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Phonology 2
Stress is a term used to refer to the prominent syllable of a word or sentence. A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds, which is (usually) longer than a sound but shorter than a word. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. NB: This is compared to a Morpheme - The smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. For example the word unbreakable contains 3 morphemes (but 4 syllables) un- (a bound morpheme), break, and able (both free morphemes). Morphemes are not identical to words, since they may or may not stand alone, whereas a word, by definition is a free standing unit. A Bound Morpheme is the smallest meaningful unit in a language which cannot stand on its own. Bound Morphemes can change the word class, and include prefixes such as un- and de-, and suffixes such as ly and ity. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus (most often a vowel) with optional initial and final margins (typically, consonants). Every word of more than one syllable has a more strongly stressed syllable. The position of the stress is an important feature of an utterance, even in a single word it can be a defining feature; a mis-stressed word is not only wrong, but may be unrecognisable to the listener or interpreted as something else (for example graffiti stressed on the first syllable becomes gravity). What is stress exactly? Stress is when one syllable is made louder and longer, as a result there is a greater expulsion of air. Word Stress How can a learner know where the stress falls when they see the word on the page for the first time? There are a number of rules, or at least patterns that can be taught (but there are also many exceptions to the rules). Example word stress rules:
1. There is front weight in many nouns and adjectives.
DELTA Module 1 Phonology 2

2. In words with suffixes the suffixes are never stressed e.g. ly in quietly. 3. There are words that can be used as both a noun and a verb in English, and the noun

has stress on the first syllable whereas the verb has stress on the second syllable. For example, increase/decrease, import/export, insult, record, permit. 4. Tendency for words of 4 or more syllables to be stressed somewhere in the middle. 5. Compound words (such as teapot, postman, and crossword) tend to be stressed on the first syllable. However, word stress rules are often very complicated to learn and express, and are fraught with exceptions. Therefore an ad hoc approach to teaching stress may be a more effective method. Sentence Stress Sentence stress (also known as prominence) may be the result of several things: 1. Some words are more likely to be stressed because they are content words rather than structural words. 2. Some content words are more likely to have prominence than others, and this can affect the meaning of the sentence. For example, Hes been working in London for five years, could be stressed in Hes, working, London, five, or years, and each would have a slightly different meaning. 3. Another reason that some words might be stressed is that they may contain new information rather than information that is known. Teaching Sentence Stress In a typical sentence most of the syllables are not stressed, indeed often all but one remain unstressed. One of the problems of drawing the students attention to sentence stress is to risk them becoming over-attentive to details of stress that would perhaps be best disregarded in the interests of focus on the single stressed syllable. Stress-Timed Language A stress-timed Language (such as English) is one in which the stressed syllables occur at regular intervals of time. Accommodation (the process of squeezing together unstressed syllables so that each segment takes the same amount of time to produce) is a common feature of stress-timed languages. For example: Has anyone got todays paper? Here there are two tone groups (which can be defined as a sub-division of an utterance which contains a tonic syllable) which are bounded by (brief) pauses when we speak.

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Phonology 2

The onset syllable is the stressed syllable before the tonic syllable (the syllable in an utterance that carries the main stress). For example in the utterance On MONday it RAINED - 'mon' is the onset syllable (in capitals) while rained is the tonic syllable (underlined and in capitals). The Tonic Syllable is the most prominent syllable within an utterance which carries the main stress.The tonic syllable is also known as the nucleus, and is generally higher in pitch/longer/louder than the surrounding syllables. Tone groups are usually represented by slanted lines as in She got here / just after 8:00 o'clock. This utterance contains two tone groups. Longer pauses are sometimes represented by double slanted lines. In each tone group there is a stressed word (or stressed syllable within a word, if the word is of more than one syllable). While the stressed syllables occur regularly, the spaces between the stressed words/syllables can be comprised of varying numbers of syllables, often crammed together and phonologically 'distorted'. Syllable-times language (such as French, Spanish, and Japanese) can be defined as a language which has a speech rhythm in which all syllables are said to occur at equal intervals. Features of Connected Speech Accommodation Assimilation Catenation Intrusion Elision Weak forms

Assimilation, linking, and elision all happen within words and between words, but are more common at the ends of words since the start of words is typically too important for identification. Accommodation is the process of compressing unstressed syllables so that each segment of an utterance takes the same amount of time to produce. For example: Weak syllables get squashed together and strong syllables get attenuated. E.g. the How long have you takes about the same amount of time to produce as the worked in How long have you worked here?
DELTA Module 1 Phonology 2

Assimilation: This is when a speech sound changes to become more like another sound that either follows or proceeds it. Assimilation is more common in rapid, casual speech than slow, carefully enunciated speech. Assimilation is evident in the spelling of words such as intolerant or impossible (switching around the negative prefixes makes them much more difficult to say). For example in ordinary speech handbag is pronounced /hmbg/. Pancake in slow carefully enunciated speech is usually pronounced /pnkeik/ but in rapid speech may be pronounced /pkeik/. Assimilation can be either Regressive (when a sound affects what comes before it, as in /hmbg/) Progressive (such as the endings of many regular past tense verbs those ending with an voiced sound are followed by a voiced /d/ as in moved, whereas those ending with an unvoiced sound are followed by an unvoiced /t/ as in danced. Coalescence occurs when both sounds affect each other as in the boundary between would and you in Would you like a cup of coffee?. Here the sounds /d/ and /j/ coalesce into the sound /d/. Catenation/Liaison: This refers to a smooth linking or joining together between words in connected speech. Two words can have a silence between them, but liaison is concerned with the way sounds are fused together at word boundaries. For example, In a minute Ill be leaving said at normal speed involves consonant-vowel linking and ends with something like mini tile (/tail/). Consonant to vowel linking is a very common feature of liaison as is intrusion. The most common example of catenation is the linking r for example here pronounced /hi/ but here are pronounced /hir /. Intrusion: The addition of an extra phoneme to facilitate articulation. For example, if the words India and Japan are written in phonemics /IndIrndpn/ there is an intrusive /r/ sound coming between the weak vowel sound in this care the schwa // and another vowel sound (also a schwa). The three semi-vowels (/j/, /r/, and /w/) are commonly found in intrusion linking together two vowel sounds, in order to link them smoothly. Elision: The omission of sounds/syllables because a similar sound occurs immediately afterwards. For example, the /ed/ at the end of walked disappears in I walked to work.
DELTA Module 1 Phonology 2

The /t/ sound in next please is also often elided. Elision commonly occurs within the consonant sounds /t/ and /d/ and also the schwa // as in suppose (/spz/). The schwa is the most commonly elided vowel as in /tdei/ and /tma:t/ The opposite of elision is epenthesis, whereby sounds are inserted into a word to ease pronunciation. Weak form: If a word is unstressed (and non-context) then it often appears in its weak form. For example: Can might be pronounced /k n/ but is more commonly pronounced /kn/. The schwa sound is one of the commonest vowel sounds in English, and is often found in weak form, and is the archetypal English sound. It is towards this sound that many common, unstressed non-content words conform when they are unstressed. Many common words are found in their weak form such as: and, than, that, to, must, but, are, of, from, them, some, was, does, etc. are all pronounced with the schwa (//). There are also other weak forms as in been (/bIn/), she (/I/), and you (/j/).

Teaching Connected Speech Teaching connected speech is more of a challenge than teaching individual phonemes, and there are particular reasons why teaching connected speech can be difficult: The normal features of connected speech are a description of native speaker speech, and it is unlikely that a learner will be able to reach a level of fluency that is similar to that of a native speaker. Knowing how a phrase might be said by a native speaker will help recognition, rather than helping production. How we approach the analysis of phonology can be top-down or bottom-up (in much the same way that we approach the components of a text top-down typically approaches the overall knowledge of the text type and our expectations as we approach the text type, whereas bottom-up means that we approach the message of the text primarily through its language components). In dealing with phonology we tend to see the utterance holistically (top-down). Some learners see the features of connected speech such as contractions, weak forms, etc. as a form of laziness.
DELTA Module 1 Phonology 2

A modest amount of focus on the features of connected speech must be part of teaching pronunciation, but connected speech can only really be studied in its natural habitat, i.e. at natural speed.

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Phonology 2