and to another phoneme in another word.
In order to decide to which phoneme the sounds in a phonologically weak (neutral) position belong, it is necessary to find another allomorph of the same morpheme in which the phoneme occurs in the strong position, i.e. one in which it retains all its distinctive features. The strong position of a Russian consonant phoneme is that before a vowel sound of the same word, whereas the strong position of a vowel phoneme is that under stress. The consonant [c] in кос belongs to the phoneme Id because in the strong position in such allomorphs of the same morpheme as in коса, косы the phoneme is definitely /с/. In коз the same sound [c] is a variant of the phoneme /з/ because in the strong position, as in коза, козы, the phoneme is definitely /з/. The vowel [А] in валы is an allophone of the phoneme /a/ because the phoneme occurs in the strong position in вал while the same vowel [А] in волы is a variant of the phoneme /o/ because this phoneme is found in the strong position in вол.
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