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Descrierea CIP a Bibliotecii Naţionale a României VAN SCHAIK RĂDULESCU, MARA A short Introduction to phonetics and phonology / Van Schaik Rădulescu, Mara. - Bucureşti, Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, 2005 152 p.; 20,5 cm Bibliogr. ISBN 973-725-437-6 811.111.’342’344(075.8)

© Editura Fundaţiei România de Mâine, 2005

Redactor: Andreea DINU Tehnoredactor: Alexandru OANĂ Coperta: Stan BARON Bun de tipar: 26.01.2006; Coli tipar: 9,5 Format: 16/61×86 Editura şi Tipografia Fundaţiei România de Mâine Splaiul Independenţei nr.313, Bucureşti, s. 6, O P. 83 Tel./ Fax 3169790; www. e-mail: contact@edituraromaniademaine

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Bucureşti, 2006
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FOREWORD .……………………………………………………… I. INTRODUCTION ………………………………………………. 1. Phonetics and phonology as branches of linguistics …………. 1.1. Disciplines of linguistics ……………………………….. 2. Speech sounds ……………………………………………….. 3. The International Phonetic Alphabet …………………………. 4. On varieties of English ……………………………………… 5. Questions ……………………………………………………. II. BRANCHES OF PHONETICS ………………………………. 1. Acoustic phonetics ………………………………………….. 2. Auditory phonetics ………………………………………….. 3. Questions ……………………………………………………. III. ARTICULATORY PHONETICS …………………………... 1. Airstream mechanisms ………………………………………. 2. The vocal cords ……………………………………………... 3. Resonance …………………………………………………… 4. Oral and nasal sounds ……………………………………….. 5. Active and passive articulators ………………………………. 6. Manners of articulation ……………………………………… 7. Fortis and lenis ………………………………………………. 8. Places of articulation ………………………………………… 9. Questions ……………………………………………………..

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IV. CONSONANTS ………………………………………………. 1. Obstruents …………………………………………………… 1.1. Plosives ………………………………………………... 1.1.1. Aspiration ……………………………………… 1.2. Fricatives ………………………………………………. 1.2.1. On the distribution of fricatives ……………….. 1.3. Affricates ………………………………………………. 2. Sonorant consonants …………………………………………. 2.1. Nasals …………………………………………………. 2.2. Liquids ………………………………………………… 2.2.1. Laterals ………………………………………… 2.2.2. Rhotics ………………………………………… 3. Glides ………………………………………………………... 3.1. Distribution and variation of glides ……………………. 4. Summary ……………………………………………………. 5. Questions and exercises ……………………………………… V. VOWELS ………………………………………………………. 1. Criteria for classifying vowels ……………………………… 2. The Cardinal Vowels ………………………………………… 3. Other criteria for classifying vowels ………………………… 4. English vowel sounds ……………………………………….. 4.1. RP front vowels ………………………………………... 4.2. RP back vowels ………………………………………... 4.3. RP central vowels ……………………………………... 4.4. RP centring diphthongs ………………………………... 4.5. RP diphthongs falling to [I] and to [U] ………………….. 5. Questions and exercises ……………………………………… VI. PHONOLOGY ……………………………………………….. 1. Phonetics vs. phonology ……………………………………... 2. Segmental vs. suprasegmental phonology …………………… 3. Segmental phonology …………………………………………. 6
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3.1 Phonemes and their variants ……………………………. 3.2 Distribution ……………………………………………... 4. Questions …………………………………………………….. VII. PHONOLOGICAL FEATURES …………………………... 1. Major class features …………………………………………. 2. Consonantal features ………………………………………… 2.1. Voice ………………………………………………….. 2.2. Manner features ………………………………………. 2.3. Place features ………………………………………… 3. Vowel features ………………………………………………. 4. Summing up …………………………………………………. 5. Questions and exercises ……………………………………… VIII. PHONOLOGICAL RULES ……………………………….. 1. Rule writing ………………………………………………….. 2. Selecting the underlying form ……………………………….. 3. Phonological alternations ……………………………………. 3.1 Phonetically conditioned alternations ………………….. 3.2 Phonetically and morphologically conditioned alternations 3.3 Phonetically, morphologically and lexically conditioned alternations 4. More on rule writing ………………………………………… 5. Derivations …………………………………………………... 5.1. Rule ordering ………………………………………….. 6. Questions and exercises ………………………………………

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1. Feature changing rules ………………………………………. 1.1. Assimilation ……………………………………………. 1.2. Dissimilation …………………………………………… 1.3. Lenition ………………………………………………… 1.4. Flapping ………………………………………………… 1.5. Glottalisation ……………………………………………

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2. Other types of changes ………………………………………. 2.1. Deletion ………………………………………………… 2.2. Insertion ……………………………………………….. 2.3. Metathesis ……………………………………………… 2.4. Reduplication …………………………………………... 2.5. Haplology ……………………………………………… 3. Questions and exercises X. SUPRASEGMENTAL PHONOLOGY: THE SYLLABLE 1. Syllable structure …………………………………………….. 1.1. Sonority and the syllable ……………………………….. 1.2. The onset-rhyme theory ………………………………... 1.3. The timing tier …………………………………………. 2. Syllabification ……………………………………………….. 2.1. Principles of syllabification …………………………… 3. Syllable weight ………………………………………………. 3.1. Latin stress assignment rule …………………………… 4. Questions and exercises ……………………………………… XI. SUPRASYLLABIC STRUCTURE 1. Stress and accent …………………………………………….. 2. The metrical foot ……………………………………………. 3. Intonation and tone ………………………………………….. 4. Questions and exercises …………………………………….. SAMPLE TESTS ……………………………………………... APPENDIX 1: English consonantal clusters ………………….. APPENDIX 2: English weak forms …………………………... SUGGESTED ANSWERS TO SAMPLE TEST A …………. RECOMMENDED FURTHER READING ………………… BIBLIOGRAPHY ……………………………………………… 8
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The general purpose of this course of lectures is to introduce the first year students in English to the study of sounds. The emphasis falls of course on the English sound system, but some examples from other languages are also brought up, so as to increase the explanatory power of the presentation. Preparing for this course will first of all enable the students to recognize, transcribe and describe the English sounds in general phonetic terms and to master the basic phonetic characteristics of the English language. At the same time, they will have the possibility to improve their knowledge of English pronunciation in relationship with the English spelling, thus increasing their speaking and writing proficiency. In the second part of the course, the students will become familiar with the object of phonology, its basic concepts, and the phonological description and classification of sounds. They will be introduced as well to the main phonological processes and their representation, with practical application on English specific phenomena. The third aim of the course is to present the main features of English suprasegmental phonology, starting with English phonotactics (phonological restrictions), and continuing with syllable structure and syllabification rules of English. Other categories that will fall under scrutiny are: stress, rhythm, intonation, the relationship between English weak and strong syllables, etc.
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1. Phonetics and phonology as branches of linguistics Phonetics and phonology are two closely related branches of linguistics, the science which studies human language in all its aspects. The study of language is one of the oldest and dearest preoccupations of philosophers and scientists. Ever since ancient times, linguists and other scholars have understood that the phenomena of language are much too complex to be studied globally. There are, in fact, different levels at which the linguistic analysis can apply, including, for instance, the level of sounds, that of words and that of sentences. Of course, sounds, words and sentences cannot be separated in practice, as they are simultaneously included in the utterances that we use to communicate. However, a close examination will reveal that both the substance and the rules by which these elements of language are organized are quite specific and different from one another. This is the reason why each level of linguistic analysis has come to be studied by a different branch of linguistics, with its own principles and methods. Especially in the past century, the study of language has become such a complex and diverse enterprise that it has split up into various relatively independent branches – the linguistic disciplines of today.

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1.1. Disciplines of linguistics In a philological approach, students are first to become familiar with the theoretical bases of the most important branches of linguistics, depending on the various levels of linguistic analysis, and then learn how to apply their newly acquired knowledge on the languages they are studying. Consequently, the full (four-year) curriculum of a department of foreign languages has come to contain courses covering the disciplines of phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics, as well as other areas of linguistics, such as discourse analysis, sociolinguistics, psycholinguistics, computational linguistics, historical linguistics, etc. Below follows a short presentation of these branches. Phonetics deals with the physical aspect of speech sounds (or phones): their production, transmission, and reception (hence the three corresponding branches of phonetics: articulatory, acoustic and auditory phonetics). Phonology is the study of the distinctive sounds of a language, the so-called phonemes. Phonology examines the functions of sounds within a language, as well as the way they combine in syllables and other stretches of speech. Morphology is the study of morphemes, the smallest meaningful elements of a language. Morphemes may be whole words (e.g., thin, cat, wait) or parts of words (e.g., the plural marker -s in cats, the past tense marker -ed in waited, the comparative marker -er in thinner, etc.). Syntax is the study of sentence structure. There are several ways of defining and examining sentences, according to various grammars. Syntax may look at the inner structure of clauses or at the way clauses combine into complex sentences.
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Semantics examines the meaning of linguistic signs (words) and strings of signs. This meaning may result from the relationship of a sign with the concept it corresponds to in our minds, with the object it represents in the real world or with another sign in the same natural language. Pragmatics studies the use of language and the relationship between language and its users. It is interested in what we do with utterances, the way we use them to a certain effect. Discourse analysis studies the various linguistic features of different types of text: e.g., the detective story, the political discourse, the medical scientific reports, etc. Sociolinguistics is the study of the interaction of language and social organization. Language has specific social functions, which make it change accordingly. Psycholinguistics studies the processes of language acquisition, language comprehension, language production, language memorization, etc., which have to do with the cognitive aspect of language. Computational linguistics is an interdisciplinary area of research between linguistics and information science. Some computer linguists simulate language structures into computer programs. Some others use the computer as a tool for the analysis of language (e.g., by using text corpus analysis). Historical linguistics studies the historical development of languages. Apart from the diachronic analysis (along time), it also deals with the synchronic analysis of certain states of language (e.g., Old English, the language of Shakespeare, that of the eighteenth century England, etc.). The evolution of the sound pattern in a language is studied by a subfield of historical linguistics: historical (or diachronic) phonetics and phonology.

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2. Speech sounds As can be seen from their definitions, both phonetics and phonology deal with human speech sounds. Speech sounds are the sounds we produce when we want to communicate, that is, the sounds that build up our words and sentences. Unlike animals, which use sets of sounds at random to transmit brief uncomplicated messages (e.g., a honey-bee dancing in front of its hive), human beings can combine their sounds in a precise order so as to form larger units and to convey much ampler and more abstract meaning. This double structuring of natural languages – both at the ‘lower’ level of sounds and at the ‘higher’ levels of grammar and meaning – has been referred to by linguists as double articulation. Owing to this special ability, human languages are (as good as) infinitely creative. In other words, human speakers can produce an indefinite number of words and sentences, while using a limited number of sound units and a restricted set of rules according to which these sounds are organized. Speaking a language we are intuitively aware that in order to pronounce it correctly (or accurately) we have to follow a certain pattern and pick those sounds that characterize it. This is because, as already stated, each language uses a closed set of sounds, and native speakers have the built-in ability to identify those sounds and associations of sounds, which normally occur in their language and distinguish them from ‘alien’ ones. It is usually when we try to learn a foreign language that we start to realize what is typical of it (i.e., what rules are there to observe) and where it differs from our native language. For example, a Romanian will have difficulties when learning how to master the difference between the initial sound in the word there [D] and the corresponding sound in dare [d] because the former sound does not belong to the inventory of sounds of his own
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language. A similar lack of correspondence between the Romanian and the English sound systems stands behind the way the English vowel [æ] is rendered in Romanian in neologisms, e.g. in the way the name Lassie is pronounced – Romanian [lesi]. Since there is no [æ] sound in Romanian, our language replaces it with the sound [e], which is the most similar to [æ] in our sound repertoire. Although each language can only make use of a finite set of sounds, each set is different, so there is no natural language that employs, has employed or probably will ever employ the same sounds as another one. Moreover, the sound system of any language changes in time. This is due to the fact that the vocal tract of a human being is sophisticated enough to produce an amazingly large variety of speech sounds (see Figure 1.1), so that when the generations of speakers change, the sounds they use will also change, even if only imperceptibly, under various conditioning factors. Small changes turn over centuries into big shifts. This explains, for instance, why the sets of sounds of related languages, e.g., Romanian, Italian, French, etc. are not identical among themselves and with the sounds of the motherlanguage they all emerged from – in our example: Latin.

3. The International Phonetic Alphabet As a means of communication, language is fundamentally oral. However old writing might seem to be, as compared to speech it is a far younger development in the history of humanity. Writing is subordinate to speech and thinking, as its role is that of fixing ideas in a more or less durable material by means of symbols. The oldest systems of writing placed great emphasis on the iconic representation of words; thus, for each word corresponding to a referent in the real world or to a concept, a suggestive image was carved or painted. This led to the creation of a long list of symbols
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(ideograms), which had little to do with the actual pronunciation of words. Later on, the sounds contained in words came to be individualized in writing, first grouped in syllables, then separately. Thus the first alphabet was invented, marking a major breakthrough in people’s conception about language. An alphabet is a much more economical system of writing, as it starts from the idea that every sound should be represented by one symbol, a letter. Since, as already stated, there is only a small set of sounds employed in a language at a certain stage in its existence, the number of corresponding letters in an alphabet are also small, and thus easy to master and use. Nowadays, the most frequently employed alphabet is the Latin one, which has been adapted by many languages according to their phonetic system. Natural languages tend to change in their historical evolution, which makes the relationship between their spelling and their sounds imperfect. In fact, the older the alphabet, the more irregular the correspondence between letters and sounds, owing to the phonetic transformations which have taken place in the history of the respective language. In the English spelling, for instance, the relationship between the pronunciation and the spelling of words has become apparently so lax that learners have to memorize strings of letters whose value is different in different contexts: think, e.g., of the English ghost, laugh and thought. In the first word, the graphic sequence gh is pronounced [g], and in the second, [f], but in the third it is not pronounced at all. Faced with the imperfections and irregularities characterizing the alphabets of natural languages, in order to be able to refer unambiguously and rigorously to speech sounds, linguists have come to design special phonetic alphabets. Nowadays, the best known in the scientific world is the alphabet of the International Phonetic Association (in short: IPA – see Figure 1.1), which can be used for the notation of speech sounds from all natural languages.
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The IPA was first devised at the end of the 19th century, and ever since it has been regularly revised and updated, so as to accommodate sounds features and from languages that are still being studied. Nevertheless, many American linguists prefer to use simpler symbols and diacritics available on typewriters. For instance, instead of IPA [S] and [Z], they use [š] and [ž] to note the initial sounds in ship and genre, respectively. Like any alphabet, IPA makes use of letters and other small symbols attached to them (diacritics), which can express the tiniest nuances of pronunciation. For instance, there are numerous shades of [t] listed in the IPA alphabet: aspirated [th] (as in top), labialised [tw] (as in twitter), palatalized [tj] (as in tune), etc. (see Figure 1.1). Such detailed notations are necessary in the ‘narrow’ phonetic transcription, which tends to be exhaustive in its description, that is, to capture all the details in the articulation of the respective sound. The narrow transcription is useful when we wish to give an accurate and unitary rendering of the pronunciation of a sound in a certain language and/or in a specific phonetic environment. If, on the contrary, we need to be economical, we may only note the sound as a simple symbol, without any detail (i.e., in ‘broad’ phonetic transcription) – in our example as [t]. By convention, the symbols used in the phonetic transcription are places within square brackets, e.g., the cat is on the mat: [D@ "k&t Iz Qn D@ "m&t]. As can be seen in Figure 1.1, apart from various types of sounds, the International Phonetic Alphabet also contains symbols for suprasegmental phonological phenomena like stress, tone, intonation, etc.

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18 Figure 1.1a The International Phonetic Alphabet

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Figure 1.1b The International Phonetic Alphabet


4. On varieties of English Being spoken on all continents, English is the most widely spread language on earth. It is used by hundreds of millions of people, as a mother tongue, but also as a second language (e.g., in India, where it is an official language), or as a language of international communication (a lingua franca). The immense geographical spread of English makes it very different in various places. There are traditional dialectal differences, as those between standard British English and the English dialects spoken in the United Kingdom and Ireland (e.g., Scottish English, Irish English, etc.), but there are also differences due to the separate evolution of the language in various parts of the world (e.g., in the United States of America or Canada), or to the contact between English and the language of a colonized territory (e.g., in Hong Kong or South Africa). The Standard British English pronunciation, also known as Received Pronunciation (in short, RP), is based on the southern dialects of England and it is the type of language used by the upper middle classes, in schools and in the media. In the United States a corresponding standard variety is called General American (abbreviated GenAm or GA).

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5. Questions 1. What characterizes linguistics? 2. Which linguistics branches do you know? 3. What do phonetics and phonology share? 4. What are speech sounds? 5. What is the double articulation of language? 6. Why is it difficult to learn the sounds of a foreign language? 7. Does writing depend on speech? 8. Is the English spelling phonetic? 9. What is IPA and what does it contain? 10. How many kinds of phonetic transcription do you know? 11. Which are the most important varieties of English? 12. What are RP and GenAm?

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A phonetician may be interested in studying the speech sounds of the languages of the world in general (general phonetics) or he may apply himself to the study of the phonetic system of one given language. His approach may be synchronic (focusing on the state of a phonetic system at a certain moment in its historical development), or diachronic (following the historical evolution of the respective system). He may wish to compare or contrast two systems that are related or not (comparative phonetics). In his investigation, he can make use of various techniques and devices to probe the nature of speech sounds (experimental phonetics). If he makes use of instruments, which allow him to perform exact measurements, then he is an adept of instrumental phonetics. Phonetics, as practiced today, is an independent science, with its own methods of investigation and experiment, but importing data from the fields of anatomy, physiology and physics. As already stated, phonetics deals with speech sounds, focusing on how they are produced and perceived and on their physical features. Speech sounds can be described in three different ways: in terms of (a) the manner of their production; (b) the acoustic properties of the sound waves traveling between speaker and hearer; and (c) their physical effects upon the ear. Hence a threefold division of this science into: articulatory, acoustic and auditory phonetics. We will start with a short presentation of the last two branches.

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1. Acoustic phonetics Acoustic phonetics is the most technical branch of phonetics, as the data and the methods it operates with are mostly borrowed from physics. Analyzed from the physical point of view, speech sounds are waves, originated by the vibration of the source (the vocal cords in the human larynx) and transmitted through the air. Waves can be represented graphically in sinusoidal shape (see Figure 2.1). Apart from duration (= how long they last) they have two important characteristics. One of them is frequency, measured in Hertz (Hz). Frequency shows how close together the waves are and corresponds to the pitch (= the shrillness) of the sound. It is calculated by the number of sinusoidal cycles completed per second (cps). (A complete cycle is illustrated in Figure 2.1 as the movement between the rest points A and B.) Frequency peak x Amplitude x A x trough
Figure 2.1 Periodic wave

x B

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The second important aspect of sounds is amplitude (= intensity), measured in decibels (dB). Amplitude is the maximum distance between the highest point of the wave – the peak – and the lowest point – the trough (often divided by 2) and corresponds to the loudness of the sound. This is related to the amount of energy that is transmitted through the air by means of the respective sound wave. As to the measurement of amplitude, the reference point for the decibel scale is the standard intensity of a sound, which has a fixed value close to the audible limit of sound. The sound intensity at the threshold of human hearing (= 0 dB) is conventionally taken to be one picowatt per square meter (1 pW/m²), roughly the sound of a mosquito flying 3 m away, or a sound pressure level (SPL) of 20 micropascal (20 μPa). The reason for using the decibel is that the ear is capable of hearing a very large range of sound pressures. The ratio of the sound pressure that causes permanent damage from short exposure to the limit that (undamaged) ears can hear is more than a million. Psychologists have found that our perception of loudness is roughly logarithmic. In other words, you have to multiply the sound intensity by the same factor to have the same increase in loudness. This is why the numbers around the volume control dial on a typical audio amplifier are related not to the absolute power amplification, but to its logarithm. Because the power in a sound wave is proportional to the square of the pressure, the ratio of the maximum power to the minimum power is more than one trillion. To deal with such a range, logarithmic units are useful: the log of a thousand is 3 (from 103), so this ratio represents a difference of 30 dB from the audible limit. Similarly, a sound of 60 dB is a million times more intense than the standard value, while one of 120 dB is a trillion times more intense. The time it takes for a cycle to be completed is called the period of the vibration. Some sounds have constant regular periodic
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vibrations (= tones = musical sounds, including, of the speech sounds, vowels and sonorant), some others have irregular aperiodic vibrations (= noise sounds, including voiceless consonants), while still others have mixed vibrations (= tones and noises, including voiced consonants) (see also Chapter III). Vowels consist of bunches of periodic waves with various frequencies. The wave with the lowest frequency is called the fundamental (frequency), whereas the others are called the harmonics of the respective sound. The higher harmonics are whole number multiples of the fundamental (= the lowest harmonic). For instance, if a sound has as its fundamental frequency 100 Hz and one of its higher harmonics is, for instance, of 400 Hz, then we may say that this is its fourth harmonic, since it is four times higher than the fundamental. The fundamental frequency is produced by the vibration of the vocal cords in the larynx (hence the name laryngeal or glottal tone), whereas the harmonics are due to the resonating qualities of the vocal tract above the larynx (in the supraglottal cavities: the pharynx, the mouth and the nose), whose shapes can be modified during the articulation. Only some of the harmonics of a sound are emphasized by the shapes and materials of the resonating cavities, thus giving the sound a certain quality. That is why, when describing sounds, phoneticians speak of their characteristic energy bands (formants), namely the bands of strongly reinforced harmonics, corresponding to a specific shape of the resonating chamber. The complex range of formants of a sound make up its acoustic spectrum. For example, the spectrum of the vowel /A:/ has one band of strong components in the 800 Hz range and another one in the 1100 Hz range, while the formants of /i:/ are in the 280 and 2500 Hz range, respectively (see Figure 2.2).

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Figure 2.2 Spectrograms of /i:/, /A:/, /aI/ (after Ladefoged 1971; Chiţoran 1978: 49)

The fundamental frequency of a sound corresponds to its pitch. While the fundamental frequency involves acoustic measurement expressed in Hz, pitch is used as a perceptual term, relating to listeners’ judgements as to whether a sound is ‘high’ or ‘low’, whether one sound is ‘higher’ or ‘lower’ than another and by how much, and whether the voice is going ‘up’ or ‘down’. Such judgements are not linearly related to fundamental frequency. For listeners to judge that one tone is twice as high as another, the frequency difference between the two tones is much larger at higher absolute frequencies, e.g., 1000 Hz is judged to be double 400 Hz, but 4000 Hz is judged to be double 1000 Hz. However, fundamental frequency values in speech are all relatively low (i.e., usually less than 500 Hz), and for most practical purposes pitch can be equated with fundamental frequency. Different persons have different pitches (women have shriller voices than men, though not as shrill as those of children; the average values for the fundamental frequency with men, women and children are 120 Hz, 225 Hz and 265 Hz, respectively). However, we can still recognize, e.g., an /i:/ or an /aI/ even if the type of voice which utters them is different from the point of view of pitch. What stays the same
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is the shape of the spectrum: e.g., in the /i:/ pronounced by a woman and the /i:/ of a man the harmonics with the greatest amplitude are of similar frequency (even if the lower pitch will involve a lower number of harmonics in the man’s sound). The graphic representation of the frequencies (the formants) of a sound is called spectrogram and it can be obtained by means of a device called acoustic spectrograph. Nowadays the functions of such devices have been taken over by specially programmed computers. A recent field of activity, which involves knowledge of phonetics and much more, is speech processing, the study of speech signals and the processing methods of these signals. The signals are usually processed in a digital representation whereby speech processing can be seen as the intersection of digital signal processing and natural language processing. Speech processing can be divided in the following categories: (a) speech recognition (analysis of the linguistic content of a speech signal); (b) speaker recognition (where the aim is to recognize the identity of the speaker); (c) speech signal enhancement (e.g., noise reduction); (d) speech coding for compression and transmission of speech (in telecommunications); (e) voice analysis for medical purposes (e.g., analysis of vocal loading and dysfunction of the vocal cords); (f) artificial speech synthesis (by means of a speech synthesizer, a software or hardware device capable of rendering text into speech).

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2. Auditory phonetics Auditory phonetics focuses on the perception of sounds (the way in which sounds are heard and interpreted). It is a field of study where the scientist has to rely heavily on notions of anatomy and physiology, involving the functions of the ear, but also of the brain, where the acoustic message is decoded. The ear receives auditory stimuli and transmits them further to the brain. The outer ear is made up of the pinna (auricle), which collects and focuses sound waves. From the pinna, the sound moves into the ear canal, a simple tube running to the middle ear. This includes the eardrum (tympanum or tympanic membrane) and the ossicles, three tiny bones (called hammer, anvil, and stirrup) which form the linkage between the tympanic membrane and the oval window that leads to the inner ear. The tympanum turns vibrations of air in the ear canal into vibrations of the ossicles. The inner ear contains the organ of hearing (the cochlea) and the labyrinth (vestibular apparatus), the organ of balance. The cochlea is a hollow organ filled with a fluid (endolymph) and lined on the inside with hair cells (sensory cells topped with hair-like structures), the stereocilia. All vibrations passing through the middle ear enter the endolymph. Hair cells are varied in length, so that they resonate with sounds of various frequencies. Whenever a hair cell resonates, it sends a nerve impulse to the brain, which is perceived as a sound of whatever pitch the hair cell is associated with. A very strong movement of the endolymph due to very loud noise may cause hair cells to die. This is a common cause of partial hearing loss, and the reason why anyone near guns or heavy machinery should wear earmuffs or earplugs.
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Our hearing mechanism is limited to an auditory field ranging from the frequency of roughly 20 Hz to that of 20000 or 22000 Hz. With age, the range decreases, especially at the upper limit. Above and below this range are ultrasound and infrasound, respectively. Lower frequencies cannot be heard but loud sounds can be felt on the skin. The optimum range of sensitivity is between 600 Hz and 4200 Hz. Frequency resolution of the ear is, in the middle range, about 2 Hz. That is, changes in pitch larger than 2 Hz can be perceived. However, even smaller pitch differences can be perceived through other means. For example, the interference of two pitches can often be heard as a (low-)frequency difference pitch. This effect is called beating. The intensity range of audible sounds is enormous. The lower limit of audibility is defined to 0 dB (we cannot hear sounds lower than this), but the upper limit is not as clearly defined. The upper limit is more a question of the limit where the sensation of pain occurs (because of too much pressure on the eardrums) and the ear will be physically harmed. This limit depends also on the time exposed to the sound. Sometimes, the ear can be exposed to short periods of sounds of 120 dB without harm, but long periods of exposure to 80 dB sounds will harm the ear. 150 dB sounds will cause physical damage to the human body. The human hearing is basically a spectral analyzer, that is, the ear resolves the spectral content of the pressure wave without respect to the phase or the waveform of the signal. In practice, though, some phase information can be perceived. Inter-aural (i.e., between ears) phase difference is a notable exception by providing a significant part of the directional sensation of sound. In some situations an otherwise clearly audible sound can be masked by another sound. For example, conversation at a bus stop can be completely impossible if a loud bus is driving past. This
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phenomenon is called intensity masking. A loud sound will mask a weaker sound so that the weaker sound is inaudible in the presence of the louder sound. Actually, the masking depends on two more parameters: frequency and temporal separation of the sounds. A sound close in frequency to the louder sound is more easily masked than two sounds far apart in frequency. This effect is called pitch masking. Similarly, a weak sound emitted soon after the end of a louder sound is masked by the louder sound. In fact, even a weak sound just before a louder sound can be masked by the louder sound. These two effects are called forward and backward temporal masking, respectively. The act of audition has objective as well as subjective characteristics when it comes to language. Most often we give a subjective interpretation to what we hear, selecting only those sound features that are relevant for the language we communicate in. For example, when listening to spoken standard English, untrained Romanians may have difficulty in recognizing (and reproducing) the difference between the aspirated and non-aspirated variants of voiceless stops (e.g., the difference between [ph] in top and [p] in stop), because they do not use aspiration in their own language. So in order to become able to perceive sounds correctly, speakers must also learn how to pronounce them and how to use them in the system of the respective language, and thus develop an awareness of auditory sensations corresponding to various sound qualities.

3. Questions 1. Which branches of phonetics do you know? 2. What do articulatory, acoustic and auditory phonetics study? 3. Which are the physical characteristics of sounds? 4. What is frequency and what is its unit of measure?
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5. What is amplitude and how is it measured? 6. What is the difference between periodic, aperiodic and mixed vibrations? 7. What is the fundamental frequency and how is it produced? 8. What is the relationship between pitch and fundamental frequency? 9. What are the harmonics and where are they produced? 10. What is an acoustic spectrum and what does it consist in? 11. What is a spectrograph and what is it used for? 12. What is speech processing? 13. How is sound transmitted to the brain? 14. Which are the limits of the human auditory field? 15. Which is the intensity range of audible sounds? 16. How can a sound be masked? 17. Can an untrained ear easily discern the sounds of a foreign language?

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The physical processes involved in the production of speech sounds are the domains of articulatory phonetics, which uses a lot of data from human anatomy and physiology in its descriptions. This is so because the same organs, which are involved in breathing processes, also participate in the production of speech. Speech sounds result from the modification of the volume and direction of the airflow originating in the lungs, which are carried out through the vocal tract (see Figure 3.1 for a schematic illustration of the anatomic parts involved in the process). 1. Airstream mechanisms The airflow initiated in the lungs follows the direction of the trachea (windpipe), larynx (in the Adam’s apple) and vocal tract (mouth and nose). This type of airstream mechanism, known as pulmonic egressive (‘from the lungs outwards’) is involved in all human languages and for many languages it is the only mechanism employed to produce speech sounds (e.g., English, Romanian, etc.). For a small number of articulations, the airstream does not originate in the lungs, but rather from outside. The ingressive airstream mechanism produces sound through inhalation, as when uttering a gasp of astonishment by breathing in air: aa! A speech sound can also be generated from a difference in pressure of the air inside and outside a resonator. In the case of the oral cavity, this
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pressure difference can be created without using the lungs at all (producing clicks, for example). In the following discussion it will be assumed that the airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive.
Alveolar ridge (Hard) Palate

Upper lip Nasal cavity

Velum (=soft palate) Uvula Oral cavity

Teeth Tongue Pharynx

Lower lip Epiglottis Larynx (with vocal cords) Trachea


Figure 3.1 The vocal tract and articulatory organs

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2. The vocal cords In the larynx box, the air pushed out from the lungs meets the vocal cords. These are two flaps of muscle placed across the windpipe and bound to the arytenoids cartilages (which cause the protrusion called the Adam’s apple in males’ throats). The vocal cords can modify their position and thus allow the air to flow upwards in certain ways. When they are wide apart, the air passes through without any obstacle. This results in a so-called voiceless sound, such as the initial and final sounds in the word case [keIs]. If, on the contrary, the vocal cords are close together, with a narrow gap in between, then the pressure of the air moving through will cause them to vibrate, which will result in a voiced sound (as in all the sounds in the word gaze [geIz]). The vibration of the vocal cords can be heard – when we cover our ears during the articulation, as well as felt – by placing a finger on the larynx during the pronunciation of voiced sounds. To practice, try to articulate the voiced fricative consonants [z] or [v] in a prolonged manner, contrasting them with their voiceless counterparts [s] and [f]. Apart from these two most common positions of the vocal cords (open and narrowed), languages can also exploit a number of other configurations, such as complete closure. If the glottis (= the opening inside the larynx box, in between the vocal cords) is completely closed (glottal stop), the air accumulates below the vocal cords; when they are opened, the pressure is released with a cough-like puff of air. The glottal stop is important in the study of many kinds of British English, as it can be found in the dialects spoken in London (Cockney), Glasgow, Manchester and in some varieties of North American English (in New England). Take for instance the regional
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pronunciation of the final sounds in wha[?] (e.g., in what rain), shu[?] (e.g., in shut up), the “dropped t or k” pronunciation of, e.g., butter and crackle, etc., the vowel reinforcement in a hiatus, etc. (see also Section III.3). If the vocal cords are wide apart, as if for the pronunciation of voiceless consonants, but the air still causes some vibrations while passing through the glottis, we are dealing with the so-called murmured sounds or breathy voice. These are sounds we may produce every day when we whisper so as not to disturb the people around us.

3. Resonance As the air moves out of the larynx, owing to the movement of the articulators (the tongue, lips, etc.) the shapes of the vocal tract above it are modified, so that the vibrations of the air inside the oral and nasal cavities will also change, by a phenomenon called resonance, similar to the resonance inside a guitar box or a flute. Some sounds (the sonorants = vowels, glides, liquids and nasals) involve a relatively high degree of resonance (= sonorance or sonority). Other sounds (the obstruents) involve much less sonorance. Obstruents are ‘noisy’ consonants produced by air disturbances: a sudden burst of air or air friction, whereas sonorants are more like pure, musical sounds. The most sonorous sounds are the vowels. In English all sonorants are voiced, while obstruents can be either voiced or voiceless.

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4. Oral and nasal sounds The choice between the oral and nasal articulations depends on the position of the soft palate (or velum), a muscular flap placed at the back end of the palate (= the roof of the mouth) (see Figure 3.1). If the velum is raised and the nasal port closed, the air flows only into the oral tract (the mouth), so that oral sounds are produced (most speech sounds are oral). If the velum is lowered, the air can flow both through the oral and the nasal cavities, which leads to the articulation of nasal sounds. Nasals are sonorant consonants (see Section III.3).

5. Active and passive articulators In the oral tract, the tongue and the lips, which move during the articulation of sounds, are considered to be active articulators, whereas the upper non-mobile surfaces of the mouth are usually referred to as passive articulators. Of the active articulators, the tongue is usually described in very precise details: the tip, blade, front, body, back and root. That is because the smallest alteration in its position can determine a perceptible change in the pronunciation of the sound. Passive articulators can be the lower lip, the teeth, the palate and the pharynx wall. By convention, the roof of the mouth is further subdivided into the alveolar ridge (= the gum ridge), the hard palate, the soft palate (often called velum) and the uvula (= the fleshy tip of the soft palate, used, e.g., in the articulation of French uvular ‘r’ [K]) (see Section III.8).

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6. Manners of articulation The manner in which a sound is articulated depends on the channel opening (the distance between the active and passive articulators). This distance can vary from complete closure (or stricture) (a blockage in the mouth which prevents the air from escaping) to complete aperture (through which the air flows out unhindered). In the case of complete stricture, the air which has built up behind the blockage (the ‘closure phase)’ is released with a small outburst when the blockage is removed (the ‘release phase’). This is the way in which stops are produced. Oral stops (also known as plosives if they are pulmonic egressive) are obstruent sounds articulated with a raised velum (e.g., the consonants in the word bide: [b] and [d]). Nasal stops involve a lowered velum (e.g., the initial and final consonantal sounds of mine [m] and [n]); they are sonorant sounds (in their production the nasal cavity acts as a resonator for the airflow vibrations). When the articulators are close together, but the stricture rests incomplete, the air escapes through a very narrow passageway with some friction (turbulence noise). This is the manner of articulation specific to fricatives (e.g., the first and last sounds in fuss: [f] and [s]). Since in the articulation of fricatives the air can pass continuously through the vocal tract, they are described as continuant sounds. The articulation of another type of obstruents involves complete closure, followed by a release phase which is prolonged. The air is slowly released through a narrow gap between the articulators, in a way that resembles the articulation of fricatives. The sounds produced in this manner are called affricates (e.g., the initial sounds [Í] and [Ù] in cheat and gesture). Affricates do not behave however like a sequence made up of two sounds, but rather as one single segment. Examine, e.g., the following pairs of words: catch it
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(containing the sound [Í]) and cat shit (containing the sequence [t+S], noticeably longer than the previous one). Apart from fricatives, there are some other sounds which can be characterized as continuant: the frictionless continuants or approximants, which are divided into two groups: glides and liquids. The glides are closely related to the corresponding high vowels (e.g., the glide [j] in yet resembles the short vowel [I] in sing). The liquids are laterals and rhotics (i.e., ‘l’ and ‘r’ sounds, respectively), which often are articulated with approximation, but not always. In the articulation of vowels (e.g., the middle sounds in fish [I], bad [æ] or boot [u:]), the air flows out unhindered because the articulators are more or less wide apart. Just like glides and liquids, vowels are continuant sounds.

7. Fortis and lenis Fortis consonants are produced with greater articulatory effort and more air pressure required by stronger resistance at the place of articulation. Lenis consonants are more lax: they require less intensity and tension. The duration of articulation is also longer in the case of fortis consonants than in the case of lenis ones. In a voiced/voiceless pair (e.g., [d]/[t]), the voiced consonant is lenis and the voiceless consonant fortis.

8. Places of articulation The production of a sound involves the movement of an active articulator towards a passive one. The articulators give the name of the place of articulation of the respective sound (see Table 3.1).
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Table 3.1 Places of articulation • Bilabial – sound produced with both lips (e.g., [p], [b], [m], etc.). • Labiodental – the lower lip and the upper teeth (e.g., [f], [v], etc.). • Interdental – the teeth and the tongue tip/blade (e.g., [θ], [ð], etc.). • Alveolar – the alveolar ridge and the tongue tip/blade (e.g., [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [r], [l], etc.). • Alveo-palatal – the alveolar ridge/hard palate and the tongue blade (e.g., [S], [Z], [Í], [Ù]). • Retroflex – the hard palate and the tongue tip curled backwards (e.g., [©], etc.). • Palatal – the hard palate and the tongue blade (e.g., [j], etc.). • Velar – the soft palate (velum) and the tongue body (dorsum) (e.g., [k], [g], etc.). • Uvular – the uvula and the tongue body (dorsum) (e.g., [K] in Fr. raison ‘root, reason’, etc.). • Pharyngeal – the pharynx wall and the tongue root (e.g., [¿] in Arabic [¿amm] ‘uncle’, etc.). • Glottal – the vocal cords in the larynx (e.g., [h], [?] (the glottal stop), etc.).

Bilabial and labiodental sounds are included in the general class of labials, since both sets involve at least one of the lips. The class of coronals (sounds produced by raising the front part of the tongue – the tongue tip or blade, but not the body of the tongue) comprises the dentals, alveolars, alveo-palatals (= palato-alveolars or postalveolars), retroflex and palatal sounds. Velars and the uvulars have as an active articulator the body or dorsum of the tongue, so they are both referred to as dorsals. The class of gutturals contains pharyngeal and glottal sounds, which tend to behave as one group (see Table 3.2).
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Some consonants have two simultaneous places of articulation. Secondary articulation occurs when an additional vowel-like articulation is overlaid on the basic sound. In this case the consonant is articulated with a simultaneous glide, i.e., palatalized (e.g., [tj] in Romanian peşti ‘fish (pl.)’), labialized (e.g., [kw] in English quick), etc. In the production of sounds with double articulation both places of articulation are equally important (e.g., the labio-velar glide [w] in wife).
Table 3.2 Groups of place of articulation LABIAL Bilabial Labio-dental CORONAL Dental Alveolar Alveo-palatal Retroflex Palatal DORSAL Velar Uvular GUTTURAL Pharyngeal Glottal

9. Questions and exercises 1. What do you know about the pulmonic egressive airstream mechanism? 2. Are there any other types of airstream mechanisms? 3. Which positions of the vocal cords do you know? 4. What is the difference between voiced and voiceless sounds? 5. How is a glottal stop articulated? 6. What is resonance? 7. Which sonorant sounds do you know? 8. What is the difference between oral and nasal sounds? 9. Which active and passive articulators do you know? 10. Which types of manner of articulation do you know?
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11. How are plosives / fricatives / affricates articulated? 12. How are nasals articulated? 13. How are liquids / glides / vowels articulated? 14. What is the difference between fortis and lenis consonants? 15. Which places of articulation do you know and how can they be grouped? 16. Which sounds correspond to each place of articulation? 17. What is the difference between secondary articulation and double articulation? 18. In each of the following words one sound is underlined. Describe it in terms of voicing, nasality (if necessary), place of articulation and manner of articulation: a) more b) bar c) assist d) lazy e) joy i) season j) north f) peach g) thin h) fast 19. Which are the active and passive articulators in the production of the following underlined sounds? a) choke b) very c) yet d) happy e) singing f) then g) cherry h) dear i) bridge j) shoe 20. For each of the pairs of words below identify the difference between the underlined sounds. Example: The difference between the [t] in pat and the [d] in pad is a matter of voicing ([d] is voiced, while [t] is voiceless). b) sent/tent c) vest/zest d) mob/bob a) pit/bit e) core/gore f) deck/neck g) soap/soak h) force/source i) lag/lad j) measure/mesher

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1. Obstruents 1.1. Plosives (= oral stops)
Table 4.1 English plosives Plosive (IPA) [p] [b] [t] [d] [k] [g] [?] Place of articulation bilabial bilabial alveolar alveolar velar velar glottal Voice + + + Examples pear, drop bit, sob tooth, pat dash, cod kitchen, thick gong, lag rat, buckle (in some varieties of Br. Engl. and Am. Engl.)

Some languages may have other oral stops, produced in other places of articulation. For instance, in the pronunciation of Romanian [t] and [d] the passive articulators are the upper teeth rather than the alveolar ridge, as in English (dental stops are usually symbolised by [t∞ ] and [d5], with a little tooth-like diacritic under the main symbol).

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The glottal stop [?] has been compared with a slight cough. It has no voiced counterpart because the vocal cords cannot vibrate when they are in contact (see also Section III.2). Under some circumstances, voiceless stops may be reinforced or completely replaced by glottal stops: e.g., in bu[?ν⎯] (button) (where the diacritic [ ⎯] under [n] marks the syllabic nasal); li[?]or (liquor); si[? g]uy (sick guy); cu[? σ]lice (cut slice), etc. If vowels occur (emphatically) at the beginning of a word or in a hiatus (two vowels juxtaposed in consecutive syllables), they may also suffer glottal reinforcement, as, e.g., in its [?]eight!; re[?]act.

1.1.1. Aspiration In most English varieties, when a voiceless stop is placed at the beginning of a stressed syllable, its release is followed by a perceptible puff of air, called ‘aspiration’ and marked by a [h] diacritic, e.g. in [ph]ot, [th]op, [kh]an. On the other hand, when the stop follows the fricative [s] in the same initial position, its release stage is devoid of such an audible outrush of air (it is ‘non-aspirated’), e.g. in spot, stop, scan. In connected speech, aspiration may help us distinguish between otherwise ambiguous sentences, such as in the pair peace talks [pi:sthO:ks] and pea stalks [pi:stO:ks]. A weaker sort of aspiration may also be present in the articulation of stops at the beginning of unstressed English syllables, as well as in word-final position.

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1.2 Fricatives In many varieties of English, there is no voiced glottal fricative corresponding to the voiceless [h]. However, if the sound begins a stressed syllable, following a non-stressed syllable ending in a vowel, some English speakers make use of a breathy voice [§], as in behead or rehearsal (see Section III.2). Some other English variants (e.g., Cockney) hardly make use of any [h] sound, which leads to ambiguities of pronunciation (e.g., in the pair hall – all). In the so-called ‘Celtic’ varieties of English (Irish, Scottish and Welsh) another type of fricative occurs: the voiceless velar [x] (e.g., in Scottish loch / Irish lough ‘lake’, as well as in German acht ‘eight’ or Dutch nog ‘still, more’). Other languages use different places of articulation for the pronunciation of their fricatives, e.g., the Japanese voiceless bilabial [P], as in Fuji, the Spanish voiced bilabial [B], as in deber ‘owe’, the German voiceless palatal [ç], as in sich ‘self’, the Greek voiced velar [◊], as in [◊]ata ‘cat’ (see also the IPA chart = Figure 1.1).
Table 4.2 English fricatives Fricative (IPA) [f] [v] [θ] [ð] [s] [z] [S] [Z] [h] Place of articulation labio-dental labio-dental (inter)dental (inter)dental alveolar alveolar alveo-palatal alveo-palatal glottal Voice + + + + Examples fine, puff vat, move thick, path that, bathe sink, kiss zero, buzz shake, dash pleasure, beige hat, inherit

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1.2.1. On the distribution of fricatives Most of the English fricatives occur in all positions (wordinitial, word-medial and word-final). Words beginning with the voiced interdental [ð] belong to a small set of articles and adverbs, such as the, that, there, etc. Other fricatives with only limited distribution in English are [Z], [h] and [x]. The voiced alveo-palatal [Z] never occurs wordinitially (except in a couple of neologisms, e.g. gigolo and genre) and for the rest it can only be identified in relatively few words, e.g., pleasure, casual; beige, rouge. In word-final position [Z] may vary with the affricate [Ù] (e.g., garage, etc.). The voiceless glottal fricative [h] can never be found in final position; it is restricted to the word-initial or word-medial position, but even then it must belong to the onset of a stressed syllable, e.g., in horse or ahead. [h] is regularly dropped from the initial position of several function words – unstressed pronouns and auxiliaries (e.g., his, her, has, etc.) and it is often absent in other words in many varieties of English characterised as sub-standard. In those cases where the first orthographic sequence of a word is ‘hu’, the initial sound is sometimes pronounced as the palatal fricative [ç] followed by the glide [j]. In some North American varieties, these words actually begin with the glide [j], without any [h] sound (e.g., in huge, humid, etc.). The voiceless velar [x] never occurs word-initially in the ‘Celtic’ English varieties.

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1.3 Affricates There are only two affricates commonly used in English, both alveo-palatal: voiceless [Í] (as in charity, teacher, catch) and voiced [Ù] (as in generous, pledger, rage). Speakers of other languages make use of more affricates, such as the German voiceless labio-dental [pf], as in Pfeffer ‘pepper’, the Romanian voiceless dental [ts], as in ţară ‘country’, or the Italian voiced dental [dz] in zio ‘uncle’.

2. Sonorant consonants 2.1 Nasals English nasals are stops. They correspond to the English plosives in terms of their place of articulation: there is a bilabial [m], as in money, an alveolar [n], as in nutty, and a velar [N], as in sing. The English velar nasal [N] cannot occur at the beginning of a syllable. In other languages we find different types of nasals (e.g., dental [n5], as in Romanian numai ‘only’, palatal [J], as in French ga[J]er (gagner) ‘to win’, Spanish ni[J]o (niño) ‘child’, Italian o[J]i (ogni) ‘every’, etc.).

2.2 Liquids 2.2.1. Laterals Laterals are those sonorants whose articulation involves a free flux of air over the lowered sides of the tongue. The central part of the tongue (the active articulator) touches the palate (the passive articulator) (in a so-called mid-saggital contact), but both (or at least
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one of) its lateral parts are free in the process. Characteristic of many languages including English is the alveolar lateral [l], as in lamb (in this case, the tongue blade is in contact with the alveolar ridge). Another type of lateral is Spanish and Italian palatal [F] (as in Sp. caballo ‘horse’, It. figlio ‘son’), etc. In English, a lateral liquid may occur in all positions in a word, but its articulation varies accordingly. An important distinction results from contrasting the articulation of (a) an [l] in initial position, or word-medially before a vowel, to (b) a lateral placed at the end of the word, before a consonant or in syllabic position. The lateral variant produced in the environments under (a) (e.g., in lake, ludicrous, follow, inland), which only has alveolar contact, is known as clear ‘l’ and is symbolised as [l]. For the articulation of the other variant, in addition to the alveolar contact, the back of the tongue is simultaneously raised towards the soft palate (e.g., in pi[5], ki[5]t, ratt[5⎯]). This secondary velar articulation has given the alveolar sound the description dark ‘l’.

2.2.2 Rhotics Under the name ‘rhotics’ a large variety of sounds are usually grouped, and a good ear will notice the differences in the articulation of the ‘r’ sounds used, for instance, in RP English, Scottish English, North American English, or other languages, such as Spanish, French and High German (see Table 4.3). In fact, as we will see, the general heading of rhotic covers sounds that either involve contact between the active and passive articulators, or friction, or neither contact nor friction (in the case of continuants). What all these ‘r’ sounds share is that they tend to function as sonorants, even if they are not so phonetically.
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In the articulation of the alveolar trill (or roll) [r], which also happens to be the ‘r’ sound characteristic of Romanian, the tongue blade vibrates against the alveolar ridge, touching it repeatedly (in intermitent closure). For the alveolar tap (or flap) [Ρ] (a stop of very short duration), a single tap of the tongue blade against the alveolar ridge is enough. Both the trill and the tap are met in the Scottish varieties of English, especially the latter. The tap (or flap) [Ρ] is also the intervocalic sound in North American English pattern, etc.
Table 4.3 Various types of rhotics Rhotic (IPA) [ρ] [Ρ] [♦] [©] [{] [®] Place and manner of articulation alveolar trill/roll alveolar tap/flap (post-)alveolar approximant retroflex approximant uvular trill/roll uvular fricative Examples Sp. perro ‘dog’, Rom. raţă ‘duck’, Russ. roza ‘rose’ Sp. pero ‘but’, Scott. Eng. red, North Am. Eng. cutter Br. Eng. right North Am. Eng. rabbit Somewhat older (e.g., Edith Piaf’s) Fr. regrette ‘regret’ French mari ‘husband’, High German richtig

The characteristic RP rhotic is the (post-)alveolar continuant (approximant) [♦]. It is produced by raising the tongue blade towards the alveolar ridge, but in this case the sides of the tongue come into contact with the molars, which creates a narrow channel for the air to flow down the middle of the tongue. The retroflex approximant [©] is articulated in a similar way (characteristic, e.g., of many North American varieties of English), but this time the tongue blade is curled backwards, to the post-alveolar position.
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The uvular roll (or trill) [{] and the voiced uvular fricative [®] involve the vibration of the back of the tongue against the velum or in close approximation to it, respectively. The former reminds an English speaker of gargling and it occurs in some older dialects of French and in Lisbon Portuguese. The latter is the sound often heard in French and High German. The distribution of the ‘r’ sounds lies at the basis of one of the major English dialect divisions. Thus, varieties with pre- and postvocalic ‘r’ are called rhotic accents (i.e., accents where both the rhotics in e.g. rose or marry are pronounced, as well as in, e.g., fair and sort), whereas those with only pre-vocalic ‘r’ are named nonrhotic accents. Most types of English are non-rhotic. The rhotic ones include the majority of North American English, Scottish and Irish English, etc. This dialectal difference rests on a historical sound change, which led to the post-vocalic loss of the rhotic in some types of English. The evidence comes from the spelling of English words, as well as from the presence at the end of a word like fair in non-rhotic accents of an ‘r’ sound if the word is followed by another word which starts with a vowel, e.g., in fair answer (this rhotic is called linking ‘r’). This phenomenon occurs also within morphologically complex words, as for instance in boring (cf. bore): the rhotic always precedes a vowel-initial ending. Another phenomenon connected to the one illustrated above is intrusive ‘r’: the insertion of a word-final rhotic sound between two vowels in non-rhotic accents, e.g., in the idea [♦] of it. Intrusive ‘r’ is most often heard word-finally after the vowel [@] and it is also sometimes heard word-internally for some speakers (e.g., compare soaring and saw[♦]ing (sawing)). Some adult speakers use a so-called ‘defective r’ [√], a labiodental approximant quite similar to the glide [w]. This type of pronunciation is often considered affected, and was typically a feature
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of upper class English English, but nowadays it is characteristic of the language spoken, for instance, by the working-class and lower middleclass in South Eastern England.

3. Glides In the articulation of glides, no contact is produced between the articulatory organs, which groups them together with the vowels. For this reason glides are also called semi-vowels. In fact, their articulation is slightly different from that of the corresponding vowels: when a glide is produced, the articulators are prepared for a vowel-like sound, but then they immediately change their position (get closer) to produce another sound. It is to this ‘gliding’ that the sounds owe their name. Besides, glides are shorter and their articulation is more forceful than that of vowels. Glides are also called semi-consonants because they behave like consonants: unlike vowels, they cannot occur at the end of a syllable or preceding a consonant and they are always followed by a vowel. Together with some of the liquids with similar characteristics they build the class of approximants (frictionless continuant sounds). There are only two glides in English, as in the majority of languages: the palatal [j] (e.g., in yet) and the labio-velar [w] (e.g., in water). The articulation of the palatal [j] is similar to that of the vowel [i] (the front of the tongue is raised close to the palate). The labiovelar [w] shares the articulation features of [u] (the lips are rounded and the back of the tongue raised towards the soft palate). Apart from these most common two glides, there are also others, such as the French labio-palatal [H] (similar to French [y], the front round vowel) (e.g., in lui [λHι] ‘him’).

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3.1. Distribution and variation of glides In many North American types of English, as well as in some English English varieties, [j] cannot follow the alveolar consonants [t], [d], [s], [z], [n] and [l], or the dental fricative [θ], e.g., in tune, dupe, suit, presume, rebuke, lure, Lithuania, but it will follow [n] and [l] if they are placed in unaccented syllables, e.g., in ven[j]ue and val[j]ue. In those varieties of English where [j] can follow an alveolar sound, the sequences [t] + [j] and [d] + [j] frequently coalesce to form the alveo-palatal affricates [Í]and [Ù]. This happens inside words or across word boundaries, e.g. in [Íune, [Ù]uring, as well as in bet you [bEÍ@], bid you [bIÙ@], etc. Similarly, the sequences [s] + [j] and [z] + [j] often combine into the corresponding alveo-palatal fricatives [S] and [Z], e.g. in ti[S]ue (tissue), ca[Z]ual (casual), as well as in ki[S]you (kiss you), ama[Z]you (amaze you). In Scottish, Irish and North American types of English, a sound which is very similar to the labio-velar glide, the voiceless labio-velar fricative [©], spelled ‘wh’, functions as a distinct sound. Thus, in these types of English there is a clear contrast between the words: witch (with initial [w]) vs. which (with [©]), Wales vs. whales, weather vs. whether, etc. The other English varieties treat these words as pairs of homophones, both having the glide [w].

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Fricatives [μ] [φ] [ϖ] Affricates Nasals Approximants [Τ] [Δ] [σ] [ζ] [ν] [λ] [♦] (liquids)




[π] [β]


(inter) dental


[τ] [δ]

4. Summary

Table 4.4 Consonants typically used in English

Table 4.4 resumes the typical English consonantal sounds introduced in this chapter.

Universitatea SPIRU HARET [Σ] [Ζ] [τΣ] [δΖ] [ϕ] (glide) [ξ] (in Celt. var.) [η] [Ν] (labio- velar) [ω] (glide)




[κ] [γ]


[?] (dial.)

5. Questions and exercises 1. Which English plosives do you know? 2. What characterizes the glottal stop? 3. What is aspiration and which sounds are affected by it? 4. Which English fricatives do you know? 5. What is particular in the distribution and variation of English fricatives? 6. Which affricates do you know? 7. Which sonorant consonants do you know? 8. What is characteristic of the English nasals? 9. Which English liquids do you know? 10. What is the difference between ‘clear l’ and ‘dark l’? 11. What is the difference between rhotic and non-rhotic varieties of English? 12. What are ‘linking / intrusive / defective r’? 13. What are glides? 14. What characterizes the distribution and variation of English glides? 15. Indicate the symbols representing the sounds described below: a) voiceless dental fricative; b) voiceless bilabial stop; c) voiced velar nasal; d) voiced palatal glide; e) voiceless alveolar fricative; f) voiced alveo-palatal fricative; g) voiced alveolar lateral; h) voiceless glottal stop; i) voiced alveo-palatal affricate; voiced labio-velar glide; j) voiced labio-dental fricative; k) voiced bilabial nasal. 16. For each of the following symbols, find an adequate description in words. Example: [b] = voiced bilabial stop a) [δ] b) [z] c) [n] d) [p] e) [h]
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f) [τΣ] g) [/]

h) [Β] o) [×] v) [Ζ]

i) [Χ] j) [Δ] k) [Σ] l) [♦] m) [ω] n) [ξ] p) [ρ] q) [Ν] r) [φ] s) [®] t) [⎠] u) [k]

17. Identify the difference in articulation between the following sounds, grouped in two sets. Example: [Τ s v Ζ] differ from [d p γ k] in point of manner of articulation – the sounds in the first set are all fricatives and the sounds in the second set are all stops. a) [κ γ ξ ⊗ Ν] vs. [t d s z n] b) [n r λ] vs. [d s z] c) [b d Z] vs. [p t S] d) [÷ Β Τ] vs. [β δ κ] e) [j w] vs. [ζ ♦] f) [μ ν Ν] vs. [b d g] g) [pf ts τΣ] vs. [f s Σ] 18. Identify which of the following sounds does not share all the features of the rest of the sounds and specify what the difference consists in (sometimes there is more than one solution). Example: in the set [p, n, s, δΖ], [n] is nasal and the rest are oral sounds. a) [w j t] b) [k x γ s] c) [r l m n] d) [m p b ÷] e) [v z Ζ ⊗ h]

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The description of vowels is quite different from that of consonants. First of all, voicing is irrelevant in this case, since vowels are usually voiced in the majority of languages, so this feature is rarely mentioned. Secondly, the manner of articulation as such is equally irrelevant, since all vowels are by definition produced with the articulators wide apart. Thirdly, vowels are restricted to the palatal and velar places of articulation.

1. Criteria for classifying vowels Vowels are usually described according to their ‘quality’ within a three-term system: vowel height, vowel backness, and vowel roundness. Vowel height is a ‘vertical’ parameter, corresponding more or less to the consonantal criterion of manner, based on the distance between the articulators. Vowels vary from high (that position in which the tongue body is as near the palate as it can be without causing audible friction) to high-mid, mid, low-mid and low (where the tongue body is as far from the palate as possible) (older texts may also use close and open instead of high and low, respectively). Vowel backness is a ‘horizontal’ criterion, parallel to consonantal place. It refers to the part of the tongue which is raised
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highest in the articulation of the vowel, varying from front (equivalent to palatal) (through central) to back (equivalent to velar). Vowel roundness: a vowel may be either rounded – articulated with the corners of the lips brought towards each other and the lips pushed forwards, e.g., [u] – or unrounded. Some phoneticians make a further distinction within unrounded vowels, between spread vowels – produced with the corners of the lips moved away from each other, as for a smile, e.g., [i], and neutral vowels – where the lips are not noticeably rounded or spread, e.g., [@].

2. The Cardinal Vowels Applying the three major criteria presented above, we can delimit the vowel articulation from the articulation of other sounds, calculating the so-called ‘vowel space’. This is the space within the oral cavity available for the production of vowels. For the sake of simplicity, the most common representation of the vowel space takes the stylized arbitrary shape of a quadrilateral (a trapezoid), as first proposed by Daniel Jones in the 1920s, under the name of Cardinal Vowel chart (see Figure 5.1). In Figure 5.1, the upper left corner represents the tongue position for the (ideally) highest and furthest forward vowel ([i]), while the lower right corner shows the tongue position for the lowest and furthest back vowel [A]. Six other sounds, approximately placed equidistantly from each other, are also indicated, thus giving a series of eight cardinal vowels, of which 1 to 5 are unrounded, and 6 to 8 rounded. These are known as the primary cardinal vowels. By reversing the rounding value, we obtain eight more secondary cardinal vowels, of which 9 to 13 are rounded, and 13 to 16 unrounded. Two more vowels are numbered in the chart: the high central unrounded 17 [È] and the high central rounded 18 [Ë]. There are also other central vowels
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which do not belong to the inventory of cardinal vowels, but are included in the IPA chart: the central low unrounded vowel [6], the central low-mid unrounded vowel [3], the central mid unrounded vowel [@], etc. [@] is shaped like an inverted ‘e’ and is usually called ‘schwa’ (pronounced [SwA]), which is the old Hebrew term for a diacritic indicating a missing vowel (Hebrew writing usually only includes consonants). 1 2 3 4

i e E a

u 8 o 7 O 6 A 5

Figure 5.1 The primary cardinal vowels

A few other IPA vowels are important in the description of the English vocalic system. One of them is [æ] (found in conservative RP and in most American English varieties). This vowel is somewhat higher and fronter than [a], but also a little lower than [E]. IPA [I] and [Y] are the lower, more central, short, and lax counterparts of [i] and [u], respectively, while [U] similarly corresponds to [u] (see Figure 5.2).
high high-mid mid low-mid low front central back

i y I Y e {


M u G o

E 9 æ a ↓

@ 3 6 Q A


Figure 5.2 IPA vowels (selective) 57
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The Cardinal Vowel chart is a schematic representation of the vowel space and its limits. It establishes reference points (hence the label ‘cardinal’) to which vowels in specific languages can be compared and described as, for instance, ‘higher than the cardinal vowel X’, ‘further back than the cardinal vowel Y’, or ‘more rounded than the cardinal vowel Z’. In this sense, the vowels in the words sea and shoe are said to illustrate the high cardinal vowels [i] and [u], respectively. But so is said about the French vowels in the words si ‘yes’ and chou ‘cabbage’, and yet there is a perceptible difference between the two pronunciations. This is because the French vowels are closer to the corresponding cardinal vowels than are the English vowels. A special mention needs to be made of the symbol [a] being commonly used to represent a low central vowel rather than a low front vowel (as specified in the Cardinal Vowel chart). This sound is typical, for instance, of Romanian (e.g., in are ‘(he) has’).

3. Other criteria for classifying vowels Traditionally in describing English vowels we use the ‘quantity’ distinction ‘long’ vs. ‘short’. Long consonants are also known (e.g., fricatives take longer to be articulated than plosives; plosives can be long if they are ‘doubled’ or geminated – as, e.g., in Italian). Long vowels can be 50 to 100 percent longer than short vowels. For example, there is an obvious difference in length between the vowel in feet [i:] (the colon indicates a long vowel) and the one in fit [I]. At the same time, the two vowels also differ through ‘quality’ factors: [I] is lower and more central than [i:]. That is because length in most English varieties is never the only feature which distinguishes two vowels. This is not the case in other languages (e.g., Danish) or even in a number of Scottish and Northern Irish English varieties, where
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length is sometimes the only criterion of distinction between pairs of words such as daze [dez] and days [de:z]. Long vowels are always associated with a higher degree of muscular tension in the articulatory organs. Consequently, they are described as tense. Short vowels are produced with less tension, in a more relaxed manner – hence their description as lax. The more advanced or retracted position of the tongue root can differentiate among vowels. Vowels articulated with the root of the tongue pushed forward of its normal position are described as advance tongue root (ATR) vowels. Non-ATR vowels are articulated with the tongue root in its resting position. The former type of vowels are also tenser and higher than the latter. Another important way of distinguishing vowel sounds depends on whether the tongue stays in the same position or is shifted during the articulation. Some vowel sounds are relatively steady (monophthongs, also called ‘pure’ vowels), e.g. in feet, some others involve tongue movement after the beginning of the articulation (diphthongs), e.g., in fight. Monophthongs are represented by a single vowel symbol, such as [i:] in feet, while diphthongs are represented by two symbols (indicating the starting and the finishing positions of the tongue, respectively), such as [aI] in fight. Both monophthongs and diphthongs belong to one single syllable. The duration of a diphthong is usually equal to the duration of a long vowel, but there are languages which make use of short diphthongs (e.g., Icelandic). One of the members of the diphthong sequence dominates over the other. If the dominant member comes first in the sequence, we are dealing with a falling diphthong. English only has falling diphthongs, of two kinds: opening – in fact, centering (ending in [@], e.g., [I@] in beard) and closing (ending in [I] or in [U], e.g., [OI] in voice and [aU] in loud). In other languages, e.g., Romanian, there are also rising diphthongs, where the dominant member comes second, e.g., in iarnă (‘winter’), iute ‘spicy, quickly’, ies ‘I go out’, coadă ‘tail’, ceas
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‘clock, watch, hour’, etc. However, some linguists (especially Americans) describe diphthongs (and even long monophthongs) as sequences of glide + vowel (e.g., [ja], [wa]) or vowel + glide (e.g., [aj], [aw]). In some non-rhotic English varieties, closing diphthongs may be followed by [@] (in those environments where rhotic varieties have an ‘r’ sound), e.g., in RP sour [saU@], sayer [seI@], fire [faI@], lawyer [lOI@], and slower [sl@U@]. Thus triphthongs result, which by nature are very unstable and subject to reduction. Their reduction usually implies the loss of the intermediary vowel, which automatically determines the compensatory lengthening of the initial vowel. The RP words enumerated above are now pronounced [sa:@] (sour), [se:@] (sayer), [fa:@] (fire), [lO:@] (lawyer), and [sl3:] (slower), with a further tendency towards monophthongisation of the resulting centring diphthong. Thus the pairs slower and slur [3:], fire and far [A:], and even layer and lair (if the [e:@] is further reduced to [E:]) tend to become homophonous. The position of the velum can also be used as a criterion in distinguishing vowels. In most of the situations the soft palate is raised, so that oral vowels are produced, but if it is lowered, the change results in the articulation of nasal vowels. In some languages oral vowels contrast with nasal vowels – as in French, e.g., in the pair lait [lE] ‘milk’ vs. lin [lE)] ‘flax’ (the nasal sound is marked by the ‘tilde’ symbol [~]). In English, nasalised vowels are always positional variants: if a vowel precedes a nasal stop it will be produced with lowered velum so as to anticipate the following consonant, as in seen [ i):].

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4. English vowel sounds Vowels have a tendency to move about in the articulatory space much more than consonants. This variation depends both on the regional origin of the speaker and on his social class and age group. The number of vowels and their positions on the vowel chart differs considerably from one English variety to another. Of the English varieties, the RP vowel system is particularly rich (see Figure 5.3), though the diphthongs have tended towards symplification. Conservative RP is thus said to have 21 vowel sounds (12 monophthongs and 9 diphthongs). In more recent RP, speakers tend to reduce the diphthongs [O@] and [U@] to [O:] and [e@] to [E:], so that the newer form of RP only has 19 vowels sounds.

i: I @ 3: V & U




Q A:

Figure 5.3 RP pure vowels

4.1. RP front vowels [i:] – high, long, tense, unrounded (e.g., in see). [I] – high, more central and lower than [i:]; short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in bit). [E] – low-mid, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in check). [æ] – low, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in cat).
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4.2. RP back vowels [u:] – high, long, tense, rounded (e.g., in boot). [U] – high, more central and lower than [u:]; short, lax, rounded (e.g., in put). [O:] – low-mid, long, tense, rounded (e.g., in taught). [Q] – low, short, lax, rounded (e.g., in got). [A:] – low, long, tense, unrounded (e.g., in father).

4.3. RP central vowels [V] – low-mid, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in cut); it is closer to the IPA vowel [6] than to the cardinal [V]. [@] – mid, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in about, verandah – always in unstressed syllables). [3:] – mid, long, tense, unrounded (e.g., in fur, bird, in nonrhotic varieties of English); in North American English (which a rhotic variety of English) a [@] is often used followed by an ‘r’ sound, represented as [™].

4.4. RP centring diphthongs [I@] – e.g., in fear. [e@] – traditional RP (e.g., in fair); nowadays reduced to [E:]. [O@] – traditional RP (e.g., in oar); nowadays reduced to [O:]. [U@] – traditional RP (e.g., in poor or tour); nowadays reduced to [O:].
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4.5. RP diphthongs falling to [I] and to [U] [aI] – e.g., in pie. [OI] – e.g., in coin. [eI] – e.g., in play. [aU] – e.g., in cow. [@U] – e.g., in know.

5. Questions and exercises 1. Which are the main criteria used to classify vowels? 2. What is the difference between high and low vowels? 3. What is the difference between front and back vowels? 4. What is the difference between rounded and unrounded vowels? 5. What is the cardinal vowel chart? 6. Which cardinal vowels do you know? 7. Which are the other criteria used to classify vowels? 8. How can vowels be classified according to length? 9. How is a tense vowel articulated? 10. What is Adanced Tongue Root? 11. What is the difference between a monophthong and a diphthong? 12. Are there any triphthongs in English? 13. What kind of diphthongs do you know? 14. How is a nasalised vowel articulated? 15. Are there nasalised vowels in English? 16. Which are the vowel sounds of RP English? 17. Indicate the symbols representing the vowel sounds described below:
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a) low back round vowel; b) mid central unstressed short vowel; c) high back short vowel; d) high front long vowel; e) mid back round vowel; f) high central unround vowel; g) mid front unround vowel; h) low front unround vowel; i) low-mid central stressed vowel; j) central to high back diphthong; k) mid back to central diphthong; l) low front to high front diphthong. 18. For each of the following symbols, find an adequate description in words. Example: [e] = high-mid front unround vowel a) [Θ] [υ⎤] i) [Ι] [∈⎤] q) [Ι↔] r) [℘] s) [ψ] j) [αΙ] k) [Α⎤] l) [™] m) [∝] n) [ ] o) [ ] p) b) [Ε] c) [ο] d) [ Υ] e) [↵] f) [←] g) [ ] h)

19. Identify the difference in articulation between the following sounds, grouped in two sets. Example: The vowels in the set [ε Ε ο ] are mid non-central, while the vowels in [↔ ℘ ∈] are mid central. a) [ψ ↵ Υ ←] vs. [↔ α Ε Ι] c) [Ι Υ Α] vs. [ι⎤ υ⎤ Α⎤] forms. a) [πλι⎤ζδ], b) [τΣΑ⎤νσ], c) [τΗαΙμΙΝ], d) [Τ♦υ⎤], e) [ΘλδΖΙβ♦↔], f) [κΗ↔Υμ], g) [σκΕ↔δ] h) [φ℘νΙ], i) [ϕΕστ↔δεΙ], j) [δΘΣτ],
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b) [Θ Α ] vs. [ι Ε Υ]

20. Transform the following transcriptions into orthographic

k) [ΖΑ⎤ν♦↔], l) [κΗ ⎤τ], m) [Δe↔], n) [↔κ℘στ↔μδ], o) [fl ⎤♦↔].

21. Transcribe phonetically the following words in RP. a) question b) threaten c) this d) yelling e) blurry f) congress g) generosity h) phantom i) shiver j) jester k) chopper l) casualties m) womb n) central o) thought p) social.

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1. Phonetics vs. phonology Unlike phonetics, which deals with the more or less universal features of sounds, phonology studies the relationships and functions of sounds, the way they are organized into patterns and systems and the way they interact with each other. However, there is no clear-cut boundary between the two disciplines of linguistics: in fact, one could not separate the phonetic features of a sound from its phonological environment, nor could one analyze a phonological process without taking into account its phonetic characteristics.

2. Segmental vs. suprasegmental phonology Sounds are not always seen as independent segments, since they are usually organized in higher, more complex structures. If a phonologist regards sounds as individual units (phonological segments), he places his approach within the framework of segmental phonology. If, on the contrary, he looks at sounds as parts of higher units of organization, he does it from the perspective of suprasegmental phonology (also known as prosody). Suprasegmental phonology studies units of speech larger than sounds, e.g., syllables, metrical feet, phonological words, phrases and sentences, and phenomena which characterize them, such as pitch, stress, tone, intonation, rhythm, etc.
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3. Segmental phonology 3.1. Phonemes and their variants If a speaker of English is asked to produce the word cup several times, he will articulate the three sounds [k, V, p] with slight, almost imperceptible differences every time he utters the word (this can easily be proven by means of a simple phonographic recording). However, he will tend to ignore such differences and consider the sounds identical. This is because the speaker will compare, e.g., the types of [k] he articulates with a mental representation of [k] stored in his mind (a common denominator of all the [k] sounds he has ever produced or heard in his language) and decide that they should be treated as the same thing. Indeed, in the mind of the speaker of a certain language there are abstract representations of the sounds used in the respective language, listed up in a sort of catalogue he consults on every occasion a sound is produced. All the possible sounds of a language are referred to such phonological categories, which are not palpable entities, like the speech sounds we ourselves hear or articulate, but rather exist only in our minds. These categories are described by phonologists as invariants or phonemes, as opposed to all their possible concrete phonetic realizations or materializations in the actual speech, which are called variants or phones. By convention, phonemes are transcribed within slashes (in broad transcription) and their variants within square brackets (in narrow transcription). We always strictly refer to the phonemes of one language and not of languages in general, because each language has a different grouping of the sounds into phonemes. A phonological category in a language may be larger than the corresponding category in another
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language. For instance, the English phoneme /p/ is the category to which we refer both aspirated and non-aspirated [p] variants (e.g., the [ph] in pan and the [p] in span). On the contrary, in a language like Thai, [ph] and [p] belong to two different phonemes, one aspirated and the other plain (non-aspirated) (/ph/ and /p/), as, for instance, in /phàa/ ‘to split’ and /pàa/ ‘forest’. We know they are different because they contrast: when one is replaced by the other in a word (= the substitution or commutation test) there results a different word with another meaning. Such two words are said to make up a minimal pair, that is, a pair of words that differ in just one respect (e.g., English /pæn/ pan vs. /bæn/ ban, where /p/ and /b/ are different phonemes – they contrast in an opposition of voicing). In some cases, certain sounds may have limited occurrence, so there might be no minimal pairs to evince the difference between these sounds. Instead, we could content ourselves with near minimal pairs, where only the immediate phonetic environment of the sounds concerned is identical. For instance, in pressure ["prES@] vs. pleasure ["plEZ@] we can see the contrast between /S/ and /Z/, though the two words also differ by another opposition (between /r/ and /l/). In this case, the immediate phonetic environment is ["E__@] for both /S/ and /Z/. A phoneme, therefore, is an abstract representation of a class of sounds whose members (variants) are highly similar phonetically and never contrast functionally (i.e., never occur in the same environment). Only sounds with a high degree of phonetic similarity qualify as members of the same phoneme (e.g., aspirated and plain [p], which only differ in one phonetic feature: aspiration). If two sounds always occur in different contexts, but do not share enough phonetic features, they cannot be the realizations of the same phoneme. For instance, English /h/ is always syllable-initial, while English /N/ is only syllable-final, but physically they are completely different: one is
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a voiceless glottal fricative and the other a voiced velar nasal stop, so they could not be the variants of the same phoneme. The difference between the English [p] and [ph] and the Thai [p] and [ph] does not lie in the phonetic characteristics of these sounds, i.e., in their physical traits. Both English and Thai use more or less the same plain and aspirated types of voiceless bilabial plosive. We are rather dealing with a difference in the two language systems, in the way the speakers of the two languages group these phones in their minds in one or two categories, i.e., one or two phonemes: /p/ and /ph/. Graphically, this can be illustrated as in Figure 6.1:
English /p/ Thai /p/ /ph/ phonological level (phonemes)



[p] [ph] phonetic level (phones)

Figure 6.1 The phonological and phonetic levels

The phonetic and the phonological level coexist, i.e., speakers use concrete sounds in accordance with the abstract role played by these sounds in their language system. The concrete level of representation has been conventionally called by linguists the ‘surface level’ (= the level of phones, i.e., of sounds as they are actually pronounced), while the abstract level has become known as the ‘underlying level’ (= the level of phonemes, i.e., of sounds as they are systematically organized in the respective language).

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3.2. Distribution Variants (or phones) can be of different types, depending on their distribution (= their occurrence in different environments or contexts). For example, the aspirated and the non-aspirated [p] in English never appear in the same environment: [ph] only shows up unless preceded by [s], whereas [p] is always preceded by [s]. Such conditioned variants (or allophones) are in complementary distribution. The occurrence of allophones is said to be predictable, because in a certain environment only one variant of the phoneme is expected to appear (they are context-bound). On the contrary, the occurrence of phonemes is described as unpredictable (phonemes have contrastive distribution in the same context: e.g., /p b k r m/, etc. in initial position before /æn/ - in pan, ban, can, man etc.). Sometimes, variation is not related to positioning, being rather unpredictable, yet not phonemic: this is the case of free variants. Free variation is the different realization of one phoneme in various dialects of the same language or in one person’s speech, in different situations. Free variants are context-free and are not supposed to lead to meaning contrasts: e.g., Northern English English [mUd] mud vs. Southern English English [mVd] (regional variants); [pli:ð] please vs. [pli:z] (uttered by a lisping person).

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4. Questions 1. What is the difference between segmental and suprasegmental phonology? 2. What are phonemes? 3. What are (allo) phones / variants? 4. What is the relationship between two phonemes that can occur in the same environment? 5. What is a minimal pair? 6. What is a near minimal pair? 7. What is the surface level of representation? 8. What is the underlying level of representation? 9. Which types of speech sound distribution do you know? 10. When are two sounds in contrastive distribution? 11. When are two sounds in complementary distribution? 12. When are two sounds in free variation? 13. When is the occurrence of a sound predictable?

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When they contrast in a minimal pair, phonemes oppose each other in terms of one or more distinctive features (= phonological properties): e.g., in /bIt/ vs. /pIt/, /b/ is voiced and /p/ is not; in /mi:t/ vs. /bi:t/, /m/ is nasal and /b/ is not; in /væn/ vs. /bæn/, /v/ is continuant, while /b/ is not; in /bEt/ vs. /wEt/, /b/ is a consonant, while /w/ is not, etc. Thus, by contrasting /b/ with other sounds we can learn more about what /b/ is and what it is not. In fact, we can arrive at a list of inherent features which characterize this sound, which we might consider equal to the phoneme /b/. This means that we can regard /b/ as a unit (a phoneme) decomposable into smaller constitutive elements (its distinctive features). Based on their constitutive features, phonemes are more or less alike, i.e., they share more or less properties. The more properties two phonemes share, the higher the chance for them to belong to the same class of sounds. Thus, /b/, /p/, /m/ and /v/ are all consonants, therefore they can all be represented as [+consonantal]; /w/, however, is a glide (it only resembles consonants in its behavior) and like vowels it can be described as [–consonantal]. Secondly, /b/, /p/ and /m/ are all non-continuant sounds (they are stops), so they can all be characterised as [–continuant]; /v/ and /w/, on the other hand, are [+continuant] (in the articulation of
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fricatives, glides, and a few other sounds the air is released continuously, without complete obstruction). Thirdly, /m/ is [+nasal] because it is articulated with a raised velum, while /b/, /p/, /v/ and /w/ are oral sounds, therefore [–nasal]. Similarly, in the articulation of /p/ the vocal cords do not vibrate (so /p/ is to be described as [–voice]), but /b/, /m/, /v/ and /w/ are voiced, therefore [+voice]. Finally, /b/, /p/, /m/, /v/ and /w/ are articulated by means of lip movement, so they all belong to the class of [labial] sounds. At the same time, /w/ also belongs to the [dorsal] class (it is a labio-velar). Sounds, therefore, can be grouped in several ways according to their features. Phonologists, starting from the discoveries of phoneticians, have tried not to simply list up sound features at random, but rather to associate them in categories (clusters) that are relevant for the hierarchy in which the phonological system of a human language is organized. Thus they have come to rank features according to the role they play in the system. Since one of the most important oppositions in the phonological system is that of vowels vs. consonants, the feature [consonantal], for instance, which distinguishes between the two classes of sounds, has been given pride of place. Another feature illustrated above, [nasal], is hierarchically subordinated to [consonantal], since it is used to subdivide some consonants (or vowels) into nasal and oral. The same is true about the features [voice] or [continuant]. Features like [labial] and [dorsal], which strictly refer to the place of articulation of a consonant, are commonly subordinated to other features characteristic of consonants. The feature hierarchy depends on the natural grouping of sounds into classes, which make up the (segmental) phonological system: e.g., obstruents, sonorants, stops, nasals, etc. Sounds are grouped according to their articulatory characteristics, but also depending on the way they behave in phonological processes. For
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example, alveolar and dental sounds can suffer a phenomenon called ‘palatalization’ (a type of assimilation) by which they turn into alveopalatals or palatals (e.g., in the pronunciation ki[S]you of kiss you – see also Section IV.3.1). Besides, these places of articulation are, of course contiguous and the position of the tongue is not very dissimilar in the articulation of these sounds. For these reasons they are grouped together under the label [coronal]. The most widely known system of phonological properties is the one proposed in Chomsky and Halle’s work (1968) The Sound Pattern of English (in short SPE), taken over and amended by numerous phonologists who followed in their foot steps. For example, in the SPE model segments were viewed as consisting simply of a list of binary features (= with two possible values: + or –), as illustrated above by [+nasal]/[–nasal], [+voice]/[–voice], etc. Later on, as already emphasized, linguists understood that phonological features are hierarchically ordered in the system. Phonologists have also insisted on the avoidance of redundancy in feature specification, stating that some features are simply implied by others and should not be mentioned. For instance, since all sonorant sounds are voiced, it would usually be superfluous to describe a sound as [+voice] once it has already been described as [+sonorant]. However, there are situations where the sonorant is devoiced (e.g., if followed by a voiceless sound), and in such cases the [voice] specification will indeed be necessary. In the SPE model, the features characterizing a segment were organized into a feature matrix representation in which they were listed along with their value (either + or –) for the respective segment. For example, in the spirit but not exactly the letter of the SPE, the feature matrix for the English consonant /b/ could be described as containing the following properties:

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–syllabic +consonantal –sonorant –continuant –del. release LABIAL +voice

1. Major class features Already in the SPE approach features were grouped according to their higher or lower degree of general applicability. Those features which apply to all sounds are those which distinguish the so-called major classes of speech sounds: obstruents, sonorant consonants, glides, and vowels. Vowels can be described as [+syllabic], because they characteristically occur in syllable nucleuses (= centers). Other sounds also become [+syll] when they behave in the same way as vowels. They are mainly syllabic sonorant consonants, like those in button [b℘tν⎯] or bottle [b tλ⎯]) (in English, generally in word-final unstressed syllables). In order to distinguish obstruents, liquids and nasals from vowels and glides, the feature [consonantal] was introduced: [+cons] sounds are articulated with a high degree of stricture. The third major class feature, [sonorant], is the one which allows us to distinguish vowels, glides, liquids and nasals [+son] from obstruents (oral stops, fricatives and affricates: [–son]). Sonorants are produced with a higher degree of sonority and they display a clear
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formant pattern in the acoustic spectrum – they have relatively more periodic acoustic energy. By combining the three features we can characterize each major class of segments in a particular way. A feature which has also been introduced as a major class feature is [approximant] (= frictionless continuant), used to individualize liquids and glides ([+approximant]) from nasals.
vowels [syll] [cons] [son] [approx] + – + + glides – – + + sonorant consonants liquids nasals – – + + + + + – obstruents – + – –

2. Consonantal features Because of the numerous differences between the articulation of consonants and that of vowels, their features are usually presented in separate lists. We will start with consonants.

2.1. Voice Although it is a general feature which applies to all classes of sounds, [voice] is mostly used to distinguish between voiceless and voiced obstruents. As already stated, [+voice] sounds are produced with vocal cord vibration. They typically include the vowels, as well as the glides, sonorants and voiced obstruents. However, there are languages which sometimes make use of voiceless vowels or voiceless sonorants.
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2.2. Manner features

There are five manner features to be discussed here: [continuant], [delayed release], [strident], [nasal], and [lateral]. To account for manner of articulation differences between sounds, e.g., in the obstruent series /τ/, /σ/, and /τs/, new features were introduced instead of the phonetic labels [stop], [fricative] and [affricate], namely [continuant] and [delayed release], which refer to the degree of aperture in the oral tract and to the duration of the sound, respectively. Thus, a stop, which is pronounced with a complete obstruction of the airflow, can be described as [–cont, –del rel], a fricative (which is articulated with incomplete stricture) as [+cont, –del rel], and an affricate (which starts as a stop and ends as a fricative and takes longer than the other obstruents) as [–cont, +del rel]. The feature [delayed release] is strictly relevant in describing the difference between the articulation of a stop and that of an affricate, whereas [continuant] applies to all sounds: [+cont] sounds are those in the articulation of which there is a free airflow through the oral tract: vowels, glides, liquids and fricative obstruents. One more feature ([strident]) was introduced in the list of manner features to pinpoint the difference between relatively turbulent [+strid] sounds (those fricatives and affricates whose articulation involve a complex kind of constriction, resulting in continuous noisy or hissing airflow): e.g., /φ ϖ σ ζ Σ Ζ ts dz τΣ δΖ/ and those sounds (fricatives only) which have less high-frequency noise: e.g., [–strid] /÷ Β Τ Δ ξ ⊗ h/. The following two features are mainly used to distinguish sonorants. Above we mentioned the feature [nasal]. [+nas] sounds are
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those articulated with lowered velum, so that the airflow can pass both through the oral cavity and through the nose. In English and Romanian, for instance, [nasal] is only distinctive for consonants, but there are other languages in which it can also distinguish vowels, e.g., French. The feature [lateral] is used to separate ‘l’-sounds from other liquids (and also from the rest of the sounds). It refers to the lateral release of the airflow – i.e., by the sides of the tongue.

2.3. Place features The numerous articulatory labels used by phoneticians were replaced in the SPE model by only two binary features, [anterior] and [coronal]. Chomsky and Halle described as [+ant] those sounds which are produced no further back in the oral tract than the alveolar ridge (labials, alveolars and dentals), while [+cor] was introduced to refer to sounds produced in the area delimited by the teeth and the hard palate (alveolars, dentals and alveo-palatals). This caused palatals, velars, uvulars, pharyngeals and glottals to be characterized together as [–ant, –cor]. Later on, due to the similarities noticed in the phonological behavior of alveolars and palatals (see above), the latter were also included in the group of [+coronal] sounds. They were distinguished by means of the vowel-specific features [high], [low] and [back]. Instead of using the two binary features in the SPE approach, it has been assumed that it would be more adequate and more economical to base the classification on the active articulators. Thus the features [labial] (= with the lips), [coronal] (= with the crown / blade of the tongue), [dorsal] (= with the tongue-body (dorsum)) and [guttural] (= with the tongue root) came to be employed as unary (= single-value) features. Place features are now unary because phonologists have come to the conclusion that there is no point in
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specifying a sound for anything but its own place of articulation (e.g., in the old system of notation, /b/ would have been [+anterior] but also [–coronal]). Unary place of articulation features can also co-occur: e.g., /w/, which has double articulation, can be described as both [labial] and [dorsal]. The feature [anterior] has not been altogether abandoned, however, but now it is used exclusively to subcategorize the class of coronals. dental alveolar alveo-palatal + + – retroflex – palatal –


Another feature originally proposed in SPE which has proved to be useful in distinguishing coronals is [distributed]. Tongue-blade (laminal) sounds and non-retroflex sounds are thus considered to be [+distr], whereas tongue-tip (apical) sounds and retroflex sounds are described as [–distr]. This feature is particularly useful for stops, since for fricatives [strident] (already) is sufficient to characterize the oppositions found in language.

3. Vowel features The following features are mainly relevant in the description of vowels (in terms of height, backness, roundness and length – see Chapter V), but they have also been used to distinguish consonants. The feature [+high] applies to those sounds which involve raising the body of the tongue above the so-called ‘neutral’ position (roughly the position characterizing the articulation of the schwa), e.g., the high vowels, the glides, the velar consonants, etc.

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[+low] applies to sounds in the articulation of which the body of the tongue is lowered from the neutral position, e.g., the low vowels and the pharyngeal and glottal consonants. We use [+back] to refer to sounds produced by retracting the body of the tongue from the neutral position, e.g., the back vowels, the velar, uvular and pharyngeal consonants. The feature [+front] describes those sounds which involve the fronting of the body of the tongue from the neutral position, e.g., the front vowels. This feature is not accepted by all accounts (including the SPE), but it is useful in characterizing central vowels, in combination with the feature [back] (central vowels can thus be defined as [–back, –front]). [+round] sounds are articulated with rounded protruding lips, e.g., the rounded vowels and the labial-velar glide /w/. In order to distinguish long vowels from short ones, we may use the feature [tense], first proposed in SPE: [+tense] sounds are produced with a lot of muscular effort – a considerable tensing of the body of the tongue – in comparison to the so-called ‘lax’ vowels ([–tense]), and they imply a greater deviation from the neutral relaxed state of the tongue. This increased muscular effort allows for a longer and more peripheral sound to be articulated (e.g., the vowel [u:] in boom [bu:m]) rather than a shorter and more centralized lax vowel (e.g., [U] in [pUt]) (see Figure 5.3). The feature [tense] seems to apply well in RP: the [–tense] vowels of RP form a class (including [I E & @ V Q U]), which is proven by the fact that they cannot occur in final position in a stressed syllable, while the [+tense] vowels of RP can (e.g., [fi:] vs. *[fI]). Similarly, [–tense] vowels occur before the velar nasal [N], but [+tense] vowels do not (e.g., [sVN] vs. *[su:N]). An idealized ten-vowel system based on the distinction of tenseness will contain a set of [–tense] ‘central’ vowels ([I E @ O U])
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and one of [+tense] ‘peripheral’ vowels ([i e A o u]), as in the following representation: ι ε Ι Ε ↔ Α There are other vowel systems, however, with a different type of organization of the very same vowels. Many languages do not divide the set of vowels into a tense and a lax subset. Instead, they oppose two subsets according to the position of the tongue-root (and the feature [Advanced Tongue Root]). Some vowels are [+ATR] – ([i e 3 o u]), whereas others are [–ATR] ([I E a O U]) (see below). ι ε Ε Ι ο υ Υ υ ο


∈ α

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The feature [ATR] is sometimes used nowadays to describe English vowels instead of the feature [tense], since, as already stated, the advanced position of the tongue root determines the simultaneous raising of the tongue body (which, by definition, characterizes tense vowels). 4. Summing up The features presented in this chapter are phonologically relevant. They can be successfully used to identify natural classes of sounds. For instance, the set of English nasal consonants [μ ν Ν] share the features [+cons, +son, –approx, +nasal] and constitute a natural class because there are no other sounds in this language to fit this description. Similarly, [τΣ] and [δΖ] are the typical English sounds describable as [+cons, –son, –cont, +del rel]. From now on, instead of enumerating sounds, we will often refer to them via their feature specifications. As it will soon become obvious, this approach is considerably more economical and allows us to capture interesting generalizations on whole classes of sounds. Tables 7.1 and 7.2 present a summary of the features of various kinds of English sounds. Further on, the main features introduced so far are presented in the shape of a tree.
Table 7.1 Features of English RP vowels Features high low back front round tense 82
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ι⎤ + + +

Ι + + -

Ε + -

Θ + + -

Α⎤ + + + + + + -

: + + +

υ⎤ + + + +

Υ + + + -

℘ + -

↔ -

∈ ⎤ +

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Table 7.2 Features of English RP consonants
round back low high dorsal distrib ant cor labial lat nas stri del rel cont voice + + + + + + + v + τ + + δ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + -

+ + -

+ + + + + +

+ +

+ + + +

+ + + -

+ + -

+ + + + + + + -

+ + + + + + + + + -

+ + + +

+ + + + + + + + + + +

approx son cons +

+ + + + + + + -

+ + b f

+ + + + + + + + + + + + + + + + σ ζ Τ Δ Σ Ζ τ δ k γ Σ Ζ

Feature p

η μ ν Ν ♦ λ w j

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[- syll] [+ cons] [- son] (obstruents) [+ son] (sonor. cons.) [- cons] [+ son] (glides)

[+syll] [- cons] [+ son] (vowels)

[- cont] [+ cont] [+nas] [-nas] (fricatives) (nasals) (liquids)
[-approx] [+approx] [+approx]

[-del rel] [+del rel] (stops) (affricates)

[+lat] (laterals)

[-lat] (rhotics)

5. Questions and exercises 1. What is a distinctive feature? What is a binary feature? What is a unary feature? 2. What is a matrix representation? 3. How many types of features do you know? 4. Which are the major class features? 5. Which manner features do you know? What role does each of them play? 6. Why are unary features preferable in place descriptions? 7. What role does the feature [anterior] play in the recent approach? 8. Which vocalic features do you know? Do they only apply to vowels?
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9. What is the difference between the features [tense] and [ATR]? 10. Decide whether the following sets form natural classes or not. Which features would you use to describe them? a) /π τ κ τΣ/; b) /λ μ Ν ρ ν/; c) /β φ Σ η/; d) /υ Υ ∝ ο Α /; e) /β τ μ λ ϕ Ζ/; f) /υ Υ ω/; g) /φ σ τs Σ τΣ/; h) /ι Ι y ϕ ⎞ ←/; i) /λ ν Ε ω/; j) /Θ Α/; k) /Β ϖ ζ Δ Ζ ⊗/; l) /β δ γ/. 11. Decide which sounds are represented by the following feature matrices:
a) cor +ant +cont b) labial -del rel +voi c) -cont -del rel -voi d) dorsal -cont +son e) -syll -cons +son

12. Identify the features which distinguish the following sounds: a) /τ/ and /τΣ/; b) /Β/ and /ϖ/; c) /ι/ and /ϕ/; d) /κ/ and /ξ/; e) /σ/ and /Σ/; f) /Τ/ and /Δ/; g) /η/ and /?/; h) /λ/ and /ρ/; i) /γ/ and /Ν/; j) /ω/ and /ϕ/. 13. Provide feature matrixes for the following sounds: a) /p/; b) /N/; /m/; h) /k/; i) /S/; j) /D/; k) /v/; l) /R/; m) /w/; n) /?/; o) /d/; p) /j/; q) /Q/; r) /V/; s) /i:/; t) /E/; u) /O:/; v) /@/; w) /A:/; x) U: y) /&/; z) /3:/. c) /z/; d) /Ù/; e) /l/; f) /h/; g)

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1. Rule writing Sounds used in spoken communication may be more or less similar to the corresponding phonemes. Sometimes speech may be hard to understand because of the numerous phonetic ‘accidents’ which can occur in various environments, changing or even completely deleting sounds. Think for instance of the following sentence: Did you arrive safely?. In very careful pronunciation, this sentence could be transcribed as [dId ju: @RaIv seIflI], but in fast coarticulated speech it will sound more like [dIÙ@RaIfseIflI] (including several instances of assimilation and deletion). Despite the differences between the first and the second pronunciation of this sentence, a speaker of English will be able to interpret them in a similar way. This is because in the mind of a speaker, apart from the set of phonemes characteristic of his language (the underlying structure), there is also a set of rules which he can apply in order to generate the spoken sounds (the surface structure). These rules also help the speaker ‘reconstruct’ the phonemes and interpret the message attached to them. The two levels of representation introduced in Section VI.3.1 (the underlying level and the surface level) are thus linked by a set of rules characteristic for a certain language, that is, a set of explicit statements (predictions) about the way particular (allo)phones
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represent particular phonemes in the respective language. By means of these rules, speakers are able to use the sounds of their language in an appropriate way. We can also say that they derive the phonetic representation from the phonological representation by applying the rules (see also Section VIII.5). Underlying representation ↓ Rule(s) ↓ Surface representation Essentially, rules state that some (input) item (e.g., A) becomes (→) some other (output) item (e.g., B) in some specific environment (e.g., X__Y). Such a statement can formally be represented in the following way: A → B / X __Y Here the slash (/) precedes (marks) the environment. X and Y stand for two variables (the left-hand and the right-hand environment), and the underscore ( __ ) represents the position of the item which suffers the effect of the rule – in this case: A. An illustration is offered by the regional nasalization of the English vowels before nasal stops. For instance, the underlying form /πΕν/ may be realized as [πΕ)ν], for instance in the Southern United States. We may write therefore the following rule: a. /Ε/ is nasalized when followed by /n/. b. /Ε/ → [Ε)] / __ /ν/

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Moreover, taking into account that this phenomenon affects all vowels of English preceding all kinds of nasals, we can raise our rule to a higher degree of generalization, using the phonological features introduced in Chapter 7. a. A vowel is nazalised when followed by a nasal. b. [+syll] → [+nas] / __ [+nas] Rules are usually written in terms of the relevant features, not of the whole feature matrices represented by sounds (in order to avoid redundancy and to increase the explanatory power). Thus, to represent vowels we only picked [+syllabic] because vowels are the only speech sounds which typically form a syllable nucleus. For nasals we picked the feature [+nasal], which distinguishes them from the rest of the sounds; besides, in English there are only nasal stops, so any additional features describing stops in particular would have been redundant.

2. Selecting the underlying form Now the question arises: on which criteria did we select the underlying form? In other words: why did we pick the non-nasalized vowel to be the underlying form and the nasalized one to be the surface form and not the other way round? Although no formula has been found yet to work without fail, as sometimes there might be more than a single right answer, several guiding principles have been suggested so far, based of which we may identify the best candidate for the underlying item. 1. First of all we have to make sure we are dealing with the allophones of one single phoneme. For this we need to see if the
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sounds are in complementary distribution and also share a great number of features (i.e., if the sounds are phonetically similar). 2. Then we have to apply the principle of phonetic naturalness (which refers to what is likely to be found or frequently found across languages). According to this principle, the symbol chosen to represent the phoneme must have as much in common with the surface forms as possible. For instance, if we want to represent the underlying form realized on the surface level as oral [Ε] or nasalised [Ε)], we should not pick a random symbol, such as ‘2’ or ‘*’, but a symbol that represents the largest number of the features of the two allophones, i.e., a symbol which usually stands for a low-mid front short vowel, which cannot be far from ‘Ε’ itself. 3. It derives that the symbol representing the phoneme should in fact be the same as one of the symbols representing the allophones. This way, we can explain the other allophones and their distribution in opposition to this basic form and its own distribution. In the example above, we would have to pick either the oral or the nasalized vowel symbol to represent the phoneme. 4. Of several allophone symbols, the simplest is usually preferred for the underlying representation, i.e., the one that has nothing added to its basic shape. From this point of view, in the case of the two vowels, ‘Ε’ would be more appropriate to stand for the phoneme, as it lacks the additional tilde symbol ‘ ) ’. 5. It is usually the form with the widest distribution (the allophone which occurs in the largest number of environments) that is selected to also represent the phoneme. In our example, [Ε] can be followed by any kind of consonants, except for nasals, while [Ε)] is naturally placed before a nasal consonant. According to this criterion, we come to the conclusion that the unnasalyzed allophone [Ε] must be chosen to also represent the phoneme, since the number of

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environments of [Ε] is far larger than the number of environments of its nasalized counterpart. 6. The principle of process naturalness is also applicable whenever we need confirmation for the underlying form already identified by using the other criteria. A cross-linguistic analysis will confirm the supposition that there is indeed a natural tendency for unnasalized vowels to be nasalized when followed by a nasal. 7. The same phenomenon (nasalization) applies to all English vowels. This regularity is usually referred to as pattern congruity and is itself often worth adopting as a general guiding principle in the phonemic analysis.

3. Phonological alternations There are many kinds of phonological alternations, as there are various kinds of phonological processes. Some of the alternations are purely phonetically conditioned, some others are phonetically and morphologically conditioned, while a third type of alternations are phonetically, morphologically and lexically conditioned.

3.1. Phonetically conditioned alternations An example of this category is the alternation between unnasalized and nasalized vowels in English (see above). The only cause which determines the nasalization is the presence of a nasal consonant immediately after the vowel. This means that the phenomenon of nasalization occurs irrespective of the morphological structure of the word: it is simply conditioned by the phonetic environment.
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Other examples of alternations of the same type include aspirated vs. non-aspirated voiceless stops, the lateral and nasal release of stops (e.g., in battle or rotten), the phenomenon of ‘flapping’ characteristic of North American English, Northern Irish and Australian English (e.g., in wa[Ρ]er (water)), the assimilation of the English alveolar nasal /n/ to the place of articulation of the following labial or velar consonant (e.g., i[m+p]eace (in peace)), ‘clear’ vs. ‘dark l’, etc.

3.2. Phonetically and morphologically conditioned alternations A word is made up of one or several morphemes (units contained in the word with identifiable meanings), e.g., in the word input, the prefix in- is a (prefix) morpheme with one meaning, while the root -put is another morpheme, with a meaning of its own; therefore, morpho-phonologically we can represent the word as /In+pUt/ (where the symbol ‘+’, called juncture, is used to mark the morpheme boundary). A conditioned variant of a morpheme is called an allomorph. The English noun plural morpheme (orthographic ‘(e)s’) has three allomorphs: [s], [z], and [Iz], depending on the nature of the preceding segment. If the noun ends in a sibilant (i.e. [s], [z], [S], [Z], [Í], or [Ù]), the plural takes the form [Ιζ], if it ends in a voiceless nonsibilant, the plural is [s], and if the final segment is a voiced nonsibilant, the form of the plural is [z]. This means that a word ending, for instance, in a nasal or a vowel will automatically take the plural allomorph [ζ]. On the other hand, when we hear the English words [dA:ns] and [keIs] we do not have to dismiss them as ill-formed plural forms, because we can interpret them as the mono-morphemic (= made up of one morpheme) singular forms dance and case. Therefore, the
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phonetic alternation introduced at the beginning of this section, though perfectly motivated by the environment, is exclusively valid in the case of the plural marker allomorphs. Other alternations of a similar kind in English are, e.g., the third person singular present tense markers [s/z/Iz] and the past tense regular markers [t/d/Id].

3.3. Phonetically, morphologically and lexically conditioned alternations Consider the following English singular and plural noun forms:
wolf [wUlf] – wolves [wUlvz] wife [waIf] – wives [waIvz] leaf [li:f] – leaves [li:vz] gulf [gVlf] – gulfs [gVlfs] still-life ["stIllaIf] – still-lifes ["stIllaIfs] belief [bI"li:f] – beliefs [bI"li:fs]

Apparently, there is no phonetic or morphological difference between the words in the left-hand column and those in the right-hand column that would motivate this erratic behaviour. And yet native speakers of English do know that in the cases exemplified in the lefthand column they have to apply voicing on the labio-dental fricative when they add the plural suffix. This means that there is a list of items in the lexicon (= the set of words) contained in the speakers’ minds which are specified for this irregular type of plural marking, a list which is transmitted from parent to child as a pre-established convention. The assimilatory voicing phenomenon is not restricted to the voiceless labio-dental fricative, as it also applies to its alveolar and dental counterparts.
path [pA:T] – paths [pA:Dz] house [haUs] – houses ["haUzIz] moth [mQT] – moths [mQTs] boss [bQs] – bosses ["bQsIz] 93
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The explanation stays in the diachronic evolution of English. These plural forms are exceptions to the general plural-forming rule which have been inherited from earlier stages of English, when a rule applied according to which intervocalic voicing was obligatory. That this is so is proven by the fact that this type of plural formation is no longer productive (i.e., it cannot apply to newly-formed nouns, which automatically build their plural according to the common present-day plural rule presented in Section VIII.3.2). Other alternations of this type in English are the velar softening (the process by which the velar stop [k] is fronted and fricativized to the alveolar fricative [s] before a high front (palatal) vowel sound), e.g., in ethnic ["ETnIk] / ethnicity [ET"nIsItI], and the trisyllabic shortening, e.g., in nature ["neItS@] / natural ["n&tS@R@l], docile ["d@UsaIl] / docility [d@U"sIlItI], serene [sI"Ri:n] / serenity [sI"REnItI], etc. All these alternations are the so-called ‘fossilized’ rests of phonological processes once productive in the history of English. There are also other irregularities among the plural noun forms in contemporary English, e.g., goose [gu:s] / geese [gi:s], mouse [maUs] / mice [maIs], etc. This kind of alternations are not phonetically conditioned at all, as there are no phonological processes to be recognized by speakers of contemporary English, who have to learn them and use them as such. The phenomenon also occurs for instance in irregular verbal and adjectival forms, e.g., can / could, sing / sang, far / farther, etc. If the two forms are etymologically unrelated, their association within one paradigm is called suppletion: e.g., is / was, go / went, good / better, etc. 4. More on rule writing In Section 8.1 we showed that rules can be written in words or with sound symbols, but quite often they are written in terms of their features, preferably in terms of their most relevant features.
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In English there are alternations between the alveolar fricatives [s] and [z] and the alveo-palatal fricatives [S] and [Z], respectively. The latter appear before the palatal glide. Consider the following examples: i. kiss [kIs] please [pli:z] ii. kiss you ["kISju] please you ["pli:Zju]

In order to account for these alternations we may write two rules using sound symbols: a. /s/ → [S] / __ [j] b. /z/ → [Z] / __ [j] However accurate, this kind of notation does not reveal anything about the phonological processes at stake here. Let us now transcribe these rules in feature notation (as introduced in Chapter VII), trying to avoid redundancies. a. +cont +stri cor +ant –voice +cont +stri cor +ant +voice +cont +stri cor –ant –voice +cont +stri cor –ant +voice –syll –cons cor –ant

/ __


/ __

–syll –cons cor –ant

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The first observation we can make is that we could write one single rule, ignoring the feature [voice], as the rest of the specifications are identical. Secondly, we notice that instead of describing the alveo-palatal fricatives in so many features, we might simply pick [–ant] to capture the essence of the transformation. Thus, we arrive at the following generalization: +cont +stri cor +ant –syll –cons cor –ant

→ [–ant] / __

Apart from the basic rules, as the one illustrated above, there are also more complex relationships and operations, for which we need additional notation devices and conventions. For instance, optional elements are noted in linear rule writing by means of regular parentheses (brackets). They may occur to the right or left of both the left-hand-side and the right-hand-side environment. A → B / X(Y) __ Z or A → B / X __ (Y)Z etc.

An example is provided by the rule of l-velarization in English. Most English varieties have two lateral allophones, ‘a clear l’, represented as [λ], in words like [λεΙt] and [↔∪λαΙν], and a ‘dark (velarised) l’ – [⊃], as in [βΥ⊃] and [φΙ⊃μ]. Velarised ‘l’ (be it consonantal or syllabic ‘dark l’) occurs at the end of a monosyllabic word (followed or not by another consonant), but it also occurs at the end of a non-final syllable in a polysyllabic word: e.g., in [.∪ ⎤.φΥ⊃.], [.∪♦Θ.τ⊃⎯.], [.m&⊃.∪pR&k.tIs.] etc. (Dots indicate syllable boundaries in the IPA transcript.)

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In word notation, the l-velarization rule can be formulated in the following way: Alveolar l is velarized whenever it occurs in syllablefinal position (followed or not by another consonant), i.e., when it belongs to the syllable coda. This generalization can also be expressed in more formal phonological notation (where the bracket and the ‘σ’ mark the syllable boundary): /λ/ → [⊃] / __ (C)]σ Brace notation (within curly brackets) is used when we want to show that the same rule applies in more than one environment (i.e. that it applies either in one environment or the other). The extra environment may occur either to the left or to the right of the segment that suffers the transformation. A → B / X __ Y Z or A → B / X __ Y Z

For instance, voiced fricatives in English suffer devoicing whenever they are placed in word-final position or before a voiceless sound. Thus we may write (using the grid (#) to mark the word boundary): –son +cont +voice # [–voice]

→ [–voice] / __

Sometimes we need to express the upper and lower limits on the number of similar segments possibly contained in the environment variables. The maximum number of segments is conventionally noted as a superscript number attached to the upper right side of the segment symbol, while the minimum number is noted as a subscript
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attached to the lower right side of the symbol. Consider the following (imaginary) examples: /υ/ → [Υ] / __ C2 This rule states that in order for the /υ/ vowel to turn into [Υ] it needs to be followed by at least two consonants. /ι/ → [Ι] / __ C1 According to this rule, /ι/ will become [Ι] if followed by no more than one consonant. Let us discuss another example, that of the assimilation of the alveolar nasal [n] to the place of articulation of the following stop. In order to write a rule that would capture the whole phenomenon in its generalization, we would have to solve the problem of how to represent the two transformations simultaneously in feature notation. We know that whenever /n/ precedes a velar stop it often turns into its velar counterpart [Ν], e.g., in [ΙΝκ] (ink), and when it occurs before a labial stop, it is labialised as [μ], e.g. in [Ιμ πi:s] (in peace). We also know that the three nasals can be described as follows: [μ] [ν] [Ν] [lab] [cor] [dors] If we start by saying that the [coronal] [ν] becomes [labial] [μ], how can we add, in the same rule – and in the same type of environment – that it can also become [dorsal] [Ν]? One possible solution lies in dropping the detailed notation and replacing it with a
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variable, conventionally taken from the letters of the Greek alphabet, hence the name alpha-notation. Thus, instead of writing [lab], [cor] and [dors], which are all place features, we can simply write α[place]. [+nasal] → α[place] / __ –son –cont –del rel α[place]

5. Derivations As suggested in Section VIII.1, phonological rules apply on the underlying representations (URs) (the phonemes) and determine their surface representations (SRs) (the phonetic forms). In other words, speakers derive the phonetic forms from the phonemes by means of language-specific rules. Underlying forms may be affected by one or more rules; the series of steps taken from UR to SR is known as a derivation. Let us have another look at the rules of nasal assimilation to the place of the articulation of the following obstruent. We will apply this rule on samples and establish the derivation. The derivation is a means of checking whether the rule has been formulated correctly. If the rule applies to the appropriate segments in the appropriate environments, the derivation will necessarily end with viable phonetic forms. UR Assim. Rule SR /In pi:s/ /Ink@nteIS@n/ /IndEt/ /In&pt/ m N – n – [Im pi:s] [INk@nteIS@n] [IndEt] [In&pt] (in peace) (incantation) (indebt) (inapt) 5.1. Rule ordering
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Let us take another look at the regular noun plural forms in English. Consider the following forms:
a. caps [k&ps], staffs [stA:fs], cats [k&ts], months [mQnTs], ticks [tIks] b. cabs [k&bz], doves [dVvz], pads [p&dz], clothes [kl@UDz], dogs [dQgz] bins [bInz], bells [bElz], spas [spA:z], cows [kaUz] c. bosses [bQsIz], buzzes [bVzIz], leashes [li:SIz], rouges [Ru:ZIz], benches [bEnÍIz], judges [ÙVÙIz]

At close examination, we notice that the singular nouns that take [s] end in a voiceless stop or a voiceless non-sibilant fricative (a sibilant is a hissing sound made with the air flowing down the center of the tongue: [s z S Z]). Secondly, those that take [z] may end in a voiced stop, in a voiced non-sibilant fricative, a nasal or a liquid, a vowel or a diphthong. Finally, those that take [Iz] (or [@z], depending on the dialect) end in one of the voiced or voiceless sibilants or in affricates whose release stage is similar to a sibilant fricative. Hence, we may draw the conclusion that the regular noun plural suffix in English is a [coronal] [+anterior] sibilant fricative which agrees in voicing with the preceding segment, except for those cases in which the root-final segment is also a sibilant – then a vowel is inserted between the two consonants. According to the principles established in Section VIII.2, the allophone which is selected to play the role of underlying form must have the widest distribution of the three. The form which qualifies best is [z], as it occurs after voiced obstruents, sonorants, vowels and diphthongs, while [s] is restricted to positions following voiceless obstruents, and [Iz] only occurs after sibilants. If we pick /z/ as the underlying form, we have to decide what rules apply to change it into [s] and [Iz] and in what order. Since [s] is always preceded by a
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voiceless non-sibilant obstruent, we should write a rule of voicing assimilation. +strid → [–voice] / [–voice] __ cor +ant +voice At the same time, considering that the only difference between the UR form /z/ and the SR form [Iz] is the presence of the vowel [I], we should postulate an insertion (also called epenthesis) rule to account for it. +syll +high / –back –tense

Ø →

+strid cor

+ __ +strid cor

The problem is to decide which rule applies first. Let us assume that the first to apply is the voicing assimilation rule, followed by the I-epenthesis rule. The derivation of the UR forms /k&tz/, /dQgz/ and /li:Sz/ would then be the following. UR /k&t+z/ /dQg+z/ /li:S+z/ voicing assim. rule k&t+s –– li:S+s I-epenthesis rule –– –– li:S+Is SR [k&ts] [dQgz] [li:SIs] The first two forms resulting from the derivation are correct, but the last one is wrong. For this reason we have to reorder the application of the two rules. UR /k&t+z/ /dQg+z/ /li:S+z/ Ι-epenthesis rule –– –– li:S+Iz
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voicing assim. rule SR

k&t+s [k&ts]

–– [dQgz]

__ [li:SIz]

The SR forms resulting from this derivation are all correct, so this must be the order in which the two rules are to apply.

6. Questions and exercises 1. What level of representation is characteristic of a) phonemes; b) allophones? 2. How are the underlying and the surface structure related? 3. What are phonological rules? What is their role? 4. What does a rule contain? 5. How can the underlying representation be selected? 6. How many kinds of alternations do you know? 7. Are there any alternations which are not phonetically conditioned? 8. In how many ways can rules be written? 9. How are optional elements noted in a rule? 10. How are multiple environments noted in a rule? 11. When is alpha-notation used? 12. What is a derivation? 13. How are rules ordered? 14. Write the following rules in feature notation: a) A consonant is deleted at the end of a word when it follows another consonant. b) A voiceless fricative is voiced between two vowels. c) An alveolar stop becomes a palato-alveolar affricate before [i] or [j]. d) An alveolar stop is inserted between an alveolar fricative and [r].
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e) A stop is devoiced at the end of a word. 15. Consider the following series of words in English. a) last [lA:st], clasp [klA:sp], draft [dRA:ft], synapse ["saIn&ps], inept [In"Ept], works [w3:ks], worked [w3:kt] b) lagged [l&gd], lazed [leIzd], receives [II"si:vz] Can you identify any pattern congruity? If so, comment on the acceptability of the following four transcriptions in English: [pA:sd], [lVvt], [&pt], [st&bd]. 16. In Japanese, the phoneme /t/ has at least the allophones [t], [ts], and [Í]. Consider the following words. a) [tatsM] ‘stand’ d) [tetsM] ‘iron’ b) [toΡM] ‘take’ e) [Íiba] ‘Chiba’ c) [tsMÍi] ‘dirt’ f) [ÙaΡimiÍi] ‘gravel road’ What are the underlying representations of the forms for ‘iron’, ‘Chiba’, and ‘dirt’? Write derivations for these three words. Write a rule in prose and then in feature notation to account for the realisation of the allophones of /t/. 17. In French there is voice agreement between the nonsonorant members of a consonant cluster. The first segment may sometimes assimilate to the second to comply to this rule, as follows: /bs/ becomes [ps] as in absolu [apsOly] ‘absolute’ /kd/ becomes [gd] as in anecdote [anEgdOt] ‘anecdote’, /bt/ becomes [pt] as in obtus [Optys] ‘obtuse’, /gs/ → [ks], /kb/ → [gb], /tz/ → [dz]. As you can see, sometimes the assimilation implies voicing, some other times devoicing. Write two rules to illustrate the two types of regressive assimilation. Then write one rule to generalise over the first two.

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1. Feature changing rules Feature-changing rules are those rules which affect one feature or a small group of features. Here belong assimilation and dissimilation, as well as lenition, flapping, glottalisation, etc.

1.1. Assimilation Assimilation is the process by which (non-)adjacent segments (belonging to the same word or to two successive words) change so as to become more like each other. It is the result of the speaker’s tendency to reduce his articulatory effort. Assimilation can be classified according to the direction in which the feature spreads. Thus assimilation can be progressive, regressive or reciprocal. In progressive assimilation (which happens to be the least common) one or several features are copied/spread from the item on the left to the one on the right: e.g., in happen the alveolar nasal may be influenced by the preceding labial sound, hence the pronunciation [h&pm⎯]. Regressive assimilation applies from right to left, in anticipation of the sound that is just to be articulated: e.g., in dismantle, the feature [voice] of the nasal may be copied on the preceding sound, which is voiceless, hence the pronunciation [dIzm&ntl⎯].
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In reciprocal assimilation the two sounds influence each other and may even coalesce (= become fused): e.g., in schedule [SEdju:l], [d] and [j] may coalesce into the new affricate sound [Ù]. In terms of the degree of similarity achieved, assimilation may be partial or total. In partial (allophonic) assimilation the two neighboring sounds become only partly similar: e.g., in inclination the nasal is often pronounced as a velar [N] because of the following velar [k]; however, the two sounds remain different. Total (phonemic) assimilation occurs when the two sounds come to be perceived as one: e.g., in this ship [DISIp], where [s] is no longer heard in fast speech. Assimilation may affect the voicing, the manner or the place of articulation. For example, in English liquids and glides following a voiceless obstruent are devoiced, as in f[λ8]y, s[λ8]ope, c[j∗]ute, t[w8]in, s[w8]ine, etc. (devoicing is indicated by a little circle-like diacritic written under or over the phonetic symbol). Devoicing also takes place when voiced fricatives or affricates in word-final position followed by another word beginning with a voiceless consonant: e.g., with ten [wIT tEn], of course [@f kO:s], those seven [D@Us sEvn⎯], etc. The coalescence of the stops [t] and [d] with the glide [j] produces the affricates [Í] and [Ù] (= affrication), e.g., in don’t you [d@UnÍ@] and could you [kuÙ@]. A vowel or a consonant may be nasalised under the influence of the following nasal sound (= nasalization); e.g., /&/ in pan or /d/ in good night [gu:n naIt], etc. Place assimilation is present, for instance, in the articulation of the initial consonantal cluster [t♦], as in tray [τ♦εΙ], where [τ] acquires a post-alveolar articulation under the influence of [♦] (and can even be pronounced as the alveo-palatal affricate [Í]). The alveolar fricatives [s] and [z] may have alveo-palatal articulation before [j], [S] or [Z]: e.g., this year [DIS j3:], please you [pli:Z j@], etc. The last two
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changes are cases of palatalization (= the transformation in which a sound becomes (more) palatal). As shown in Sections VIII.4 and VIII.5 nasal stops can assimilate to the place of articulation of the following sound.

1.2. Dissimilation The process in which two (usually adjacent) segments that share some feature(s) change so as to become less similar is known as dissimilation. Like assimilation, it can be progressive or regressive, partial or total, etc. An example from English is the substandard pronunciation [ÍIm(b)lI] of the word chimney. Dissimilation also occurred in the history of the word pilgrim (from Old French pelegrin, itself from Latin peregrinus). In Romanian dissimilation is illustrated, for instance, by the historical evolution of the word mormânt [mor"mÈnt] ‘grave’, from Latin monumentum ‘(funerary) monument’, as well as by the current substandard pronunciation [koli"dor] of the word coridor ‘corridor’.

1.3. Lenition The term ‘lenition’ (or ‘weakening’) refers to various changes in which the resulting sound is somehow weaker in the articulation than the original sound. Lenitions can be changes of stops or affricates into fricatives, of two consonants to one, of full consonants to glides, of voiceless consonants to voiced in some environments (especially in intervocalic position), etc. In some cases lenition can also refer to the complete loss of sounds. An example of double-staged lenition is the evolution of Latin voiceless stops [p, t, k] to Spanish voiced [b, d, g] and then to the
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fricatives [Β, Δ, ⊗] in intervocalic position: e.g., Latin scopa > Spanish escoba [EskoΒa] ‘broom’, Lat. natare > Sp. nadar [naDaΡ] ‘to swim’, Lat. amica > Sp. amiga [ami◊a] ‘female friend’.

1.4. Flapping Flapping is a phenomenon characteristic of North American English and a few other English varieties. In these accents, when a /t/ occurs between two vowels, it is pronounced as a flap [Ρ], provided that the second vowel is not stressed: e.g., in water.

1.5. Glottalization Glottalization applies to English /t/, which either becomes a glottal stop after a vowel at the end of a word or is only partially glottalized, irrespective of the preceding sound. The second phenomenon may also characterize other voiceless stops (/p/ and /k/) (see Section III.3 and IV.1.1). 2. Other types of changes 2.1. Deletion Deletion (or elision) is the process by which a whole segment (e.g., A) is eliminated. In technical terms, the segment becomes Ø (zero). A→Ø/X_Y Deletion can affect vowels or consonants and it can occur at the beginning, inside or at the end of a word. An example of initial vowel deletion comes from Spanish: the Spanish word bodega ‘wine cellar,
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storeroom’ derives from Latin apoteca (on the voicing suffered by the consonants see IX.1.2). English words like family or memory tend to be pronounced without the unstressed vowel [@]. If the following syllable starts with a sonorant, the sonorant may become syllabic, as in tonight [tn⎯aIt], police [pl⎯i:s], correct [kR⎯Ekt], etc. Old English final (unaccented) vowels have been reduced to [@] and then lost: e.g., OE sunu > PDE (= Present-day English) sun, OE mona > PDE moon, etc. In the history of English, initial [g] and [k] were lost in initial position preceding a nasal. Even if they are still used in spelling, they are no longer pronounced: e.g., in knight [naIt], gnaw [nO:]. In presentday English, elision also applies to (mostly alveolar) consonants occurring within consonant clusters, e.g. in handsome ["h&ns@m], mostly [m@UslI], prompts [pRQmps], friendship ["fREnSIp], fifths [fIfs], etc. The final [v] in the preposition of is often lost before consonants, e.g. in lots of them ["lQts @ D@m], while the conjunction and is reduced to [@n], e.g., in bread and breakfast ["bREd @n "bREkf@st]. 2.2. Insertion The process of insertion (or epenthesis) consists in the introduction of a new segment (e.g., A) between two previously extant sounds (in this case, we may say that Ø becomes A). Ø→A/X_Y Insertion can occur in word-initial position or inside a word. An example of initial vowel insertion is offered by Spanish escuela, from Latin scola. English film is regionally pronounced ["fIl@m], with [@] epenthesis and a similar phenomenon occurs in words of foreign origin, with specific consonantal clusters unknown to English: e.g., in Tbilissi, pronounced [t@bIlIsI].
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A plosive may be inserted between two sonorants so as to ease their pronunciation. Some examples come from the history of English: e.g., OE þymel [Ty:mel] > PDE thimble, OE þunrian [TUnrIAn] > PDE thunder, etc. Similarly, the English word chamber comes from the French chambre, itself from Latin camera. 2.3. Metathesis By metathesis (= transposition of sounds) the order of a sequence of sounds (or longer segments) is reversed. Examples of historically recognizable metathesis in English are contained in words like clasp, from Middle English clapse, burn, from ME brennen, bird, from OE brid, horse, from OE hros, etc. In Romanian we find palavră, from Latin parabola, castravete from Bulgarian krastavitza ‘cucumber’, întreg from Latin integrum ‘whole’, as well as present-day substandard forms, such as potrocală for portocală ‘orange’ and scluptură for sculptură ‘sculpture’. 2.4. Reduplication Reduplication is the process in which a part of a word is copied and attached to the beginning of the original word. In English, reduplication has exclusively lexical functions: it is often used in child language (e.g., in words like mama, papa, gee-gee, wee-wee). In some languages spoken in Samoa (Samoan), the Philippines (Tagalog), North America (Dakota), etc. reduplication is used to mark grammatical categories, e.g., tense and number. A similar device was used at some time in the old Indo-European languages (e.g., in the paradigm of some of the perfect forms), as can still be seen in Sanskrit, Ancient Greek, Latin, etc. 2.5. Haplology
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Haplology is a change in which a repeated sequence of sounds is simplified to a single occurrence. In some varieties of English, a word like library is pronounced [laIbRI], and probably [pRQblI]. There are also examples where the haplologized form has become the standard, e.g., pacifism (instead of pacificism, from pacific), humbly (instead of ME humblely). 3. Questions and exercises 1. What feature changing rules do you know? 2. What is the difference between regressive and progressive assimilation? 3. What is reciprocal assimilation? 4. What is total assimilation? 5. What is nasalization? 6. What is voicing / devoicing? 7. What is palatalization? 8. What is dissimilation? 9. What is lenition? 10. What is flapping? 11. What is glottalization? 12. What do deletion and insertion have in common? 13. What do metathesis and reduplication have in common? 14. What do reduplication and haplology have in common? 15. Identify the changes in the following words: a) athlete ["&T@li:t], b) good morning [gu:m "mO:nIN], c) soften ["sQfn⎯], d) dodo ["d@Ud@U], c) OE &fre ["&vr@] ‘ever’, d) increase [IN"kRi:s], e) open ["@Upm⎯], f) education [EÙU"keISn⎯], g) buckle ["bV?l⎯], h) fatter ["f&Ρ™], i) ban [b&)n], j) February ["fEbRI], k) Sp. arbol < Lat. arbor, l) jewelry ["Ùu:l@RI], m) handbag ["h&mb&g], n) average ["&vRIÙ].

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Syllables are clusters of segments grouped around a sonority peak (usually a vowel). The most widely-spread syllable structure in the languages of the world consists of a CV sequence (i.e., a consonant followed by a vowel – e.g., Rom. masă ‘table, meal’, syllabified as [μΑ]σ[σ↔]σ, where the Greek letter ‘σ’ stands for ‘syllable’. This is also the first type of syllable used in early child speech, as it demands the least articulatory effort (e.g., in words like mama or papa). For these two reasons, the CV syllable has been known as the core or basic syllable. It is an open syllable (it ends in a vowel; a syllable ending in one or more consonants is referred to as a closed syllable). Closed syllables predominate in English, while in Romanian open syllables are preferred. Other types of syllables have a higher degree of complexity: V and CVC structures differ by one segment from the core syllable, whereas VC differs by two segments, which makes it the most complex syllable structure of the four and thus the least likely to occur in human languages. It has been noticed in fact that a language which allows for (C)VC structures also accepts syllables with a lower degree of complexity, but when a language has CV syllables it does not necessarily use other syllable structures. Native speakers are able to recognise syllables as phonological units in their own language according to the characteristic wellformedness restrictions (phonotactic constraints). Some languages may use more than one consonant (i.e., consonantal clusters) in syllable initial or final position or in both. In such a language there are
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a series of acceptable consonantal clusters (see Appendix 1 for English consonantal clusters). These clusters are not independent of their position in the syllable, i.e., the clusters allowed in syllableinitial position are often unacceptable in syllable-final position and vice versa – e.g., the Romanian consonantal sequence [pl] can occur in syllable-initial but not in syllable-final position. Thus the syllabification of a word like Rom. suplini ‘replace’ implies cutting the consonantal group [pl] off the first syllable and including it in the second syllable: [su]σ[pli]σ[ni]σ. A similar phenomenon takes place in the syllabification of Rom. complace ‘indulge’, where the medial cluster [mpl] needs to be split, since it is unacceptable both as a syllable-final cluster and as a syllable-initial one: [kom]σ[pla]σ[Íe]σ.

1. Syllable structure 1.1. Sonority and the syllable What makes speakers of a language able to identify the number of syllables within a word is their perception of the fact that some of the sounds contained in the word are more sonorous that any of the others (hence the name syllable peaks or nucleuses). Practically, what speakers count are syllable peaks, not syllables. Since vowels are inherently more sonorous than consonants, they tend to be syllable peaks. However, in syllables which do not contain a vowel the most sonorous consonant will be the syllable peak. For instance, when English speakers recognize four syllables in the word refundable, they perceive four syllable peaks, as in the following graphic representation, where the sonority profile follows a rugged line. The final [⊃⎯] in refundable is a sonorant consonant which is neither preceded nor followed by a more sonorous segment (the previous consonant [b] is less sonorous, and there is no following
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segment). This is why [⊃⎯] forms a syllable peak (is ‘syllabic’), just as the vowels [I], [V], and [@], which are more sonorous than their neighbours. Other English sonorant consonants can also be syllabic, being marked with the same diacritic sign under the phonetic symbol, e.g., mechanism ["mEk@nIzm⎯], button ["bVtn⎯], etc. Even fricatives may be syllabic (though only in fast speech) – e.g., the pronunciation [s⎯pISs⎯] for suspicious, or the interjections psst! [ps⎯t] and ssh! [S⎯].
sonority profile







In articulatory terms, the degree of sonority is closely linked with two things: one of them is the blockage of the airstream (the degree of stricture). Vowels are the least constricted segments (in their articulation, the mouth is relatively open). Furthermore, the lower a vowel, the more open the vocal tract, and the less constriction there is. Low vowels are therefore the least constricted, and thus the most sonorous and the most prone to belong to the nucleus of a stressed syllable. Voicing too plays a role in sonority, since it is required to produce it: voiced segments are always more sonorous than their voiceless counterparts. Given the two factors, voicing and degree of stricture, phonologists have postulated a sonority hierarchy (scale) among segment types, of the following sort:
Vowels (6) > Glides (5) > Liquids (4) > Nasals (3) > > Fricatives/Affricates (2) > Plosives (1) 113
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According to this scale, plosives are the least likely to be the nucleus of a syllable. On the contrary, they usually occur at syllable edges, either preceding the nucleus or following it. If a consonant precedes the nucleus (N), it is said to belong to the onset (O); if it follows the nucleus, it is known to be contained in the coda (Co). Each of the three syllable components may be either simple or complex (depending on the phonotactic restrictions in the respective language). In English only the nucleus is an obligatory constituent of the syllable. The degree of sonority (graphically represented as the sonority profile – see above) is supposed to be low at the beginning of the onset, to gradually increase up to its peak in the nucleus, and then to decrease to the end of the coda. This is regulated by a universal principle known as the sonority sequencing generalisation: the sonority profile of the syllable must rise until it peaks, and then fall. An example which obeys this principle is that of the monosyllabic word trust [tRVst]. Indeed, in this case a stop precedes the liquid sonorant in the onset, the peak is a vowel, and the coda starts with a fricative and ends with a stop: t R V s t

As we will see, not all cases are as easy to account for as this one. Syllables like skips [skIps] or streets [stRi:ts] obey the sonority scale but for the fricative [s], whose sonority is higher than that of the adjacent stops [k], [t] and [p], although it is placed at the extremities of these syllables: s k I p s

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This is a feature of English phonotactics, which allows for consonantal groups such as [spR], [stR], [skR], [sp] [st], [sk], etc. in syllable-initial position and [ps], [ts], [ks], etc. in final position. A phonotactic rule which applies on English onsets is the minimal sonority distance. According to this rule, the distance in sonority between the first and second element in the onset must be of at least two degrees. Therefore, sequences like plosive (1) + liquid (4) (e.g., [kl]) and fricative (2) + glide (5) (e.g., [sw]) are allowed, but combinations like nasal (3) + liquid (4) (e.g., *[mr]) are ruled out (the asterisk ‘*’ marks an unacceptable form). Sequences made up of nasal and liquid, which do not obey the minimal sonority distance, tend to be uncomfortable for speakers even if the nasal and the liquid belong to different adjacent syllables. For instance, in IX.2.2 several examples are provided where a stop was inserted in between two sonorants: OE þymel [Ty:mel] > PDE thimble, OE þunrian [TUnrIAn] > PDE thunder, etc. Engl. chamber < Fr. chambre < Lat. camera. Like many other languages, English also disfavours segments with an identical place of articulation in the same onset or coda. This principle (called the obligatory contour principle) applies on [labial] or [coronal] clusters such as *[pw], *[bw], *[tl], *[dl], *[Tl], *[Dl] etc., which are disallowed. 1.2. The onset-rhyme theory Adepts of the onset-rhyme theory analyse the syllable as consisting of two immediate constituents: the onset(0), containing the consonants preceding the vowel (or another syllabic element), and the rhyme (R), containing the vowel and the segments that follow it. The name of the phonological constituent ‘rhyme’ derives from the term traditionally used in analyzing verse – e.g., think of the segments
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shared by the mono-syllabic words ash [&S], dash [d&S] and clash [kl&S]. Various arguments have been advanced in favour of dividing the syllable into onset and rhyme, which are apparently independent units, each with its own constraints on its internal structure. That speakers have an awareness of this is proved by the phenomena of alliteration and spoonerism, which emphasise the individuality of the onset, and poetic rhyme, which evinces the phonological rhyme (see above). Alliteration (the rhetorical repetition of consonants or consonantal clusters in the onset of successive stressed syllables) can be traced in the following example: Laughing and leaping they left the lodge, where the consonant [l] appears in initial position (i.e., in the onset) in all stressed syllables. Spoonerism is a type of speech error, in which the first segment or cluster of a syllable (the onset) is swapped for the first segment of another syllable in a phrase, e.g., in hush my brat replacing brush my hat, or a well-boiled icicle for a well-oiled bicycle. Another important argument for posing rhyme as a separate unit involves stress assignment. In many languages (including English), the location of stress in a word depends on the syllable structure; however, the onset has no role to play here – in stress assignment, it is entirely irrelevant whether there is an onset at all or how many consonants it is made up of. What matters is the composition of the rhyme. It has been noticed that in English a syllable can only receive stress in one of the following cases: if its rhyme contains at least a long vowel or a diphthong (VV), or a short vowel and one or more consonants (VC). In other words, if the rhyme of an English syllable contains nothing more than a short vowel it cannot be assigned stress, and that because it is light (see below). The first three cases, however, exemplify heavy syllables, which are capable of carrying stress. (Syllables with long nucleuses as well as (long) codas are called superheavy.)
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a. heavy b. heavy c. heavy d. superheavy Rhyme Rhyme Rhyme Rhyme α Ι angina ι ι arena Ε ν agenda α Ι νd behind

e. light Rhyme Ι America

English is therefore known as a rhyme-weight language because it is the rhyme, not necessarily the nucleus that has to be heavy to receive stress in this language. (There are also nucleusweight languages (where only syllables with heavy nucleus receive stress) and coda languages (where only syllables ending in codas can be stressed).) A rhyme consists of a nucleus(N), (usually a vowel) and a coda(Co) (one or more consonants). This accounts for the following syllable representation to which we can associate segments, as in the example below. σ O N R Co

Consider, for instance, the onset-rhyme representation of the monosyllabic word [keIÙ]: σ O N R Co

ke I

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1.3. The timing tier Syllables are sequences of segments, each with its own set of features. Take for instance the monosyllabic word bat [b&t], which is made up of three segments: a stop, a short vowel and another stop. Each of them is associated in the English speakers’ minds to an abstract timing unit (or timing slot), which we may represent conventionally by the symbol X. X X X b & t timing tier melody tier

In point of segment length, this syllable raises no problems. Each of its timing units in the timing tier is associated to one segment represented by one symbol (i.e., one melody – a unit of phonetic quality) in the melody tier. Consider however a monosyllabic word like [λι⎤d] lead, which contains a long vowel. Since the long vowel is perceived phonologically as one single segment and yet it is considered, at least theoretically, to last twice as much as the short vowel, it will be associated with two timing units (i.e., two Xs). X X X X λ ι⎤ d

Similarly, a geminate consonant, like double ‘ll’ in the Italian word stella, will also be represented as two timing units associated to one melody: X X X X X X s t E l A

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As to diphthongs, which have two melodies, a distinction has to be made between long and short ones. Long diphthongs, such as those in English (e.g., in boy), are associated to two timing slots, whereas short diphthongs, like those in Icelandic (e.g., in [laIstI] ‘lock’), are represented as being linked to only one slot. a. X X X b o Ι b. X X X X X

l a I s t I

The same principle applies in the timing tier representation of an affricate or of a prenasalized stop. Such sounds, are simultaneously monosegmental, with a single X slot, and bisegmental, since they involve a dual sequential articulation (i.e., two melodies). See, e.g., the representations of the English word job and of the Sinhala word for ‘blind’ [λΑ<δΑ]. a. X X X b. X X X X

δ Ζ β λ Α < δ Α By associating the timing tire representation with the onsetrhyme representation, we obtain the following syllabic structure for (a) cage and (b) shriek: a. O N X X X κ ε Ι σ R Co X δ Ζ 2. Syllabification
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b. O

σ R N Co X k

X X X X S R i:

2.1. Principles of syllabification Nucleuses are the most important components of syllables, so they are to be granted the role of syllable heads. Syllabification (= the parsing of segments into syllables) begins by marking the nucleuses (the peaks) (see, e.g., the syllabification of the words ["kRItIk] and [RI"flEkSn⎯] below) and continues by selecting the onsets. a. N κ ♦ Ι τ N Ι κ b. N ♦ Ι N φ λ Ε κ N Σ ν⎯

The intervocalic [t] in ["kRItIk] qualifies in principle as either an onset or a coda. There is a general tendency however in natural languages to assign an intervocalic consonant to the onset, according to what has been named the principle of minimal onset satisfaction: minimal satisfaction of onsets takes priority over satisfaction of codas – see below. (There are however syllables without any onset: e.g. [@] in a-bout [@]σ"[baUt]σ.) a. O R O R b. O R O R O R

N κ ♦ Ι τ

N Ι κ ♦


N φ λ

N Ε κ Σ ν⎯

The second principle which applies in onset fulfillment is that of onset maximization: maximal formation of onsets takes priority over formation of codas. According to this principle, with a given string of segments in which the consonants may in principle be
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syllabified in more than one way, syllabification will take place such that consonants which may occupy either coda or onset position will occur in the onset rather than in the coda. The two cases in which the onset maximization principle applies in the examples above are the clusters [kR] and [fl]. These two clusters obey the English phonotactic constraints on syllable well-formedness, so they can be selected in the onset. This is not the case of *[kS], which is not a well-formed English consonantal cluster; it has to be split in the syllabification, so that [k] is assigned to the coda and [S] to the onset. a. O σ R O N κ ♦ ν⎯ Ι τ σ R N Co Ι κ b. σ O N ♦ Ι R σ O R N Co φ λ Ε κ σ O N Σ R

Phonotactic constraints (those rules which restrict the set of permissible combinations of segments in a certain language) are thus essential in syllabification (see Appendix 1). A syllable may only include in its onset and coda, respectively, consonantal clusters allowed in that particular language. Not any consonantal sequence which occurs in a language is a well-formed consonantal cluster, e.g., in the English words cobweb ["kQb∩wEb] and knapweed ["n&p∩wi:d] the sequences *[bw] and *[pw] are not good clusters, because they can never occur in the onset of a word-initial syllable – there is no word starting with [bw] or [pw] in English. (The symbol ‘"’ is used to indicate the presence of primary stress on the following syllable, whereas ‘∩’ indicates secondary stress.)

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Consequently, we have to ignore the sonority sequencing generalization and the onset maximization principle in these cases and split these sequences in syllabification: the first consonant should belong to the coda of the initial syllable, while the second consonant should be part of the onset of the final syllable: σ O N κ R Co β ω O N Ε σ R Co β

3. Syllable weight An alternative model to the onset-rhyme theory is the mora theory – based on syllable weight. In such an approach, syllables are no longer divided into the immediate constituents onset and rhyme, but into ‘weight units’ – also called moras or morae (a term originally used in classical poetic prosody) – represented by the Greek letter mu, μ. By convention, a light syllable only contains one mora (hence the name monomoraic), while a heavy syllable contains at least two moras (bimoraic syllable), or even three moras (trimoraic superheavy syllable).

a. light b. heavy σ σ

c. heavy σ

d. heavy e. superheavy σ σ

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μ C V

μ μ C V

μ μ C V V

μ μ C V C

μ C V

μ μ C

The single V symbol in (a) above stands for a short vowel, in (b) and (e) – for a long vowel, while the two V symbols in (c) stand for a diphthong. In Section X.1.1.2 we stated that English is a rhymeweight language, so English CVC syllables are heavy. In fact, they acquire weight by position, i.e., when followed by consonants. For instance, the final consonant in a word like imagine [I"m&ÙIn] is not considered to project (i.e., to be linked to) any mora because it is not followed by another consonant, unlike [n] in agenda [@"ÙEnd@], which is followed by [d] and does project a mora of its own. a. σ μ σ μ σ μ b. σ μ σ μμ σ μ

Ι μ Θ δΖ Ι ν

↔ δΖ Ε ν δ ↔

As already stated in Section X.1.1.2, initial (onset) consonants do not contribute to the weight of a syllable, so for the weight of a syllable it does not matter whether there are two consonants in the onset or one, or three, or none. Such consonants, therefore, have a special (‘extramoraic’) representation – that is why they are usually associated directly to the syllable node.

3.1. Latin stress assignment rule
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In many languages (e.g. Latin), stress is sensitive to syllableweight. The Latin stress assignment rule, which states that the stress in this language will always fall on the third mora counting from right to left, i.e., from the end of the word to its beginning. Take the following examples: uidere [.wi."] ‘to see’ vs. capere [."] ‘to take’. Both words are trisyllabic, but the rhyme of the second syllable in the former word consists of a long vowel (which counts as two morae), whereas the rhyme of the second syllable in the latter word has only a short vowel (which only counts as one single mora). Consequently, the stress in uidere will fall on the penultimate syllable, because it is this syllable which contains the third mora counting from right to left, whereas capere will be stressed on the antepenultimate syllable for the same reason. a. σ μ ω ι σ μ μ ∪δ ε ε σ μ ρ ε b. σ μ σ μ σ μ ρ ε

∪κ α π ε

4. Questions and exercises 1. What is a syllable? 2. Which is the core syllable type and what is special about it? 3. What other types of syllable do you know? 4. What are phonotactic constraints? 5. What is a syllable peak? Which sounds can form syllable peaks? 6. What factors determine the sonority level of a sound? 7. What does the sonority hierarchy refer to? 8. What is a sonority profile?
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9. What does the sonority sequencing generalisation postulate? 10. What is the minimal sonority distance? 11. What is the obligatory contour principle? 12. How is a syllable analyzed in the Onset-Rhyme theory? 13. What is the composition of a syllable in the perspective of the onset-rhyme theory? 14. What arguments have been advanced in support of the onset-rhyme theory? 15. What are alliteration and spoonerism? 16. Which kinds of syllables are considered ‘heavy’ in English? How does this effect stress assignment? 17. What is the timing tier? 18. Which are the principles of syllabification? 19. What do minimal onset satisfaction and onset maximization postulate? 20. What is the mora theory based on? 21. What does Latin stress assignment depend on? 22. Arrange the following sounds according to their relative sonority: [κ] [ν] [σ] [ε] [ρ] [Ζ] [ι] [β] [m] [λ] [α] [ω] 23. Draw sonority profiles for the following words: content verandah tripper hysteria Krakatoa improbable 24. Which of the following hypothetical words are syllabifiable in English? Explain. [tnEfIn] [p&hmIl] [dRUlÍIN] [lbEksIt] [NImlQp] [kEskIl] [VdRIkREz]
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25. Syllabify the following words using onset-rhyme and timing tier representations. What kinds of syllables can you identify? Which principles do you apply during syllabification? combustion industrialization spectacle flower hairy knuckles pneumonia 26. Syllabify the following words using moraic representations: accusation cartoon dandelion structural boosting depressive Jeremiah

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1. Stress and accent In several examples so far we have used a symbol consisting in a small vertical line placed before a syllable at top level in order to indicate the location of (main) stress in a word, e.g. ["glQRI]. The syllable placed after the little vertical line is stressed, i.e., it is pronounced perceptually more ‘prominently’ (or ‘saliently’) than the other syllables. This prominence is achieved in English, Romanian and many other languages by increasing the (1) duration, (2) amplitude and modifying the (3) pitch of the syllable. The most important element is pitch (see also Section II.1). This means (1) that stressed syllables often last longer, (2) that more energy is spent in their articulation so as to make them louder than unstressed syllables, and (3) that a stressed vowel is articulated with different frequency than the others (its pitch changes). In addition, stressed syllables tend to contain low-vowel nucleuses, with a high level of (4) sonority, whereas unstressed syllables usually have high vowels, characterized by less sonority, or a reduced vowel. The terms ‘stress’ and ‘accent’ are often used as synonyms, but stress is the prominence given to a syllable (without reference to pitch), whereas accent is usually associated with pitch. Besides, the word accent in English is also understood to mean the pronunciation and speech patterns that are typical of a speech community (as, e.g., in he speaks with a French accent).
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In ‘stress’ languages, including English, intonation also plays an important role. Thus, in a sentence like It’s Mary, the first syllable of Mary is likely to be stressed and given some sort of pitch prominence, but the type of pitch prominence may be, e.g., high, as in: _______ § ‡ ¦ It’s Mary or low, as in: _______ ¨ ƒ © It’s Mary (In this type of transcription the top and bottom lines represent the top and bottom of the speaker’s speech range and each dot corresponds to a syllable, the larger dots indicating stressed/accented syllables.) Stress and intonation languages, like English, are often contrasted with pitch accent languages, like Japanese. In Japanese words realise their accent by a high pitch on the accented syllable, followed by a low pitch on the following syllable (unless the accented syllable is the last in the word) (e.g., óngaku ‘music’ [… ¦ ¦]), a situation that can also be encountered in English. However, the Japanese accents cannot be reversed by intonation as English accents can. In some situations such a reversal would in fact lead to confusion, because pitch variation is distinctive in Japanese (e.g., háshi ‘chopsticks’ vs. hashí ‘bridge’, tábi ‘socks’ vs. tabí ‘trip’, etc.). The use of intonation in Japanese is highly limited in comparison to English. Stress may have a demarcative function: in many languages, between any two stresses there must be a word boundary. If the location of stress is predictable, i.e., if it falls on a fixed syllable in
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the word (e.g., the first one – as in Hungarian, and Czech, or the last one – as in French and Turkish), the exact boundary between words can be determined according to the position of the stress. However, in connected speech, stressed words alternate with unstressed words (e.g., weak forms of pronouns, articles, prepositions, etc.) and thus in French, for instance, stress will delimit a word group rather than a single word. There are also languages in which the placement of stress is unpredictable. English and Romanian, for instance, have no fixed word-stress and their rules of stress assignment are quite complex. In such languages word-stress can be used with a distinctive function: e.g., Romanian urcă ["urk@] ‘(he) climbs’ vs. urcă [ur"k@] ‘(he) climbed’, pasă ["pas@] ‘pass (noun)’ vs. pasă [pa"s@] ‘(he) passed’; English convict ["kQnvIkt] (noun) vs. convict [k@n"vIkt] (verb), perfect ["p3:fEkt] (adjective) vs. perfect [p@"fEkt] (verb), etc. Every word has at least one stress in its dictionary entry form, but some types of words most commonly occur in a weak (unstressed) form in connected speech, e.g., the articles the and a are usually pronounced [D@] and [@], not ["Di] and ["eI] (strong forms). English unstressed syllables are pronounced in a lax manner, which leads to vowel reduction – often to schwa, the most reduced vowel. Other types of words most commonly occurring without a stress (and with reduced vowels) are all grammatical words (auxiliary verbs, personal pronouns and shorter prepositions and conjunctions) (see Appendix 2 for strong and weak forms of such words in English), whereas the majority of lexical words (nouns, main verbs, adjectives and adverbs) commonly occur with a stress. Stresses in connected speech (in an intonation group) occur with varying degrees of prominence: (1) primary stress (involving the principal pitch prominence), (2) secondary stress (involving a subsidiary pitch prominence), (3) tertiary stress (involving a prominence produced mainly by length and/or loudness), or (4)
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unstressed. Both tertiary stress and lack of stress can be described as unaccented. Sometimes a polysyllabic word may be characterised by both a primary and a secondary stress: e.g., in telephone ["tElI∩f@Un]. The secondary stress is usually represented as a small vertical line placed before a stressed syllable at bottom level. Any utterance is made up of a sequence of stressed and unstressed syllables. The way in which the pitch changes during the utterance following the stressed and unstressed syllables creates the intonational melody (or contour) of an utterance. Intonational contours provide information on the syntactic and semantic structure of utterances and play an important discourse role.

2. The metrical foot The organizing structure for combining syllables is commonly called the metrical foot (or rhythm group). The term is familiar from the study of the metre of traditional verse-forms. In prosody, a foot is the association of a accented syllable with one or several unaccented syllables. The accented syllable, being the most prominent, plays the role of head (= peak) of the foot. According to their prominence, there are right-headed [σ σ⇔] and left-headed feet [σ⇔ σ], depending on the position of the accented syllable, as there are binary (bounded) feet (made up of two syllables only) – e.g. the iamb [σ σ⇔] and the trochee [σ⇔ σ] – and unbounded feet (consisting of all the syllables in a morpheme or word). If the foot only has one syllable, it is called degenerate because it lacks internal opposition: when a syllable occurs in isolation it is neither strong, nor weak in relation to another one. Below see representations for (a) an unbounded left-headed foot in and (b) a degenerate foot.
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a. [σ⇔ σ σ

F σ]


F [σ]

One current notation uses the symbols ‘s’ or ‘ ≅≅’ and ‘w’ or ‘ (’ to mark strong and weak syllables, respectively. s w s w s w s w (U≅p go(es) (Ha≅r-ry() (cre≅e-py() (cra≅w-ly() The example above displays what is known as eurhythmicity – the accented syllables are not too close and not too wide apart – in fact in this case they are equally spaced, as it often happens in verse patterns. In English, however, eurhythmicity can be achieved even though the number of syllables placed between two accents varies: in time, the distance between the two accents remains fairly constant (they are isochronous, i.e., they last the same amount of time). In this respect, the foot is interpreted as a unit of timing, just like the bar or measure in music. Consider the following example: w w s ww s w w s w s ’Ti(s the( (mi≅d-dle& o&f) (dáy by( the() (wóo-de(n) (clo≅ck) In this case, the first two syllables do not form a foot. They belong to the so-called anacrusis, which in principle can be attached to the final foot of the previous line. The general tendency in English is to produce syllables in an anacrusis with greater speed than any unstressed syllables within following feet, so such syllables are extremely liable to be reduced.
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As to the number of unaccented syllables in the four complete feet in the example above – they vary from zero to two, and yet they are more or less equally distributed (their duration is almost the same). This is in fact a feature of the English language, which allows for any of the following foot structures with little difference in the time necessary to pronounce them – see blow the representations for the words: a. cozy, b. carnival, c. palatable, d. characterize. a. (× ·) σ σ b. (× · ·) σ σ σ c. (× · · ·) σ σ σ σ d. (× · σ σ · σ · ·) σ σ

(The accented syllables are indicated here with a cross ‘×’, and the unaccented syllables with a dot ‘·’. This is known as ‘the bracketed grid notation’.) This is possible because English is a ‘stress-timed’ language, in which the rhythmic pulse (or beat) of the speech is determined by the timing relationship between accented syllables. Each accented syllable in English coincides with a beat and the distance between them is approximately the same. French and Romanian, on the other hand, are characterised by a different rhythmical pattern. In French, which is a ‘syllable-timed’ language, each syllable corresponds to a beat, except for reduced syllables which contain a schwa, as, e.g., in mon petit garçon ‘my little boy’ (see below). The only foot structures possible in French are thus unary and binary. (× ·) (×) (×) (×) σ σ σ σ σ μ ) π↔ τι γα® σ ) There are cases where foot structure plays a role in phonological processes. Consider the following data:
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[ΙΝκ] ink [∪Ιν∩κλαΙν] incline (noun)

[∩ΙΝκλΙ∪νεΙΣν] inclination [∩Ιν∪κλαΙν] incline (verb)

In ink and inclination the /n/ obligatorily appears as [Ν], whereas in incline (noun and verb) the /n/ may occur as [Ν], but it does not have to; it may as well occur as [n]. Why is this so? Leaving aside ink, the syllabification is the same: both in inclination and in incline the /n/s are syllable-final. a. σ Ι Ν σ κλΙ σ ν εΙ σ Σ ν⎯ b. σ σ Ι ν κ λ αΙ ν

But the foot structure of these words is different. If we assume that each accented syllable (primary or secondary accent) heads a foot (be it even degenerate), the difference between the two words depends on whether the /n/ and the /k/ are both in the same foot or they are separated by a foot boundary. When the two segments are in the same foot /n/ obligatorily surfaces as [Ν] (is obligatorily assimilated to the velar); when they are in different feet the /n/ may appear as [n]. a. F σ Ι Ν κ b. F σ Ι Ν σ κ λΙ F σ ν εΙ σ Σ ν⎯ c. F σ F σ Ι ν κ λ αΙ ν

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3. Intonation and tone An English utterance can be pronounced in various ways, with various types of intonation. The very words yes and no or utterances containing these words – e.g. He said “yes”. or Did he say “yes”? or Say “yes”! – can be pronounced with a diversity of pitch variation, such as rising or falling or simply level, signaling all sorts of attitudes and meanings. Therefore, intonation can be defined as modulated pitch. Different patterns of modulation correspond to different intonational contours (= melodies or tunes). Each intonational contour can be associated with a set of meanings; it applies on utterances, which are made up of groups of words of varying length (from isolated words to whole sentences) called intonation groups or intonational phrases. Intonation groups generally correspond with constituents of sentences in a somewhat loose way. In each intonation group there can be several pitches, but there is one syllable within one word which bears the main stress or nucleus of that intonation group. This syllable is also called the ‘tonic syllable’. The nucleus is thus the pitch accent which stands out as the most prominent in an intonation group. The nucleus may be preceded by a head and pre-head, and may be followed by a tail. The pre-head is made up of all the unaccented syllables preceding the first accented syllable of the intonation group. The head begins with the accented syllable of the first stressed word and ends with the syllable immediately preceding the nucleus. All the syllables that follow the nucleus make up the tail. For instance, in the utterance He has come to dinner, the pre-head is He has, the head come to, the nucleus di- and the tail -nner:

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_________________ ¦ ¦ ‡ © He has come to dinner


The rises and falls in the pitch taking place on the nucleus or starting from it are called nuclear patterns (or tones). There are six types of nuclear tones in English: low fall, high fall, low rise, high rise, rise-fall and fall-rise. The unaccented syllables preceding the head can be pronounced on a low pitch level or on a high pitch level. Heads may be low or stepping (gradually falling to the nucleus). Tails can take various patterns, depending on the nuclear tone. Intonation has various functions: (1) grammatical, (2) attitudinal and (3) accentual. (1) Intonation distinguishes between questions, statements and exclamations and it also marks sentence, clause, phrase, or word boundaries. (2) Intonation usually signals personal attitude: e.g., surprise, joy, anger, irony, etc. (3) Intonation marks the most important word (and syllable) in the intonation group, by a change of pitch on the prominent syllable (it also attaches emphasis to a certain word in the sentence). English and most of the other European languages are grouped in the category of stress and intonation languages because in their case a change in the pitch variation pattern of a certain utterance does not trigger a change in the meaning of the words contained in the utterance, but a change in the discourse function of the respective utterance. For example, raising intonation may turn the declarative sentence You have succeeded. into the interrogative sentence You have succeeded? without any alteration in the prepositional (semantic) content of either the utterance or the words included in it. There are other functions of tone, beside intonation, which do not occur in English or most European languages but are still very common in other languages of the world. In tone languages, for instance, tones are used to differentiate lexical items or to express
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morphological functions One of the widest known tone languages is Mandarin Chinese, in which words which share identical segments are only differentiated lexically by their tonal structure. m ‘feel’ x ‘sunset’ mó ‘plan’ mò ‘end’ xí ‘exercise’ xì ‘play’ m x ‘smear’ ‘wash’

This is possible because in tone languages each syllable is a tone unit (i.e., each syllable functions as an independently variable item). In stress languages the syllable may be the smallest tone unit (e.g., in the monosyllabic utterance school), but there are also larger tone units which comprise several syllables, of which only one carries the tone (the tonic syllable) (e.g., in the intonation group to the school). In pitch accent languages, as already shown, a single fixed tonal melody is associated to each word and pitch variation can have a distinctive function at the lexical level (change the meaning of the word). The same type of pitch variation would change an order into an interrogation in English (e.g., Johnny! vs. Johnny?). Some languages which are predominantly intonation languages may also make a limited use of tone. This means that in such languages tone has a distinctive function for some words. This is the case, e.g., in Norwegian and Swedish, as well as Serbian and Lithuanian. In Swedish about five hundred minimal pairs distinguished by tone alone can be found (see, e.g., the following examples). búren ‘the case’ tánken ‘the tank’ ánden ‘the duck’ pánter ‘panther’
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vs. vs. vs. vs.

bùren ‘carried’ tànken ‘the thought’ ànden ‘the spirit’ pànter ‘pledges’, etc.

Words signaled here by ´ are associated with a single-peaked falling tone (high-low), while words with ` are commonly doublepeaked (high-low-high-low). The first pattern is in fact the common accentual pattern for words in Swedish and is not limited to words where the accent is on the first syllable, whereas the second pattern is the ‘marked’ pattern and limited to word-initial accent. In connected speech some indication of the different accents is regularly maintained.

4. Questions and exercises 1. What characterizes stress? 2. What is the difference between stress and accent? 3. What is the difference between a stress and intonation language and a pitch accent language? 4. Can stress be predictable? 5. Is the position of stress predictable in English? 6. What is the demarcative function of stress? 7. Can stress have a distinctive function? 8. What is the difference between lexical forms and grammatical forms in English in terms of stress? 9. How many degrees of prominence can stress have? 10. What is the intonational melody (or contour) of an utterance? 11. What is a metrical foot? 12. How many kinds of metrical feet do you know? 13. What is eurhythmicity? 14. What are isochronous accents? 15. What is the difference between a stress-timed and a syllable-timed language? 16. Can the foot structure play a role in phonological processes?
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17. What is intonation? 18. What are intonation groups? 19. What is the structure of an intonation group? 20. What is a nucleus? 21. What is a nuclear tone (or pattern)? 22. Which are the functions of intonation? 23. What differentiates stress and intonation languages from tone languages? 24. How can an intonation language make use of tone? 25. Identify the position of the (primary) stress in the following English words. What effect does placing the stress on one of the syllables have upon the other syllable nuclei? correspondent definitely courageous declaration inference infer comfortable 26. Identify the rhythm patterns in the following lines and isolate the metrical feet within brackets. “To be, or not to be: that is the question: Whether ‘tis nobler in the mind to suffer The slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, Or to take arms against a sea of troubles, And by opposing end them. To die: to sleep; No more; and by a sleep to say we end The heart-ache, and the thousand natural shocks That flesh is heir to, ‘this a consummation Devoutly to be wish’d. To die, to sleep; To sleep: perchance to dream: ay, there’s the rub; For in that sleep of death what dreams may come, When we have shuffled off this mortal coil, Must give us pause: there’s the respect
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That makes calamity of so long life; For who would bear the hips and scorn of time.” (W. Shakespeare: Hamlet, III, i) 27. Using the information in Appendix 2, as well as the knowledge acquired throughout this course, make phonetic transcription of the following sentences: a) Could you show me your book, please? b) Did he help you as he was supposed to? c) Must I always tell him what to do? d) We were wondering if he really was the one. e) Should she wait for the bus or shall I drive her home? f) Can it be so that they are from here? g) But for Mary and John the house would not have been finished. h) I am your father and you had better not forget it! i) I would rather work in a pub than at the station. j) There are some cookies in a box if you want any.

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Test A (You will find the answers at the end of Appendix 2.) 1. Define: a) articulatory phonetics; b) active articulators; c) liquids. 2. Indicate the symbols representing the sounds described below and give examples of words containing them: a) voiced labio-dental fricative; b) voiced alveo-palatal affricate; c) voiced velar nasal d) low front unrounded lax vowel; e) low back unrounded tense vowel. 3. For each of the following symbols, find an adequate description in words: a) Í, g, l; b) u: , E . Examples: a) p = voiceless bilabial stop; b) U = high back rounded lax vowel. 4. Transcribe phonetically the following English words: a) concrete, b) equip, c) divergence. 5. Define: a) contrastive distribution, b) allophone, c) progressive assimilation. 6. Give two examples of minimal pairs illustrating that the sound /T/ is a phoneme in English. 7. a) Syllabify the following words. b) Give the common spelling of these words in English orthography. a. σt&nd↔daIzeISn⎯ ; b. mΘnjUskrIπτ .

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Test B 1. Define: a) acoustic phonetics; b) phonetic transcription; c) obstruents. 2. Indicate the symbols representing the sounds described below and give examples of words containing them: a) voiceless interdental fricative; b) voiced labio-velar glide; c) voiced bilabial nasal; d) high front unrounded tense vowel; e) low-mid central unrounded lax vowel. 3. For each of the following symbols, find an adequate description in words: a) Z, R, n; b) O, A: . Examples: a) k = voiceless velar stop; b) U = high back rounded lax vowel. 4. Transcribe phonetically the following English words: a) manufacture, b) honour, c) though. 5. Define: a) complementary distribution, b) phoneme, c) metathesis. 6. Give two examples of minimal pairs illustrating that the sound /S/ is a phoneme in English. 7. a) Syllabify the following words. b) Give the common spelling of these words in English orthography. a. ΙlEktr@Um&gn@t ; b. fVnd@mEntl⎯.

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APPENDIX 1: English consonantal clusters

The first syllable of an English word may begin with a vowel (zero onset) or with a consonant. If the syllable begins with one consonant (the initial consonant), this may be any English consonant except [Ν] (though [Ζ] rarely occurs in this position). There are two sorts of two-consonant initial clusters in English: one sort composed of [s] (pre-initial) + another consonant (initial) and the other made up of a consonant (initial) + one of the following: [λ], [♦], [ω] or [ϕ] (post-initial). Tables 1 and 2 present twoconsonant initial clusters. The clusters corresponding to a question mark in Table 2 are rare in English. Thus, [σ♦] only occurs in foreign place names (e.g., Sri Lanka), [γω] is a characteristic Welsh cluster occurring in a few names in English (e.g., Gwen and Gwent), [Σω] is to be found in the words schwa and Schweppes, while [γϕ] and [Τϕ] are only used in the archaic words gules and thew.

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Table 1 Two-consonant initial clusters with pre-initial [σ]

Pre-initial Initial π σπΙν στΙκ σκΙν σφΙ ↔ σμΕλ σν↔ Υ τ κ φ μ ν λ σλΙπ


♦ ?

ω σωΙμ

ϕ σϕυ⎤

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k κλΕΙ δ♦Ιπ γ♦Ιν ? ? φϕυ⎤ φ♦α Ι κ♦αΙ κωΙκ βϕυ⎤ Ι κϕυ⎤ β♦Ικ βλΙσ γλυ⎤ φλαΙ Σ♦ ⎤ ? ? b d γ f Τ Σ h ηϕυ ⎤ v ϖϕυ ⎤ m μϕυ⎤ ζ n νϕυ⎤ ζ l λϕυ⎤ δ Τ♦↔ Υ Τω ⎤τ δωΕ λ δϕυ⎤

Table 2 Two-consonant initial clusters with post-initial [λ], [♦], [ω], [ϕ]







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π♦Ε Ι -

τ♦ ΕΙ τωΙ


τϕ ⎤

Three-consonant initial clusters are related to the twoconsonant clusters in Table 1 and 2. Their number is restricted – see Table 3.
Table 3 Three-consonant initial clusters
Preinitial σ Initial Post-initial λ ‘splay’ ‘sclerosis’ ♦ ‘spray’ ‘string’ ‘screen’ ω ‘squeak’ ϕ ‘spew’ ‘stew’ ‘skewer’

π τ κ

At the end of a word we may find no consonant at all (zero coda), or we may find up to four consonants. When there is one consonant only, it is called the final consonant. Any consonants may play this role, except [η], [♦] (unless we are dealing with a rhotic dialect), [ω] and [ϕ]. As in the case of initial clusters, there are two types of twoconsonant final clusters: the final consonant is either preceded by a pre-final consonant (selected from [μ], [ν], [Ν], [λ], [σ]) or followed by a post-final consonant. The post-final consonants can often be identified as separate morphemes (though not always): [σ], [ζ], [τ], [δ], [Τ]. More than one post-final consonant can occur in a final cluster – see Table 4 (after Roach 1993: 72).

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Table 4 Final clusters
Prefinal λ Ν ν λ λ μ Final π κ δ φ φ κ π φ π κ κ Post-final 1 τ σ σ Τ Τ σ σ Τ τ σ σ Post-final 2 σ τ τ σ σ Τ τ Post-final 3 σ σ

‘helped’ ‘banks’ ‘bonds’ ‘twelfth’ ‘fifths’ ‘next’ ‘lapsed’ ‘twelfths’ ‘prompts’ ‘sixths’ ‘texts’

ηΕ βΘ β τω Ε φΙ νΕ λΘ τω Ε π♦ σΙ τΕ

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APPENDIX 2: English weak forms

In the English language there are certain highly frequent words which can be pronounced in two different ways: strong or weak. Almost all the words which have both a strong and a weak form belong to the category of function words, which contains auxiliary verbs, pronouns, prepositions, conjunctions, determiners etc. All of these are more frequently pronounced in their weak forms. The most common weak forms will be introduced in Table 5 (after Roach: 102-9).
Table 5 English weak forms Function Word 1. ‘THE’ 2. ‘A’, ‘AN’ 3. ‘AND’ 4. ‘BUT’ 5. ‘THAT’ 6. ‘THAN’ 7. ‘HE’ 8. ‘HER’ 9. ‘HIM’ 10. ‘HIS’ 11. ‘SHE’ 12. ‘THEM’ Weak Forms Δ↔ (before consonants); Δι (before vowels) ↔ (before consonants); ↔ν (before vowels) ↔ν (sometimes ν⎯ after t, d, s, z, Σ) β↔τ Δ↔τ (when it introduces a relative clause) Δ↔ν ι; ηι (in initial position) ↔ (before consonants); ↔♦ (before vowels); η↔ (in initial position) Ιμ Ιζ Σι Δ↔μ 147
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13. ‘US’ 14. ‘WE’ 15. ‘YOU’ 16. ‘YOUR’ 17. ‘AT’ 18. ‘FOR’ 19. ‘FROM’ 20. ‘OF’ 21. ‘TO’ 22. ‘AS’ 23. ‘SOME’ 24. ‘THERE’ 25. ‘CAN’ 26. ‘COULD’ 27. ‘HAD’ 28. ‘HAS’ 29. ‘HAVE’ 30. ‘SHALL’ 31. ‘SHOULD’ 32. ‘MUST’ 33. ‘DO’ 34. ‘DOES’ 35. ‘AM’ 36. ‘ARE’ 37. ‘WAS’ 38. ‘WERE’

↔σ ωι ϕυ ϕ↔ (before consonants); ϕ↔♦ (before vowels) ↔τ φ↔ (before consonants); φ↔♦ (before vowels) φ♦↔μ ↔ϖ τ↔ (before consonants); τυ (before vowels) ↔ζ σ↔μ (before uncountable nouns and other nouns in the plural) Δ↔ (before consonants); Δ↔♦ (before vowels) κ↔ν κ↔δ ↔δ; η↔δ (in initial position) ↔ζ; η↔ζ (in initial position) ↔ϖ; η↔ϖ (in initial position) Σ↔λ or Σλ⎯ Σ↔δ μ↔σ (before consonants); μ↔στ (before vowels) δ↔ (before consonants); δυ (before vowels) δ↔ζ ↔μ ↔ (before consonants); ↔♦ (before vowels) ω↔ζ ω↔ (before consonants); ω↔♦ (before vowels)


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1.a) Articulatory phonetics is a branch of phonetics which deals with the production of speech sounds; b) Active articulators are parts of the vocal tract which actively participate in the production of sounds: the lips and the tongue. c) Liquids are sonorant consonants produced with approximation. There are two types of liquids: laterals (l-sounds) and rhotics (r-sounds). 2. a) voiced labio-dental fricative: [v] – e.g., in voice; b) voiced alveo-palatal affricate: [Ù] – e.g., in George; c) voiced velar nasal: [N] – e.g., in bring; d) low front unrounded lax vowel: [&] – e.g., in ash; e) low back unrounded tense vowel: [A:] – e.g., in father. 3. a) [Í] : voiceless alveo-palatal affricate [g] : voiced velar plosive (oral stop) [l] : voiced lateral alveolar liquid b) [u:] : high back long tense rounded vowel [E] : low-mid front short lax unrounded vowel 4. a) concrete: [k@n"kri:t] b) equip: [I"kwIp] c) divergence: [daI"v3:Ùn⎯s] 5. a) Contrastive distribution is a type of distribution which characterizes phonemes. Two sounds are in contrastive distribution if by replacing one with the other (in a minimal pair) there results another word with a different meaning: e.g., bΘn vs. pΘn. b) An allophone is a contextual variant of a phoneme: e.g., /p/ in English is realized as the allophone [ph] in at the beginning of a stressed syllable unless preceded by [s].

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c) Progressive assimilation is a type of assimilation in which a phonological feature spreads from one sound to the following sound: e.g., in open ["@Upm⎯]. 6. thick [TIk] vs. kick [kIk]; moth [mQT] vs. mob [mQb]. 7. a) σ σ σ σ σ O R N Co O R N Co O R N Co daI σ O R N Co nj U O R N Co S n⎯ σ O R N Co s k rI π τ O R N Co

σt & n d ↔ b) σ O R N Co m Θ

z eI

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Mateescu, Dan (2002). A Course in English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii Bucureşti. Pârlog, Hortensia (1997). English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: ALL. Rădulescu, Mara-Octavia (2001). An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti, CREDIS.

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Carr, Philip (1993). Phonology. London: Macmillan. Chiţoran, Dumitru (1978). English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: Editura didactică şi pedagogică. Chiţoran, Dumitru & Lucreţia Petri (1977). Workbook in English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: Editura didactică şi pedagogică. Chomsky & Halle (1968). The Sound Pattern of English. New York: Harper & Row. In Davenport & Hannahs (1998). Clements, George N. & Samuel Jay Keyser (1983, 1990). CV Phonology: A Generative Theory of the Syllable. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press. Davenport, Mike & S. J. Hannahs (1998). Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. London: Arnold. Ewen, Colin J. & Harry van der Hulst (1999). Phonological Representation. An Introduction to the Structure of Words. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Harris, J. (1994). English Sound Structure. Oxford & Cambridge, Mass.: Blackwell. Kenstowicz, Michael (1994). Phonology in Generative Grammar. Oxford: Blackwell. Ladefoged, Peter (1993). A Course in Phonetics. 3rd edn. New York: Harcourt Brace. Lyons, John (1969). Introduction to Theoretical Linguistics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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Mateescu, Dan (2002). A Course in English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: Editura Universităţii Bucureşti. Pârlog, Hortensia (1997). English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti: ALL. Rădulescu, Mara-Octavia (2001). An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureşti, CREDIS. Roach, Peter (1993). English Phonetics and Phonology, 2nd edn. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. Roca, Iggy & Wyn Johnson (1999). A Course in Phonology. Oxford: Blackwell. Spencer, Andrew (1996). Phonology: Theory and Description. Oxford: Blackwell. Trudgill, Peter & Jean Hannah (1994). International English. A Guide to the Varieties of Standard English. London: Arnold. Wells, John C. (1982). Accents of English. 3 vols. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

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