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Allophone and phoneme:

Phoneme can be defined as the smallest contrastive phonological unit which can produce a difference of meaning. We can identify phonemes by finding words which differ by the smallest element possible: f.i: kit, cat, cart, cot, caught, cut. /i, ae, a:, o, o:, / are examples of phonemes in English because when susbstituted for each other they produce different words.

Allophone can be defined as the variants of each phoneme. For example, let us consider the four lateral articulations symbolized [l, l, l, ]. None of these sounds can function

contrastively in English because they can never occur in the same phonetic environment. Every time we articulate [l] a dental sound must follow it (health), [l] occurs only if a fortis plosive precedes it (class), we produce a clear [l] before vowel sounds (leaf) and a dark or velarized variety [] before consonant sounds and pauses (milk, wheel). The four sounds share basic phonetic characteristics and the English native speaker feels that they function as and the same entity. In more technical terms we may say that they constitute the same phonological unit in English. They are just realizations or allophones of the same abstract sound unit called phoneme.

We have to remember that allophones are always represented by symbols enclosed in square brackets [ ], while phonemes between slant lines / /.

Phonetics and Phonology:

Whereas phonetics deals with allophones, phonology deals with the phonemes of a language.

It is essential to know which sounds produce differences in meaning between words (phonological study) and to establish how the various phonemes are actually realized (phonetic study).

Phonetic level (allophones): [l, l, l, ] Phonological level (phonemes): /l/

Allophones which can never occur in the place of another are said to be in complementary distribution. They are mutually exclusive because whenever one occurs no other can. F.i: the four lateral homophones are said to be in complementary distribution since none of them can occur in place of another. Not all allophones, though, are conditioned by the context. Sometimes their use depends just on habit or preference, such is the case of the English fortis plosive before a pause. In all right the final /t/ may be realized either with release (exploded) or without it (unexploded) or accompanied by a glottal stop, among other possibilities. No matter which oe is used, the meaning will not change, nor will it sound foreign. When the allophones of a phoneme occur in the same environment without being in contrast they are said to be in free variation.

Variations in place of articulation:

We have seen how sounds influence one another when put together in words and sentences. A sound may influence one that follows as with aspiration, or one preceding it, as with length.

Place of articulation may also be conditioned by the phonetic environment: the diacritics

[ ]



are used in allophonic transcription to indicate fronter and

backer variants respectively.

We hall note the following cases:

1. The velars /k, g/ are articulated further front in the mouth when followed by affront vowel or /j/ and further back when followed by a back vowel or /w/. keep



i pk wa t]. // is affected by preceding vowels: sing-

song[si+so-] 2. The alveolars /t, d, n, l/ are articulated dentally when followed by /, / wealth and in the pos-velar region when /r, tr, dr/ follow: interest [in t st].

3. The nasals /n, m/ are normally articulated labio-dentally when /f, v/ follow, the resulting variant is assigned the symbol

[]: in forests and valleys [i`fo

The English consonants in detail: We are going to list the 26 English consonant phonemes with their main allophones: Plosives: 1. /p/ voiceless-fortis bilabial plosive [ph] aspirated: part, pure, apart [p] weakly aspirated or unaspirated: participate, sport [p ] with non-audible or delayed release: napkin, top people [p ]with nasal release: step-mother

2. /b/ voiced-lenis bilabial plosive [b] voiced: husband, probably [b] devoiced: bribe, obtain [b ]with non-audible or delayed release: rob Peter [b ]with nasal release: submit, abnormal

3. /t/ voiceless-fortis alveolar plosive [th] aspirated: talk, tube [t] weakly aspirated or unaspirated: tenacity, story [t ] with non-audible or delayed release: football, outdoor [t ]with nasal release: written, atmosphere [t ]with lateral release: gentle, outline [t]dental: eight [t_]post- alveolar : try, night train

4. /d/ voiced-lenis alveolar plosive [d] voiced: ladder [d] devoiced: dead [d ] with non-audible or delayed release: bedtime [d ]with nasal release: garden, admire [d ]with lateral release: medal [d]dental: hundredth [d_]post- alveolar : bad dream

5. /k/ voiceless-fortis velar plosive [kh] aspirated: card, quite [k] weakly aspirated or unaspirated: whisky, school [k ] with non-audible or delayed release: baked [k ]with nasal release: thickness [k_] pre-velar: key, queue [k+] post-velar: cool, question

6. /g/ voiced-lenis velar plosive Affricates: 1. // voiceless-fortis palato-alveolar affricate. 2. // voiced-lenis palato-alveolar affricate. [g] voiced: again [g] devoiced: gag, egg-shell [g ] with non-audible or delayed release: egg-cup [g ]with nasal release: ignore [g_] pre-velar: geese [g+] post-velar: lagoon


voiced: larger, enjoy devoiced: misjudge, vegetable


3. /tr/ voiceless-fortis post-alveolar affricate. 4. /dr/ voiced-lenis post-alveolar affricate. d , d ,

[d ] [d ]

voiced: hundred, fedral devoiced: bus-driver

Fricatives: 1. /f/ voiceless-fortis labio-dental fricative. 2. /v/ voiced-lenis labio-dental fricative -

[ v]

voiced: living, seven


devoiced: front view

3. / / voiceless-fortis dental fricative 4. / / voiced-lenis dental fricative -


voiced: rather

[]devoiced: since then

5. /s/ voiceless-fortis alveolar fricative 6. /z/ voiced-lenis alveolar fricative -


voiced: busy, puzzle

[z]voiced: hosepipe, zone

7. / S/ voiceless-fortis palato-alveolar fricative 8. // voiced-lenis palato-alveolar fricative

[ ] [ ]

voiced: measure, vision voiced: genre

9. /h/ voiceless glottal fricative


[h] voiceless: high, who [h] voiced: alcohol

1. /m/ voiced bilabial nasal -

[m] voiced: memory [m] slightly devoiced: smell

[] labio-dental: comfort, some value [n] voiced: noun, sudden [n] slightly devoiced: snow [n] dental: synthesis [n ] post-alveolar: unreal [] labio-dental: rainfall, invite

2. /n/ voiced alveolar nasal -

3. // voiced velar nasal -

[+] [-]

pre-velar: king post-velar: wrong


1. /l/ voiced alveolar lateral

[l] [ ] [l] []

clear (before vowels and /j/: lovely, steelyard dark (before consonants, pauses and /w/: fulfil devoiced: place dental: wealth

[ ]

post-alvelar: children

Approximant: 1. /r/ voiced post-alveolar approximant


approximant (mainly before and between vowels): road, very

[] [] [ r]

voiced fricative (after /d/): drive

voiceless fricative (especially after fortis plosives): prize

alveolar tap (after //): three

1. /j/ voiced palatal semi-vowel. -

[ j]

voiced: yes, beyond

[j]devoiced: pure, tube

2. /w/ voiced velarized bilabial semi-vowel. -


voiced: wild, await

[w]devoiced: tweed, queen

Variations in vowels and diphthongs:

There are allophonic variations of quantity in vowels. Long vowels will be half long when unaccented, f.i: seminar[`semina

], when accented and followed by fortis consonants f.i:

insert [`ins3 t]and when accented and followed by an unaccented syllable in the same word f.i: harder[`ha d].

/i:/ [i:] tea

[i ] seat

/a:/ /o:/ /u:/ /3:/ /ei/ /u/ /ai/

[a:] star [o:] door [u:] blue [3:] fur [e:i] pay [:u] low [:u] eye [a:u] vow [o:i] toy [i:] clear [e:] rare [u:] poor

[a ] part [o ] caught [u ] boot [3 ] first [e i] activate [ u] goat [ u] advice [a u] outhouse [o i] voice [i ] fierce [e ] scare [u ] during



/i/ /e/ /u/

Features of connected speech:

1. Elision:

It is the omission of sounds, omitting either a vowel or a consonant


Word internal:

1) Elision of vowels mainly affects the weak, centralised ones /, i,u/ when they are precede and followed by consonants in unaccented syllables f.i:

/-tn/ certain, /-Sn/ caution, /-n/ vision, /-kl/ clasical, /-Sl/ commercial, /sl/ cancel, /-ml/ animal, /-tn/ barrel. When any of the nasals precedes the sequences dn, tn, schwa must not be elided, with the exception of acquaintance.

2) Elision of // allows the formation of affricates in /-tri/ /-dri/: secretary, secondary.

3) Elision of consonants inside words mainly affects alveolars, especially when preceded and followed by other consonants: handsome, postpone, postcard, grandma, grandpa.


At word boundary:

1) The word final alveolars /t, d/ are generally elided when preceded and followed by a consonant, especially when the following is a stop: send two, first day, last talk.

2) /h/ is elided in unaccented, non-initial he, his, her(self), him(self), have, has, had.

2. Assimilation

It is the process by which sounds are influenced by neighbouring sounds and come to share some or all of their phonetic characteristics. Assimilation is the result of an unconscious propensity towards ease of articulation and economy of effort.

a) Word internal: In the following examples, the non-assimilated variant may be regarded as belonging to a more studied, conservative style of speech.

/tS/ - /tj/

/ / -/dj/

/S/- /sj, si/

mature accentuate situation

education individual

glacial appreciation

b) At word boundary: The English consonant sounds most easily influenced by adjacent sounds in connected speech are the alveolars /t, d, s, z, n/

1) /t, d, n/ may be assimilated to /p, b, m/ respectively under the influence of the bilabials /p, b, m/: that plan /aep`plaen/, on purpose /om `p3ps/

2) /t, d/ may be assimilated to/tS,/ respectively when immediately followed by /j/ : last year /lastSi/, behind you /bi`hainu/

3) /s, z/ may be assimilated to /S, / respectively when /S, j/ follow: her voice shook /h3`voiS`Suk/ 4) /t, d, n/ may be assimilated to /k, g, / respectively when in contact with /k, g/ hot cakes /`hok`keiks/.

According to the direction of the change, assimilation can be regressive when the initial sound of a word affects the final sound of the previous word: not possible /-pp-/ or progressive when the initial sound of the second word is affected: bookish style /-SS-/. Of the two, regressive assimilation is mucho more common in English than progressive. 3. Compression: It occurs when a given articulation, either vowel or consonant is performed in a shorter space of time:

a) Word internal: Pronunciations with // rather than /u/ could be said to represent a more casual style in words such as mobility, November,

romantic, automobile. The forms with either /u/ or // instead of /u/ in the central syllables of actually, usually and valuable constitute the normal citation form for many speakers.

b) At word boundary: in all cases the compressed forms denote a fast style, f. i: the apple of my eye / ` jaeplv ma(i)`ai/ TEMA 49- EL SISTEMA FONOLGICO DE LA LENGUA INGLESA (2): LAS VOCALES. LOS DIPTONGOS. LAS SEMIVOCALES. CORRESPONDENCIA ENTRE SONIDOS Y GRAFAS



Vowel sounds are produced in most cases without any kind of contact between the articulators. They can be made different from each other, mainly by raising a certain part of the tongue to different levels, by modifying the shape of the lips and by raising and lowering the velum. Variations of this kind produced by changing the shape of the mouth resonator are referred to as differences in vowel quality.

The part of the tongue raised may be any point between the front and the back. We have the raising of 3 basic parts of the tongue: front, centre and back. Vowel sounds are normally voiced sounds, that is, they are produced with vibration of the vocal folds. They are usually oral sounds, that is, when the vibrating column of air reaches the top of the pharynx it generally escapes through the mouth only. Occasionally there are devoiced and nasalized vowel sounds because this is not a common characteristic. The vowel sounds are generally syllabic in English, that is, they function as the central elements of syllables either alone or accompanied by consonant sounds.

Classification of Vowel sounds:

The labels corresponding to tongue positions may be placed on 2 axes:

1. A horizontal one indicating the part of the tongue which is raised 2. A vertical one indicating the height to which the tongue is raised

For a more complete classification a final articulatory feature may be added lip position: rounded and unrounded. Front vowel sounds are unrounded, back ones are rounded.

The English inventory includes six short vowels (all pure), 13 relatively long (5 pure vowels and 8 diphthongs and one borderline case /ae/, sometimes long). QUALITY Short QUANTITY Relatively long subject to reduction

Pure vowels

i, e, o, u, , ---ae---i:, a:, o:, u:, 3:


ei, ai, oi, au, u, i, e, u

But there are many quantity variations, f.i: depending on the phonetic environment the relatively long vowels have several degrees of length and the so-called short vowels can become even longer than the former. Although vowel quality oppositions play the most important role in distinguishing meaning, allophonic variations of quantity may also contribute greatly to it. Both open syllables and those closed by voiced lenis consonants, sometimes twice on nearly three times as long. f.i. the pair beat/bit is distinguished by vowel quality, the pair beat/bead mainly by vowel quantity and bit/bead by the vowel quality-quantity complex. a) The 13 relatively long vowels retain their full length when accented either is open syllables see /si:/ or when followed by lenis consonants learned /l3:nd/. /ae/ is fully long before /b, d, g, , m, n/ b) These vowels will be half long when naccented: seminar / semina / or when accented and followed by fortis consonants: insert /in s t/ or when accented

and followed by an naccented syllable in the same words harder / ha d/

The English pure vowels in detail: 1. /i:/ front, between close and half-close. The most common realization is a antity variations /i:/ tea, /i / seat. 2. /i/ retracted, half-close, generally short. Slightly opener in final open

slight diphthong /ii/, especially in accented open syllables. It is subject to

syllables /i/ very, but may be nearer to /i/ when another vowel follows: very often 3. /e/ front, mid, usually short.

4. 5.

/ae/ front, between half-open and open. Usually short but long f.i: in man /a:/ back, open, unrounded. Although relative long, it undergoes lly long /a:/ star, red ced /a / in part

variations of length 6. 7.

/o/ back, open, slightly rounded, normally short. /o:/ back, mid, rounded. Usually long but subject to reduction. Fully long

/o:/ door, red ced /o / caught. 8. 9. /u/ advanced, half-close. Slight lip-rounding, generally short. /u:/ back, between close and half- close, lips rounded. Usually realized as

a slight diphthong /uu/ especially in accented open syllables. Generally long but s b ect to length variations, f lly long / :/ bl e, red ced / 10. 11. / as in boot // central, between half-open and open. usually short. /3:/ Mid, central, lips unrounded, generally long but subject to reduction, / as in first

f lly long / :/ f r, red ced / 12. doctor Diphthongs:

// Mid, central, lips unrounded. More open in final open syllables:

They can be classified articulatory and auditorily: 1. According to the distance the tongue travels, they can be articulatory labelled wide when the glide is long and narrow when the glide is short. 2. Depending on the direction of the movement the tongue makes in producing diphthongs, they can be articulatory classified into closing and centring. Closing diphthongs involve a glide towards a closer tongue position, centring diphthongs a glide towards a central tongue position. 3. According to the prominence of the elements, diphthongs can be auditorily classified into falling when the first element is more prominent than the second and rising when the second element is more prominent than the first.

The English diphthongs in detail:

1. /ei/ narrow, front-closing. Glide starting at /e/ moving into the direction of /i/, fully long /e:i/ as in pay, reduced /e i/ as in paint 2. /u/ narrow, back-closing. Glide starting at // moving into the direction of /u/, fully long /:u/ as in low, reduced / u/ as in goat 3. /ai/ wide, front-closing. Glide starting from open retracted position moving in the direction of /i/, fully long /a:i/ as in eye, reduced /a i/ as in advice 4. /au/ wide, back closing. Glide starting approximately at /a/ moving in the direction of /u/, the starting point may, however, be the same as for /ai/, fully long /a:u/ as in vow, reduced /a u/ as in count 5. /oi/ wide, front-closing. Glide starting between half-open and open moving in the direction of /i/, fully long /o:i/ as in toy, reduced /o i/ as in voice 6. /i/ centring. Glide starting at /i/ moving to mid-central in non-final position and to the more open variety of // in final position, fully long /i:/ as in clear, reduced /i / as in fierce 7. /e/ centring. Glide starting from half-open, moving to mid-central in non-final position and to the more open variety of // in final position: fair, fully long /e: / as in rare, reduced /e / as in scarce 8. /u/ centring. Glide starting at /u/ moving to mid-central in non-final position and to the more open variety of // in final position: tour, fully long /u: / as in poor, reduced /u / as in during.

Triphthongs: (English diphthongs+ //)

A third vocalic element // can be added to all diphthongs except the centring ones.

1. /ei/ as in payer 2. /u/ as in lower

3. /ai/ as in wire 4. /au/ as in sour 5. /oi/ as in employer

The sequence, however, is pronounced fully only occasionally as when using either a slow, formal style of pronunciation or when the word is given special emphasis.
Speakers of general RP tend to weaken and/or omit the second /i/ or /u/ element in ordinary conversational style. This vowel reduction, a form of compression known as levelling has give rise to:

a) 2 new diphthongs, one coming from /ai/ + // and another from /au/ + //, which are considered as allophonic realizations f.i: /a/ b) New sets of homophones. Pairs such as tyre and tower are often pronounced the same.


1. /i:/ Spellings I and iCe in words of Latin origin: casino, Argentina, ski, police, expertise, magazine, unique Spellings ae and oe mainly in aesthetic, anaemia, Caesar, foetus, phoenix. Spelling e in plurals of words endimg in is and ex: analyses, indices, theses, bases Spelling ei only in cei: conceive, deceive, receive, ceiling. Exceptions: caffeine, protein, seize, seizure and the names: Keith, Leigh, Neil, Sheila 2. /i/ Exceptional spellings: people, quay, geyser, key, debris, prcis.

Spelling ie: hippie, mischief, movies, sieve Spelling a: character, orange, spinach Spellings ai, ei, ee in bargain, captain, fountain, mountain; forfeit, sovereign, surfeit; coffee, committee, toffee, Yankee. Spelling aCe, especially age: image, postage, village, furnace, preface, surface, private, octave

Accented e only in pretty, England, English. u only in busy, business, lettuce, minute (n), missus, o only in women, iu only in circuit, conduit, build, biscuit, ea only in Guinea, Chelsea The past suffix ed is pronounced is pronounced /d/ after vowel and lenis consonant sounds and /t/ after fortis consonant sounds, it is pronounced /t/ after fortis consonant sounds, it is pronounced /id/ after /t, /d/. Adjectives ending in ed are pronounced /id/: aged, beloved, blessed, crooked, cursed, jagged, learned ragged, rugged, sacred, wicked, wretched The ending edly of adverbs is pronounced /idly/: assumedly, supposedly. Exception: determinedly

3. /e/ 4. /ae/ 5. /a:/ Spelling a in some 300 words generally before the nasals and /s/, the most common of which are: a+ nasal: command, demand, can t, plant, dance, glance, France, a + /s/: ask, task, past, glass, last, fast. Others: after, draft, staff, half, bath, path, rather Spelling au: aunt, laugh, draught Spelling er only in clerk, sergeant, Derby; Berkeley Spelling ah only in ah, bah, aha, hurrah Spelling oi in French borrowings: repertoire, reservoir Spelling i only in plaid, plait Spelling i in words of French origin: impasse, meringue Spelling a in any, many, Thames, momentarily, necessarily. Spellings ei, ey only in heifer, leisure, Leicester, Reynolds Spelling eo only in leopard, jeopardize, Geoffrey, Leonard Exceptional spellings: bury, burial, said, says, friend, lieutenant, ate

6. /o/ 7. /o:/ 8. /u/ -

Exceptional spellings: heart, hearth, our, bazaar.

Spelling au mainly in because, cauliflower, laurel, sausage Spelling en in French borrowings: encore, entre, rendezvous Spelling oCe only in gone, shone, scone Spelling ou only in cough, trough, Gloucester Exceptional spellings: knowledge, bureaucracy

Spelling ao in broad, abroad. Spellings oor in door, floor. Spelling an in French borrowings: fianc, restaurant, sance Exceptional spellings: drawer (thing), awe, Sean

Spelling u in accented syllables in some 30 words, generally before /l/, the most common of which are bull, bullet, bulletin, bully, full, fulfil, pull. Others: bush, cushion, push, pussy, butcher, put, pudding, sugar.

Spelling oo mainly in book, brook, cook, cookie, foot, good, hood, hook, look, nook, rook, shook, soot, stood, took, wood, wool.

9. /u:/ 10. // -

Spelling ou mainly in could, should, would, courier, bouquet Spellings o only in bosom, woman, wolf, worsted, Worcester

Spelling o only in do, tomb, womb, who, whom. Spelling oCe only in lose, move, prove, whose Spelling oe in canoe, shoe Spelling eu in adieu, rheumatism, sleuth Exceptional spellings: manoeuvre, two.

Spelling o in some 70 words, generally before the nasals and /v/, the most common of which are: / / + nasal: become, come, comfort, some, London, honey, money, one, once, none, tongue, / / + /v/: above, glove, love, oven. Others: another, other, mother, doze, colour, worry

Spelling ou mainly in double, trouble, flourish, cousin, touch, young, enough, rough, Douglas

Spelling oo only in blood, flood

11. /3:/ -

Exceptional spellings: does, twopence, twopenny

Spelling our only in bourbon, couteous, courtesy, journal, journey Spelling eu in French borrowings: connoisseur, raconteur, Peugeot, milieu

12. // -

Exceptional spelling: colonel

Schwa can be represented by all five letters (and y): canal, hundred, possible, seldom, suspect, analysis; by vowel diagraphs: villain, surgeon, vengeance, parliament, region, tortoise, camouflage; and by vowel letters + r: particular, perfection, forbid, surprise

13. ei/

14. /u/

Spellings (e), in French borrowings: attach, caf, fte, ne Spelling et in French borrowings: ballet, bouqet, chalet, gourmet Spelling ea only in break, great, orangeade, steak, Reagan, Yeats Exceptional spellings: gaol, gauge, dossier, Galeic, Israel.

Spelling oe mainly in doe, foe, goes, toe, woe, Defoe, Joe, Poe Spellings au an eau in French borrowings: au pair, chauffeur, mauve, beau, bureau, chteau, plateau

15. /ai/

Exceptional spellings: brooch, sew, Pharaoh Spelling ei only in eider, either, height, kaleidoscope, seismic, sleight (of hand), Eileen, Farenheit, Geiger

16. /au/

Exceptional spelling: MacKay

17. /oi/

Spelling ough mainly in: bough, drought, plough Exceptional spelling: Macleod Exceptional spellings: buoy, voyage

18. /i/ -

Exceptional spellings: souvenir, weir, weird

19. /e/

20. /u/

Exceptional spellings: major, prayer (thing).

Spelling our in French borrowings: bourgeois, courgette, gourd, gourmet

The reverse procedure, that is, the grouping of sounds according to a given spelling is useful in the case of a few endings which have more than one pronunciation: in ate, ful and ment a different phonemic pattern identifies different grammatical functions 1. ADE 2. AGE 3. ATE /-eit/ mainly in verbs: appreciate, celebrate, concentrate /t/ in adjectives and nouns: accurate, certificate, delicate. A few adjectives and nouns are pronounced /-eit/: cognate, debate, estate, inmate, innate, rebate. Others fluctuate between both forms: advocate, candidate, delegate, magistrate 4. FUL /ful/ in nouns: handful, mouthful, packetful /fl/ in adjectives: dreadful, grateful, hopeful /-it/ in climate, private /-i/ as in breakage, heritage, patronage /a:/ as in camouflage, collage, sabotage garage can be both /-eid/ as in barricade, decade, lemonade /a:d/ mainly in charade, faade, promenade esplanade can be both

5. MENT /ment/ in verbs: complement, implement, experiment /mnt/ I nouns: argument, experiment, government. Exceptions: cement, comment 6. The prefix RE- has 3 pronunciations Semi-vowels:

/`ri/ in recount, recover, reform, remark all of them meaning again. /ri/ in recount (tell, recover (get back), reform (improve) /`re/ in represent (symbolize), recommend, recreation (amusemnet)

It is a rapid vocalic glide onto a syllabic sound of greater steady duration. Despite the fact that semi-vowels are in phonetic terms generally vocalic, they are treated within the consonant class, mainly because their function is consonantal rather than vowel-like, that is, they have a marginal rather than a central situation in the syllable. Their consonantal function is emphasized by the fact that the articles have their preconsonantal form when followed by /j/ and /w/, that is, the yard, a yacth, the west, a wasp with // or // rather than with /i/ or / n/. In addition the allophones of /j/ and /w/ when following a fortis consonant are voiceless and fricative as in cue /kju:/ and quick /kwik/, that is, they fall within a phonetic definition of a consonant.

/j/ unrounded palatal semi-vowel. Spelt y (yes), i (spaniel) also /ju:/ spelt u muse, ew new, eu, feud, eau beauty, ui suit -

[ j]

voiced: yes, beyond

[j]devoiced: pure, tube

/w/ labio-velar semi-vowel. Spelt w, wh or u after q, g: west, which, quick, language. Note one, once, choir, suite with /w/ -

[ w]

voiced: wild, await

[w]devoiced: tweed, queen




Consonant sounds are those in which the air-stream meets a stricture of complete oral closure (plosives, affricates and nasals) or one of intermittent closure (rolls) or one of partial oral closure (laterals) or a stricture of close approximation (fricatives). Consonant sounds tend to be non-syllabic or marginal in the syllable.

There are a number of points to be answered:

1. Are the vocal folds in action or not? 2. How strong are the breath force and muscular effort involved in the articulation?

3. Is the velum up or down? 4. Where does the interference of the air-flow occur? 5. What kind of interference is it?

1. Vocal fold activity determines whether consonant sounds are voiced or voiceless. Voiced consonant sounds are produced with the vocal folds in light contact and voiceless ones with the vocal folds wide apart, so that only breath goes through.

2. Consonant sounds produced with greater force are called fortis and those produced with less force are called lenis. So both voiced and devoiced consonant sounds are lenis and voiceless ones are fortis.

3. The position of the velum causes consonant sounds to be mainly oral (when it is raised) or nasal (when it is lowered)

4. There is a classification according to the place of articulation:

a) Glottal:


b) Velar: [k, g, ] c) Palatal: []

d) Palato-alveolar: [S, , , tS]

e) Post-alveolar: [, t , d , n ]

f) Alveolar: [t, d, n, n, r, s, z, l, l, ]

g) Dental: [t, d, n, , , ]

h) Labio-dental: [, k, g,]

i) Bilabial: [p, b, m]

5. Another way of classifying consonant sounds is according to the manner of articulation, that is, to the type of stricture made between each pair of articulators.

a) Plosives: When an active articulator comes into form contact with a passive one, forming a stricture of complete closure, the air-stream is built up behind this closure. The articulators separate suddenly producing an explosive sound called plosion. So there are 3 stages: closure, stop and release




b) Fricatives: When an active articulator comes into light contact with a passive one, forming a stricture of close approximation, the air has to force its way out, making a noise called friction



c) Affricates: These are formed by a succession of a plosive and a fricative. The active articulator forms a stricture of complete closure with a passive one, but instead of opening suddenly as for a plosive, they come apart slowly into the fricative position




d) Taps: An active articulator taps once against a passive one.

e) Rolls: A roll is produced by the vibration of an active articulator against a passive one. It is a rapid succession of taps

f) Laterals: The active articulator comes into firm contact with the passive one and the air escapes down one or both sides of contact


g) Nasals: In a nasal sound the velum must be lowered and there must be a stricture of complete closure somewhere in the mouth so that the air escapes through the nose

The English consonants can be grouped according to the fortis/ lenis opposition:



tS l


(B) (C)

Lenis No opposition

b m

d n


dr r

The remaining phoneme /h/ constitutes a special case, since it does not participate in the opposition, nor does it share the voicing feature of group (C).


1. Consonants in (B) and (C) are voiced between vowels or other consonants of the same group. 2. Lenis consonants are devoiced after and before pauses and fortis consonants 3.


r, w, j] are devoiced when preceded by a fortis plosive in an accented



When The English fortis plosives /p, t, k/ precede vowel sounds in an accented syllable, the voicing of the vowel does not begin together with the release stage of the plosive but some time later. When the lips separate after the stop, the tongue is already in position for the vowel, but only breath comes out before the vocal folds start vibrating. This voiceless interval between the release of a plosive and the voicing of a following vowel is called aspiration.

There are various degrees of aspiration: 1. /p, t, k/ are strongly aspirated in accented syllables: Come at ten past eleven

2. They are weakly aspirated in naccented syllables and in final position: The pper lip 3. They are naspirated when /s/ precedes them: The school staff

When /p, t, k/ are followed by /l, r, w, j/ especially in accented syllables, the aspiration of the former makes the latter devoiced. Whenever aspiration is manifested as devoicing it will be shown as []: Please try to clean ickly

Types of release:

English plosives are not always released in the same way. We have the following alternatives

1. Oral release: When followed by vowels or semi-vowels either with or without the aspiration period.

2. Non-audible release: Final plosives have a lack of audible release caused by a weak opening of the stop or absence of release. In clusters formed by 2 consecutive plosives, or plosive and affricate, the first one normally has nonaudible release.

3. With glottal reinforcement: The fortis plosives and affricates can be reinforced with a glottal stop. Glottalization of /p, t, k/ is made before pauses and consonants, though not between vowels. With / tS, tr/ glottalization is also possible between vowels. In all these cases a glottal closure and its corresponding release is made either before or simultaneously with the oral closure for the plosive or affricate.

4. Nasal release: When a plosive is followed by a nasal, the release stage is not performed orally, but nasally. The air compressed behind the oral stop escapes through the nose

5. Lateral release: When /t, d/ are followed by /l/, both plosives are normally released laterally. Lateral release is marked [

The English consonants in detail: 13.


voiceless-fortis bilabial plosive voiced-lenis bilabial plosive voiceless-fortis alveolar plosive voiced-lenis alveolar plosive voiceless-fortis velar plosive voiced-lenis velar plosive

[p] [b] [ t] [d] [ k] [g]


voiceless-fortis palato-alveolar affricate voiced-lenis palato-alveolar affricate voiceless-fortis post-alveolar affricate voiced-lenis post-alveolar affricate

[] [ ] [tr] [dr]

voiceless-fortis labio-dental fricative voiced-lenis labio-dental fricative voiceless-fortis dental fricative voiced-lenis dental fricative

[f] [v] [] []

[s] [z] [S] [ ] [h]


voiceless-fortis alveolar fricative voiced-lenis alveolar fricative voiceless-fortis palato-alveolar fricative voiced-lenis palato-alveolar fricative voiceless glottal fricative

voiced bilabial nasal voiced alveolar nasal voiced velar nasal

[m] [n] []


voiced alveolar lateral


voiced post-alveolar approximant


Spellings and pronunciation:

21. /t/

Spelling th only in discotheque, thyme, Anthony, Esther, Thailand, Thames, Theresa, Thomas, Thompson

22. / / 23. /d / 24. /f/ Spelling gh only in cough, draught, enough, laugh(ter), rough, tough, trough 25. /v/ 26. /s/ Spelling se in some nouns and adjectives: abuse, close, diffuse, excuse, house, use. When these words function as verbs all are pronounced with /z/. Exceptions: fuse, surprise always with /z/; decrease, increase, promise, release always with /s/ 27. /z/ Spelling ss only in dessert, dissolve, hussy, hussar, possess, scissors, Missouri 28. /S/ 29. // Spellings -Vsion, -Vsure and Vsual. Confusion, closure, casual. Spellings -Csion and -tion: expulsion, tension, version, fiction, caution Spelling sch mainly in schedule, schmaltz, schwa Exceptional spelling: fuchsia Spelling x mainly in Xerox, xylophone Spelling s: disease, erase, phase, pause, resemble, positive, result etc. In used to when it means accustomed; with /z/ when it means employed Spelling s: base, case, chase, cease, geese, dose, exclusive, expensive Spelling z only in eczema, quartz, ritzy, waltz, Switzerland Spelling ph only in nephew, Stephen Spelling ch only in sandwich, spinach, Greenwich, Harwich, Norwich Spelling c in cello, concerto Exceptional spellings. Czech, putsch

Spelling g in French loanwords: camouflage, collage, espionage, beige, rouge etc.

The following letters stand for more than one pronunciation and consequently tend to cause difficulty: 1. ED: past tense and past participle suffix of regular verbs /d/ when the last sound of the infinitive form is a vowel or /b, g, d, v, z, , m, n, , l/ /t/ when the last sound is /p, k, , f, , s, S/ /id/ when the last sound is /t, d/

2. (E)S: plural, genitive case, third person singular and reduced forms of is and has /z/ when the last sound of the infinitive form is a vowel or /b, d, g, v, z, m, n, , l/ 3. X4. NG /ks/ when x is followed by an unaccented vowel: exercise, exit /gz/ when x is followed by an accented vowel: exact, exam, example /kS/ in anxious, complexion, luxury, sexual /g/ in luxuriant, luxuriate, luxurious /z/ mainly in Xerox, xylophone /s/ when the last sound is /p, t, k, f, / /is/ when the last sound is /d, , s, z, S/

//: in final position: king, wrong and in inflected forms: hanger, singer. Also in hangar, gangway

/g/: in medial position: anger, finger, hunger and in the comparatives and superlatives of long, strong, young

Silent letters:

/nd/: change, danger, stranger

There are a number of silent letters, i.e. those which do not represent any sound at all. 1. b in mb and bt: lamb, climb, bomb, comb, debt, doubt

2. c in corpuscle, muscle, Connecticut, indict, victual(s). Note ch in schism, yacht 3. g in gm, -gn: diaphragm, reign, gnaw

4. h in heir, honest, hour, honour, in rh: rhetoric, rhythm also in annihilate, vehicule, vehement; in proper names in ham: Graham, Durham.

5. k in kn- knee. Note ck in blackguard 6. l in lk and lm: chalk, folk, talk, almond, calm also in half, calf, could, should, would 7. n in mn: autumn, column

8. p in coup: cupboard, raspberry, receipt. Note ps in corps

9. s in aisle, apropos, chassis, debris, island, isle, Louis, viscount 10. t in stle, -sten: apostle, castle; chasten, fasten also in French loanwords: ballet, cabaret; mortgage, often, postpone and th is asthma

11. w in wr- wh-: wrap, whole, in proper names in -wich and which: Norwich, Greenwich, Harwich; also in answer, sword.



Suprasegmental or prosodic features:

Suprasegmental or prosodic features are those superimposed on segments and include accentuation, rhythm and intonation.


When we speak we give more emphasis to some parts of an utterance than to others. We can make a syllable stand out with respect to its neighbouring syllables in a word, and some words stand out with respect to the rest of the words in a longer utterance. Those elements that produce prominence at syllable level are: pitch, quality, quantity and stress.


When a syllable is a starter of pitch movement or has the natural potential to be one we say it is accented. When any of the elements causing prominence are present, but the syllable is incapable of acting as a pitch movement initiator, we say it is prominent.

To sum up, all accented syllables are prominent, but not all prominent syllables are accented.

Types of accent:

When a word has 2 or more accents, pitch movement will start on the last one. We call this the primary accent and mark it /

/ or

The previous accent or accents are less likely to initiate pitch movement. We call them secondary accents and mark them /

/ or

Syllables with inherent prominence and unaccented, non- prominent syllables will be marked and and


Accentuation in simple words:

By simple words we mean those made up of roots alone or with the addition of affixes (suffixes and prefixes). It is difficult to establish rules for the accentuation of simple words in English, so students should learn the accentual pattern of each new word.

Accentuation of compound words:

By compound we mean words made up of 2 or less frequently three roots and certain collocations.

1. Single-accented compounds:

A. The largest group is formed by the combination of 2 nouns.

The second noun indicates the performer of the action: - `baby-sitter

The resulting compound may be a noun or an adjective:

- `time-consuming

The first noun delimits the meaning of the second by stating what type of thing it is.

- `school-bag

B. Formed by the combination of adjectives and nouns. Normally when a noun is preceded by an adjective both are accented. However, when this combination constitutes a specific, long-established compound, the first component tends to carry the primary accent

- `blackboard cases where the adjective is an ing form

- `driving licence

C. Verbs and nouns sometimes combine

- `pickpocket

D. Many two-word verbs give origin to nouns

- A `hold-up

2. Double-accented compounds:


Compounds made of nouns may be double-accented in the following cases: - The first noun indicates the position of the second one


- The second noun is made of the first one:

plum `pudding

B. Formed by nouns and adjectives:

- Adjective + noun: civil `war - Noun + adjective: world `wide

C. Participles make up some common compounds:

- absent `minded

The distinctive function of accent:

We can distinguish between pairs of words of identical spelling and identical or similar phonemic pattern.
In the case of simple words the tendency is for nouns and /or adjectives to be accented on the first syllable and verbs on the last:

1. In most verbs the unaccented syllables contain a weak vowel, but this tendency is not so strong in the case of nouns: / `aebstraekt/ adj. and noun and / b`straekt/ verb. Similarly: progress, contrast, protest, abject, permit, export, record

2. In a few cases it is only the accentual pattern which distinguishes between noun and verb as in increase: noun / `inkris/ and verb / in`kris/. Similarly: import, transport, insult, discount, digest, dictate

3. There are a few cases where accent does not function distinctively, f. i: verbs and nouns/ adjectives have the same phonemic and accentual forms: ex`press, `process, de`posit, `comment, ad`dress.

Accentuation in connected speech:

In connected speech we make some words stand out with respect to others, according to the amount and type of information they carry. In general content words are likely to be accented in an utterance: nouns, principal verbs, adjectives and adverbs. Structural words tend to be unaccented: auxiliary verbs, personal, reflexive and relative pronouns, prepositions, articles, possessive adjectives and conjunctions. There is, however, a group of structural words which are frequently accented: demonstrative and possessive pronouns, interrogative words and negative anomalous finites.


It is the process of phonemic changes which consists that the majority of unaccented syllables contain either a vowel of a centralized quality /, i, u, i, u/ or none at all. Gradation is very evident in words which exist on their own (man, board) and at the same part form part of compounds: cupboard /`kbd/, gentleman /`entlmn/. Many English place names provide further examples of this process: Scotland /`skotlnd/, Oxford /`oksfd/.

Weak-form words:

A group of about 50 structural words presenting a very high frequency of occurrence in the English language are also subject to gradation. The group of structural words which can undergo gradation present different phonemic patterns depending on accentuation or prominence and in some cases position in the utterance.

These structural words which we call weak-form words are said to have one or more weak forms, which will always be unaccented or non-prominent in an utterance and a strong form, which will always be accented or prominent. Since structural words are seldom accented or prominent or used in isolation, the weak forms are the most frequent pronunciations of these words. Weak-form words are characterized by obscuration towards a centralized vowel quality and/or elision of a vowel or consonant.

The essential weak-forms:

1. The seven adjectival words:


Weakfor m

// /n/ // /sm/

Used before consonant sounds and semivowels


Used before vowels


Used before consonant sounds and semivowels


Used when it means an indefinite quantity of. The strong form /sm/ is used when contrasted with the

other(s) and when used as a pronoun. His Her Saint /iz / /3/ / snt/ Not used after a pause or as a pronoun Not used after a pause Only used before names

2. The six pronouns:


Weakfor m

He Him Her Us

/i/ /im/ /3/ 1./s/ 2./s/

Not used after a pause Also in himself Also in herself 1. Used after let in suggestions, but not with the meaning of allow. 2. Not used after let with the meaning of suggestion. Also in themselves Used anticipatorily before he verb to be, but never as an adverb of place.

Them There

/m/ //

3. The five conjunctions:


Weakfor m



1. Generally used after vowels 2. Generally used after /t, d/ and all fricatives


/z/ /bt/ /n/ /t/ Also used as a relative pronoun, but never as a demonstrative




4. The five prepositions:


Weakfor m


/t/ /f/ /frm/ /v/ /t/





When any of the 5 prepositions occur finally in a clause, they take the strong form:

What are you looking at? /aet/

Before unaccented personal pronouns, they may also take the strong form

5. The fifteen anomalous finites:


Weakfor m


1. /m/ 2./m/ /z/

1.Only used after I 2. used before I


Used after vowels sounds and after voiced consonants except the sibilants. Not used after a pause


// /wz/ /w/ 1./v/ 2. /v/ 3. /hv/ 1. Used after I, we, you, they and generally after vowels sounds 2. Used elsewhere 3. Only used after a pause





1./z/ 2. /z/ 3.

1. Used after vowels sounds and after voiced


consonants except the sibilants. Not used after a pause 2. Only used after the sibilants 3. Only used after a pause


1./d/ 2. /d/ 3. /hd/

1. Used after I, he, she, we, you, they and generally after vowels sounds 2. Used elsewhere 3. Only used after a pause Used before consonant sounds


/d/ /dz/ /Sl/ /l/


Shall Will

Not used after a pause. After /l/ it becomes /l/


/kn/ /mst/ /d/ Not usual before unstressed have



Used after I, he, she, we, you, they

When any of the 15 anomalous finites occur in final position, as in short answers, they take the strong-form, whether accented or not. They also take the strong-form when used as main verbs, as opposed to auxiliaries. The only exception is the verb to be.

General points to remember: 1. Weak forms consisting of a single consonant sound like those in which /h/ has been dropped, are not to be used at the beginning of sentences or after pauses. 2. It is convenient to consider our as having only the pronunciation /a:/ (the compressed form)

3. Some of the weak forms given may suffer further reduction as we move towards the informal extreme of the scale of pronunciation styles: than /n/, that /t/, was /wz/. 4. Some of them can also undergo assimilation: and /m, /

Other weak forms:

Apart from the list of essential weak forms, there exist others which are optional and others which are typical of the colloquial style of pronunciation.
The first group includes words such as could, should, would which can be pronounced with either // or /u/. Among the weak forms typical of informal speech are: I //, on /n/, till /tl/


One of the basic principles governing English rhythm is the fact that the accented syllables tend to be separated from each other by unaccented ones. In actual speech the accented syllables are separated from each other by equal units of time, that is, the rhythmic beats are isochronous. English rhythm shows a tendency towards isochrony. Each accented syllable constitutes the peak of prominence in a rhythmic group which may or may not include other unaccented syllables. Sometimes unaccented syllables could be equally attributed to the end of one group or the beginning of the next. The foot is the unit of English rhythm, each foot always starting with an accented syllable.

Stress-timed vs. syllable-timed rhythm: English has a stress-timed rhythm because the accented syllables tend to occur at fairly regular intervals. When 2 accented syllables are separated by unaccented syllables,

these tend to be compressed and quickened, so that the time between each beat will be approximately the same as the time taken by 2 consecutive accented syllables.

Spanish can be said to have a syllable-timed rhythm because it is the syllables, either accented or unaccented, which tend to occur at more or less regular intervals.

Intonation: It is the rises and falls of the voice in speech.

The intonation system of English:

The English intonation system can be conveniently described in terms of 8 basic tones:

1. High level: syllable at a high, sustained pitch

2. Low level: syllable at a low, sustained pitch

3. Mid high: syllable begins at a mid pitch and rises to a high pitch.

4. High mid: syllable begins at a high pitch and falls to a mid pitch.

5. Low high: syllable begins at a low pitch and rises to a high pitch.

6. High low: syllable begins at a high pitch and falls to a low pitch.

7. Low mid: syllable begins at a low pitch and rises to a mid pitch.

8. Mid low: syllable begins at a mid pitch and falls to a low pitch.

Structure of the intonation unit:

1. Nucleus: It is the essential element of an intonation unit, which is the last accented syllable acting as pitch movement initiator in the intonation unit and the tone on that syllable is called nuclear tone

2. Tail: It often happens that the nucleus is followed by one or more unaccented syllables forming the tail of the unit. There can be no accented syllables in the tail, but only prominent ones.

3. Head: Apart from the accented syllable constituting the nucleus, there may be (an)other accented words preceding it and forming the head of the intonation unit. A head can be as short as one monosyllabic word.

4. Prehead: It consists of any unaccented and usually non-prominent syllables preceding a head or nucleus. Preheads are normally said quickly on a low variety of mid pitch an are left unmarked.

The meaning of an intonation unit depends on which words are made to stand out by means of accent, because they carry most important information. Tonicity is the location of the nuclear syllable.

Four syntactic classes for intonation:

1. Statements: Neutral conclusive statements take a falling tone:

It s starting to `rain.

Non-conclusive statements take some kind of rising tone:

He turned round


and there she was

Enumerations take a rise on each element to indicate that the list is incomplete, and a fall on the final element to indicate conclusiveness.

I ve brought


peaches and ` oranges

A falling-rising nucleus indicates some kind of implication Apologies take a divided falling-rising tone

I m `terribly


Awe and astonishment are expressed by means of rising-falling tone

There were ^hundreds of them!

2. Questions:


Wh- questions: They normally take a falling intonation

- Where are my `gloves?


Yes/No questions: They are normally said on a rising tone

Did you bring your



Question tags: When expressing doubts they are said on a rising tone

I `told you about it Did you?

When seeking confirmation of what has been said they take a falling intonation


She is quite `pretty,` isn t she?

Alternative questions: They take rising intonation on the first element of choice and a falling intonation on the second

Shall we go


or stay at `home?


Echo questions: They are used to express incredulity or to ask for a repetition you have misheard. They take a rising tone

Theyve `won. Really?

This tone is used if the listener has not heard


3. Commands: They take a verb in the imperative mood and take a falling intonation

`Stop it!

Command may change from sharp orders to polite requests by the use of a fall plus rise.

`Pass me the

ashtray, John.

A warning takes a falling-rising tone

Be `


4. Exclamations: They consist of a what or how phrase and take a falling intonation


lucky you happened to be `here!