PDF Introduction to English Phonetics and Phonology

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The textbook contains exercises, an index, suggestions for further reading and many audio examples on the accompanying CD-ROM. An essential text for students embarking on the study of English sounds at B. Speech production. Phonemes Syllables and Words. Acoustic properties of English. Speech perception. List of References.

Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology

The most presti- gious accent of Standard British English, for example, was first called Public School Pronunciation and renamed Received P r o n u n c i a t i o n , or simply RP, in the s. There is no widely used term for the most prestigious accent of General American, b u t it is sometimes referred to as Network Standard or Network English. Received Pronunciation is associated with the dialect spoken in the south-east of England. The word received may seem awkward in this construction, but it is used here in the sense 'generally accepted as proper'.

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R P was initially described by the British phonetician Daniel Jones in the first edition of his English Pronouncing Dictionary in And although RP is probably the most discussed accent around the world, it is important to note that it is a minority pronunciation unlikely ever to have been used by more than 3 to 4 per cent of the British population. RP is also the accent used in practically all British dictionaries and in- troductory textbooks.

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Traditional spelling In order to describe somebody's individual pronunciation or the sounds of a language variety, we need a method of writing down sounds as accurately as possible. The first method that comes to mind is the traditional alphabetical spelling system, also called o r t h o g r a p h y. It does, after all, relate speech sounds to letters. In most languages, h o w - ever, the relationship between speech and writing is not very consistent.

In English, one particular sound may be represented by different letters or combinations of letters. The second sound in the w o r d he, for example, is represented differently in see, sea, seize, people, key, Caesar, believe, amoeba, machine, and silly. Conversely, the same letters may indicate different sounds, such as the a in dad, father, many, call, village, and Dame. According to one statistical analysis, there are And some letters, like the b in debt, have no sound at all in certain words.

The rather confusing nature of English spelling can be explained by the long tradi- tion of printing in England. When in William Caxton, w h o had learnt the art of printing in Cologne, set up the first printing house just outside London, the orthogra- phy became less variable, and many subsequent sound changes were not accompanied by changes in the spelling. The spellings of many words in English today are therefore based on the pronunciation used in the time from Chaucer to Shakespeare. Another factor that contributed to the discrepancy between sound and spelling is the unusually high number of loanwords which have entered the English language throughout its his- tory and retained their original spelling.

O n the other hand, one study suggests that there are fewer than words in English whose spelling is wholly irregular. If this is true, it seems that many of these words are among the most frequently used words in the language. Attempts to eliminate spelling irregularities can be traced back to the 16th century. So far, however, no attempt to change English orthography has shown any sign of success. Phonetic transcription If we want to write down speech sounds as accurately as possible, we cannot depend on traditional spelling.


We need a method that relates sounds to letters or symbols more systematically: Each sound must be represented consistently by the same symbol, and, conversely, there must be a separate symbol for each distinctive sound. Such a one-to- one correspondence between speech and writing is referred to as a p h o n o g r a p h i c rela- tionship.

A whole set of them form a phonetic alphabet. Marks that we can a d d to indicate slight alterations to the usual value of a phonetic symbol are called diacritics [diakritiscbe Zeicben]. The term p h o n e t i c transcription [from Latin transcriptio, 'writing over'; pbonetiscbe Umschrift, Lautscbrift] refers to the process of w r i t i n g d o w n spoken language in phonetic symbols as well as to the resultant written text.

The International Phonetic Alphabet The most widely used phonetic alphabet, and one that provides suitable symbols f o r the sounds of any language, is the I n t e r n a t i o n a l Phonetic Alphabet, or IPA. This is the phonetic alphabet used in this manual. It was first published in by the I n t e r n a - tional Phonetic Association in France, and has since then been revised and corrected in various ways, most recently in It was initially developed by a group of p h o n e t i - cians, including Daniel Jones, from a concept proposed by the Danish linguist O t t o Jespersen The abbreviation IPA stands for both the alphabet and the as- sociation.

The association's German name, Weltlautschriftverein, is almost never heard.

Phonetics & phonology, INTRODUCTION, Dr, Salama Embarak

The International Phonetic Alphabet is used, with minor modifications, in almost all English-language dictionaries, except for American publications. The IPA does n o t , however, provide the means for a prosodic transcription, i. Apart from a mark to indicate stress, there is no generally agreed system for w r i t i n g down the prosody of speech. While some IPA symbols have been specially devised, quite a few of them look like ordinary Roman letters.

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They have probably been included for purely practical rea- sons, such as the facilitation of the printing process, but their inclusion has one serious disadvantage: The Roman letters used in the IPA may be misleading because they d o not always represent the sounds that a speaker of English or German would expect. W h e n memorising the symbols of the IPA and the corresponding sounds, it is therefore not advisable to be guided by your knowledge of the conventional ABC.

click here Learn every symbol as though you had never seen it before! Those IPA symbols that represent English sounds are listed on the inside front cover of this book. In this manual, we count nine features that are relevant to the description of speech sounds, even though the exact number may vary in differ- ent linguistic textbooks.

These nine features fall into two broad categories: The first category contains those characteristics that are only relevant if we want to describe the physical aspects of English sounds as precisely as possible. They have no bearing on the function of the sounds within the sound system of R P or any other English accent. These features are therefore only phonetically relevant.

They have no relevance to the segmental phonology of English. The second category contains those features that are both phonetically and phonologically relevant in English. The features in the second category, then, can distinguish meaning and are therefore called distinctive or relevant features [distinktive oder relevante Merkmale], They are relevant to the function of sounds within the sound system.

Purely p h o n e t i c features Loudness Loudness is one of the main phonetic properties of spoken language and of individual sounds. The greater the amplitude of the vibra- tion, the louder the sound. It can also convey an emotional state such as anger. In the segmen- tal phonology of English accents, however, it cannot distinguish meaning: The function of an individual sound within the sound system does not change with the loudness of its pronunciation.

Loudness is therefore not a distinctive feature. It is related to the frequency of the v i - bration of the vocal folds: The faster the vocal folds vibrate, the higher the pitch. Like loudness, pitch can distinguish meaning at a suprasegmental level: It is a c o m - ponent of stress, and it shapes the intonation of connected speech.

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Stress and p i t c h movement tell us, for example, whether a sentence like She speaks English is meant t o be a statement or a question. Pitch cannot, however, change the function of an i n d i v i d - ual sound within the sound system of English. By contrast, in over half the languages o f the world, a change of pitch can change the function of a sound, i. These l a n - guages are called tone languages. Many Asian and native American languages are t o n e languages, and there are more than 1, tone languages in Africa alone. English b e - longs to the non-tone languages.

Introduction to Phonetics

Pitch is therefore not a distinctive feature in the s e g - mental phonology of R P or any other English accent. Tone of voice We must distinguish between sound quality and tone of voice. We use the term s o u n d quality to refer to the quality that is characterised by the distinctive features, listed i n the second category below.

This means that the final sound in the word see, for e x a m - ple, has the same quality irrespective of the loudness, pitch, or duration with which it is pronounced. Tone of voice, also called voice quality, tonal quality, or timbre, refers t o the difference in "colour" that we hear between two voices when they produce a s o u n d with otherwise exactly the same phonetic features purely phonetic and distinctive. This can be compared with the difference that we hear between two musical i n s t r u - ments.

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