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Mara VAN SCHAIK RDULESCU Specialitatea A i B Semestrul I Aims The purpose of this course of lectures is to introduce the first year students to the study of sounds. The emphasis falls on the English sound system, but some examples from other languages are also brought up. Preparing for this course will first of all enable the students to recognise, transcribe and describe the English sounds in general phonetic terms. Secondly, they will become familiar with the object of phonology. Thirdly, the students will acquire some elementary knowledge about the phonotactics and syllabification rules of English. It is strongly recommended that the students also read the full course of lectures to be published. Introduction Phonetics and phonology are two related branches of linguistics, the science which studies language. Phonetics deals with the physical aspect of human speech sounds: their production, transmission, and reception. Phonology examines the functions of sounds within a language, as well as the way they combine in syllables and other stretches of speech. Speech sounds Speech sounds are the sounds we produce when we want to communicate, i.e., 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 ability allows human languages to be (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 organised. 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 characterise 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 realise 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 [] and the corresponding sound in dare [d] because the former sound does not belong to the inventory of sounds of his own language. A similar lack of correspondence between the Romanian and the English sound systems stands behind the way the English vowel [] is rendered in Romanian in neologisms, e.g. in the way the name Lassie is pronounced Romanian [lesi]. Since there is no [] sound in Romanian, our language replaces it with the sound [e], which is the most similar to [] 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, 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 mother-language they all emerged from in our example: Latin.

The International Phonetic Alphabet The invention of the first alphabet marked a major breakthrough. Other systems of writing (ideographic, syllabic) had already been in use for a very long time. As compared to them, an alphabet is much more economical, as it starts from the idea that every sound should be represented by one symbol, a letter. Since, as stated above, there is only a small set of sounds employed in a language at a certain moment, the number of corresponding letters in an alphabet are also small, and thus easy to master and use. The most employed alphabet nowadays is the Latin one, which has been adapted by many languages according to their phonetic system. Nevertheless, natural languages tend to change, 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 memorise strings of letters which sometimes have one value, sometimes another: 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 characterising 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

Figure 1. The International Phonetic Alphabet

Phonetic Association (in short: IPA see Figure 1), which can be used for the notation of speech sounds from all natural languages. 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 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 [] and [], they use [] and [] 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), palatalised [tj] (a in tune), etc. (see Figure 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: [ 'kt z on 'mt]. 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 colonised territory (e.g., in Hong Kong or South Africa). Standard British English, based on the southern dialects of England, also known as Received Pronunciation (in short, RP), 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). Branches of phonetics Phonetics, as practised 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 travelling 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 by a short presentation of the last two branches. 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. Analysed 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). They have two important characteristics. One of them is frequency, measured in Hertzes (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. (A complete cycle is illustrated in Figure 2 as the movement between the rest points A and B.)
peak x Amplitude A x trough x
Figure 2 Periodic wave


B x

The second important aspect of sounds is amplitude, measured in decibels (db). Amplitude is the maximum distance between the highest point of the wave the peak and the lowest point the trough, and it corresponds to the loudness of the sound. Some speech sounds have constant regular (periodic) vibrations (e.g., the vowels the most musical speech sounds). Vowels consist of bunches of periodic waves with various frequencies. The wave with the lowest frequency is called the fundamental, whereas the

others are called the harmonics of the respective sound. Together they make up the acoustic spectrum. The fundamental frequency is produced by the vibration of the vocal cords, whereas the harmonics are due to the resonating qualities of the vocal tract above the larynx: the pharynx and the oral and nasal cavities, whose shapes can be modified during the articulation. Other sounds consist in irregular (aperiodic) vibrations (e.g., the voiceless consonants the noisiest speech sounds). 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.
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. These areas are still open to research. However, one thing is clear, namely that the human auditory ability is imperfect, both physically and psychologically. On the one hand, our hearing mechanism is limited to an auditory field ranging from the frequency of roughly 20 Hz to that of 20000 Hz. The optimum range of sensitivity is between 600 Hz and 4200 Hz, with a tendency to diminish with age. Similarly, our auditory ability is also related to the loudness (amplitude) of the sound. If the amplitude and frequency of a sound are lower that the range perceptible by the ear, the sound will not be heard. If, on the contrary, the amplitude and frequency are higher, the sensation of the hearer will be that of pain, because of too much pressure on the eardrums. On the other hand, in the act of audition, we interpret 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 recognising (and reproducing) the difference between the vowels [ ] in but and [:] in father, because Romanian language uses only one single low vowel in its vocalic system, with no distinction of length. 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. Articulatory phonetics The physical processes involved in the production of speech sounds are the domain of articulatory phonetics, which uses numerous data from human anatomy and physiology in its descriptions. This is 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 is carried out through the vocal tract (see Figure 3 for a schematic illustration of the anatomic parts involved in the process).

Figure 3 The vocal tract and articulatory organs

Airstream mechanisms The airflow initiated in the lungs follows the direction of the trachea (windpipe), larynx (in the Adams 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.). However, there are also other possibilities: e.g., the airflow may be moving inwards (ingressive airstream as when uttering a gasp of astonishment). In the following discussion, we will assume that the airstream mechanism is pulmonic egressive. Voicing In the larynx, 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 arytenoid cartilages (which cause the protrusion called the Adams 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 [kes]. 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 [gez]). 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 practise, try to articulate the voiced fricative consonants [z] or [v], contrasting them with their voiceless pairs [s] and [f]. 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. Some sounds (the sonorants) involve a relatively large degree of resonance (or sonorance or sonority). Other sounds (the obstruents) involve much less sonorance. Obstruents are noisy consonants produced by a sudden burst of sound or by friction, whereas sonorants are more like pure, musical sounds. The most sonorous sounds are the vowels. In English all sonorants are voiced, while the obstruents can be either voiced or voiceless. 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 of the palate (the roof of the mouth) (see Figure 3). 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. 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 roof of the mouth (the palate) and the pharynx wall. By convention, the palate of the mouth is further subdivided into the alveolar ridge (the gum ridge), the hard palate, the soft palate (velum) and the uvula (the fleshy tip of the soft palate, used, e.g., in the articulation of French uvular r [ ]). 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 (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 sound [] in cheat). 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 (containing the sound []) and cat shit (containing the sequence [t+ ] noticeably longer than the previous one). Apart from fricatives, there are some other sounds which can be characterised as continuant: the frictionless continuants or approximants, which are divided into two groups: glides and liquids. The glides are closely related to the corres-ponding high vowels. The liquids are laterals and rhotics (i.e., l and r sounds). In the articulation of vowels (e.g., the middle sounds in fish [], bad [] or boot [u:]), the air flows out unhindered because the articulators are more or less wide apart. Fortis and lenis Fortis consonants are produced with a greater articulatory effort and a greater air pressure required by a greater 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. 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 the following description). etc.). 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.). (Inter)dental the teeth and the tongue tip/blade (e.g., [], [], Rom. [t], [d], etc.). Alveolar the alveolar ridge and the tongue tip/blade (e.g., [t], [d], [s], [z], [n], [r], [l],

Alveo-palatal the alveolar ridge/hard palate and the tongue blade (e.g., [ ], [], [], []). 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], [], etc.). Uvular the uvula and the tongue body (dorsum) (e.g., [ ] 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 (or 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 a group (see Table 1).
Table 1 Place of articulation groupings LABIAL Bilabial Labiodental CORONAL Dental Alveolar Alveo-palatal Retroflex Palatal DORSAL Velar Uvular GUTTURAL Pharyngeal Glottal

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., palatalised (e.g., [tj] in Romanian peti fish (pl)), labialised (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 labial-velar glide [w] in wife). English consonants Obstruents Plosives

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 noted as [t5] and [d5], with a little tooth-like diacritic under the main symbol). Plosive (IPA) [p] [b] [t] [d] [k] [] [] 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, bottle

The glottal stop [] has been compared with a slight cough. It is articulated by complete closure of the glottis (the opening between the vocal cords), followed by a sudden release of the airflow by relaxing the vocal cords. It can be heard in many British English varieties (e.g., London, Manchester, Glasgow, Edinburgh, etc.) and in some varieties of North American English (in New England). It has no voiced counterpart because the vocal cords cannot vibrate when they are in contact. Under some circumstances, voiceless stops may be completely replaced by glottal stops: e.g., in bu[n/] (button) (where the diacritic [ / ] under [n] marks the syllabic nasal); si[ g]uy (sick guy); cu[ s]lice (cut slice); ca[] (cat); pa[]er (patter), 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 in be []attentive!. 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 unaspirated), 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:sth]:ks] and pea stalks [pi:st]: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. 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. 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 [], as in Fuji, the Spanish voiced bilabial [], as in deber owe, the German voiceless palatal [], as in sich self, the Greek voiced velar [], as in []ata cat (see also the IPA chart).

Fricative (IPA) [f] [v] [] [] [s] [z] [] [] [h] Distribution

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

Most of the English fricatives occur in all positions (word-initial, word-medial and word-final). Words beginning with the voiced interdental [] belong to a small set of articles and adverbs, such as the, that, there, etc. Other fricatives with only limited distribution in English are [], [h] and [x]. The voiced alveo-palatal [] never occurs word-initially (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 or rouge. In word-final position [] may vary with the affricate [] (e.g., garage, beige, 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 [] 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. Affricates There are only two affricates commonly used in English, both alveo-palatal: voiceless [] (as in charity, teacher, catch) and voiced [] (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 ar country, or the Italian voiced dental [dz] in zio uncle. Sonorants 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 [], as in sing. The English velar nasal [] 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 [], as in French ga[]er (gagner) to win, Spanish ni[]o (nio) child, Italian o[]i (ogni) every, etc.). Liquids 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 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 [] (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[], ki[]t, ratt[]). This secondary velar articulation has given the alveolar sound the description dark l. 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 2). 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. In the articulation of the alveolar trill (or roll) [], 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) [] (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 second one. The tap (or flap) [] is also the intervocalic sound in North American English pattern, etc.
Table 2 Various types of rhotics Rhotic (IPA) [] [ ] [ ] [] [ {] [] Place and manner of articulation alveolar trill/roll alveolar tap/flap alveolar approximant retroflex approximant uvular trill/roll uvular fricative Examples Sp. perro dog, Rom. ra 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 Piafs) French regrette regret French mari husband, High German richtig

The characteristic RP rhotic is the alveolar continuant (or 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. 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 post-vocalic 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 non-rhotic 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 a 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 of upper-class English English, but nowadays it is characteristic of the language spoken, for instance, by the working-class and lower middle-class in South Eastern England. 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 semivowels. 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. There are only two glides in English, as in the majority of languages: the palatal [j] (e.g., in yet) and the labial-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 labial-velar [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 labial-palatal [] (similar to French [y], the front round vowel) (e.g., in lui [] him). Distribution and variation 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 [], 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 [and []. This happens inside words or across word boundaries, e.g. in []une, []uring, as well as in bet

you [b], bid you [b], etc. Similarly, the sequences [s] + [j] and [z] + [j] often combine into the corresponding alveo-palatal fricatives [S] and [Z], e.g. in ti[]ue (tissue), ca[]ual (casual), as well as in ki[]you (kiss you), ama[]you (amaze you). In Scottish, Irish and North American types of English, a sound which is very similar to the labial-velar glide, the voiceless labial-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 variants treat these words as pairs of homophones, both having the glide [w].

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. 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 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 unround 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. []. 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 vowel. For the sake of simplicity, the most common representation of the vowel space takes the stylised 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 4). In Figure 4, 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 []. 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 unround, and 6 to 8 round. 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 round, and 13 to 16 unround. Two more vowels are numbered in the chart: the high central unround 17 [] and the high central round 18 []. There are also other central vowels which do not belong to the inventory of cardinal vowels, but are included in the IPA chart: the central low unround vowel [ ], the central low-mid unround vowel [], the central mid unround vowel [], etc. [] is shaped like an inverted e and is usually called schwa

(pronounced [w]), which is the old Hebrew term for a diacritic indicating a missing vowel (Hebrew writing usually only includes consonants).
1 2 i e 3 4 a 5 Figure 4 The primary cardinal vowels u 8 o 7 6

A few other IPA vowels are important in the description of the English vocalic system. One of them is [] (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 []. IPA [] and [] are the lower, more central, short, and lax counterparts of [i] and [u], respectively, while [] similarly corresponds to [u] (see Figure 5).

Figure 5 IPA vowels (selective)

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. 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 []. At the same time, the two vowels also differ through quality factors: [] 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 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 [a] 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, centring (ending in [], e.g., [] in beard) and closing (ending in [] or in [], e.g., [ ] in voice and [a] in loud). In other languages, e.g., Romanian, there are also rising diphthongs, where the dominant member comes second, e.g., in iarn (winter), iute hot, spicy, ies I go out, coad tail, ceas 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]). 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 [l] milk vs. lin [l:] 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::]. 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 6). 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). [] low-mid, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in check). [] low, short, lax, unrounded (e.g., in cat). Back vowels [u:] high, long, tense, rounded (e.g., in boot).

[] high, more central and lower than [u:]; short, lax, rounded (e.g., in put). [ :] low-mid, long, tense, rounded (e.g., in taught). [ ] low, short, lax, rounded (e.g., in got). [:] low, long, tense, unrounded (e.g., in father). Central vowels [] 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). [:] mid, long, tense, unrounded (e.g., in fur, bird, in non-rhotic varieties of English); in North American English a [] is used followed by an r sound, represented as []. Centring diphthongs [] e.g., in fear. [e] traditional RP (e.g., in fair); nowadays reduced to [:]. [ ] traditional RP (e.g., in oar); nowadays reduced to [ :]. [] e.g., in poor or tour. Diphthongs falling to [] and to [] [a] e.g., in pie. [ ] e.g., in coin. [e] e.g., in play. [a] e.g., in cow. [@] e.g., in know.

Figure 6 RP pure vowels

Phonology 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 organised 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 analyse a phonological process without taking into account its phonetic characteristics. Segmental vs. suprasegmental phonology Sounds are not always seen as independent segments, since they are usually organised in higher, more complex structures. If the 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 organisation, he does it from the perspective of suprasegmental phonology. Suprasegmental phonology studies units of speech larger than sounds, e.g. syllables, metrical feet, phonological words, phrases and sentences, and phenomena which characterise them, such as pitch, stress, tone, intonation, rhythm etc. Segmental phonology

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, , p] with slight, almost imperceptible differences every time he utters the word (as proven by 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 realisations or materialisations 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 generally, 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 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 (unaspirated) (/ph/ and /p/), as, e.g., in /pha/ to split and /pa/ forest. We know they are different because they contrast: when one is replaced by the other in a word there results a different word with another meaning (the substitution or commutation test). Such two words are said to make up a minimal pair, i.e., a pair of words that differ in just one respect (e.g., English /pn/ pan vs. /bn/ 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 [(pr] vs. pleasure [(pl] we can see the contrast between // and //, though the two words also differ by another opposition (between /r/ and /l/). In this case, the immediate phonetic environment is [(__] for both // and //. 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 realisations of the same phoneme. For instance, English [h] is always syllable-initial, while English [] is only syllable-final, but physically they are completely different: one is 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 7.

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 organised in the respective language).





/ph/ phonological level (phonemes)



[p] [ph]

phonetic level (phones)

Variants (or phones) can be of different types, depending on their distribution (i.e., their occurrence in different environments or contexts). For example, the aspirated and the unaspirated [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 /n/ - 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 realisation of one phoneme in various dialects of the same language or in one persons speech, in different situations. Free variants are context-free and are not supposed to lead to meaning contrasts: e.g., Northern English [md] mud vs. Southern English [md] (regional variants); [pli:] please vs. [pli:z] (uttered by a lisping person).

The syllable 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. mas table, meal [][]), where the Greek letter 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 basic or core syllable. A syllable ending in a vowel is called an open syllable, whereas a syllable ending in one or more consonants is referred to as a closed syllable. Native speakers are able to recognise syllables as phonological units in their own language according to the characteristic well-formedness 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 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 syllable-initial position are often unacceptable in syllable-final position and vice versa e.g. the Romanian consonantal sequence [] 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 [] off the first syllable and including it in the second syllable: [][][]. 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: [][a][]. Syllable structure 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 recognise 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:

sonority profile

The final [] is a sonorant consonant which is neither preceded nor followed by a more sonorous segment (the previous consonant [] is less sonorous, and there is no following segment). This is why [] forms a syllable peak (is syllabic), just as the vowels [], [], 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 [], button [], etc. Even fricatives may be syllabic in English (though only in fast speech) e.g. the pronunciation [] for suspicious, or the interjections psst! [] and ssh! []. 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) 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). 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 an 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 [t st]. 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 s t

As we will see, not all cases are as easily accountable for as this one. Syllables like skips [skps] or streets [st i: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:

This is a feature of English phonotactics, which allows for consonantal groups such as [sp ], [st ], [sk ], [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 (see also the Appendix). Like many other languages, however, English 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], [], [], [], [] etc., which are disallowed. The onset-rhyme theory Adepts of the onset-rhyme theory analyse the syllable as consisting of two immediate constituents: the onset, 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 verse e.g. think of the segments shared by the mono-syllabic words [], [d] and [kl]. Various arguments have been advanced in favour of dividing the syllable into these two constituents, 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, on the one hand, and poetic rhyme, on the other hand. 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 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 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. a. heavy Rhyme angina b. heavy Rhyme arena c. heavy Rhyme agenda d. light Rhyme 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. A rhyme consists of a nucleus (usually a vowel) and a coda (one or more consonants). This accounts for the following syllable representation: O N R Co

to which we can associate segments. Consider, for instance, the onset-rhyme representation of the monosyllabic word [kes] below: O N R Co

k Syllabification

Principles of syllabification Nucleuses are the most important components of syllables, so they are to be granted the role of syllable heads. Syllabification (i.e. the parsing of segments into syllables) begins by marking the nucleuses (the peaks) see e.g. the syllabification of the words [] and [] below and continues by selecting the onsets. a. N N b. N N N

The intervocalic [] in [] 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 [at].) a. O R O R b. O R O R O R

The second principle which applies in onset fulfilment is that of onset maximisation: 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 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 maximisation principle applies in the examples above are the clusters [] and []. 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 *[], which is not a well-formed English consonantal cluster; it has to be split in the syllabification, so that [] is assigned to the coda and [] to the onset. a. O N R O R N Co b. O N R O R N Co O R N

Phonotactic constraints (those rules which restrict the set of permissible combinations of segments in a certain language) are thus essential in syllabification. 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 [ ] and knapweed [] the sequences [] and [] are not good clusters, because they can never occur in the onset of a word-initial syllable there is no word starting with [] or [] in English. Consequently, we have to ignore the sonority sequencing generalisation and the onset maximisation 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: O N R Co O N Co R

Recommended further reading

Mara Von Schaik Rdulescu, A short introductions to phonetics and phonology, Editura Fundaiei Romnia de Mine, Bucureti, 2003. Mateescu, Dan (2002). A Course in English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti, Editura Universitii Bucureti. Prlog, Hortensia (1997). English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti: ALL. Rdulescu, Mara-Octavia (2001). An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti, CREDIS.
Further reading

Carr, Philip Phonology. London: Macmillan, (1993). Chioran, Dumitru, English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti, Editura Didactic i Pedagogic, (1978). Chioran, Dumitru & Lucreia Petri, Workbook in English Phonetics and Phonology. Bucureti, Editura Didactic i Pedagogic, (1977). Davenport, Mike & S. J. Hannahs, Introducing Phonetics and Phonology. London, Arnold, (1998).

Ewen, Colin J. & Harry van der Hulst, Phonological Representation. An Introduction to the Structure of Words. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (1999). Ladefoged, Peter, A Course in Phonetics. 3rd edn. New York, Harcourt Brace, (1993). Roach, Peter, English Phonetics and Phonology, 2nd edn. Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, (1993). Roca, Iggy & Wyn Johnson, A Course in Phonology. Oxford, Blackwell, (1999). Spencer, Andrew, Phonology, Theory and Description. Oxford, Blackwell, (1996). 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 volumes Cambridge, Cambridge University Press