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Sounds in Connected Speech
The previous lectures focused on the features of sounds in isolation, the
‘segmental phonemes’. Yet, the sounds of a language are not uttered in isolation,
independently of each other. They form larger linguistic units: syllables, stress
groups, utterances. An utterance appears to the listener as a continuous stream
of sounds which does not consist of clearly distinguishable segments, but as a
continuum of sound features in constant state of transition.
Task: Listen to a language you do not know. Can you tell how many words
there are in the short message that you’ve heard?
Could you mark the word boundaries?

The present lecture will discuss the ‘supra-segmental’ features of speech.

1. Modifications of English Phonemes in Connected
Variations in the articulation of English sounds are mainly of an allophonic
nature, i.e. the sounds may lack one/ more of their non-distinctive features, or they
may acquire some other features characteristic of neighboring sounds. In certain
situations, however, these modifications may be of a phonemic nature.
Thus, in rapid, colloquial pronunciation light candles and like candles may
sound alike, by neutralizing the opposition between /t/ and /k/.
One of the main factors that induces change in the quality of a speech sound
– producing allophonic variations of that sound – is the linguistic environment,
or linguistic context, in which it occurs. In other words, the quality of a speech
sound is influenced by those of the sounds that precede and/or follow it.
For example, the plosive, alveolar, lenis, voiced consonant [d] is:
 labialized in dwell because of the subsequent rounded semivowel [w];
 in die [dai] the lips are spread because of the open unrounded vowel [a]
which follows;
 it is slightly palatalized in dupe [dju:p] = fraier, om pacalit, because the
semivowel [j] which follows is palatal;
 in drain [drain] = canal, jgheab, scurgere, it is retracted because of the post
alveolar [r];
 in reindeer ['reindiə] it is slightly nasalised by the preceding [n]; etc.
The major supra-segmental phenomena by which neighbouring speech sounds
affect one another's quality are assimilation, elision and juncture.

Modifications of the English Vowel Phonemes
The articulatory and acoustic features of vowels may be modified by
neighboring consonants. The most important modifications imply:
 Degree of opening
 Place of articulation
 Nasalization
 Variation of length

Modification of English Consonant Phonemes


released nasally. dogs [dɒgz]). with him [wiðhim] is pronounced [wiθhim].g.g.g.e. Assimilation Most allophonic variants can be explained by reference to the mutual influence of English sounds resulting in this phenomenon. too. can bring is uttered [kæmbriŋ] open mouth is pronounced ['əupm'mauθ].g. /p/. e. n.g. • manner of articulation: 2 . it is a way to achieve economy of articulation movement. although they will undergo a reciprocal influence. the alveolar /t/ that precedes it becomes dental.g.g. -s is pronounced /s/ after a voiced lenis consonant (e.a phoneme is influenced by the immediately following one. i.g. influence one another in an effort to achieve some degree of similarity. of course [əv'kɔ:s] becomes [əf'kɔ:s].The most important modifications in the articulatory features of English consonants imply:  Voice.  e. alveolar /n/ becomes bilabial under the influence of the subsequent bilabial /p/ or /m/. too. too. they've told me [ðeiv'təuldmi] becomes [ðeif'təuldmi]. in rapid speech. granpa is pronounced ['græmpa:]. cream. Progressive.e. /k/: caps [kæps]. For speakers. the speaker pronounces a sound with the characteristics of the one that follows:  e. 3. train (/r/ is partially devoiced under the influence of /t/. when a phoneme influences the immediately following one:  e. /g/: coins [kɔinz].  The nature of release: unreleased. There is always an assimilating phoneme and an assimilated one. Regressive . etc. books [buks]) and /z/ after a voiceless fortis consonant (e.g. alveolar /n/ becomes bilabial /m/ under the pressure of the following bilabial /p/. so /s/ turns into a voiced sound. in rapid speech. • place of articulation:  e. e. don’t you ['dəuntju:] becomes ['dəuntʃu:] because the bilabial plosive /t/ and the palatal semivowel /j/ fuse. Double (reciprocal) . in not that ['nɒt'ðæt].  e. r/ the nasals /m. while /t/ itself becomes post-alveolar under the influence of /r/). It is the phonetic process by means of which two or more phonemes when joined together.g. A.g.g. i. and the semivowels are partially devoiced when preceded by voiceless stops or fricatives within the word: play.g. i.g. released laterally. There are three types of assimilation: 1. and an ease of pronunciation of the respective phonemes. the liquids /l.g.  e. Assimilation can affect: • voicing and force of articulation:  e. ŋ/. released with aspiration. 2.  e. E. /n/.e. bacon.  e. turning into the affricate palatoalveolar /tʃ/. granpa is pronounced ['græmpa:]. open may be pronounced [' əupm] because the bilabial /p/ forces the subsequent /n/ to become bilabial. /v/ becomes /f/ when followed in the next word by a fortis consonant. this shop (assimilation of /s/ to /ʃ/). dismiss [dis'mis] is pronounced [diz'mis] because /m/ is voiced.  e. under the influence of the dental fricative /ð/.the phonemes influence each other to an equal extent:  e. /ð/ becomes /θ/ if the following word begins with a fortis consonant. or within the word boundaries. in anticipation of a certain speech sound.g.

g. wrinkle. l/ in listen. pronounced ['gun'nait]. i. Certain sounds. were lost at an earlier date in the history of English. sixth. especially when situated in clusters. and a ‘close’ juncture. grandpa [grænpa]. In present day English. 2. /æ/ in man is nasalized by the surrounding nasal consonants. word or clause.g.  e. /k/ or dark /ł/are usually dropped when they are medial in a three consonant cluster:  e. clothes. Elision of consonants. more specifically to /ə/ and /i/. The most obvious junctural feature is silence. handbag [hænbæg]. etc. Types of Juncture 3 . /p/ in park /p/ is pronounced with the lips spread because the adjacent vowel sound /a:/ is pronounced with spread lips. in would you ['wudju:] the plosive /d/ fuses with the semivowel /j/ and together they produce the affricate /dʒ/ (['wudʒu:]).g. and /f/ may also be lost when occurring in clusters which are extremely difficult to pronounce: fifths.Juncture ‘Juncture’ is a term used in phonology to refer to the phonetic boundary features which may demarcate grammatical units such as: morpheme.Crystal:1992) There have been several attempts to establish a typology of junctures. Thus /t/. /d/. literary ['litərəri] becomes ['litrəri]. asked [a:st].g. We shall mainly discuss the distinction between ‘open’ (or ‘plus’) juncture. Elision Sounds may often be omitted altogether. as a matter of fact [æzə'mæt(ə)rəv'fækt].g. but in connected speech this feature is not as common as the use of various modifications to the beginnings and endings of grammatical units.  e. cons. • the position of the lips:  e. / ð/. It is restricted to unaccented syllables. usually transcribed with a plus sign: <+>. handsome.  e. calm.  e. or the initial consonant in know.g. /t. February ['februəri] is pronounced ['febrəri]. etc. often. natural ['nætʃ(ə)rəl]. C. /d/ in good night can be completely nasalized. Elision of vowels.g. /p/ in pork is pronounced with rounded lips because the following /ɔ:/ is rounded. and their loss does not destroy the intelligibility of the word to which they belong. police. Syllable elision. used to ['justu]. B. • nasality:  e. final consonant in autumn.g.e.g. the elision of consonants is restricted to certain sounds (mostly alveolar) situated in consonant clusters. 1. friendship. referring to the normal transition between sounds within a word. e.  e. especially when they occur in clusters which are difficult to pronounce or when they occur in unaccented syllables. island. all right [əu:'rait]. Alveolar sounds /θ/. s. Elision of final /t/ or /d/ presents a special problem when they have morphemic value (phonological realization of {-ed}): They refused to pay is interpreted as indicating past actions only by reference to the linguistic context. reference.g. family [fæm(ə)li]. last time [la:s'taim].+ a liquid + / ə/= / ə/ is lost: beverage.  e. kindness. 3.. (D.

book-case. the two pronunciations are distinct because:  the syllable [kən] is longer and more sonorous in the first example. however. or the larger context. such as:  e. The merging of stages is the simplest way of joining sounds together. [ðə'weitə'kʌtit] can be the way to cut it or the waiter cut it. The 1st sound penetrates not only into the initial stage but also into the middle stage of the subsequent sound. This type takes place between sounds of similar nature (hoped. In rapid speech. two vowels).  e. is longer than [ei] in waiter. The distinction is due to a close juncture to [i:] in illegal and an open one in ill eagle. but with differences of sound quality. where it is a modal verb. These juncture phenomena usually mark words or morpheme boundaries. the distinction is obvious because:  [ei] in way. It consists in the merging of the release stage with the onset of the immediately following one. pray). There will. act. being in word-final position. The type takes place between two sounds which are sufficiently different from one another to require a significant movement of the speech organs from one position to another (a consonant and a vowel. place.g.g. Repeated Sounds.There are three stages in the production of any given sound when produced in isolation:  An initial stage: onset  A medial stage: retention/hold.: [aikən'si:l] can be I can seal or I conceal.  e. the distinction is marked by:  [au] in house is shorter because it is followed in the word by fortis /s/. while in the second it is only an unstressed syllable of a word. as it is a notional verb. words and utterances depends on the degree of similarity between the respective sounds. should do. There are other factors to provide a clue for distinguishing between these minimal pairs. [ei] in waiter is shorter because it is followed by a fortis consonant. while in the second it is only part (a syllable) of a word. vowel + vowel etc. This can be proved by comparing phonologically identical sequences of sounds.g. That is to say. cons+ vowel. The manner in which sounds are linked together in order to form syllables. which consist of the same number of phonemes arranged in exactly the same succession. the two utterances are made distinct by the fact that: 4 . like grammatical structure. 2. stop playing. [haustreind] can be house trained or how strained = incordat. two consonants. A special case of interpenetration takes place when two identical sounds are joined together: part-time.  e. be many types of junctures in English. and yet we can distinguish linguistic units on the basis of certain phonetic changes in the quality of the phonemes.  moreover.  the syllable [si:l] is also longer and more prominent in the first example. there is generally no silence to separate words. however.  [au] in how is longer because it is in word-final position.g. Consider: illegal / ill + eagle. The transition from one sound to another is slower and gradual. [aiskri:m] can be ice-cream or I scream. accordingly. and  A final stage: release. 3. phonemes are pronounced differently at word boundaries. English allows various possible phoneme combinations: cons + cons. The interpenetration of stages is a much closer type. We can group them into the following main types: 1. robbed.

traindrain). despite the psychological reality of the syllable. less by the opposition /s/ . both in their mother tongue and when listening to a foreign language. The Syllable. auditory and acoustic. based on the prominence or degree of sonority of the various sounds in the stream of speech. Henry Functional Load In establishing the total number of English phonemes. 2. then. they). For instance the phoneme /ð/ is much more frequent than /θ/. It also depends on the frequency of the words themselves. From the articulatory point of view. Accent. evidenced by the fact that speakers usually arrive at fairly common decisions when asked to divide words or utterances into syllables. Frequency of occurrence does not depend exclusively on the number of words distinguished by a given contrast. The Syllable What listeners can identify with more ease. Other factors of the modifications of English consonant phonemes:  Position of the lips. is a higher unit.  Position of articulation. caught. The alveolar sounds are quite unstable and their realization may become: Dental + dental sounds: lead the way Post alveolar + post alveolar /r/: trade. three and twelve syllables respectively. speakers of English would generally agree that meadow [‘medou]. yet. a satisfactory definition of the syllable is yet to be given. Rhythm A. it was maintained that the existence of a single minimal pair is enough to give phonemic status to two sounds. The occurrence of a phoneme in few high-frequency words may outweigh the occurrence of another phoneme in many low-frequency words. dangerous and antidisestablishmentarianism (allegedly the longest word in the language) have two. The Phonetical Syllable  Phonetically. but simply because the words in which it occurs (the. Consonants may be rounded when followed immediately by /w/ or a rounded vowel: twins. a strong proof that speakers are more aware intuitively of the relevance of the former than of the latter. above the sound segment. are themselves much more frequent. Speakers certainly have an intuitive notion of how many syllables each word contains: for instance. goose. This unit above the sound segment level is the syllable. the syllable 5 .  the diphthong [ai] in ice is shorter because it is followed by the fortis  [ai] in I is longer because it is in word-final position. But certain contrasts serve to make more distinctions than others: there are many more English words distinguished by the /t/ ./θ/. It is less easy for speakers to reflect consciously on the internal structure of syllables. The phonemic contrasts which serve to distinguish a more important number of words in the language are said to have a higher functional load than the others./s/./z/. Functional load depends basically on the frequency of occurrence of a particular contrast. swan. and definitely less by the opposition / ð/ . attempts at defining the syllable have been made at all levels: articulatory. Writing has started by representing syllables rather than sounds. already. that. or to decide where one stops and the next starts. not because it appears in more words./d/ opposition (tip-dip. drop.

composed of two syllables. Recognising the difference between the nucleus. phonemes can be grouped into two classes: 6 . cart [ka:t]. its valleys of sonority are represented by the onset and coda. The syllable may therefore be defined as a segment of speech containing a peak of sonority or that stretch of speech between 2 valleys of sonority. worker [’wɔ: kə]. conquest [’kʌŋ kwist]. where we find consonants. the following significant difference is to be pointed out between English and Romanian. and the onset and coda.  In auditory terms. or checked (closed) if they end in a consonant. sudden. on these grounds. Another difference between English and Romanian is related to the syllable types. In English. The succession of phonemes within a syllable or a word (which may consist of one or several syllables) is constrained by the phonological system of the language. The peak of the syllable is usually a vowel which has the highest degree of sonority.i kə ’nɒ mi kəl]. book [buk]. The onset of the syllable is clearly distinguished from the preceding segment in the stream of speech. Phonetically. As far as their ability to make up syllables on their own.g. or [u] and [w] respectively. on the contrary. bacon). Romanian is a language in which free syllables predominate while English is a language of the checked syllable type. they stand out in contrast to them. In English.g. Syllables may be free (or open) when they end in a vowel (they have no coda). In Romanian. but English allows certain consonants as well to perform this function (it is the case of /l/ and the nasals which are syllabic when preceded by a consonant and followed by another consonant or pause (middle.e. With respect to syllable division and syllable boundary. it is more difficult to establish where a syllable ends and the next one begins. it is much easier to determine when the syllable-cut is to be made. syllables seem to be marked by the increases in intensity and (in many instances) of the fundamental frequency of the nuclei over the margins of the syllable.  polysyllabic. /u/ and the glides /j /. which is primarily the domain of vowels. [j] is in the onset and [i:] in the nucleus. Thus. while the glides are [–syllabic].e. as well as in other Romance languages. monosyllabic and disyllabic words have very high occurrence. eat has a coda but no onset.dʌs tri ə lai ’zei ʃn]. be has an onset but no coda. According to the number of syllables. composed of only one syllable. i. industrialization [in . The stream of speech appears to the listener as a continuously undulating flow of sound marked by higher peaks and low points of sonority depending on the inherent qualities of the successive segments. the basic clue of the listener in deciding on the number of syllables in a given utterance is the prominence of certain sounds in the continuous flow of speech. /w/. a cere in casatorie. also casts some light on the relationship between the high vowels /i /. will contain one or more consonants. it is very hard to detect any systematic difference between [i] and [j]. words can be • monosyllabic. e. better [’be tə]. Both the onset and the coda are optional constituents. • disyllabic. composed of more than two syllables. economical [. The peak is its nucleus/centre. A group of sound segments which includes a peak of sonority will form a syllable. and similarly in woo = a curta. etc. Slavonic languages accept long strings of consonants. i. and each. e.has been defined as a puff of the air forced upward through the vocal channel by a compression of the intercostal muscles. however. soften. rhythm. while English – like Romanian – does not. e.  Acoustically. quick [kwik].e. if filled. we can now say that [i] and [u] are [+syllabic]. i.g. so that in ye= voi. and beat has both. In English. [w] is an onset consonant and [u:] a nuclear vowel. Some sounds are more prominent than others and.

struggles ['strʌglz]. • phonemes which cannot form a syllable by themselves and can only stand at the periphery of the syllable. asked [a:skt]. /j/). or stand at the centre of a syllable. sweet [swi:t]. /w/.g. often appear in initial clusters such as:  /tj/. Just as the phonetic syllable. (a) the nucleus The nucleus (or peak) of the syllable is generally a vowel or a group of vowels.e. tower [tauə].g. which function as consonants. e.g. /r/. consisting of one consonant). quite [kwait]. e. twist [twist]. in the word/syllable strong [strɒŋ] – which has the structure CCC+V+C (consonant consonant consonant + vowel + consonant) – the initial consonant phonemes /str/ are the onset.g.e. /kj/. most consonant phonemes. the vowel phonemes and the consonants (/m/. it consists of three segments: a central segment (the nucleus/peak). codas can be made up of two or three consonants. However. the second syllable of inflected words such as: functions ['fʌŋkʃnz]. e. /j/) can stand as peak when preceded by a consonant or followed by a pause or another consonant:  e. or • complex (i. e. tune [tju:n]. an initial segment (the onset) and a final one (the coda). etc. p+l. Two consonant onsets are numerous:  e. /ŋ/. contribute to increasing the number of codal consonant phonemes:  e.  /spl/. The Phonological Syllable In phonological terms. seen [si:n]. /r/. etc. /l/.  /tw/. (b) the onset In English. Even four consonants can appear as coda:  e.g.  e. squeeze [skwi:z]. /ŋ/.g. grasps [gra:sps]. in English.g. as in please. Three consonant onsets are also numerous:  /stj/. For example. /l/. especially the -s and the -ed inflections. the syllable is defined as the lowest phonological construction into which phonemes are combined. stew [stju:].• phonemes which can form a syllable by themselves. The onset and the coda can be: • simple (i. so that they cannot function as onset. e. /ʒ/ and /ŋ/ are the only consonants that cannot appear in initial position. Endings. Semivowels.g. as in still. texts [teksts]. /w/. e.g. cube [kju:b]. the consonants (/m/. /sw/. containing various clusters of consonants).g.]. etc. /n/. Each language has its own rules for combining phonemes into syllables. e. (c) the coda For both monosyllabic and polysyllabic words. These rules imply selection of the phonemes which may occupy a given position and order in their arrangement.g. town [taun]. 7 . etc.  /skw/. thousandth [' θauznd.g. splash [splæʃ]. /n/. s+t. and the final consonant phoneme /ŋ/ represents the coda. ruffled ['rʌfld]. happened ['hæpnd]. the central vowel phoneme /ɒ/ is the nucleus/peak of the syllable. knew [nju:].

bellow /↗ /. is equal to prominence. A distinction has been suggested among others./^/ 3. Secondary accentuation may itself be of two kinds:  Signalled by a change in the pitch level. Pitch accentuation may be of two kinds: primary (nuclear or tonic). Accent. Accent In addition to the segmental phonemes of a language there are also suprasegmental ones. equivalent to weak stress / 8 . a rising one. the ordinary speaker does not distinguish more than two or three degrees. and secondary (non tonic) /kɒ/ (from ‘accomodation’). while the listener perceives the physical auditory correlate of stress. the result of any or all of the four following factors: stress. For the speaker. Of these supra-segmental features. In the words below /bi'ləu/ (prep) and billow /'biləu / (wave). Secondary accent. based on a change in the pitch level equivalent to secondary stress /`/. always associated with a change in pitch direction = /dei/.B. In this course. The greater breath effort implies an increased current of air which renders the respective syllable more prominent./'/ 2. or a combination of the two.e. as defined here. Both English and Romanian are said to be characterized by such a stress. as well as the Romanian words modul and modul. The syllables of a word differ from one another in their degree of prominence in the sense that some stand out in relation to the others by being louder or higher in pitch or having a greater carrying power. This leads to distinguishing four stress phonemes: 1. Jones between 'stress' and ‘prominence’. based on rhythmical and on quality-quantity factors. the accented syllables are accompanied by a change in the pitch direction with which they are uttered: below / ↘ /. by D. Pitch (inaltime a unui sunet) Another component of accent closely related to stress is pitch. Stress It may be defined in the traditional sense as both a greater breath effort and an increased muscular energy in the production of a syllable. Primary accent. Of the various syllables of a polysyllabic word it is the strongly stressed ones that carry the change in pitch direction and the secondarily stressed ones that carry a change in the pitch level: accomodation /əֽkɒmə ′deiʃən /. It consists of pronouncing a syllable on a higher pitch level than the others or in giving that syllable a certain melodic shape: a falling one. 1. the phenomenon of juncture has been dealt with previously. pitch.  Signalled by rhythm and quality-quantity factors. equivalent to tertiary stress. namely an increased loundness of the stressed syllable. display such a difference in the actual prominence of their syllables. stress is equivalent to greater articulatory activity. on account of the fact that these alone will be functional in the language. 4. features which extend simultaneously over a group of sound segments. Although there may be as many degrees of stress as there are syllables in a word. Weak accent characteristic of unaccented syllables. 2. i.e. Tertiary accent. The phenomenon is called stress and it is due mainly to an increase in the force of articulation. the term accent will be used instead of stress. i. based on stress but always associated with a change in pitch direction equivalent to the primary stress. The English words permit (n) and permit (v). quality and quantity in rendering one syllable more prominent than the other.

however. With some languages. some regularity can be noticed: • words of Germanic origin usually have the stress on the first syllable. there is no rule concerning the position of the accent – it may fall on any syllable of the word. with the help of a prefix. 3. /f. etc. z/) are more prominent than plosives (e. English. employee [emplɔ’ji:]. machine [mə’ʃi:n].g. hotel [həu’tel]. have generally preserved the accent on the last syllable. the semivowels) have higher prominence than the other consonants. A better characterization of English will be as a language with a free accent. accent may fall on the last syllable (a'loud).g. mother [’mʌðə]. courage [’kʌridʒ]. negligee [negli’ʒei]. to a certain extent resemble the situation existing in languages with a fixed accent. however. which. etc.  e. 4. for instance. namely it has a great number of monosyllabic words which will carry the accent on their single syllable.g. especially more recent loans. English presents one great advantage. pose a great number of problems to the learner of English. animal [’æniməl]. d/). of the factors contributing to render a syllable prominent. t. • many French words have been "anglicised" and the accent has been transferred to the first syllable:  e.g. increase (n) [’iŋkri:s]. as well as Romanian are characterized as free accent languages.g. a number of accentuation rules applicable to derivate and compound words. However. Polysyllabic words.  e. meaningful part of the word – carry the stress on the next syllable. For the listener.  fricatives (e. s. façade [fə’sa:d]. brother [’brʌðə].g. The Position of Accent The most important difficulty encountered by Romanian students in acquiring the accentual structure of English. There are. b. it is stress that acquires importance in assessing the accented character of a syllable. Quality  generally. v. etc. however. restaurant [’restəra:nt]./.g. is related to the position of the accent. vowels are more prominent than consonants. the most efficient one is pitch variation. even when the prefix is no longer felt to be a separate.  e. the third syllable from the end ('catholic). In English. etc. which possesses however subsystems of fixed accent. advertising [’ædvətaiziŋ]. The speaker feels accents because he uses increased effort and muscular energy in pronouncing certain syllables of a word which are associated with his linguistic usage of the word.  among vowels.  vowel-like consonants (e. • words derived by affixation.g. 9 . in French. In English. the more prominent it is. the more open the vowel. while the least effective is stress. beauty [’bju:ti]. even in unstressed position. it is the last syllable that is always stressed. For the speaker. The Perception of Accent Accent is felt differently by the speaker and listener. father [’fa:ðə]. and especially words borrowed from Romance languages. Quantity Long vowels and diphthongs are prominent./p. • words or phrases of French origin. the last but one ('plastic). the accent falls regularly upon a certain syllable: e.

an important restriction which does not exist in Romanian. Their great majority are of Romance origin: attorney general. ’Knight ’Templar.aut’stændiŋ]. There are however several basic differences. The interplay of primary and secondary accent keeps apart more than two-word pairs of noun phrases as the following: American history teacher (history teacher who is American) 10 . ‚self-determi’nation.  e. etc. • longer words. • in some cases. especially when the first syllable is a prefix:  e. ’queen-’mother.g. / u /.g. secretary general. Compare: photograph-fotograf. The latter pattern may also be used for making compounds which form a closed paradigm which can be learned by heart as a list of exceptions. The pattern οo is extremely often used for compound words. appetite-apetit.g. however. symptomatic-simptomatic. even though it may not be the main element. as far as the accent is concerned. while the ο pattern o is typical of Noun phrases. /əu /.tipic in Romanian. / i /.crosswords (puzzle) Mad doctor (who is mad) .French teacher (a T who teaches French) E. etc. when the second or third element carries the main idea of the compound. when situated in final position and syllabic / l /. as their structure (N + Adj. not shared by Romanian is its frequent use of secondary accent in polysyllabic words. + noun) is pronounced [’blu:bɜ:d]. misunderstanding [’misʌndə’stændiŋ]. both stresses are primary:  e. • even longer and more complex compounds carry the primary stress on the first element:  e.g. which keeps apart such pairs as: French teacher .g. It follows that the main function of accent is morphological in English (to indicate the transition from one part of speech to another) and both morphological and lexical in Romanian. engineer [.blu: 'bɜ:d]. though. Only / ə/.nothing.endʒi’niə]. about [ə’baut]. There is also a slight difference between English/Romanian accent from the functional point of view as well.import (v) in English and tipic . In compound words. / n / can occur in unaccented syllables in English. which bear the stress on the second or third syllable. etc. misinterpret [’misin’tɜ:prit]. e. princess royal. the stress falls on that element.sɜ:kju’leiʃn]. Another peculiarity. The phonemic nature of accent in both languages will be proved by such minimal pairs as import (n) .  the free combination blue bird is stressed [. outstanding [. • when both elements of a compound are equally important. both carry primary stress:  e.greenhouse (glass building for plants). the compound bluebird (adj. often with a secondary stress on the first word:  e. the English accent displays a lexical function owing to the interplay of primary and secondary accent.g. Romanian behaves very much like English. forget [fə’get].not. ’Lord-’Chancellor. for’get-me-. notary public. this is what distinguishes a compound from a free combination of words. echo accent which is not present in the Romanian words. The most important one is the reduction of vowel sounds in unaccented syllables.g. may have a secondary stress on the first. become [bi’kʌm].round.mad doctor (psychiatrist) Green house (which is green) . etc. the accent usually falls on the first syllable. English words possess a secondary. / m /.g: cross words (angry words) . ’merry-go-. ‚waste-’paper-‚basket.  with compound words.) is completely contrary to the normal word order in English. circulation [. ’good-for-. • nevertheless. ‚do-it-your’self. court martial.

numerals. The foot & the rhythm of speech When listening to a poem. for example. [bau] = a large branch of a tree.g. of. Take. so as to emphasize or highlight a certain idea:  e. demonstrative. [dəu] = aluat Listening to it.American history teacher (teacher of American history) Accent in connected speech The logical relevance and grammatical role of a word in a sentence is closely related to its importance for the utterance. Both John ’and [ænd] Mary will have to go. e. the speaker wants to emphasise the fact of his being a teacher.g. (1)  I ’don’t think he [(h)i] knows about it. adverbs. In the first case. predicative usage does not.g. both vowels and consonants become shorter and less prominent. accent may also vary according to the word’s/unit’s syntactic function: attributive usage requires stress. This is because some of the syllables are strong. [ə] can stand for a. the speaker merely declares his profession. so the verb am is not stressed. conjunctions. the speaker may stress a form word. and is pronounced [ænd] when it is stressed and [n] in unstressed position:  e. however. her. or salient 11 . auxiliary and modal verbs. adjectives. etc. are. relative. we can distinguish two classes of words: • content words. but becomes [i] in rapid speech (e. I ’am [æm] a teacher. one can hear a succession of beats which occur at fairly regular intervals. it is quite easy to distinguish units that are larger than the syllable. or.g. …  are: They’re [ðeə] here. ’He [hi:] is to blame for it. In connected speech. personal.  ’fish and chips [’fiʃ(ə)n‚tʃips] Consequently. Thus. These are valuable ’paintings (paintings in attributive usage)  These paintings are ’valuable (in predicative usage)  ‚second hand ’books (book in attributive usage)  I ’got the books ‚second ’hand (predicative usage) C.  her: I told her. so the verb is stressed. 1). (2) Similarly.g.g. these two lines: I take it you already know Of tough and bough and cough and dough? … [tʌf] =strong.g. 2):  e. In unstressed syllables. which are weak/unaccented: articles. possessive. which are strong/accented: nouns. Sometimes.  e. • form words (or function words). In the second example. he is pronounced [hi:] in a stressed position (e. [ka:f]. many words in unstressed position are made to sound alike. Accordingly. [ai’təuldə]  of: a cup of tea [ə’kʌpə ’ti:]. and are often elided. I(a)m [(ə)m] a ’teacher. notional verbs. interrogative and emphatic pronouns. prepositions. reciprocal pronouns.

The role of the weak/off-beat syllables is to fill the time. take. i. the aspect of sound which we perceive in terms of 'high' or 'low'. But in ordinary communication there is also a sense of rhythm. the accentual pattern of each word has to be learnt 12 . …) is called foot. in  I’m 'pleased to / 'see you.  I’m 'pleased to 'see you. For example. rhythm and intonation are all concerned with the perception of prominence.  So 'nice of 'you to 'let me 'come. al-. Of). mana'gerial (3).ənt] = important (e. rhythmic units. The position of the stress is unpredictable in the sense that. dy. Thus. -re-. rhythmic groups in English have roughly the same duration.g.  So 'nice of / 'you to / 'let me / 'come. the result is a definite sensation of rhythm. while others are weak (e. Unlike Romanian. the following utterances:  ’Reading = 1 stressed syllable + 1 unstressed syllable  ’Reading it = 1 stressed syllable + 2 unstressed syllables  He is ’reading = 1 stressed syllable + 3 unstressed syllables  He is ’reading it = 1 stressed syllable + 4 unstressed syllables The utterances vary significantly as far as the number of syllables. In phonemic transcription. etc. occurring at somewhat regular intervals of time.g. yet the time required to utter them is roughly the same.g. We speak of intonation when we associate relative prominence with pitch. feet are marked off with a slash. in rapid speech. We speak of stress when we are considering the prominence with which one part of a word or of a longer utterance is distinguished from other parts. incompre'hensible (4). it goes along with the first accented syllable (e. palatali'zation (5). Take. This kind of rhythm is called stress-timed rhythm. rhythm is syllable-timed.g. The phonological unit consisting of one strong/salient syllable and the following weak syllable(s) that depend on it (e. for example. the two feet in I’m ’pleased to ’see you are both pronounced in roughly the same time. I 'take it). 'tough and. which stand out by their increased loudness. Since in poems strong syllables occur at relatively regular intervals. even if it is not as obvious as in poetry. tenseness. tough. represent the nuclei of the feet. …).g. consist of two.[‘sei. respectively four. Conclusions Stress. the duration of an utterance is conditioned by the number of syllables uttered. 'take it. a'bove (2). in contrast with some languages. you. We speak of rhythm when we are considering the pattern formed by the stress being perceived as peaks of prominence or beats. duration. to a large extent. there is no single position where the main stress can be expected to fall: ̕answer (1). know. For example. English has a tendency for 'stress-timed' rhythm. as in: I 'take it / 'you al / 'ready / 'know Of 'tough and / 'bough and / 'cough and / 'dough? … When an utterance begins with an unstressed syllable (e. I. The phonological salience of the strong syllable is realized with the help of the accent. carried by the strong/salient/accented syllables. In the same way. I. Such syllables. (thus are perceived as more prominent). …). This is possible because of the simplification and loss of prominence of phonemes in unaccented syllables. In Romanian. The rhythm of speech is given by a succession of beats.e. irrespective of the number of syllables. This is why the foot is also called the rhythmic unit (or rhythmic group) of the language.

the place of the stress varies according to the affixation: 'telegraph/ te'legraphy / tele'graphic. on the one hand and Verb on the other: 'conduct/con'duct. making use of the 'schwa' vowel: [ənd] [ən]. By contrast. 'present/ pre'sent. contrastive stress is capable of highlighting any word in the sentence. with the more recent adoptions and coinages (= inventions). A numerous set of words have an accentual difference in the functions of Adjective/Noun. Speaking about the individual stability to place stress freely. [bət]. English connected speech has stress on the open-class items: nouns. they assume the form that they have as dictionary items [ænd]. adjectives. verbs. adverbs and absence of stress upon the closed-system words accompanying them (pro-N. Under contrastive stress. Native words and early French adoptions tend to have the main stress on the root syllable and to keep it there. Broadly speaking. especially in the case of the closed-system words which are normally unstressed. [əv]. The natural rhythm of English provides rather equal intervals of time between stresses. 13 . article). Stress falls on the syllable before adjectival '-ic': 'phoneme/ pho'nemic and on the syllable before nominal and adjectival '-ian': 'library/ lib'rarian. regardless of what word-formation might add: 'standing / under'standing / misunder'standing.separately. [bʌt]. in the absence of contrastive stress. [wɒz].