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Sevilla, 2005


1.1 Acquisition of an Ll vs. acquisition of an L2 1
1.2 PhonoIogical processes involved in the acquisition of an L2 8
1.3 Contrastive Phonetics 9
1.4 Foreign accent 17 .
2.1 lntroduction 21
2.2 Main Methods 23
.I 2.3 Dingnosliclcsls 28
I 3.1 Phonemes and Allophones : 37
¡ 3.2 Spelling and Pronunciation 40
3.3 Phonemic and Phonetic Transcription 43
3.4 Excrci scs 4ft
4.1 The speech mechanism 53
4.2 Description and cIassification of speech sounds 62
4.3 Exercises 73
5.1 Comparison of Spanish and English systems 83
5.2 Plosives 84
5.3 Fricatives and afTricates 89
5.4 Nasals 92
5.5 Approximants vs. Liquids 95
5.6 Distributional problems 104
5.7 Allophonic variations 106
5.8 SpelIing systems 114
5.9 Excrciscs 11 R
6.1 Comparison ofSpanish and English systems 127
6.2 Vowels 131
6.3 Diphthongs 140
@ Isabcl M" Iiiigo Mora 6.4 Hiatus and syneresis 144
ISBN: 84-()09-6863-4 6.5 Distributional problcms 145
6.6 Allophonic variations 146
Depósito Legal: SE-442 1-05 6.7 SpelIing systems ]47 '
Edita: Fénix Editora. Avda. dc Cádiz, 7 - 1C 6.8 Exercises 151
Telf. 954 412991 - 41004 SEVILLA 7.1 The structure ofthe syllable : 159
7.2 Initial clusters in Spanish anu English 163 PREFAC¡':
7.3 Final clusters in Spanish and Eng\ish 165
7.4 lntrasyllabic clusters in Spanish and English 166
7.5 Juncture 169
This is a textbook in Phonetics and Phonology for Spanísh and J

7.6 Excrciscs , 171

UNIT VIII. LEXICAL STRESS 177 English ·spcakers. It includcs both thcoretical ano practical issucs which
8.1 Prominence 177 aim to help the learners of both languages improve their pronunciation.
8.2 Degrees of Stress 180
8.3 Strong and Weak Fornls 181 The book is divíded into eleven chapters. The jirst ten chapters
8.4 Rules for accentuation in English ]88 are ': review of the main theoretical and practical issues which students
8.5 Rules for accentuation in Spanish 192 of Eng!ishlSpanish shou!d know in order to be ab!e to improve their
8.6 Distinctive Function of Stress 193 pronunciation. In fact, the first two chapters dea! with the prob!ems of
8.7 Exercises 196 the acquisition of second language phonology and with approaches to
UNIT IX. RHYTHM ; 20 1 pronunciatíon teachíng. Each chapter includes a final section of
9.1 Rhythm in English and in Spanish 201 exercises where students can revise their knowledge. Finally, the last
9.2 Weak and Strong Forms of Words 203 chapter comprises a Jist of true/false questions where the student can
9.3 Linking and Pausing: Pause groups 206
update the information provided in all the previous chapters.
9.4 Excrciscs 21 O
1 wish to express IIIY gratitlldc lo alt 01' I11Y stlldellts beeallse as a
1n.1 '1'111' Mcaninl'. 01' Inlonalion 21)
10.:2. '1'!IeSlrllclure 01' aTolle LJllil 218 reslllt 01' Iheir slIggcstions und opinions I huve becn uhlc !o illlprove Ihe

original dran 01' this book. Their ncccssitics al1(l \Vishes have illullIiníllcd
my work.
~~ 10.3 Delinition ofN~lclear Stress: Prominence 220
~ 10.4 Rules for Locatmg Nuclear Stress 220
10.6 Tonality, Tonicity and Tonc 223 Finally, 1 would like to thank Dra. Ma Teresa López Soto, who

0.5 Tone and lntonation Languages
~~.~.i.~~. :::::::::::::::::
also worked on the original draft of this book. Her suggestions and ideas
wcrc of grcat hclp.


To Miguel

1.1 Acquisition of an Ll vs. acquisition of an L2

When a child acquires his Ll (first language), he normally attains an

excellent phonological competence. However, when an adult acquires his
L2 (a second or foreign language), it is possible that he may obtain a
good phonological competence, but it is more than likely that he will
have a noticeable foreign accent which will not disappear (except in the
case somc speakers, after many years of cxpcrience).
So, many linguists mi psycholinguists \Vonder IIbout the reasons I~H'

lhese diffcrcnces. During lhe 1960's many studies showed the sleps
which a speaker follows when learning an LI and an L2. There are
several different theories, which complement each other rather than
oppose each other.

The first thing we have to take into account is that when a child goes to
! school, he has normally acquired a more 01' less full competence of his
i Ll. When a baby starts to talk, he do es so by hearing the sounds his
I parents make and then imitating them. So, obviously, we can observe a
I! close relationship between oUt'hearing and the way we acquire our L l.
!"\ [ Production is highly related to perception. A child develops his
'1 pronunciatignJro1!Lhis developing perceptual system. At first, all babies
I produce common babblings,lITespective of what language they hear. Six
months later, they start to babble in a different way depending on the
spec.ific .Ianguage they ~ear. As ~~jor (~9/9L~r3J,
rece¡ve mput they acqUlre the abIl¡ty to map the vanable speech. waves
onto a finite set of sound categories, which are probably innate and not
language-specific." Eimas (1974) showed that infants can discriminate
Acquisition of a Second Language Phonology Acquisition of a Second Language Phonology

For exampIe, if a Spanish speaker has to pronounce the three English

place and voioing contrastso So, the child's mispronunciations are due to
production difficulties and not to perceptual difficulties because he has words "tin, this, din", he wiII probabIy facei an important difficulty
the right Undcrlying Rcprcscntations of the soundso This is something concerning the initial soundso At a phonological level, the Spanish
characteristic of phonology and not common to semantics, syntax or speaker has onIy two boxes ItI and Idl and the English has three It/, 101
morphologyo When a child is trying to pronounce the sound ISI and he and Id/. And even the common sounds (/t! and Idl) are not articlllated in
utters the sound Is/, he knows that the right one is the first oneo A child's the same wayo Although in both languages Itl is a plosive, voiceless
phonological competence is v'irtualIy the same as that of the adult. But sound and Idl is a plosive voiced sound, in Spanish both of them are
when a child says something Iike: "My mommy love me", he do es not dental sounds whereas in English they are aIveolar.
know that the right sentence is"My mommy loves me"o But as children
grow older they start to lose this "abiIity" to recognise new soundso As ItI Plosive,alveolar Plosive, dental
Major (2001 :56) concludes: "Cross-linguistic speech perception research IdI Plosive, alveolar Plosive, dental
consistentIy indicates that experience with a particular Ianguage is
101 Fricative, dental
correlated with decrease perception for some nonnative contrasts but
increased perception for native contrastso" So, when an aduIt L2 Iearner
learns new sounds, he normaIly does so in terms of his Ll perceptual This means that whenever a Spanish speaker has to pronounce the sound
systemo In this sense, Ll and L2 phonoIogicaI acquisition are very 10/, he wiI\ look for the most similar sound/s in his native language, that
different: "In Ll phonoIogicaI acquisition the child knows what the aduIt is, he wilI go to his set of boxes and wiII pick up one of his sound/so In
NS target is; howevcr, in 1,2 phonological acquisition the learner may 01' th is case, the sounds IU 01' Id/ ..
may not have thc same target as thc adult NS, just as this is truc in L2
morphoIogical and syntactic acquisitiono" (Major, 2001:54)0

O'Connor (1980) also explains that the sounds of our native language do
IlO! Id liS aeqllire Ilew sOllllds alld Ihal is why adlllts el1llll01 piek IIp Ihe
I ItI ItI ,~ I 101-:..-. ------.

So, Ihe O!1ly way lo pronou!1ee lhese !1ew English sOll!1ds eorreelly
e Idl

sounds of a foreign Ianguage as a child cano As he explains, in our native
Ianguage there is a smaII number of sound-units which we combine in o.. to build a new set of boxes corresponding to the sounds of
order to form words and sentenceso As we get oIder, we are dominated by English, and to break down the arrangement of boxes which the
this fixed number of sound-llnits. O'Connor compares these sOllnd-units habits of our native languagc have so strongly huilt up. We do
to boxes ami explains that (1980:2): this by establishing l1ew ways of using our speech organs, new
speech habits. (O'Connor, ] 980:3) .
.. o when we listen to our own language, we hear the sounds and
we put it into the right box, and when we speak we go to the
boxes and take out the sounds we want in the arder we want
Up to this point we have deaIt with two" terms wbich have not yet been
themo And as we do this over the years, the boxes get stronger o o
tluite every
I'€..WJ,.!'! nc!
defined yet. Although It IS taken from gramea '/ student of a
and stronger untiI everything we hear, whether it is our own second language knows the meanings of LI (first Ianguage or native
Ianguage or another, has to be put into one of these boxes, and Ianguage) and L2 (second language), this distinction is not so.
everything \Ve sny comes out of one of them. But every language straightrorwardo LlcÓ (1997:41) defincs an L2 in thc rollowing way: "Sc
hns n di!lerenl nl1lubcr o!' boxes. nmI (hc hoxcs arc arrangcd considcra L2 o Icngua cxtranjera a toda lengua quc sc adquicrc cn cdad
di tTcrent!y o

2 3
Acqui.l'itioll o/ a SecolJd Langllage Phonology Acqllisition o/ a Second Langllage Phonology

, adulta, después de que el individuo~ adquirido ya otra lengua (L!) en la language" when the student is living in a community where thts target
infancia". But this definitionrp~s some problems: What about a child language (TL) is not spoken outside ¡he classroom.
who learns another language different from his 11 when he is only ten? Apart from the L2 and the 11, it is necessary to mention a third "type of
Should this language be called an L2.? It is generally agreed that this language" called Interlanguage2 (IL). According to Lightbown and'
language is an L2 because (mainly in phonology) the acquisition of an L! Spada (1999: 176) an IL can be defined as:
is almost always completed when the child is 4 or 5 years old. However,
it is very difficult to reach a universal agreement about this. McLaughlin
(1978:73) states that if a child acquires two languages before he is 3, it The leamer's developing second language knowledge. It may
could be said that he has acquired two L! s at the same time. And if this have characteristics of the learner's first language, characteristics
process takes place after he is 3, he would have acquired an Ll AND an of the second language, and some characteristics which seem to
L2 in a succession. But this is just one theory. There are cases of be very general and tend to occur in all or most interlanguage
influences of an L1 over another language (an L2?) when the child is systems. Interlanguages are systematic, but they are also
younger than 3 (Lleó, 1995). That is why some authors say that 3 is too dynamic, continually evolving as leamers receive more input and
late. In an experiment carried out by Sebastián-Gallés and Soto-Faraco revise lheir hypotheses abollt (he second langllage.
(1999), a group of highly proficient Spanish-dominant Catalan-Spanish
bilinguals (who had been exposed to Catalan between the ages of 3 and 4,
but who, previous to this age, had been exposed only to Spanish) and Lleó (1995:43) offers the following characteristics conceming the
anothcr group of Catalan-dominant bilinguals (who had hccn cxposcd to phonological acquisition of an L2:
Clllllllln rroll1 birth) were cOll1pared. The results showcd Ihat Spanish-
dominan! bilinguals pcrrorll1ed worsc th:ÚIthe group orCatalan-doll1inant
bilinguals whcn tryingto distinguish L2 phonemic contrastsl. (a) There are cases of substitutions and simplifications in the
Interlanguage (IL). The phonology ofthis IL is much simplcr than
There are two types of acquisition of an L2: guidcd and non-guided (or that of the L2. So, we may find cases of substitutions of some
natural). The first one is related to the learning of a foreign language in a sounds for others, elisions (mainly consonants), insertions, etc.
cláss with a teacher, a methodology, a prograrnme and so on. When (b) There are similarities between the ILs of different learners; in
talking about this type of acquisition, so me authors use the term "to fact they can be grouped according to the L 1.
learo" an L2. The second)s related to a natural context without a teacher (c) There are important differences in the pronunciation of the same
or pedagogical orientation; in this context, the leamer belongs to the speaker.
linguistic coml'l'1W1ityof this L2. This situation is similar to the (d) This process (learning this L2) normally stops at some point and
acquisition of an 11 and for this reason the term "to acquire" an L2 is we speak of fossilization. As Selinker (1972:215) states:
normally used. In fact, some authors only use the term "second
language" in this situation, that' is, when the student is living in the
speech community of this, L2; andothey prefer to use the term "foreign

1 Therprocedure is explainedby
plbcedu'11C l/te- : Sebastián-Gallés
• and Soto-Faraco (1999:111) in
the following way: "We developed a variation of the(g¡iiI~procedure that
inc\uded a two-altemative [orced choice test after each fragment was played. The
dirfercnccs betwecn thc two altcmativcs consistcd ofphoncmic contrasts cxisting 2This tcrm was first introduccd by Sclinkcr (1972). Scc also: Brown (1994),
in Catalan but not in Spanish." Cook (1993), Ellis (1994), Gass and Sclinkcr (2001) ..

4 5
. Fac. Filología· BiblioleciJ
Acquisition ola Second Language Phonology Acquisition ola Second Language Phonology

Fossilizable linguistic phenomena are 1inguistic items, rules, and

subsystems which spcakers 01' a particular NI} will tcnd to kcep For exarnple, all languages have vowels but their nurnber and qualities,
in their IL relative to a particular TL 4, no matter what the age of differ from language to language. As Major (200 1:41) explains, the
the leamer or amount of explanation and instruetion he reeeives following examples are the result of universals, not produets of languag~
in the TL. specifie transfers:

This is something typical of phonology and not eommon to syntax, (a) any L2 learner acquires voieed obstruents in initial position
morphology or semanties. Although we may be approaehing more and. before final position beeause ofmarkedness;
more to the grammar of an L2, we normally stop at a given point in the (b) any L2 leamer may exaggerate the pronunciation of American
phonology of this L2 before we can acquire a native competenee. English Ir! beeause of hypereorreetion;
Fossilization can also be found in grammar but it is mueh more eommon (e) any L2 learner of English whose L1 does not have final
in phonology. One way or the other, we must remember that there are consonants may pronour..ce league as [Iix] because the Ig/
important individual differenees. devoices and spirantizes; .
(d) any 1..2 Icarncr whosc 1.1 docs not distingnish bctwccn Ibl I1l1dIvl
The term Interlanguage is a very interesting one when talking abollt the will tel1d to pronounce the distinction more accllratcly in a \Vord
acquisition ofa second language. According to Major (2001 :4): "oo. an IL list than in a conversation; "
\\ H t ~'~~
,oOo",,i,-, . ("

is a product of and combination of parts of the LI, parts 01' the L2, and beca use 01' constraií1t nínkings, any L2 Iearncr without tinal
universals (that are not already part of LI and L2)." So, this undedying ~ (e) obstruents may produce monosyIlabic words with final voiced
system contains elements due to: (1) negative and/or positive transfers obstruents as disylIabic words, but devoiee these same obstruents
(LI); (2) structures correctly learned from the L2; and (3) errors which
are the result 01' universals 01' language aequisition. The last one is related(íl)
') 7 in disyllabic words.

to the faet that leamers with different language baekgrounds often make
the same mistakes. Aeeording to Chomsky and his followers, Universal The term markedness is a key factor when talking about universals. It is
Grammar.(UG) is composed of principies and parametcrs. Haegeman common to both Ll and L2 acquisition and it is based on implicational
(1991: 14) postulates the following lwo properlies 01' UG:
say that "x is more marked than y if the presenee 01' x implics the

O) UG eontains a set of absolute universals, notions and

,1 lhierarChies
presenee ofandy frequency
but not viee versa." (Major,
of oeeurrenee. 200 I :4::n\
lt is hierarehical In terms
because we can 01'

¡O frequeney,. we can say that x is marked beeause it is unnatural or not

principIes whieh do not vary from one language to the next. mJ<eli ! A~¿6rding to Eekman's (1977) Markedness Differential
Oi) There are language-specific properties whieh are not fully Hypothesis (MDH), unmarked phenomena are aequired before marked
determined by UG but which vary eross-linguisticaIly. For these phenomena. For example, in Ll aequisition, it seems that ehildren acquire
properties a range of choiees is offered by UG. One parameter front unrounded vowels before front rounded ones and, in L2 acquisition,
along which languages vary concems word-order. Spanish-speaking learners of English modify three-member onsets more
frcquently than lwo-mcmbcr onscts (Carlislc, 1997).

3 Nativc Language.
4 Target Language.

6 , 7
AC(jui.l'i/iollola Seco/lcl ¿'IiI};uuge P¡JOIIO~Ogy ACqllisi/ioll ola Second Langllage Phonology

1.2 Phonological processes involved in the acquisition of an L2 , 1.3 Contrastive Phonetics

L1eó (1997) offers the following classification of the most common

iI The first modelused to explain Ihe phonologicnl proccsses of the IL \Vas
phonoh'gical processes involved in theacquisition of an L2: I

Contrastive Analysis (CA). 1t was introduced by Lado (1957) and il
¡ tries to predict al1 the possible difficulties in the acquisition of an L2 and
I these predictions are based on a comparison ofthe phonological systems
(1) Vocalic cpenthesis (Oller, 1974):.We can find this process either ! of Ll and L2. It is a matter of fact that it will be much easier to learn
in consonant clusters 01' just in final consonants. For example I those elements which are similar to Ll (positive transfer) and much
I more difficult to learn those which are different (negative transfer). In
[thari:] for "tree" 01' ,[ séeke] for "sack". In the same way, cases

of elisions may be also found. Tarone (1980) has found that both fact, this negative transfer 01' "interference" is the origin of the
! difficulties involved in the acquisitionof an L2.
processes can be found in a language like English if its syllabic
structure is more complex than that of L l. So, in order to
simplify the syllabic structure, a Vietnamese will tend to elide I Before Lado (1957), Weinreich (1953) had already described seven
one of the consonants in an English final consonant cluster so types oftransfers5• These transfers"are the fol1owing6:
that the final syllable will be CVC.
(2) Substitutions of some L2 sounds: The incorrect sound normally
heIongs to L 1. Sometimes, OJ\C- single sOllnd of L2 ean he (1) Sound Substitution: A Iearner slIbslitlltes an L2 sOllnd rOl" nn
slIbslilllled by dincrent sOllnds in l1n IL. LlcÓ (1997:'15): LI sOllnd which is vcry similar lo this new 501ln<l. Onc cxamplc
when cOll1paring the Spanish a!HI lhe English phonologicaI
[d]-- -
[w]z] . ]
[b/P {&"[,
[5] syslclIIs IIre Ihc English dcntal li"iclllivcs 1(\0/ IIml fhc Spanish
1L..2..=:: I ': 11 1',1b J¡
dental plosives /d,t!. Haugen (1956) terrned sound substitution
as simple identifieation.
(2) Phonological Proccsscs: This refcrs ta the transfer of
allophones. An English speaker would normally use the velar
[ 1] when trying to' pronounce a Spanish clear [1] in
(3) Elisions of unstressed syllables, reduplication 01' harmony are postsyIlabic position.
not normal1y found in the IL. Contrary to what we find in the (3) Overdifferentiation: It refers to those cases where two
acquisition of an, Ll, an L2 do es not start with very simple phonemes of Ll correspond to one single phoneme in L2.
structures, absence of cortsóñant clusters 01' simple syl1ables of Haugen (1956) termed overdifferentiation as convergent. When
the strvd:ure CV. It can start with very complex phonetic comparing the phonological systems of Spanish and English we
structures (in comparison to the acquisition of an L 1) B UT with can find the following examples7:
a strong tendency to simplificátion.

J r

"-u ( ....

Ile uscd Ihe term "inlcrlercncc" ..

They are dcscribcd in Major (200 1:31-2).

'- .ft;'\I.ClllÚ.s
I{' ,¡ I ti
l e

7 When L I = Spanish and L2 = English.

8 9

--'"------~..----------- ..-----------------------------
ACqllisitiOl1 ola Secol1d La"~lIa~e Phol1%f!Y ACQllisitiOl1 ola Second Lan~lIagePhon%f!Y

Spanish English
At an allophonic level, we can find another instance:
If/: rol! ("vibrante múltiple")
Spanish English
Ir/: approximant .
Ir/: tap ("vibrante simple")
[1]: alveolar, voiced, latera¡9 / [1]: alveolar, voiced, lateral
[ 3:] : velar, voiced, lateral
At an allophonic level, we can find another instance:

Spanish English
(5) Reinterpretation of Distinctions: Whereas some features can
be considered primary and distinctive, others can be regarded as
[b] : bilabial, voiced, plosive
---. [b] : bilabial, voiced, plosive
secondary or redundar.t. In American English, the qualitative
tense/lax distinction is considered primary ("beet" [bi:t] vs.
[~ ] :.bilabial, voiced, fricative ~
"bit" [bIt]) and the quantitative di fference is secondary. In
German, the opposite occurs, "bieten" [bi:t;m] vs. "bitten"
(4) Undcrdiffercntiation: It refers to those cases where one single [bIt~n] are considered different due to a difference in length.
phonemc ofLI corresponds to two diffcrcnt phonemes ofL2. It (6) Phonotactic Intcrfcrcncc: It rcfers to differences in syllable
seems that this one presents more problems than
and word structures. For example, although in English it is very
overdifferentiation. Haugen (1956) termed underdifferentiatíon
y as divergent. Some examples8:
frequent to find a word starting with "sp-, st-, sk-", in Spanish
no word has this onset, which explains why Spanish speakers
insert an le/ sound: "estress'" instead of "stress" when speaking
/ .'1)
'. , \ /,' -/ ! i "~- _ •
..' <SClLlllcl "- 1 . r ¡
Spamsh English
(7) Prosodic Interference: It refers to the tendency to transfer
prosodic pattems from Ll. So, a Spanish speaker would use a
~ /s/: alveolar, voiceless, fricative
/s/: alveolar, voiceless, fricative syllable-timed rhythm instead of a stress-timed rhythm when
~ /v: alveolar, voiced, fTicative speaking English.

Moulton (1962) also offered another classíficatíon of transfers when

comparing German and Englísh. He distínguíshed the following types:
(a) phoncmic crrors; (b) phonctic crrors; (e) allophonic crrors; and (d)
distributional errors (phonotactics).

9 This only refers to Standard Spanish because we can also find a velar or dark
[3:] in the Spanish spoken in Cataluña.
8 Also L 1 = Spanish and L2 = English.

10 11
Acquisilion vj ~ ;)ccut/l.i Lw:guage Phon%gy Acquisilion ola Second Language Pho/J%gy
C(., " i,,, , (,

l~lIt alicr a0cw y~ars, :omc c;lIntcrcxamplcs werc attcstcd. Somctimes, • Agc: It has not becn shown Ihat thcrc cxisls H clcar e()rr~lalion
, wherc lhe CA predicted an error, there was, no such error, and it was also bctwecn age and ab¡TIty to pronouncc a secon dI angllagc-. l'
proved that some errors were not due to any type of interference with L 1 • Quantity of cxposition: Thollgh vcry importanl, it docsn't sccm
but to universal factors. For this reason, Wardhaugh (1970) proposed a to be an essential requisite in the development ofthis ability.
distinction between a "strong" and a "weak" version of the CA. The • Pbonetic ability: Every single speaker has what Kenworthy
weak version would explain those difficulties already found when caIls a "basic equipment".
learning an L2 and would be based on real proof. It would make • Id~ntity and ~ttitude: Some studies have shown a relationship
reference to both systems (L 1 and L2) only in arder to explain those between pronunciation and a positive feeling towards the
cases of interference that had been already found. Oller and Ziahosseiny speakers ofthe language being learnt.
(1970) also suggested a "m~derate version" of CA 10. This moderate '; • Motivation for a good pronunciation: it seems to be a good
version is based on the idea that similar phenomena are harder to acquire aid when learning an L2.
than dissimilar phenomena because "whenever patterns are minimally
distinct in form or meaning in one or more systems, confusion may
result." (OIJer and Zíahosseiny, 1970: (86). There are psycholinguistic Nowadays, there are still numerous studiesl3 which, although insisting
reasons which support this idea. It isbelieved that human beings process on the importance of transfers, recognise other factors. The so-caIled
better those stimuli which are salient, and it is obvious that mínimal Loan phollology (Yip, 1(96) is un cxlrcmc cx!\mple 01' Ihis Icndcncy in
difTerences (in contrast to gross difTerences) are less salient and so that it
hardly noticed 11.

AdditionaIJy, some authors such as Mackey (1966) or Tarone (1980) ... uSllally involves a very rudimentary forro of L2 f1~quisition,
havc staled Ihat Ihese conlrasts will not show the real reasons for these
whcrc L 1 trans(cr complclcly dom inalcs. USllally,ioim words IIre
interfcrences if the CA is limited to two languages, LI and L2, only. completely nativized, meaning there is nothing from the L2
Thcrc are important ir:dividual difTercnces in the phonological systems system that is incorporated. This situation is synonymous with a
of learners. Mackey (1966) shows h9W the non-existence of the person whose foreign accent is so heavy that he or she is onIy
phoneme 101 in the French (and Spanish) phonological system do es not using their L1 phonology; that is, the speaker is reaIly speaking
explain the reason why some speakers produce Isl or IzJ and others ItI or the 11 with L210an words. (Major, 2001:136-7).
Idl when attempting to produce this 101 sound.

Apart from the native language, J. Kenworthy (1990:4-9) names So, it seems obvi~us that when a sound of the target Ianguagc is
some important factors in the acquisition of an L2. These are: physically similar to one ofthe native language or is distributed similarly,
it will not be a problem. But when a sound is different, it must be learned
as a different sound. Mott (1996: 126-7) suggests that to find these
different sounds we must compare the two phonoIogical systems by
10S~e also Wode (1983), Young-Scholten (1985), and FJege (1987).
11 This proposal is somchow rclalcd lo Ihe Information Proccssing' modcl of
human learning. According lo this modcl, when a learner is trying to understand
any aspect of the language, first of all he has to pay attenlion to it. Richard 12 This topic will be discussed at greater length in Ihe next seclion. Thcrc is more

Schmidt (1990) supports the idea that every linguistic aspect we learn is first research against than in favour ofthis statement.
noticed consciously. 13 Zampini (1996), Eckman and Iverson (1994), Archibald (1992),

12 13

Acquisition of a Second Language Phonology Acquisilion of a Second Language Phonology.

means of a list or table. Then we take each phoneme of the target (iii) Are the phol1emes and their variants similady distributed?
language separately and ask:
Final consonants in English are difficult for Spa~ish speakers. Although
(i) Does the native language have a phonetically similar phoneme?14 the Spanish phonological system has the phoneme Id/, Spanish speakers
(ii) Are the variants ofthe phonemes similar in both languages? will probably omit it in final jJositions as' in "card, beard, heard". So, it
(iii) Are the phonemes and their variants similarly distributed? seems that this is not an articulatory problem but rather a distributional
(iv) What is the functionalload of each phoneme? one. In the same way, although the combinations [sp,sk,st,sm,sn,sl] are
possible both in English and Spanish, they do not occur initially in
(i) Does the native language have a phoneticalIy similar phoneme?
Spanish. In examples such as "estudiar: español, escuela" the [s] and the
When the native language has a similar phoneme, this will be transferred. [ t], the [p] and the [k] are not tautosy lIabic, that is, they do not be long
Such is the case of Spanish lel and Id! and English ItSI and Id!. If there is to the same syllable. The syllabification of these words is: es-tu-diar, es':,
no closely similar phoneme in the native language, some other less pa-ñol and es-cue-la. For this reason, when the Spanish student of English
similar phoneme from the native stock will be used by the leamer. That is tries to pronounce a word such as "study", he will produce "es-tudy".
the case of English 1hI. The Spanish speaker will normally omit it15 or
substitute it for !-xl. Other new sounds for the Spanish student of English (iv) What is the functionalload of each phoneme?
are Iv,o,z,J,3,d3/. Sounds which are completely new and which cannot be
We can say that a phoneme has a low functionalload when its occurrence
compared to any sound (Le. phoneme or allophone) in the native
is somehow limited and it is not used frequently. That is the case of the
language (e.g. cIicks ofsome African languages for English people) have
to be leanled expressly, with no external hclp. phoneme 13/, which is a phoneme of restricted occurrence because it is
not found in initial position16 and when in final position 17 it altemates
(ii) Are the variul1ts ofthc phol1emes similar in both lal1guuges? with Id3/18. Mott suggests that for this rcasan, \css attention need be paid
to it than to other areas of di ffic uIty in the English phonological system.
One example is the fricative aIlophone ([ (5 ]) of the Spanish plosive Id!.
To conclude this section, let us look at the results of a very interesting
In fact, the plosive realisation of the phoneme Id! is only produced as
empirical study which shows the main areas of difficulty for Spanish
such: (1) in initial position of a phonic group (Le. after pause): "dedo"
speakers, particularly Andalusians. The study was carried out with
[déoo]; and (2) after the nasal [n] and the lateral [1]: "un dedo" [ú~ students who were bctween fifteen and seventeen years old and who
déoo]. But in English there are two phonemes 161 and Id! and so we can receivcd only three hours a week of instruction. The results are shown in
find minimal pairs such as "breeding" and "breathing". A Spanish Cuenca (1996:318-9):
speaker will probably pronounce both words with the sound [6].

14 If the answer to this qucstion is affirmative, we proceed to the following

16 Except for a few French loariwords such as "genre" or "gigolo".
considerations. 17 Also French loan words.
15 In Spanish, this grapheme is mute.
I 18 For example, "beige" can be pronounced Ibe131 or IbeId3/.

t 15
· \,'\
t/('(llIi.l'itiol/ o/u .\'¡·(,o/IIII,(III,L:lla,L:¡· /'//(I/lOIO,I~\'
\v.~0\.ftJ AC(/lIisiliol/ (!f'a ,)'(!CO/li! /,a.'I,,~í/(/g(! /'/Ui/w/ogy

Use of the vowel system of the mother tongue. (100 % students)( J..ucvc!/J1e
/-~ lA Forrign !leernt
Use of the palatal aITricatc instcad
-+'/ 1 l. of th~ English alveolar Ij/: "~, lt
yo u". (53 % students).c-,).(:' -,;J.-i eu. The best way to start this section is to offer Major's (2001:19) definition
3. Use of the Spanish dental plosive instead of the English alveolar: of global foreign accení:
"dear, don't". (85 % students)
4. Use of the paIatal affricate instead of the English palato-alveolar
fricative: "she, share". (52 % students) 0(( When listeners hear another person speaking the listener's NL,
5. Use of the bilabial plosive instead of the labio-dental fricative: "van, consciously or unconsciously they make jlldgcments whcthcr the
vanish" (65 % students) lliL~dif{" : pcrson in a NS or NNS of thcir languagc. The ovcrall impression
6. Use of the voiceless instead of the voiced alveolar fricative: "play s, I concerning NSs form whether or not and to what degree a person
trees" (100 % students) Lkd?I :) I ~ ']sounds native or nonnative is ealled global foreign accent.

7. Use of the
"think, dental(17plosive
8. Wrong pronllncialion
instead of the voiceless dental frieative:,
% sludenls).
01' lhe suflix -ed in lhe simple pasl and pasl
'J,-'P .
..&-( o

The besl wuy lo delccl u roreign or NN accenl is by lislening lo un

9. Lack of aspiration ofregul",
p"'ticipleforms in the voice]ess plosives moved"
vc<bs: "Iooked, /p,t,k/: "pen,
(100 %time" (61 %,I1(Vc~ .,•le,
students) . ,\, til.. detect when
informal reading a word
conversation. list. other
On the The reason
hand, for this is
it wil] bethat
mo"when utteringto
st.u?ents) .'\ 7;.:::' l (. j a wor~ in iso]ation, the speaker tends .to av~id some and
] O. ElIslon of consonants and consonant clusters m final positions: prbsodIc phenomena (no stress, no mtonatlOn, more attention to
"Spanish, stops" (73 % students) Phouoio.~ consonant clusters, ete.). In contrast to this, in syntax or semantics it is
11.Insertion of the vowel lel before the consonant elusters Ist-, sp-, sk-/: easier to avoid certain phenomena and so the foreign accent muy go
"Spain, stay, sky" (89 % studcnts) 'Y [u:X...lotclcircs undetectcd. Major names lhe example 01' Henry Kissingerl9, a German
12.Use 01' lhe voiceless labio-dental fricative instead of the voiccd one: immigrant to the United States wel1 known for his eloquent use 01'

"nI', have" (37 % stlldents) ( Eng1ish and his German accent (Le. "lhe Joseph Conrad phenomenon",
13. Pronunciation of silent leUers, espeeially "1": "would, walk" (91 %l I(J. t~
. ",7 Scovel, 1988).
d - )Ic { . ; (~,,~ t'i11(" ~.G· e
\ ,.,<stu ofthe f"
ents) vOlcedLU IC¡ ploslve
velar (Q~(~}('ybefore(»- Iw/:
E' I"went,
V ~llQOj2-. "\1 ho \.,,-0 'Y(O\ c.e~'
we" (54 % students) 7' ... m the eountry where the TL IS spoken and the
The learner's age of arnval
15~Use of the voiceless alveolar fricative instead of the voiced palato- '\ age when he is exposed to this languagc for the first time seem to be
alveolar frieative: "confusion, television" (98 % students) I erucial factors when determining whether the learner will acquire a

16.Lack ofweak forms: "and, of" (96 % students)ú ((j(J.SQ97LlQ.ll Cez e{ e ~ativeiike accent. Nevertheless, there seem to be contrastive views on.this
1 _ íf . e lssue. There are soIi1e researchers (Bohn and Flege, 1992; Flege, Fneda
The above resuIts wou1d point to' two basic types of error: "::.): r \D..Scr¡ i). I -'-t ami Nozawa, 1997; Markham, 1(97) who claim lhal nalivclike

i ~~('?_~------
l. Those where we linu all example of subslitulioll of all English sOllnd ¡ eOl11pelence can be achievcd alter the Critical Pcriod (CP). According to
for a Spanish one whieh is rather similar. h'_ Major (2001:7):

2. "fhose which are due tO.differences of distribution. \0~~

(01 ~

19 A fonner United States statesman.

16 17
Acqllisition of a Second Language Phonology Acqllisition of a Second Language Phonology

The Critical Period Hypothesis claims that a person must be

exposed to a language during a certain period oftime (also called Looking at this table, the first obvious concIusion is that adolescents and
sensitive period for those more sensitive to the term critica!) in adults learned faster than children during, the first months. Overall, it was
order to acquire that language natively; otherwise, if exposed to the adolescents who reached the best levels of performance. As this
that language after the critical period (CP), nativelike competence seemed to chaIlenge the Critical Period Hypothesis, Snow and
cannot be achieved. Hoefnagel-Hohle concluded that there is no Critical Periodo In contrast to
this interpretation, Lightbown and Spada (1999:67) make the foIlowing
In a study carried out by Snow and Hoefnagel-Hohle (I978)20, they
compared the level of performance attained by a group' of children (aged (1) Some ofthe tasks were too hard for young learners24•
3 to 10), a group of adolescents (I2 to 15 years) and a group of adults (I8 (2) y oung childrcn eventually catch up and even surpass
to 60 years). A large number of tasks was used: (I) pronunciation; (2) adults and adolescents if their exposure to the language',
auditory discrimination test; (3) morphology; (4) sentence repctition; (5) takes place in contexts where they are surroundcd by the
scntencc translation; (6) sentence judgement task; (7) Peabody Picture language on a daijy basis. Adults and adolescents may
V ocabulary test; (8) story comprehension task; and (9) storyteIling task. learn faster only in the early stages of second language
They were tested three times: the first time took place within six months development. '
of their arrival in Holland21, and then the second and the third at four- to (3) Adults and adolescents can make considerable and rapid
fivc- intervals. Lightbown and Spada (1999:66) show the rcsults or this prol'.rcss towanls mastcry or n sccond lanl'.ual'.c in
rcsclln:h ill (hc I"ollowillg (abk: cDlltexts whcre they cíln IIl11ke IIse Di' Ihe 1IIIII',IIilI',C DI! 11
daily basis in social, persollal. prol"essiollill, 01' I1cadclllic
XYAdult Child
XLJ y*
Xy intcradion.

Although the CP was first proposed for L1 acquisition, it was soon

extended to explain L2 acquisition. Most studies carried out in this field
(Long, 1990; Major, 1997; Neufeld, 1997; Patkowski, 1994) suggest that
there is a CP in phonology (Le. nativelike phonological acquisition of a
second language is only possible at an early age). However, there is no
general agreement as to when this CP ends. Some authors say that it lasts
up to puberty but others claim that this is too late and suggest the age of
six 01' seven. Facing this situation, Major (200 1: I 0-1 1) concIudes that:
* These tests were too difficult for child learners.
\\o.~.~.A1thQugh evidence is mixed regarding the existence 01' not of
20 They studicd English speakcrs Icarning Dutch. The study was carricd out in
¡Iolland. cr{l~O~r~¡he CJ>, th;:cis-ovcrwhelming evidence Ihat age does inOuence
" ,'\ aCljuisitiol1. Evel1 though there may be a small l1umbcr of older
21 When they taok their first tests they had been working 01' attending schaal far '--" learners who attain nativelike phonology (thus calling into
no more than six weeks.
~ lndicfltl~s th~ ~f()Up thnt did best nt the t'nd of the yenr.
:' Indkllles (hllt Ihe gi"\)\IP WIIS (he best nll ¡he les( lit the beginll ing nI' (he yellr. H Fnr cxamplc: scnlcncc Irnnslntion or jlldgemcnt.

18 19
Acquisitioll o/u :',eculld LUllglluge l'}¡OIlO/Oí!Y

question the CP if stated as a yes/no proposition), the vast \'TNIT n. APPROACHES TO PRONUNCIATION TEACHING
majority of the research indicates that the younger the learner the
more nativelike the pronun?iation.

Magen (1998) studied two nativc Spanish speakcrs of fluent but heavily
accented English and tried to assess the contribution of various phonetic
and phonological factors to the perception of global foreign accent. The
following factors were consideredto contribute to the perception of this
2.1 Introduction
foreign accent: (1) those affecting syIlable structure (initial epenthetic
schwa, non-initial epenthetic schwa (-ed cnding», (2) those afTecting I The tl:aching of the pronunciation of a Jangllage ill1plics not only
vowel quality (vowel reduction, tense-Iaxness), (3) those affecting
consonants (final/sI deletion, manner (/tSI-IS/), fricative voicing (/zJ-Is/),
I knowing the sound systell1 of that langllagc. but also the eirclllllslances
that surrollnd the whole process of tcaching and learning. Teaching how
stop voicing), and (4) those affecting stress (Iexical stress and phrasal to pronounce an L2 is not a simple task and it demands especial artention
stress). Somehow surprisingly, thc results revealcd that native English- I to both the functional and emotional factors that charactcrize the process
of speaking. In this respect, pronunciatíon should also be considered
speaking Iisteners were not sensitive to voicing differences. They were
most sensitive to syllable structurc factors, final /s/ dclction and connected to the "grammar of specch", which includcs how to build
coherent constrllctions in the different spokcn modalities. Thcse
consonant ll1anncr. ::!t¡ff1!,;5¡~ (j)
;e and cOlltmllcdare
spccch. Spontaneous speech has lo do with instances 01'
lIslIaIly divided in two Illain grollpS: spolltam'ous Sp(~('ch
speech where thc speaker communicates naturally without any
preparation nor any visual aid. When there is any kind of visual aid,
whether wrirten or with images, we describe that speech as being
controlled. The degree of control goes from minimal (for example, whcn
a speaker uses slides lo follow a line in a presentation) to total (when we
read a tale to a child).

PronUl1ciation, then, has to do with speech, but it specifically refers to the

way we use our vocal traet to produce the sounds that transmit the
message ·.ve want to communicate. Pronunciatíon, therefore, implies a lot
of physical trainillg. This is an important aspect to remember bccDusc

20 21
Approaches /0 Pronuncia/ion TeachiJig ApfJfoaches /0 Pronuncia/ion Teaching

linguistic sounds25 are always produeed by the action of different muscles wilI study in detail specific techniques that are used lJ1 a coursc III

and articulators. This physical training really starts when the chíld is pronunciation.
bom, after constant exposure to the oral language and continuous
exposition to the sounds that he hears from his mother and earers. Such a
long proeess in the case of the Ll really determines the way we 2.2 Main Methods 2-2\10[0'1
understand language: psyehologists and neurologists think that Ll shapes
the way we organize the world around us using a linguistic notation. The Kelly (1969) considered pronunciation the "cinderelIa" of foreign
same happens with the phonology of the language, the more we hear and language teaching. The truth is that pronunciation has becn and stil1 is not
practice some specifie sounds, the more prepared we are to produce those really considered important for language teachers who usual1y care more
sounds. That is the reason whylittle children go through a preparatory for the leaming of syntax and vocabulary. However, pronunciation
process that begins with bubbling and passes through adaptation and teaching has a "place in the history" of pronunciation and different
regularization processes where they mispronounce or shift syllables. approaches have been used in the last 2 centuries. In the folIowing
Similar processes sholllcl be expectecl from lcarncrs of an 1.2. Ilowcver. scclions we will scc a bricf rcvicw of how pronllnciation tcaching has
the eonnotations are different and the procedures diíTer since the function been in the last 2 centuries and we wilI finalIy study how pronunciation
of an L2 and the environment where that L2 is leamt is usually very teaching is seen today.
different from the case of the L 1. First, the L2 is often considered a
forcign languagc (special trcatment shollld be given to the case of
bilingunlisl11, bullhal willnol be our concern here). ¡\ roreign language is 1. TI lE DIRECT METHOD
usually a language that is spoken only in specific situations: at work,
travelling, etc. away from our natural and familiar environment. Many
times, the foreign language is only used at school before it is actually
Following the intuitive-imitative26 approach, teachers in the 1800s and
used in a real communicative situation. Second, the L2 is not acquired in
early 1900s provided students with imitative models of pronunciation that
the same way as the Ll (apart from the case of bílinguals) and it is often
basical1y consisted on exercises on repetition. First, the teacher was the
constructed on the basis of the Ll. For example, many kids do not !eam
only source, then, when recording systems were devised, the student
an L2 till they actually know how to read or write in their L l. AII these could listen to other sources of information. The main idea behind this
special connotations: the functionality and the 1earning process of the L2
approach was that the L2 had to be learnt fol1owing natural mcthods that
will determine how we approach the teaching of pronunciation.
were similar to those found in the leaming ofL! in a familiar setting.

In this course, wc wilI concentrate on how to teach the pronunciation of

an L2 in the cIassroom. We will not, therefore, consider the case of
biIingllals. We will analyse differcnt approaches and Illcthodologics and

25 When we speak of "linguistic sounds" we actually refer to the sounds that

belong to the inventory of units in a language. Extralinguislic sounds can also
communicate but they are not used lo make up words. For example, the sound
\\'l' 11\:\\..1.' \\'Iwn \\'1.' td\ \1r ti kid tnl.'tlns :\ h1t hut it is no! considcrcd lo hclong to 26 This inllliti"c-imitalive approach dcpends on the learner's ability to hear and
Ihc systcm. The kL)' to know whcthcr a sound is lingllistie or not is lo check imitate the sOllnds and rhythms or the t'oreign language, The idea is to provide
whcthcr that sOllnd can combine wilh olhers to crcale higher lInils: \\'ords, the studcnt with as many realmatcrials as possible and to design an environment
scntenccs, ctc, where the ¡earner is in constant contad with the oral vcrsion 01' the langllage,

Approacl/l:s ,,) j'rulllllu;iuliun Teaching Appruucl/es lo Pronu//cialiun Teuching
-\¡.\ i fF ';"('0 \
11. TIIE REFORM MOYEMENT and the analytic approaches merge to build a holistic modcl taki!lg
advantnge of the benctits of the two perspect ives. One more conscql1encc
\ <:

\ . I'\? , " •.••
,{.,. 00'

has be en the applicatio!1 of phonctie fíndings to thc fkld of lnngungc
As part of the Rcform Movement\ in language teaching, the 1890s '¿; teaching. In this sense, much of thc Codrastive Phonetics theory that we
witnessed the first analytic-linguistic27 contribution to pronunciation. \.; will study in this course will be easily applicable to the field of
teaching. Important phoneticians, such as Henry Sweet, Wilhelm Vietor :; pronunciation teaching, as we shall see. ,q =un,J,.s
nnd Palll Passy fOllnded in 1886 (he In(crnational Phonctic Association, ; . , r¡(· ( ';
7 G \c,-i'i'O
which ¡ater devcloped the,lntcrnaiional Phonctic Alphabct (IP A). This
alphabet includes a series of symbols that are used to represent the sounds
C~\d&11 ve (' Se.. V Cl..t! eli t"" n::k-· t <.: O....a_,,".
of every language spoken. The last revision dates from 1993. ( .. E.el) I
Pronunciation teachers could then use a visual aid to help their studcnts
As it has just be en stated, the 20th century has gained ffom th'e
learn the pronunciation of the fon~ign language. This was, of course, done
complementation of both the imitative and the analytic approaches. This
at levels where students could already manage the written form In their
complementation has increasingly developed new teaching
own language. In the case of the English language, the alphabet is really
methodologies that progressively integrate techniques inspired by both
useful considering the gap that exists between thespelling and the
perspectives. The first one is traced in the United States with
pronunciation. This is a serious problem for students who can actually
read and follow textbooks in class to leam an L228• This association has Audiolingualism and in Great Britain with the Oral Approach during
the 40s and the 50s. The teacher (or a recording machine) models a sound
influenced pronunciation teaching enonnously and has created a whole
that the student has to imitate and rcpeat. Howevcr, the teacher usualIy
philosophy where the arca of Phonetics has also devcIoped incrcdibly.
makes use of diffcrent phonetic materials, inc!uding the phonctic alphabet
From thcir point ofview:
and illllstrative charts and graphics.

a) Phonctics training is nccessary for both teacher and student

Coming from the strllcturallinguistics !lotion that each linguistie clcmcnt
,- b) Speªking skills are so important that they sh,<:)Uldbe taught first ,o\}Jl.,<s?'\
~ <,'s. ~,f! ~'i-,N""::;'· ",'/\lj)·.t
_ ftj.(,'..j~_.+-,c,D o I/'~ \'? .-J-'\
,?-¿:~.'/lA:::' """r\ .b....-..r;.~"('-\O->'
"'-, v·· n:<:_,~
gets into a specific paradigm, the minimal pair drill cnhanees the
acquisition of phonological skills by means of repetition of different
In fact, the Reform Movement and the creation of the IP Á' Alphabet have
words that differ by a single sound in the same position. This techniquc
had such a huge impact on language teaching that they have modified the
folIows the definition of the phoneme as being a distinctive sour:d unit
w,hole concept of pronunciation teaching. The main consequence has
(Bloomfield 1933) and is used in both listening and speaking practice.
been a shift towards a more eclectic approach whe~e both the imitative
,'¡. de 6,P{II!GIK$
It For example the rcpetition of pairs such as "sheep vs. ship" to practicc
long /i:/and short Ir/.
27 The analytic-linguistic approach uses linguistic tools: the IPA alphabet,
articulatory description, visual descriptions of the vocal tract, and detinitions
based on Contrastive Phonetics.
28 The use of the written form in the pronunciation classroom can be seen as an
IV. COGNITIYE APPROACH 7~~l.L:"ClLa.Al <4'{ lc.CL1LW c"<.,

advantage or an impediment for the learning process. In instructional settings, C1. f f Q...ucl X I~pe'b:d.éu y ·c.~U( a. ,,"L. ~ '//
where students can manage reading in their own language, the use of the written The development of the transformational-generative grammar in the (f,
text is inevitable but it must treated carefully, specially when the orthography
1960s (C.hQn:~l5.y_ 1959, 1965) has also influenced the arca or 11.1' ,1
can be misleading. In the following section, we will see how spelling must be
included in the preparation of a course on pronunciation and we willleam how pronunciation
seen as a wast&oftime
teaching. Ouring this period, pronunciation
in the sense that it was considered
teaching was
impossibk rOl"
to make the best of spelling :when we teach how to pronounce in English. \

J 16 I

dVJoUe ~"LL kelta 25
\ r\ 'r
1 \,J ,\.
\ , l\ ¡., ,'r
\, l"'~
'," ,\\.\ !; .'f', , \L

,tI 'I , <_"

I T' . l'. ,f' " t,
,.,¡ '.• \
t'; \
' \
tC ' .
\, \:)¡!If\ ,.)(" \¿l\.l.',) ¡;.-, - le ti .!¡ \.', '/. \ 0,;;,

Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching "'{;¡ \ ; ,.~ t '. 't \ \" .~ (Si. .' (\ \.. ' \
1, lLC'~V\,; Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching 'lO '-~"\'(".¡.lIV
,!) l' ,/1 ''(., \ j(}, <,~,'"
( "

an L2 student to gain qualitative competence in the pronunciation of the t

¡'" 1 V\.'
'VI. ¡,

foreign language. Phonology was seen as a rule-govemed behaviour , c!Ú:..<2 (e 1- (.j ú.i-, h,,' ,

rather than as a habit formation. Considering that cognitive psychology Other approaches in pronunciation teaching are more related to the so-
(Neisser 1967) also defended the idea of an L1 goveming every area of called affective language learning. The so-called affective language
linguistic competence, including phonology, this decade was not very learning approach takes into account emotional! factors in the learning
fruitful in the appearances of new methods in the field of pronunciation (and also teaching, but to a lesser degree) of foreign languages One earry
teaching. approach was Cornrnunity Languagc Learning (CLL) where the
instructor/teacher makes a11 the necessary movements, inc1uding body
Unfortllnutely, mllch of the langllage teaching nowadays still¡stems fram ~ ~ ;yz. Ianguage, tOllching and gestures, to make the student feel comfortable
whilc listening to the foreign language, facilitating the production of
this philosophy where native-like pranllnciation is seen as an unreahstic
goal and much of the efTort in langllage learning is devoted to the p
natural speech. AfTcctive langllage learning, which is pragressivcly
acquisition of syntactic and lexical structures. One of the reason for the o-.-~' gaining popularity among researchers, is concerned on the way learners
success of the Chomskian perspective in the L2 classroom is the acquire a language, considering personal priorities before instructionaJ
readibility of materials that facilitate the teaching of the passive skills necessities. For the developing of speaking ski lIs, affective faetors are
(both listcning and rcading) more than thc Jcarning of active skills very important if we acccpt the idea that spontaneous speaking transmits
(writing and, in our casc, spcaking). Lcarning to spcak and improve thc our most inner feelings and thoughts. A methodological approach [hat
student's pronunciation demands the creation of a more naturalistic do es not consider how to motivate, and enhance personal skills towards
environment and the provision of real material, which challenge the communication is bound to fail. More and more, pronunciation teachcrs
capabilities ofthe school organization. (and language teachers in general) design teaching programs that take
into account the personality of each stlldent and the communication links

V. THE SILENT W A y a L().s1 ru..¿I'Ó'r t~+(LQU..LQJl,Je lo.~.

that students
establish with their peers in arder to facilitatc
in the forcign language. Speaking is dircct and implies a
interaction. If we want to make the most of our students'

In the 1970s
_S\:u..oJ.o ..b:.~
Sllcnt Way method
~eu. i
of pronunciation
ptUJ ..k:ré y
the field too.
of language
In this
-el cd.u.n,n~/~
! r
abilities, we should consider emotional and personal factors such as
motivation, self-esteem, self-image, confidence and an optimistic view of
life. Special attention is also paid to one's limitations and creativity.
method, the teacher speaks as little as possible and tries to use body ¡
langllage to sllbstitute real words, so that students have an opportunity to
speak. In this respect, the Silent Way mllst be considered very similar to Much of the philosophy that inspired affective language learning is also
the Direct Mcthod. The main difference being that in this case, the bchind the present-day concern (for both edllcationaJ authorities and
teaeher does not rnakc use of the phonetie alphabet or any other lingllistic teachers) to dcsign teaching programs that are learner-centred. The
explanalory aid: the attention is foclised on the sound system alone. Icarncr-ccntrcd tcaching emphasizes the necessity to shapc the tcaching
Typical in this method are the sound-colour chart, the Fidel charts, word methodology so that is adapts to each student in particular Thus,
charts, and colourcd rods that help represent both language and reality 29 particular capabilities, skills and levels of competence are considered,

I going away fram generalistic and unifying criteria where the student is
bcLYYC\.f; seen as part of a gr~up and not as nn individual himsclf. In the case of
pronunciation teaching, as we will see in the rollowing section, ihis is
imperative. In the case 01' speaking in general and pronunciation in
29 For more Ínfor¡i¡alion on this intcrcsting approach, see Blair (1982), LJ.;sen- particular, students usually vary as to the competence they achieve and to
Frccman (1986) anel Stcvick (1980).
¡J {i{if'(JW:!/{'.I' Iu ¡
'/'OIl/lIIciul iUI/ 'j (:uc/¡ ¡l/K ¡1{i!)f'(wc!II!.I' lo ¡'/'ml/lllcillliol/ '/'wc/¡ing

, (he goals (hey aim to. On the O1\ehand. even sinn\\ gronps are fur from
being homogeneous as to how competent students are. In the ficld 01'
,! n) To disl:\.)vcr the stmknl's specitic comp<.'t\.'1\c\;, l)1\th~ dit1~'r~l\l B-l);ds
as beil1g spccilied 011the syllabus. r I-¡: ti"
pronunciation, competence has to l,~ seen as a complex one: one student b) 1'0 redefine the syllabus including personal ex~ectátives and
can rcally show a high pcrformance in the pronunciation of some vowcls I modifying (if nccessary) the objectives. p;CccJ c-hovJ5
while, at the same time, a low performance in the rronunciation of
consonants. The opposite can be true for another student. In other words, ,
the number of skills to be tested in the pronunciation classroom is so big That is, any program designed for a course in pronunciation must always'
that it wiII be difficult to delimit similar groups of students organized
be considered tenta¡iye and will need further brpshin~ once the initial test
according to their level of competence. On the other hand, and as a
consequence of what has just been said, our students will have different
takes place. rmvl5t€:uAl ¡::>I\ kuJ..& u
goals to achieve during the pronunciation course. One specific element of A diagnostic test implies three different stages:
pronunciation teaching that makes it radically different from other areas
in the leaming of an L2 is the evaluation process. In the case of
pronunciation teaching, evaluation is not only a necessary tool, but it is (i) Design ofthe test
present at every singlE? point during the learning process. As we will see Oi) Delivery ofthe test
below, evaluation will be the only instrument to know at which point our t (iii)----Evaluation ofthe results
students start, how they develop during the course, and which aims they
reach to at the end of the course. Evaluation wi1\ always centre on the tph'0.q(ÁI\,~
student as an individual considcring both perform(Jl1ce and personal ¡'-t¡:O(Í)' Dcsing of the test
A diagnostic test usually consists of different exercises to check the
The following section will analyse evaluation and, more specifically student's pronunciation of the L2. How do we select the material to be
initial evaluation, in the pronunciation classroom. included in the test? Several elements must be considered:

a) The level of competence of thc students in the L2: beginncrs,

2.J DlagJlostic tcsts intcrl11cdiatc, advanccd, cte.
b) The objectives of the course: tests will differ according to the goaIs
In the design of a pronunciation course, as in any other course, one ofthe the course aims at; for example, ~ºl!lE:,_ cour~ emphasize
most important tasks is determining the goals of the course. As stated SR0t1!élne01.!s_sRe~Eh, others aim at heJping the students get a native-
above, in the case of pronunciation goals can differ from student to likepr-oiiUTiCiaIíon (some cou[ses_are'
.. desjgn~d2~U_baLstud~nt~
,. -

student: some studcnts are good at vowels and bad at word linking and their foreign accent, as with immigrants), etc.
the opposite. For this reason, the initial evaluation process is imperative c) Ti~;-b~~kg;o~~-cr;-f the students: students may be required to have
so that the general objectives of a course can be shaped and redefined so knowledge ofPhonetics, etc.
""¡Q,!o;te- •
that all students get equal success at the exp-ense of gomg through d) Other factors refer to the environment ('J,j¡t~therthe course takes place
different milestones. The objective of the diagnostic test is, therefore, in the country where the foreign language is spoken), to the
double: instructional setting (some courses are restricted to professionals, lo
schoolchiJdren, etc.), to the materials available (sometimcs real

Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching

material js readily available, such as cable TV, newspapers, native Errorsmust be considered from a double perspective:
speakers, etc.)
a) The same sound/construct exists in both systems and in the same
Once all these factors are considered, one more factor must be taken into environments
account: a contrastive phonetic analys;s of the L2 in relation with the b) The same sound/construct exists -'but they occur in different
Ll ofthe learners. Just as we were seeing before, the development ofthe ~nvironment (for example, in different places in the syllable, in
scientific arca ofPhonetics has permitted a deeper insight into the field of combination with different sounds, ete.3!) .
pronuncialion teaching. In this case, Contraslivc Phonetics allows us to e) Sometimes a sound/construel is specific 01' one langungc (both thc
see the foreign language from the perspective of the leamer. If source and the target systems).
theoreticians are correct, the acquisition ofa mother tongue deeply
influences the acguisition ora fore¡gnlangu;ge. If our students can also The study of the prediction of errors helps us situate the departure point
manngcthe writing and reading systetñSiñ their own language, this of the learner towards the preliminary objectives of the course, in
influence is even bigger: the reality is that most of om students will tend_ conjunction with other factors earlier mentioned: general level of
to rely on the knowledge they have about language, which is shaped competence, objectives and expectatives, etc. It particularly serves', to
include concrete elements to be evaluated: some particular vowels, some
Qi!:ough"tneeyes;'of-their motm~Tt?E.gue,_whenjiley-race aaifféfé;t
language. This_1WlY.~seem--aalsadVantage to th~procesSonearniñg-the particular combinations of· sounds, somc spccilic inlonational
prolmnci;tion of an --i:2-:-but·wecan actually také---8"dvantageofthe constructions, etc. These elements. are usually considered from a
pr?~i~J' \!_~~ÉÉ:...--
knowledgé thTiftfie ~o_~asii~~J~~o.neticáñáíysis can-~.~.~- generalistic point of view. We must remember that the function of the
.,....- ..... -. -

diagnostic test is to provide the teacher/instructor with the necessary

This contrnstive nnlllysis opcrntes on Ihe bnsis 01' Ihe so-callcd prediction information so that the final objectives ofthe cOllrse can be devised. Only
of crnu·s. Tllc pllollclician allalyscs lllc sOlllld syslcl11 01' tllc Icarner in vcry gcncral phcnolllcna will bc considcrcd rol' (hc ltIaterial lo be
conlrast with tllc sound systcm 01' the larget language and cstablislles a includcd in the diagnostic test. Thc rcsulls 01' Ihis inilial cvalualion will
series of milestones to be achieved. That is, a typology of errors are determine which individual aspects' are reaJ]y weak points for our
established that may prevent the acquisition of the target sounds by students and which ones are already.completed. This is the most difficult
inscrling mothcr tongue sounds on a gradation. These errors can be of task: selecting exercises that will let our students freely show how they
dilTcrcnt kinds: perform on difTerent aspects ofthe language, so that we can then establish
a gradation that will let LISknow where the degree of aceeptabilily, the
a) Errors at the segrnental level (Le. individual sounds/intonational average performance and the Iimitations are to be found. Alter tlle
constructs) diagnostic test, we must be able to know whether an initial objective is
b) Errors at the suprasegmentaI level (both stress rhythm and realistic or not, to what extent, lInder which circumstances, and not only
intonation) how each student perform each tested element.
e) Errors at the connected speech level (Le. how sounds co-articulate30)
Becallse pronunciation has to do with speaking, pronunciation also refers
to listening. Depending on the age and level of our students, the prior

30 Different phenomena are eharaeteristie 01' eonneeted speeeh: assimilation, 31The arca 01' Phoneties that dcals with syllable composition is ealled
dclction, inscrtion, strcss-shift, cte. Phonotaetics

lO 31
Afifi/'Oachcs lo !J/'olllll1cialio/l Tcadlil1,1; Afifi/'oachcs lo 1)/'o/llllll'i,lIio/l Tcaching

time of exposition to the language, their linguistic background, etc. As can be inferred fram the paragraphs above, there is a lot oflearner-
exercises in the diagnostic test will have to be balanced between: centred methodology in the way we construct a diagnostic test: the
specific needs and skills ofthe students are considered in order to design
a) Speaking (active) skills 1CQJJ...!(.!"on the activities that wiII serve for our initial evaluation.
b) ~istening (passive) skills °f'HU' ?\-'oV'> Here you have a basic diagnostic test:

" · ·..·
, (C
Environment: qasspeeeh
-- -an Intonulion
-- Controllcd
-L2 or -
as a-knowledge
Foreign Janguage .spontaneous -
For young learners, beginners and students who ./
not -Q-Q live
<~{- /
s' ¿)i'j,{" 1(-'1
-~~'¡ ,,",'Y,, ,
speceh .-

::}r-(¿,~ ') 0 ''"'
native-like pronuneiation,
Advaneed (advaneed,
(...J of the eourse: Novicc
lose their
spccch V owcls novicc-mid, cte.
aeecnt, interrnediate-high),
and Profieiency.

language country, a great emphasis has to be put on the listening skills.

Before we are even ready to start speaking our mother tongue, a lot of
prior training has taken place in the fonn of passive activity (i.e.
listening). The same happens in the case ofthe foreign language leaming:
young students must be exposed to a 10t of listening input. If we will have
to face similar activities in the classraom, the diagnostic test is the
moment when our students' listening skilIs will have to be evaluated.
Listening requires as much training as speaking, but it is even more
important. Considering that we first necd to crcate (01' so it seems to)
general abstract patterns in our mind before we are uble to produce an
output, the skill of pronunciation in the L2 demands a lot of listening so
that we can:

11) I )islingllish lile dilTcrenl cklllcnts in Ihc sOllnd syslcl11

b) IlIIilatc anu rcpcal Ihosc clclllcnls in 1'01'11101' olltpul thal is m:ccptablc

The diagnostic test must also include both spontaneous and controlled
speech activities. As it happens with the dichotomy speaking vs.
listening, the selection of more 01' less spontaneous activities will depend
on the characteristics of our learners (or, at least, on the expectations we
have). More advanced students are better at spontaneous speech than are
heginn~~;;)ne'máíñ-reaosons ~~_!ha! .they llave bee~.~xpg?~4~iñore-::.tºjlie
language so·tÍ1eYl:¡ave-already ~quired alarger voca!mlary ~\'ld have
assÍtnTlated'-more _<~<?rn.ple~_~y~t~ctic"é:oñs-¡~ctioºs,_ This h~_ ..~~~ect
consequénces9E-=-~~ cOEfl~~~they show_ and how they are able iO
combine sounds to express their feelings an-d opinions. They may al so be
able to u~e different speech techniq~e,.s, such as introduction-'of th~'topic,
organization of ideas and eX'position of the conclusions. Y oung learners
and/or beginners usualIy rely upon written text. and so the ~~a!igD
"'0 __, _ vs. pronuñCiation_
._.""" I ' " will also be
• thoraughly analysed while
studying the results ofthe evaluation. 01{

32 33

Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching

(ii) Deliver.y of tbe test (iii) Evaluation oftbe results

The most important part in the process of a diagnosis evaluation is that of The recording of the interview is necessary ,so that the teacher can
the delivery of the test. This stage consists in' giving the evaluatc the studcnt's results afier the intervicw has actualIy takcn place.
exercises/activities to the student and colIect the data. For this stage, 1t is now when notes have to be taken. Many: teachers design specific
affective-Ianguage learning factors will be seriously analysed, so that evaluation sheets where they annotate evt:ry single aspect on the student's
we can be sure and certain that the data we are colIecting actually reflects performance. These sheets are usualIy very descriptive on which the
the reallevel of competence of our students. objectives of the test are. They should be designed in a way so that there
can be established an easy comparison between students. That will help
Experts usually advised on creating the ideal environment so that the in the process of redefining and specifying the course objectives.
student feels relaxed while taking the test. The results must be filed, so
the teacher/instructor usualIy utilizes a recording application (whether a But the evaluation test is not only useful for the teacher and the course
cassette player or a computerized system) to colIect such an information. programo 1t is necessary that each student receives a copy of his/her
The recording process is very important, as the teacher must see with personal report so that they are aIl aware on their specific expectatio!1s
precision which elements must be reinforced in each case. This is not and objectives,which will be different from student to student. The
possible ifthe data is not filed, thus allowing for revision and re-analysis. teacher wil! have to advise each students on how to achieve those
Howcver, the recording of onc:'s voice is not always a relaxing milestones, afier the evaluation' test and during the whole process of
experience. The teacher should be careful with the layout ofthe recording learning.
application so that it do es not rcpresent any kind of "psych<?l,ogical thrcat
or pressure" on the student. .::!.tsi (1 ¿ ,,'uét,{ I ",. Hcrc you have an example of an evaluation sheet:
",$(' '(f'l<:'/ClO'
Elements of Sneerh Examnles
The flow of the conversation must be natural, too. It is advisable to
Consonant diserimination
evaluate one student at a time (students many times feel shy when they Vowcl
Consonant discriminalion
Prominence stress
Reduced speeeh
speak in front of their peer). For that reason, the refation betwcen the
tcacher/instructor and the student must be fricnoly ano caring. Thc
student should not see this process as a prize-punishment exercise but
rather as a fun and creative activity. They should not even know what is
the purpose ofthe test beforehand.
VJI'Y'L.u.o.too¡'rieilt<-¡ (\f dilJ,L'\ te
Although it is commonplace in the practice of pronunciation teaching and
evaluation, the teacher/instructor should not be taking notes while thetest
takes place. That will prevent a fiuent conversation between the teacher
and the student as well as it will create a sense of severe criticism on what
the student is performing (even if the notes indicate a successful

Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching

The diagnostic test is the preliminar step towards final evaluatioa and,
therefore, the final achievement of goals. However, continuous
evaluation is essential if we can stay at the leamer-centred
methodological point. Students will develop their skills in different ways
and redirection and redefinition wiU be needed throughout the process.
During the whole leaming process and also at the end of the course,
students wiII pay attention to their personal diagnosis report so th~tthey
are aware of which points they should eoneentrate on. The leaming of
3.1 Phonemes and Allophones
pronuneiation implies speeific physical activities that require a lot of
concentration and self-awareness.
Linguistics is that area of research that analyses human language and
human communication, rrom any perspective. In our case, the interest is
During final evaluation, the results of the initial test wiII be analysed and to study the sounds of the language. So, when we refer to a specific
compared to see ifthe learner has actually achieved ~€if personal goals. subarea of Linguistics in relrrtion with the study of human sounds, we are
really speaking of either Phonology 01' Phonctics. These terms are uscd
when \Ve describe a research activity related to the study of sounds, but
the n'lo terms differ slightly in their perspective. So, in the following
paragraphs, we wil! eoncentrate on the definition of eaeh term separately.


Phonology is the description of the systems and pattems of sounds that

oecur in a language. The systcm of sounds we already know means the
set of sounds that are characteristic of each language, whereas the
pattems of sounds means the combination of these sounds and other
features related, for example, to intonation. Because each language
presents its unique set of sounds, these sounds are said to be distinctivc
sounds. To be distinctive means that e.hanging one sound for another in
the same word will 'change the meaning ofthat word. For that reason, the
first task of Phonology is to determine which sounds can convey a
difference in meaning. Sounds in this sense are also known as phonclIlcs

and must bearedifferentiated
noL Phonemesrrom
determine that one
allophones. se! of sounds
Phonemes stands fol'
are distinctive,
one specific reality (see the production stage in the previous sectiolJ)
while allophones simply identifY the speaker, or the speaker' s aceent. For
example, in Spanish we can pronounce the word "solo" in 2 ways (lit
leas!): olle way is /solo/ and the othcr possihlc prolluneiatioll is /0010/
36 37
Phonetics and Phonology
Phonetics and Phonologr,
K2C{lt~(". I dex.aL¡;;$
phonological types of representation that will then be materíalized once
pronunciations mean exaetly the same: "alone". So the ehange in this the articulation actually takes place. This gap between what is
ease ispeopIe
(for not distinctive,
in Cádiz,becasouth
use it~fioesthe
not spaE~~ninSUIa).
ehange lhe meaning ofBoth
the happening at the mental level and what will finally come out of the
word. In EngIish, the word "Iull" shows the same consonant at the vocal tract is what establishes the differenée between Phonology and
beginning and at the end. However, the same consonant is pronounced Phonetics.
slightly different: when pronounced at the beginning this English /11 is
similar to Spanish /1/, while at the end its pronunciation resembles the
Catalan one32• In short, we can then define a phoneme,as a distinetive
sound in a language and an aIlophone as a particular pronunciation of a Ol-e-
phoneme. The phoneme is not a single sound, but a group (a "family" of
sounds). Phonemes are abstraet units. Each of the members of this Phoneties deals with what takes p]ace once the sounds ~ actualIy If\
family is a varíant of the same phoneme. In phonetics, we are interested \!I
~ produeed,
acoustic features
that is, of
sounds refers
and th~erception
t~e activityofofspeech.
the vocal
stages also establish three different branches in Phonetics.
in describing and leaming to use these variants of the phonemes of
1) Articulatory Phonetics deals with the articulation of sounds ..
Phonctics is, thcrcforc, closcr to what spcakcrs of English do whcn thcy Within Articulatory Phonetics rcsearchers lIsllal1y study the different
pronounce English. It is interesting to note, however, that English parts and activities of the vocal traet and the sounds that can be
speakers are normally not aware of allophones. They would say that the produced there: vowels and consonants.
beginning sound of"lu1\" is the same as the final sound. That is, they hear 2) Acoustic Phonetics' deals with the physieal aspects of sounds, how
both /1/ and [i] as the same sound /1/. sounds are in fact the effeet ofthe alteration ofthe air particles.
3) Auditory Phonctics is a branch of phonetics which studies how
sounds are perceived, the psychological and neurological
This is because we normally hear only the phonemes of our language, implications ofsuch an activity.
those sounds that have a contrastive function: all English speakers will
hear perfectly the difference between the two words "dull" and "Iull".
In order to illustrate the speech communication process Finch and Ortiz
Thus, Idl and /1/ are phonemes, because they differentiate words. Using (1982:3) offer the following figure:
wrong phonemes will make your English sound intelligible. Using wrong
allophones will make your English sound foreign (but sometimes also
difficuIt to understand).

Going on with our definition of Phonology, we must say that

Phonology actually refers to a linguistic view of the nature of human
sounds. It really concentrates on the production stage (as seen in the
previous section), where sounds are merely general distinctive

]2 This spccific nllophonc oflll is spccifically dcnotcd as [3. ]and known as "dark

Phonetics and Phonology Fhonetics and Phonology

has be en said before, this is especially true in the case of th~, English
language, When studying the sound system of English, . students
Sound WUVl' (especially those for whom English is not thcir nativc language) must also
Motor nerves Scnsory nervcs
be phoncmieally aware to realize the great eomplexity oí' this language,
On the other hand, phoneticians are exeh~~ively concemed on how words
MECHANISM are pronouneed, so the written representation does not reaIly matter. For
that reason, the International Phonetic Alphabet was devised3-3-by tl1e¡ct'tll (~/JI.
International Phonetic Association in 1886, The latest version of the Cllktdr¡dc Q
IPA Alphabet was published in 1993 (updated in 1996i4,

3.2 Spelling and Pronunciation

One of the big probIems that phoneticians and pronuneiation teaehers

have to faee when teaehing English is that, in this language, there is not a
one-to-one relationship between spelling and pronuneiation, Spanish is,
however, written, more or less, how it reads, There are some exceptions:
<h> is never pronouneed (unless it appears in the cluster <eh», <qu> and
<gu> precedes <e>, <i> but they actually stand for <c>l<k> and <g>
respectively and the letter <x> really refers to two phonemes: /k! and Is/.

English, however, presents a huge gap between what is written and what
is rcad, This phenomena ean be trace9 in the history ;:·f the Ianguage,
since the writing system was estahlished much hefore the different
!\111',lo-Saxol1 dialccts cOl1verged il1to OI1C unique llIodel 01' speech. [n
lile!, l1owadays, lile English lal1guage presents a lI1uch wiJer dialectal
variety than Spanish does. Just as an interesting remark, we can say that
there are more dialeets/aecents in the United Kingdom than those that can
be found worldwide.

When tcaching young children to read, teaehers and parents try to hclp
the kid beeomc phoncmicalIy nwarc, This phoncmic awnrcllcss simpIy 33Scc
m.eans that the kid needs to know that there is not a one-to-one 34 Acknowledged to the International Phonetic Association (Dcpartll1cnl 01'
relationship between tht1 [ctters on a book and the sounds that rcad. As it Theoretical and Applied Linguistics, School of English, Aristatlc Univcrsity 01'
Thessaloniki, Thessaloniki 54124, GREECE).

40 41
Phonetics and Phonology Phonetics and Phonology

The PA chart shows all possible symbols to rcprcscnt cvcry sound in
every world language. The procedure is simple: every symbol stands for a
THE INTERWl1l0NAL PHONETIC ALPHi\13ET (rev;,ed 10 1993)
184 single sound. There are usually 2 types of representation, as explained
~)N:~(J~:~ I.M.n_'ID~IC) below.
P b
11\1 11) 7·~,~=-r~~t~~:~
I~ o Recordings are necessary to analyse and study the articulatory (image
Tnn I D
mainly), acoustic (both audio and imagc) and auditory characteristics, of
the language. B~ the phonetician many times needs to represent those
sounds in a 1tn(yoé~ieway. In this course we will make use of the phonetic
symbols as they are represented in the IPA alphabet. The exereise of
representing speeeh with sueh symbols is eaBed a transcription.

~ ..•..eé t'e:
<.'ON5ONANTS ,t~_
,..1 ••..-1 C' ..•
••••••• ".••
111..•.•.•..•• ÓDo« e el_
k' •••••••
I ~"'.~
t'~'fII.u~ ,--
f -..
p"lI~uh, J~'
S •.oI.,
1 h• ...,._
: \'tl.., e.""'."."
A •••••IJoCo;tq(_J~
st fPRA."i EC:j.,\fENT ALS

é Il~.".
Á •• .••..fot'-"'U.
11t.-w4Q, V.h'f t •••.
W.T~)""" WOWAC"C'D-n
h~I..w••••.•..•• .d.;t:k.r á['),..",W,I~
3.3 Phonemic ami Phonetic Transcription

The p~oncmic reprcsentation (also known as phonological

representation, phonological transcription, phonological labelling)
aims at representing sounds as they belong to one language. That is, it
r y u I>IA(:Rm(:s ~~ ••• _,rw~~~_.t\"iMI"'IJtro."'-~.&.o .•• ~ represents the phonemes employed in the produetion of a word or an
e o--~ ~o--.y. o utterance. This representation is very general and abstraet, as it considers
eI_ • .,

(>r-....J c.
-~--:~:- ~i ! ~~..~~=~:=-t-~I~:
""", (hUh ...
;-b ....•• ~_~.•••
...l.-8 ...- 1,., ~, : ~- ...
.. sounds in thcir distinetivc way. Specific dctails are not shown. A
phonemie representation is always made between solidi "j".
,,_ a m_ ...L..Q. D
•• "'- • .,.-......."...
.••• ,..... .•••
•••-... ••_1
-- ••••.•• ,¡...
•.•..••.•.•....• \1 . 1 Jy ;::~
V.I ••.•••••__ -j~j-I
P m~:;:~~
dV I ~"'..I_ dI
An example would be:
j ..vv...t.~n.
"·---C11 "'"'_
...•(1tll ••••••.:.-::.:
••ti' loa' SAn drd ',nDt 'S arn
I- t
\V ••.••••.•
w..~ ••• Loo ......--
('_.ti •••• ~ v.¡." •••••••""...,..,..¡,....,
q ..•. w.w.I"'LMo,I~_ fj , •.•
"'.•..• x ~.- .•....•
~ ¡ ... <; (~ ••••..•..••• ~ .• f_ ••••••
H v._."" ...J¡ •••._
1: •••••.••

rt WDZ I tu: 'wet t a 'pIer "

~ .•.•...•..• ~~.., •......•....• .~ ..S)il"'"' 1 1.., ~ 2.(.~·-:-~....hi[~~J ..-

-:;. 1:fo4~""''''''- ••• N-.,1I•••.••• ~ 1,4_._.:'=:.~~~_~._,, ... , sau wi 'Sffit rn oa I haus

~_~~ l._,•. w_J.z:~T-....-- _~__. _
'o:loffit 'kau1d 1 'kau1d I 'wet 'der 111

that represents the phonemic transeription of:

, The sun did not shine
it was too wet to play
so we sat in the house
all that cold, cold, wct dai5

35 From Dr. Seuss's Thc Cat in the Hat

42 43
l'/¡ol1ctics Gl1dPhol1%gy Phol1ctics Gl1d Phol1%gy

[a' 1]: longcr diphthong

Special diacritics in a phonemic transcription are the stress I and the
pauses: I for a short pause (like that of a comma in the written form) and C0l1s0nants:
11 for a long pause or end of utterance.
[~]: Retracted articulation ofthe consonant.
Not everybody uses the same symbols. Por example, whereas Jones
accounts for 8 pure vowels and emphasizes the differences in quantity (he [k]:
+ Advanced articulation ofthe consonant.
uses the same diacritics and adds diacritics to emphasize the quantity [kh]: Aspiration
distinctions), Lewis accounts for 12 pure vowels (he uses different
[~]: Labinlization
symbols for each vowel phoneme but he does not add tI,,, vowel length
mark, he emphasizes the quality distinction). And Gimson accounts for [k>]: Unrealised realization
12 pure vowels because he uses different symbols for each vowel ( [k t]: Coarticulation
quantity and quality distinctions are equally important): [!:1]: Dentalization
8titi:tI JONES
!k8 [z]:
o Devoieing
(f]: Dark or velar /1/

1*/: This sign following final la, la, ea, ua, 8a, a:, 8:1 indicates a
potential Irl link (the speJling containing a Ietter "r") before another word
beginning with a vowel, esp~;cially within the same sense group.

"Peter": /pIte* /
The phonctic rcprcscntation includes every single aspect of every single "Peter is": /plten7}
sotllld. It ¡r,ives l1Iore illfoJ'lJlatioll Ihall a sil1lple phonel1lic trallscription in
the scnse lhal il aims al represcnting allophones. '1'0 do so, extra symbols
are used. If we go baek to the IPA ehart, we will find a special section We can say that allophones can be found in complementary distribution
or in free variation:
devoted to diacritics. Diacrities are simply extra labelling symbols that
are addcd to formal phoncmic symbols to show evcry possible nuanc~LUl
Allophones (and, thus, a phonetic transcription) are represented between (1) In complementary ~istribution: They can't occur in the place of
square brackets [ ]. Here you have a list of commonly used diactitics: another. They are mutually exclusive => it's possible to predict which
allophones of a phoneme will occur in any particular context or
Vocalic: position in the word. The different articulations are going to be
[Y, ti ]: ccntralization conditioned by: . ft Lle.
(a) Context: the surrounding or adj~~ntqsotTnds:
[o]: closer realization
Ik/ + /i/ (fTont vowel) -+ Palatalization.
"key" [k]:
[9 ]: more open real ization
"car" [1.]: Ik/ + la:/ (back vowel) -+ VeJarizcd.
[ó] : nasalisation (b) Position in the word or syIlable: final, middle, end:
[ i . ]: shorter long vowel "Iull" [IAl]

44 45
Phonetics and Phonology Phonetics and Phonology

(2) In free va.¡-iation: These allophones do not depend on context or example "donde" [!,1] in Spanish and "tenth" [!,1] in English. So, we can

position. They depend on regional or individual habits. Example: the find either:
English fortis plosives before a pause:
(1) Intrinsic allophones: Those whichoccur in:a natural way and which
With release or plosion do not require a previous knowledge of/frol11¡ the student:
+ pause
{+ (scmi)vowcl
key [ki:]:
+ instead of being velar is advanced.
cool [h:uJ:]: instead ofbeing advanced is velar.
Without release out there [auJoea]: the ItI sound is dentalised.
"all right" {in final position (very colloquial)
. in stop clusters: "grabbed" ['gl re b_d]
(2) Extrinsic allophones: You have to make an effort in order to know
that for example in "feel" [fi:l] the lateral sound is dark or velarised
With a simultaneous ItSI + pause, consonant or between
glottal stop vowels
and not a c1ear IV. You have to know that this allophone is produced
{/P,t,k/ + pause o consonant in a specific way: Both !In/s \re phonetically identical. The daih
means that this Inl is repla¿iñg; vowel. The vocalic nucleus has b-een
occlIpicd by this sound: '; .,
e1::to ( ! 'J.C,,:::,:,.

Some other examples of allophones in free variation: { Button

Not [b¡\t¡;¡]
[lIot] ] o_(CVVi;(J<'C

1. The "lnp" [r] in AII1English: /l,dl norll1ally pronounced with a tap: AI~other possibility is to have a contrast of phonemes that is, in so me
"later", "butter". positions, neutralizcd. You wiIl have realized that there is no differencc
-'--2:'--Yhe "tap" [r finRP Irl when between vowels: "Mary". between words like "writer"l»rart' I and "rider" I»rard' I when
3. Some cases of nasalization where the vowel can even substitute the Americans pronounce them: they sound exactly the same. The
final nasal sound: "man" as [má]. explanation for this is that the contrast between the phonemes Itl and Idl
4. lip-roundings in Irl is neutralized in this position (between vowels), and both phonemes are
pronounced with a sound transcribed as [R] (called a tap; it sounds
Additionally, some allophones are just functional because they exactly like the I in Spanish "para").
are not produced in a natural way and so they are not shared by two
different languages. For example, the aspiration of Ip,t,k! which we can In the phonemic transcriptions wordslike "very", "happy", or "she" are
find in English is not found in Spanish. transcribed with a final Ir/. This final Irl is an unstressed vowel, and it
is difficult to know whether we hear a short Irl or a long li : /36. This is
Gn the other hand, there are some allophones which are produced i:
because the contrast between short Irl or a long / I is neutral ized at the
due to physioIogical or natural reasons, for example the dental cont<:fur
which some consonants assume whcn in contact with dental sounds; for 36 Also reprcsentcd as li -I


".', I
j'/lOlIelics {lI/(I jll/CiII()i()~1 /'//CJ/lelics {lI/(I f'}¡ullu/U,I!..}'

cnd ot'words: vcrY, happY, shE. This "neutralized i" is reprcsentcd with
the phonetie symbol [i), that is, a vowel that is neither short nor long.
3.4 Exercises
Exaetly the same happens with the eontrast between /u/ and /u: /37 in
'unstressed syllables: "you", "to", "into" are all transeribed with a
l. Consider the following forms and transeribe them phonctically:
neutralized [u].
I Pin:
I, ,-
(':]y' ~ t·
:'...c" !
lo J 1
There are somel principies to follow whcn we do a phonetie transeription: Bid:
, - .__ . ~ .--J Bit: Bin:
a) We represent sounds as authentieally as possible: identifying
b) Wc rcprescnt the diflerent things that happcn when sounds are in
contact: conncctcd spccch
e) The main difference with phoneniic transeription is that at the 2. Fill in the featme matrices for "bin", "bid" and bit"; "pin " IS
phonetic level we transcribe words exactly as they are spoken, shown as an exampJe:
without any interruption, that is, one word after the other in scquence.
Speeeh is like a ehain of sounds, and in phonetic transcription we
re flect 111is faet \:\ ++ voicc
-111 voicc
Inl VOICC + alveolar
d) The symbols llscd in phonetic transcription Nasal
are those we use for a Ipl
phoncll1ie lranscription. Therc arc, howcvcr, spccial sYll1bols (callcd
diacritics) lo rcprcscnl allophoncs

,,-\ +-'CQ,
'. I (('- I -j I '[0
-\')0 \X)
)~ ( <:Q ,,' -\.,r ~).,...,
(~ ().,..\
t »0 ~c"r,~'~-,t
Nasal Yoicing
Place :

37 'Also represented as lu: I

48 49
Phonetics and Phonology Phonetics and Phonology
\ \c! ()
~! /d
c("' I
r CL ~ú-Y'\BID I

Place 5. There are exactly 6 segments (five consonants and a vowel) used
in the four words. List them below:

6. Y ou can practice doing some transcription at:

¿ (-,I
{\C-"IC ,j() ,"_.'
CJ;: / ~J
-"IO( ,e,'
I-ic, ( r ,G"
.BIT ' (1 Ities/arts/l in guistics/russe
11/]3 8/practi cel

lb 1
7. Reverse transcription: A reverse transcription is when you have
the phonctic symbols and thcn Y0l! have to write the standard
form for each word. Y Ol! can practice on your reverse',
transcription at this site:
3. What are the fom minimal pairs?
http://cltlb,te]!bphtranscri pt02,htm 1

f_, _

4. What are the distinctive features that distinguish the two words in
each mínima] pair?

Minimal pair (i): o

Minimal pair (ii): \)C ':...9

Minimal pair (iii):

Minimal pair (iv): .\' '\',,-

50 51

l' -'.• 1

4. t Thc spccch mcchanism


When describing the chain which links the speaker's and the listener's
\ i
brains, we have to take into account three different stages: the
'psvcholo!!ical, and the ohvsicnL The ¡¡rst one refers to (f)
the neural activity\~%ch-t1íkes place iñ'O'O'tIr"the speaker's and the
/' J
listener's brains. First of all the speaker has to arrange his thoughts into a
J linguistic and phonological form in order to encode a message and then
-i.._ . J~_~ --

(, the ~as to decode tpis message. The physiological stage has to do ~
with the speaker' s motor activity and the listener's hearing mechanism.
First, the speaker's brain activates the correspo¡v~;ng muscles which
control the movements of the tongue, lips, vocal folds, cte. and then the

listener's sensory
to the brain.
nerves Finally,
carry the
the message,
physical stage
in therefers air ~I!::.\
fonn toof thenerve
disturbances produced by the movement of the articulators, they are
(! ( called sound waves.

The study of each of these three stages corresponds to the three different

areas df phonetics:
physiological stage), the the
auditorv speaker' s
a~ ~bQnct~'re~~iCS hstener's(thephysiological

take intoand the aÁousti~
account ese areas (,trrncoustic
that al t~hQIle1j'CS stage). But we have to
are interdependent.

The Organs o/ Speech The Organs o/ Speech

1I. THE O~GANS OF SPEECH several cases: (1) urging horses, (2) kissing, and (3) disagreeing.
Our utterances are conditioned by the physiological limitations
Man's speech mechanism is made up of a series of organs and cavities: imposed by the capacity of our lungs and by the muscles: (1) we
are obliged to pause in articulation in order to refill our lungs,
(i) Respiratory apparatus: iungs and muscles ofthe chest. and (2) we are obliged as well to submit to the behaviour of the
(ii) Larynx. muscles which activate the lungs: syllabiC impulses and dynamic
(iii) Rcsonators (supraglottal cavities): pharynx (pharyngeal stress. Once the air leaves the lungs through the trachea or
cavity), mouth (oral cavity) and nose (nasal cavity). windpipe, it passes through the larynx, containing the so-caBed
(iv) Articulators: palate, tongue, teeth, and lips. vocal folds.

We can see all these organs and cavities in the following figure (Kreidler, (ii) The larynx: Thc larynx is a sort ofbox within the throat fuI!
1997: 17): of muscles and cartilages: the cricoid (at the base, it is ring-
shapcd), the thyroid (Adam's· apple) and two nritcl10ids
(pyramid-shapcd, it is oppositc Adam's appIc). It contains lwo
little films coming from the thyroid to the two aritenoids. They,
are subject to open and close easily, they are called vocal folds or'
vocal cords (Finch and Ortiz, 1982:8): -

fJ ac ~


Adarn·s !hyroid carlila¡:"

"'1::. r_1'" k -ec'(o~~ e f

/<'\ .•c. r' .~ cricoid

(i) The respír'atory apparatus: The lungs provide al! the air carldag"
necessary for the production of most of the sounds of language.
The l1lajority of languages lIse c~rcssivc l1ir, that is to say, that
thcir speakers exhale air from the lungs to produce phonemes. On Figure 2
the other hand, there are certain languages (African tribes) in
which thc nir ncccssnry for thc production of spccch is tukcn
11-0111olllsidc inhaling it ("Tsd~ 1\iJ;J. English and Spanish
have "qick~". which are sounds sent with ingressive air. just in

54 55
Thc Organs ofSpccch The cJrgans o/,";peech

Thc vocal folds vibratc bctwecn 1..Q.0'and ISO times a sccond in men and having passed through thc larynx is the pharynx . .I.W:..
200-325 eyeks pcr sceond (eps) in WOI11CI1. This piteh 01' frcqllcncy of
lJharvngl'al gocs 11"1)111 ~Iht: t:piglotlis to (IIL' 1'1:111' pllrt M I lit'
vibration can be -moditicd 01' ehanged whcn he speaker desircs. The .Ji9ft pulatc. In tI\lS place there is an organ call.t:d uvula which
_~is used to refer to the opening b~tween the vocal folds. "These controls the passing of air from the other places, either to the
vocal .•folds.can.describe.four diffQ.f'tI\tpositions.or shapes: (a) wide apart mouth Qr to the noseorwto both directions. When the~softpalate ls
'describing a big gap or opening (breathing); (b) open~(the air pass es raised,-the_ajr stream is~prQY~ntf:dp frQ[11goi.Dg.!!.pwards jnto the
through two scction~ 01' tlw two cn!:.tjJng~t(voicck:ss sOllllds); (c) the air nasal cuvity, un oral sound is·produced •• 1 r the son pulale is
passes through the vocal folds but they are very close together (~ibration lowered, two different processes take p]ace: (a) normal breathing
~ccurs, voiced sounds are .pr~duced); ando (d) the two ~I folds ar.e ,¡ir" " t occurs and the air goes through the nose and the mouth.
t¡ghtly closed (the lung mr IS absolutely pent-1í¡Jl)élow itam:rtt.rt:;--l~ [lc.tam Example: nasaliscd English ~ SDanish vowels: or (b) the air;
phcnomenon is callcd glottal~op¡[?T38). In the production of vocalic Oñly escapes through the nose~bec¡iUse there is a closure in the
sounds (in contrast to ~oiced!éonso;-;nts j' the vocal folds are tenser, (he mouth which prevents the current of air coming out. Then,~ a
frequency of vibration -,./is}hl"gher and so the pitch is higher. Thcse four
different stages oftheJglottis can be seen in the following figure:

~(,:;!V-. C9-""-
.<~., ::7"51..."~ ::.:....f",
nasal sound is produced. Depending on the typ~ Q.f o¡gans
involved in the closure,_we may have different nasal sgupds: aIJ
'Iirillthdips); an lñr(the tongue against the alveolar ridge); aq'/p/
(the tongue against the hard palate); or an~/1J1·(thetongue
w 10
the soft palate). In fact, if your nasal passage were congested a
greeting such as "good moming" would sound like ['gud
B 'b::J:dJg]. tLnthe following figure we can sce the profiJes of thrcc
bilabial sounds: two of them are oral Ip,bl and one nasal Iml
(Kreidler, 1997: 19):

C> t:·~c\.....
.. ---~
Figure 3 \'(':L'',..- --:=:--'::'~."

(iii) Resonators (supraglottal' cavities): .If we compared the

human speech mechanism with a Spanish guitar, we could say
that the vocal folds act as the strings and the supraglottalcavities
as the hollow body which amplif!..esthe sounds. That is why thcy
SI [p bJ (m]

are caBed resonators, they proviae the necessary amplification. Figure 4

The first of thesupraglottal cavities·which the air reaches after
Ibis nasal cavitr. is constant in shape and size. As Mott
38It norrnally precedes the energetic articulation 01' a vowel when emphasising (1996:50) explains "The acoustic effect ofusing the nasal cavity
something: "co-education" [,bu?edju:'keISJ;1].It also reinforces or even replaces as a resonator is to add, not a resonance; but anti-resonancc,
thy plosive sounds [p, t, k] : "that" [ore?t]; "that way" [ore?weI].

56 57
The Organs 01Speech The Organs olSpeech

which q1eans that the strength of a particular range of harmonics the mouth cavity because the height betWeen the surface of the
is reduced". tongue and the roof of the mouth is quite wide (vowels); and (2)
close(d) articulatiou: a very narrow gap or a complete closure is
(iv) The oral cavity contains severa) articulators: the,Jí.W'..(upper described (consonants) ..
and lower), the -~~(upper and lower), the ~(upper and The lips play an important role in the articulation of some sounds.
lower), the .1onru(', the".palate. and the ~g.gaLcayity ...•. Most back vowels are roundedand that is why when a consonant
So me of these are~ because they are capable of movement is in contact with one of these rounded, vowels, it tends to be
(the lower jaw, the tongue, the lips and the soft palate with its pronounced rounded or labiaiised40. The lips can be held apart in
pendent uvula) but others are..p~ or"(i.¡&a,Cthe upper jaw, the six positions: (1) élose position: they are. close together but
teeth, the hard palate and the pharyngeal wall). Thc tongue can be describing a ¡ittle fricÍion between thcm; (2)jspread position: thcy
divided ¡nto three main parts: the JWbI. (theJ.Ln..nnd the ~, are he Id sulliciently f"ur apart "(no f"riction) but remaining-f"airly
the ~Lc.entpr/hod..Y (the front, the back) and the ~ (the close together and energetically spread; (3) neutral position: they
lowest part of the tongue in the throat). The edges are called the are held in a relaxed position with a medium lowering of the
tims.(Ladefoged, 1982:4): lower jaw; (4) open position: they are wide apart with no marked
rounding; (5) close rounded position: they are tightly purscd with
a small and rounded aperture; and (6) open rounded position~
they are wide apart and absolutely rounded.
The palate can be divided into 3 main parts: (1) the al~e.glaG.
~(behind the upper teeth); (2) the ~p-alate (lies over the
centre of the mouth); and (3) the soft Qf!late-(at the back)
(Ladefoged, 1982:3):

ha"rd »alate (veJ;;rn)

I~c(h / _-50([ pala~e

Figure :; ¿--
l~alvc()I~f"~ ridf:c . "'" lJ' liJa

.. ~
The tongue plays an important rale in the difference of
articulation between what we call traditionally vowels and
consonants. The tongue, thus, describes two main types of
nrticulntion: (1) .J}ucn nrticulation: the air pnsscs frccly through ')X::'~
39 Although lhey are not in the mouth, the vocal folds can also act as articulators Figure 6
bccause they produce two consonantal sounds: the glottal stop [?] and the
glottal fricative [h].
40 Note the pronunciation ofthe /1/ in "pul!" or "rool".

58 59
'¡he Urgalls (~/Speech

As a r~vi~\V 01' l!lis s\:dion \Ve are going lo olTer u tigure devis\:u by Motl 1'(' 11101

(1996:40) where he shows the exact place of all the organs of speech
previously mentioned and below this profile he provides their translations
into Spanish:

According to Mo~roy Casas (1980), there are some general articulatory

characteristics which a Spanish/English student of English/Spanish
should take into account:

1. The position of_the.Jip~ It's rather tense in English. This is

something obvious if we remember that English has a much more
complex vocalic system. But apart from that there three more

I ('Iasal c~ ..•.
l1y ca ....ldad n.u.r
positions of very
the common
lips: the in¡abialis~
English which largely consonan~
of some depend on the /f\
2 oral cavlty c..evkjod bvcaJ
3 IlpI labio •

hnrtJ IJ4'IIiI.
1011 patal.
di_nI ••
blA"dl.) (v/,1lo)
~ ~w.mtion
plosive co~ants~nglWl..
of the VQ~c!,¡::ss p'lo.s.iv~and <.:::.J
the~~osure of the
u..•.ula ul.
ú ..•. 2. Thc nosition oe tlu:-i~: !t's slig!llly morc opcn in English. This is
ton-ouo Ignoua
10 tlp (ap$x) pLlola ('pIC9~ due to the large number of alveolar consonants in English, in almost
11 b!¡).(je corona (lAmina)
12 tront
1 J
half(11) ofthem you have to use your alveoli.
14 (00'
15 ¡_w "'ancJltHd.
, n p'H"Vf\~ '.11"0-
, I ~JlI\JhJIlI. .plul(¡lIa
In f"(a.~
o.uQphtli\JI~' (........,., • •• t"'J!V<.J

1 •
oull.l) 3. ·Qu;.,P.Q.siti.Qu.o~hc-ton~ln English, the 1110st active articulatar is
J .ryn J; larln'W'.
20 "OC¡11 eo'''s cuardo.s vO<::.J.lo!l. the tip of the tongue which strongly presses against the alveoJi. On
2 , trnchQo ( .••.•.
lflÓpipQ) Ir 4QuQ.
the other hand, in Spanish, the most active art:culator is the bladc of
Figure 7 the tongue which makes contact with the pre-alveolar area and in a
much weaker way. Sometimes, the tip ofthe tongue may even touch
the inner side 'of the upper teeth in Spanish, Apart from that, the

.~:) position of the front of the tongue in English is nonnalIy taperfd and
in Spanish is much more flat and relax. ~~ I .
- f' e¿-Jjeclut
4. ~"\i.elar .•~ This part is much more active and is nonnalIy much
tenser in English than in Spanish. This is due to processes such as (he
velarisation in some consonants. And in the case of the vowels, we
must remember that _ alI semi-open and f\IIIy oren vowels are
characterised by a movement towards the velar arca.

60 61
The Organs ofSpeech The Organs of Speech

4.2 Description,and classification of speech sounds Vocoids: Units produced with open articulators.
Contoids: Units produced with close(d) articulators.
A vowel sound is one in the production of which the current air comes
out through the mouth (or mouth and nose in the case of nasalised In contrast to vocoids, which largely depend on very slight variations of
sounds) where it finds an open articulation. AII other sounds in English tongue position, contoids ai~ most easily d7scribed in terms of
are consonants, which are sounds in the production of which the air articulation since we can generally feel the contacts and movements
stream comes into the glottal cavities and encounters a pattern of close( d) involved.
articulation (a noise component from the acoustic point of view).

But a complete analysis must consider the linguistic point of view, apart 1. CONSONANTS
from the phonetic or articulatory ones. In that view, which takes into
account the behaviour 01' sounds in the language, a vowel is defined as
From the phonetic point of view, the description of a consonantal sound
the central element in the sylIable. Whereas, on the other hand, is as follows:
consonants wiII be those unÍts whose function is ~inal in the
oo:lvlIabIe..Jnthis way, we can describe or divide a syllable into two main (i) Egressive - Ingressive
sections in any language: (ii) Voiced - Voiceless
(iii) Oral- Nasal
(Margin)- Nuc leus-(Margin)
(iv) Place of articulation
(v) Manner of articulation '
Consonants are trnditionally considercd ~llallic_and vowels have
been always regarded as non-marginal. But in the following two (i) Egrcssivc - Ingrcssivc
examples, the opposite occurs:
As it was previousIy mentioned, the miÚority of languages use egressive
Britain: [bllq¡] (syl1abic consonant) air, that is to say, that their speakers exhale air from the lungs to produce
Way: [WCI] (marginal voweI) phoncmcs (pulmonic air). English and Spanish have "clicks", which are
sounds sent with ingressive air, just in severa1 cases: (1) urging horses,
The result is a problem between the phonetic and the linguistie paint al' (2) kissing, and (3) disagrceing. But thcse elieks are extralinguistic in
English and Spanish.
view. Phonetically speaking, in the first example [~] is a consonant, and
in the second one [w] is a vowel. Linguistica!ly, the opposite occurs. (ii) Voiced - Voiceless
The possible s01ution is to distinguish two kinds of terrns for each point
01' vicw. Thc rcsult is thc crcation 01' two new words for the phonetic Vibration 01' the vocal folds is not a distinctive factor by itself because
point ofview41: voiced sounds can be partially or completely devoiced in certain contexts.
For this reason, there is a parallel distinction where consonant sounds are
distinguished by the degree of breathand muscular effort involved in the
articulation. Those consonants articulated with relatively weak energy are
.41 These. two tenns were invented by the American phonetician Kenneth Pike called lenis and those with great energy .,[,o..¡.tis
..• Voiced consonants are
( 1(43).

62 6]
The Organs of:::,'peech

La /zJ "pocos años después de este proceso [fricatizaciól)] sufrió

V. lenis and
~onsonant voiceless consonants it will
may be devoiced, fortis.always
Even bein lenis.
those cases where a voiced otro de ensordecimiento, común a las tres sibilantes sonoras
When contrasting the Spanish and English consonant phonemes we (z,sj). Ambos entran igualmente en el general ablandamiento
discover that they differ greatly interms of their voice. Almost aIl articulatorio que sufrió el español en el siglo XVI. Las sibilantes
English consonant phonemes42 are arranged in pairs because every sonoras tienen rehilamiento (o temblor local): una vibración
voiceless phoneme has a voiced counterpart and vice versa. In the case of adicional [ ... ] al rozar el soplo en el punto de articulación las
'the Sp: '-h consonant phonemes, we find that most of them lack the
voiced or the voiceless counterpart. Normally, it is the voiced phoneme mucosas de la lengua [ ... ]. En el gencral ablandamiento dcl
the one which is missing. Historically, Spanish also had the voiced habla, este soplo debió hacerse insuficiente para el rehilamiento,
co\Interparts but for diachronical rcasons they disappeared. Catalán y la glotis fue parejamente proveyendo de más soplo con una
(1 ()!\<J) explains sOl11e 01' these proeesses in the following way. At first, creciente abcrtura supletoria; cl soplo siguió así acudicndo cn;
Spanish had the three pair5: Iy, 7), IS5,sl and Ixj/: abundancia, pero implicó la supresión de las vibracioncs
Ic;l:affricate, dental, voiceless.
/21: affricate, dental, voiced.
But Catalán does not sharc this position and adds that (1989:20): "Me
/ss/: fricative, apicopa!ata!, voiceless.
parece incorrecto atribuir !\ la incrcia nrticulnlorin, qlH.: conduce a la
/s/: fricativc, apicopalata!, voiced
lenición, un fenómcno como el ensordecimicnto de -z-, -s- y -j-
/x!: fricative, velar, voicelcss
intervocálicas, cuando precisamente el entorno, siendo vocálico, favorece
Ij/: fricative, velar, voiced.
la sonoridad." Catalán concludes saying that (1989:20): "No se trata,
creo, de una evolución fonética, sino de una crisis fono lógica, nacida en
In the case ofthe pair Iy,z/, the process was as follows:
el sistema y no en el sintagma."

(1) Both changed from affricate to fricative sounds.

(iii) Oral- Nasal
(2) Both changed from dental to interdental
(3) The distinction voiceless-voiced was lost and the voiceless In the articulation of a nasal consonant, the soft palate is in its lowcred
prevailcd .. position and a total closure is made within the mouth. As a result, thc air-
(4) FinaIly, the result is present 18/. stream escapes freely through the nose. For this reason they are called
c.ontinuants but they differ from fricatives43 in that no audible friction is
The reason for the devoicing of aIl ·these sounds is not very clear. produced. That is why they are caIled w~íionless continuants. English
According to Amado Alonso (1955:379-80): has three nasal consonants: one bilabial ImI, one alveolar InI, and onc
velar IrJ/. Spanish also has three nasals: one bilabial ImI, one alveolar In/,
and one palatal IJ1/.

42Except for nasals and approximants /I,r,w jl because oftheir vowel-like nature.
The only truly exception is the glottal voiceless /hJ which has no voiced
counterpart at a phonologicallevel. Anyway, it has a voiced allophone [fi]. 43 Also calIed continuants.

64 65
The Organs ofSpeech The Organs of Speech

(iv) Place of articulation Sometimes, when deseribing a sound from its region of artieulation, a
seeondary place is needed. Certain eonsonantal sounds require a
The chief points of articulation in the English and Spanish phonological Mcondary articulation for the complete produetion of the eonsonant
systems are: (eo-artieulation). Two examples of this phenomenon is the realisation of
IV and Iw/. In order to pronounee 11.1, in additionto the alveolar contact,
Glottal: The production of this type of sound takes place there is an essential raising of the back of the tongue towards the velum
between the two vocal folds, which are two active
(v~arisatioQ). In the case of the sound Iw/, the lips are rounded at the
articulators. English fhI. same time that the tongue moves towards the velar area.
~lat.;. The back of the' tongue against the soft palate or
velum (active + passive). English Ik, g, 1)/; Spanish Ik, g, xl. (v) Manner of articulation
~lataL The front of the tongue against the hard palate
(active + passive ). English Jjf4; Spanish le,], ]1, IJ. Taking into aceount the manner of articulation, eonsonantal sounds can
ala~ai:V~ The tongue touches the palato-alveolar be elassified into five main eategories:
region with its rims, blade and tip (active + passive).
English ItS, d3, S, 3/.
Eost-alveolar: The blade or the tip against the post-alveolar
region (active + passive). English Ir/. In so me cases
~. A com~ c1osure:

Ti1ere is a b loekage at some point in the vocal traet. We divide

consonants into two main eategories according to this manner of
(American English) this sound muy be articulated with the
tip of the tongue curled back pointing at the part of the hard
palate immediately behind the alveolar ridge (retroflex
artieulation). ilial..s1QpA.(,g¡.pillsiy.-Cs).;. In addition to the bloekage of air in the vocal
traet, the soft palate is raised so that the nasal traet is bloeked off.
A.lvcolar: The blade or tip of the tongue against the alveoli
(active -1- passive). English It, d, s, z, n, 1/; Spunish Is, n, 1, f, Pressure in the mouth wiII build up. When the articulators come apart the
air stream will be released in a smaII burst. If these artieulators are: (a)
the two lips, this is a bilabial oral stop (English Ip,b/; Spanish Ip,bl); (b) tip of the tongue between the upper and the tongue and the upper teeth, this is a dental oral stop (Spanish It,dl); (e)
lower teeth (active + passive). Spanish 10/. the tongue and the alveolar ridgc, this is an alveolar oral stop (English
Q.c.I1J¡Y;, The tir 01' the tongue against the teeth (active + It,d/); (d) the tOl1gue ami the velar arca, this is a velar oral stop (El1glish
passive). English 10,0/; Spanish It,d/. Ik,g/; Spanish Ik,g/).
Labiodental: The lower lip against the upper teeth (active
+ passive). English If,v/; Spanish If/. ~asal sto~ The air is stopped in the oral cavity but the soft palate is
B.ilabia~ Both active lips against eaeh other. English down. So, the air can escape through the nase. If this blackage in the
Ip,b,m/; Spanish Ip,b,m/. vocal tract is produced by (a) the two lips, a bilabial nasal stop is
Labio-velar¡ The baek of the tongue against the soft palate produced (English Im/; Spanish Iml); (b) the tongue and the alveolar
or velum and a considerable lip rounding (active + passive; ridge, an alveolar nasal stop is produced (English InI; Spanish In/); (e) the
and two active). English Iw/. tongue and the palatal area, a palatal nasal stop is produced (Spanish 1]11);

,14 111(he cnse oi' (11CEl1glish zj/lherc is 110 cOl1tact, jllSt nrrroximatiol1.
71/C Orgalls o/c)'peech l'he Urgalls ofSpeech

(d) the tongue and the velar area, a velar nasal stop is produced (English
(j>. Complete cl.ill'-~ and cIose narrowing_

This is the manner of articulation of the affricaíe. sounds: there is a

Therc are thrcc maio s.1a~ in thc production of a stop sound: (]) the complete blockagc at some point in thc vocal tract, but the scparation of
approximation stage (the articulators approach each other); (2) the the two organs is not rapid (as for stops) and at thc same time thcy remain
blockage or compression or stop stage (the air is compres sed behind tile close enough as to produce friction. There are two affricate sounds in
articulators); and (3) the release stage (the air is released in a small burst). English (the palato-alveolar ItS,d3/) and one in Spanish (the palatal le/).
These three stages can be seen in the following diagrammatie These can be represented in the following diagram:
representation ofthe sounds Ip,b/:

()A pproxlmatlOnstage
.. ~OCkage stage
approximation stage blockage stage friction stage
,':7 .•é}U~

_A stricture of c10se ~proximation (a close narrowing)
The air passes through two organs approximated to sueh a way that he
rassing air produces frietion (hissing noisc). Thcy are ea1Jed fricativc
A partial c10sure (lateral sounds)

sounds. A partía1 elosure is made at some point in the mouth, the air-stream being
allowed to escape on one or both sides of the contaet. The result is a
There are 14 fricative sounds in English and Spanish (9 in English and 5 continuant sound, with no stopping of air. The main lateral sO\lnd in
in Spanish): labiodental (English If,v/; Spanish If/); dental (English /8,5/); English is the alveolar /\/. There are two lateral sounds in Spanish: the
alveblar 11/ and the palatal I IJ.
interdental (Spanish 18/); alveolar (English Is;zJ; Spanish Is/); palato-
alveolar (English IS,3/); palatal (Spanish 0/); velar (Spanishlx!) and
glottal (English /h!). Fricative sounds45,can be represented with following (~ • An ;nter~ent elosure
diagram: There are two main types: the~orJlw!§.and the~or~ Spanish

~ passive tap Ir! in the
has one articulator (theproduction of which the tongue taRs
alveolar ridge): once a~ainst
1'h~( fea.•, a
. Friction stage

, ~
ffIn the case of the rolls, a series of rapid intermittent taps are madc wÍth
Exccpt for the glottal sOllndIhl whcre two active articlllators are involved. the tongue. One example is the Spanish sound If/: , ,/"./_ \, I .._~_,
1, "
/ ,/' .' ;.'\
68 (.{, -, , ' ';~.\.
,- .-', 1
69 \:;;:
,\;' ~ \
j,,? i"
\ I ,: " .,'
The Organs ofSpeech The Organs of Speech

(4) ..Il.Ef1!r~eof etcwioJLof the ton~ Taking into account this

V\_ (5)
distinction we can distinguish four positions: open, half-open,
close amI half-close.
IntensitY-é It refers to the energy necessary for the production
of the sound. This is made by the muscular effort and the
tension organs adopt. They can be tense or lax.
@). Approximant (open articulation) (6) . Duratio~ It is highly related to int~nsity: long vowels are
tenser than short vowels ..
One articulator is close to another but without the vocal tract being (7) ~.~ Phonological speaking, all vowels are voiced but
narrowed to such an extent that a turbulent air-stream is produced (noise from the phonetic point of view there couId be so me
component). The sounds produced in this way are also called rrictionless devoicing. There is a phenomenon calIed aspiration which
continuants. There are three46 main approximant sounds in English: the implies the devoicing ofthe folIowing vowel49.
palatal/j/, the labio-velar Iwl and the post-alveolar Ir/. (8) f.uJ::C I Gliding¡. A gliding vowel is that in the production of
which avariation or change of level takes place (diphthongs).
Apure vowel does not change its original level when it is
Ir. VOWELS uttered (monophthongs).

There are eight main factors which have to be taken into account when In order to provide a precise means of identifYing the vowel sounds of a
describing a vowel sound. These are the following ones: language, Daniel Jones (1881-1967) devised a set ofstandard reference
points. These standard points are called.&ª,.I;.dinaI-v..o.w.eI~. In the same
(1) way that the cardinal points of the compass indicate four basic points
. Position of the soft palate: Phonologically speaking, it is
normally nllscd iilEl1glish and Spanish. From the phonetic (l1orth, sOllth, cast and west) which help YOll to locate YOllrscl f whcncver
point of view we have to distinguish between oral and you are, the cardinal vowels can hclp you to identir,y any vowcl sOllnd 01'
nasalised vowels. These last ones are produced when the any language. This systcm is bascd on a combination of articulatory and
vow~1 is between two nasal consonants47: "man" or "mantel". auditory factors. Basically, these cardinal vowels are described using two
(2) Part o[ thLtongue which raises most: We divide vowels parameters: (1) the part of the tongue which is being raised (rront, central
into: front, central and back. or back); and (2) the tongue height: from the highest position to which the
(3) tongue can be raised without producing audible friction (close position)
E-OJ!ition and shape oí the Iips: It is related to the degree and
aperture formed by the Jips. In both, English and Spanish, to the lowest position the tongue is capable of (open position). Taking
back vowels are rounded48• this into account, we can identifY eight primary cardinal vowels: CV 1
[i], CV2 [e], CV3 [3], CV4 [a], CV5 [a], CV6 [J], CV7 [o] and

46 The lateral IV is also considered an approximant sound because there is no CV8 [u]. The highest position of the. tongue is CVl (front) and the
noise component in the release stage. AdditionaIly, some authors (see Catford, lowest CV5 (back). If the tongue is lowered from its highest position we
1988) also consider nasal consonants approximants for the same reason. obtain CV2, CV3 and CV 4. If the tongue is· raised from its lowest
47 When the vowcl is just followed by a nasal consonant, there couId also be position, we obtain CV6, CV7 and CV8. From CVI to CV.4, all vowels
;so me nasalisation: "and" or "pan". are front, and from CV5 (o CV8 all vowels are back. All fron( voweIs are
·IK Thc only exccpliol1 is thc English back vowcl la:/. Allhough it is back, the lips
are neutrally open. 49 This wiIl be discussed later on.

70 71
The Organs of Speech
unrounded but not all back owelsare rounded. There is one back vowel ~ \ /I\IJ
"i',- I
~he Or ms ofSpeech ¿) ,
which is unrounded: CV5. A secondary series of voweJs (the secondary
cardinal vowels) can be oblained by reversing the posilion of the lips ".--/ 'c1'

(from CV9 to CV16) and then six more vowels were added to the central 4.3 Exercises
are a (from CY17 to CY2250). Mótt(1996:7l-2): ~(~/c; 'fJ...))·(/\~

l. Label the organs of speech on the following diagram and provide

their transJations ¡nto Spanish51:

.p(01r l''):(-','(' - -~
o -;o
e u
/0 -c_~/o',____
t 0<.--1
)'2t--j~'> -·1 e,~:.Q
-)---< VlÚ_)
",J .)("c\
,rA __, ")( . Lo
íé~' ~",;o.~"",
\" O.Y"

c.>1 (·J~F~·
d/0 e',,;'
( rSPANISH c..
C, d 0'1"r'J')
')'~_,,-: ~__ 'FC)·!....;""> \,
7 10
8 3 9 6 45 2 1

50 Numbers 17-19 unrounded and numbers 20-22 rounded. 51 This exercise has been adapted fTom Mott (1996:52).

72 73
The Organs 01 Speech r The Organs 01 Speech

11 ,).' -í
L )(;''''
c:> '-rf"2;"b '*+~
C".--- l' A
f~j '?J;
Jf'J ,/,{
'(C>.'0 '.-<~
VI ,~ ~j-./
,-, 'eL,
00(, ,
,.j<....'y- ,,(
e,C- 'C\, C/.,)
3 14

(e) (1)

2. Figures (a)-(g) illustrate al! the p1aces of articulation of consonant

sounds in the words "centenarian" and "centenario". Choose 'ílu2. uvuJ.t.t Ls.

the correct profile for each sound: (English Is, t, r/; Spanish deu.,V) .'
18,t, rI and English-Spanish In/). r
____"t:/~ f.i>.~

@ FriartivaIAlu-eeeaJr;~~ ® Od,Llb-tvo. j serch., C~IJ

él--.- (g)


,~ ce&f<Z-9-{
3. lllustrate the position of the vocal organs during the first
consonants in each ofthe fol!owing words. Use a wavy line at the
glottis ifthe sound is voiced and a straight line ifvoiceless.

(a) day
e tftLLLcil (b) día
(e) boy
(d) voy
(e) gnaw
(1) gente

(e) (d)

74 75
The OrguJ/S aj ::;peech
The Organs ofSpeech

4. Dcscribc (hc consonnnls in lhc \Vonl "ccnlenarinn" llsing (he

chart below:

Mannerof arto
of arto
VoicedIV oiceless
~ "-.CC-

\ Isl

t (

~\ í
, 5. Describe the consonants in the word "centenario" using the ehart

( Voieed/V Place
of arto
oiceless of

, ~.~ "'i~7\

6. Circle the word that:

(a) that begin with a bilabial sound:

mamá papá niño mother father child

(b) that end with a stop:

pan mantel constreñir consonant lamb Bob

(c) in which the consonant in themiddle is voiced:

bajo atar casa putting hissing lenis

(d) that bcgin with a nasal sound:

no sí niño gnat knot knee

76 77
The Organs of Speech The Organs ofSpeech

(e) that begin with an alveolar sound:

tonto soso nene till dental see
8. Place the following words in the suitable square taking into
(1) that end with a voiced sound: account how you pronounce the following English and Spanish
pequeños los azahar house houses pour

(g) that contain a front vowel:

mi me tan pea said book .r'Bl~ase ---

- dQOr..,...,-'-.-
...:.heatCi - eat "yf"
,/ /'" - e r ~ tu - '-
- tren - pan

(h) that contain a c10se vowel:

ven mis plan tea pit mum

f&;1,.!>-<:.. td
(i) that contain a rounded vowel:

pan con sin pool him who

7. ClassifY the following saunds taking into aeeount the type of

artieulators involved in their pronuneiation: 9. Pravide the appropriatc phonetie symbol for eaeh of the',
fallowing sounds:

" ....
.... -.----
-.-'- .......•
- --- .... --- --
_._ _._.~-_
.. , ..• .•.

- --.-- ...------- Activc+i\ctivc
Voiccd. /I !
.. •• '0 ••• ___ ----

I/ ! Spanish
u. -- .. - ........

(Span. &
(Span. & ti /m/
& Eng.)
V--oiccd, palatal,
•• --.----.---.---- -dcnlal,
latcral -
,,- ••
---- •• ----.-.,.--.- - __ o••• ,. ____
--~--._---_ --- .--.--
.. __

V oiceless,
V oiccd,dental, oral stop
alvcolar, oral stop

52 Pay attcntion to the position of your tongue.

(i) The primary cardinal vowels are _
10. Complete each ofthe statements below:

(a) In English the sounds /w, jI are also called

U) The secondary cardinal vowels are obtained
(b) In Spanish there are two vibrating consonants ' and

(k) The cardinal vowels are usefut in order to describe

(c) Contoids are sounds in the production of which

(d) In the production ofthe English sound /h/ two _

articulators are involvcd.

(e) Lenis sounds are produced

(f) English and Spanish have sounds which

are sounds sent with ingressive air. They are used in just a few
cases: _

(1'.) Approxilllallts alld Ilasals are alíke bcc:tuse

(h) The main differ~nce het~een a plosive and an affricate is found

in the production of the stage.

80 81


5.1 Comparison of Spanish and English systems

IJIC E...nglish consonant system is made up of six plosives (lp,b,t,d,k,g/)

plus the optional glottal stop (171)53, nine frieatives (/f,v,8,o,s,z,J,3,hl),
two affrieates (ltJ,d31), three nasals (/m,n,1J1) and four approximants
(l1,r wl). The Span ish eansanant system has six plasives (/p,b,t,d,k,gl),
five fricatives (/f,O,sJ,xI), one affrieate (/el), thr~c nasals (lm,nJ1l), twa
laterals (/I,A:I) and two vibrants (lr,rl).

Aceording to Finch and Ortiz Lira (1982:61-2) there are four main
difTcrcnecs whieh distinguish the Spanish and the English eonsonant
phonemcs: .

2. English has l pair of affrieatc and 4 pairs of frieativc phonemcs;

l. English makcs use of24 consnnan! oppnsi!ionsi~panish only 19.
Spanish has l single affricate and 5 single frieatives.
3. Almost half the English phonemes (Le. 11) are normally artieulated
in the alvealar regian, as opposed to only 5 in Spanish.
4. Only <) al' thc 2/1 English phOnCl11CS havc similar Spanish
eorrcspanuents: Ip,b,k,g,m,n,l,f,s/.

Due to these differenees an English/Spanish learner of Spanish/English

may face a series of difficulties which O'Connor (1980: 145) summariscs
in the following ¡ist:

l. Ivl and Ibl are confused; sometimes Ibl replaees Ivl and sometimes
the reverse. In English, Ibl must be a complete stop in all positions, and
Ivl a lip-tecth friction saunu.

53The glattal plasive /71 accurs frequently but it is of less importance, since it is
usually just an altcrnatiw pronunciation 01' /p,t.k/ in ccrtain contcxts.


2. 151 and Idl are confused; sometimes IdI (a very dental variety) air 15 finalIy released it do es so in a kind of explosion. We have. different
types of plosives depending on the place at which this blockage of air
replaces 151 and somctimes the reverse. In English, IdI must be a takes place: alveolar, bilabial, velar, etc. If the air is released through the
complete alveolar stop in all positions, and 151a dental friction sound. mouth, this is an oral sound, but if it is through the nose, this is nasal
3. Igl is often replaced by a similar friction sound; this does not sOllnd. When \Ve rcfer to hoth oral and nasal plosiws, \Ve nonnnlly USe
generally Icad to misunderstanding but should be avoided. In English, Ig/ the term stop. English has six plosive consonants: t\Vo bilabials (lpl
must be a complete stop in all positions .. voiceless and Ibl voiced), two alveolars (lt/ voiceless and Idl voiced), and
4. Isl and IzJ are confused, Isl usually being used for both, though only two velars (M voiceless and Ig/ voiced). Spanish has six plosive
phonemes: two bi1abials (lpl voiceless and Ibl voiced), two dentals (ltl
, I§I occurs before voiced consonants. Isl before other consonants is very
voicelcss and Idl voieed), and t\Yo velars (/k/ voiceless and Ig/ voiCl.:d).
'wcak and is often replaccd by Ihl in Latin Amcriean Spanish and
A· Jalllsian. When talking about Spanish plosives it is very important to distinguish
5. 131occurs in Argentinian Spanish but not elsewhere and both ISI and them from {t4¿fricatives because all Spanish voiced plosives (lb,d,gI)
have a fricative reali~:ltion. The main difference between a fricative and a.
131 are then replaced by Is/.
pIosive sound is that in the production of the first the air is allowed to
6. Id31 and Itjl are confused, Icl being uscd for both. escape through a small passage and so it makes a hissing sound.
7. In Latin American Spanish Ihl is usually acceptable for English. In AdditionalIy, fricatives are continuant consonants, \Vhich means that you
Peninsular Spanish /hI is replaced by a strong voiceless friction sound can continue making them without interruption as long as you have
made between the back of the tongue and the soft palate. This does not enough air in your lungs.
cause confusion, but creates a disagreeable effect, and the mouth friction
must be avoided. These fricative realisations of the Spanish voiced plosives are usuaJIy
transcribed as [0,5,'Y]. A1though it has traditionalIy be en assumed that
8. IfJI does not occur independently in Spanish and is replaced by InI 01'
the fricatives are the subordinate aIJophones, recent research on Janguage
acquisition among Mexican children has shown that the fricatives are
9. 111is always clear in Spanish. acquired first and remained dominant. These fricative realisations are
10. in Spanish is a tongue-tip roll 01' tapo
produced in the folJowing contexts:
11. Ip,t,kl are not aspirated in Spanish.
17.. ('onson:lI1( scq\lcnces in Sp:lnish consist or:ln initi:ll stop or Irl +
1I'.I.wl 01' li/. (>lIwl' il1itiull'lInslllllll1t~; I1II1Y11l' li¡llow('d 11l1lyhy fil 01' Iw/. Ib/: (bl (dc.:lilldl ullopllllll(,: liS plllsivc.:):
I\lul1Y ,,1' 1111~1':I1¡'.li:;l1il1iti;" :;('IIII('IICCSUl1d11II110s11111rillul Sl~qll(,IIC(,SIII'C in initial posilion 01' a phonic grollp (Le. ¡1Iit:r
vcry diniclllt and need 11111chpraetiee. pause): "bote" [bóte]
after the nasal consonant [m] (orthographically

5,2 Plosivcs "m" 01' "n"): "un bote" [úm bóte]

[P] (fricative aIJophone):
Álthough the term "oclusiva" is generaIJy used in Spanish rather than in any other position: "ese bote" [ése póte]
"plosiva", they both refer to the same type of sound. A plosive sound is a
type of sound in the production of which there is a complete closure at
. some point which prevents the ,air from escaping. When this compres sed

84 85
Consonants Consonants

Id/: [d] (default allophone: as plosive): 2. Non-audible release: Before pauses; it is produced by a weak
in initial position of a phonic group (Le. after opening of the stop: such plosives are said to be incomplete and are quite
pause): "dedo" [déé5o] frequent in familiar speech; lack ofrelease is common in "all right!,,54.
after the nasal [n] and the lateral [1]: "un dedo" 3. Non-audible release in stop clusters: oral plosive + oral plosive or
oral plosive + affricate. Either within a word or at word boundaries, the
[ ú~ déé50 ]
first plosive has non-audible release: "dropped" ,o
['dJDP>'-' t"]; "good boy"
[o] (fricative allophone):
['gud> ,-,lb:)'!]; "object" [Iob>'-' d3ek> '-'t"]; "great joke" ['gJerf,-, d3eukC]
in any other position: "ese dedo" [ése é5éoo]
4. Nasal relcase: When a plosive is followed by a homorganic nasa¡55 -
Ig/: [g] (default allophone: as plosive): either syllabic or initial in a following syllable oi word- the release stage
in initial position of a phonic group (Le. after is performed nasally. That is, the third stage only consists in the loweririg
pause): "gasa" [gása] of the soft palate, so that the air compressed behind the oral stop escapes
after the nasal [n] (> [IJ]): "un gato" [úlJ gáto] through the nose. This can occur either within words (in the same or
[y] (fricative realisation): difTerent syllables) or at word boundary: "sllbmerge" [seb> ,-,'m3:d3]; "not
in any other position: "ése gato" [ése Yáto] now" [Inof '-'l1a'u]; "cotton" ['khof ,-,'11].
5. Lateral release: When It,dI are followed by IV, both plosives are
Another factor to take into account when dealing with the different normally released lateraIly. Lateral release occurs whether the following
rcalisations of Spanish plosivcs is thal Spanish shows a gencral tcndcncy /1/is syllabic or initial in thc ncxt syllable or word: "cattlc" ['kh ref ,-,'t],
to produce open syllablcs, that is syllables of with the structure "regardless" [IJrga :d>•••••••.
les], "bad :)ght" ['bred> lart"]. It is never in initial
o o .•.••.•.•
"consonant + vowel" (CV) as in "ca-sa, pa-pá". So, when a phoneme is in
clusters: "play".
an impIosive ("implosiva") position -Le. after a syllabic nucleus- it
tends to be modified or even to disappear: CVC => CVCI or CV:
As Finch and Ortiz Lira (1982:62) point out, Spanish plosives do not
CVCI occur together very freqllently; therefore, non-audible, nasal and lateral
"acto" [áyto,
"ábside" CV
[ákto ]
I [Mo] CVC
types of release are of exceptional occurrence, the first two never
appearing in the same syIlable, and none ofthem in final position:

Non-audible release: Ipt/ and Ikt/ (as in "apto,

acto") are the only examples. Whenever a lenis
plosive interven es it is realised as a fricative [OY ]
In the prodllction of an English plosive we have to take into aceount that
the release stage can takc place in five difTercnt ways: and [BoJ as in "Edgardo, abdicar"
Nasill release: It,kl are the only two plosives
l. Complete plosive: When 3 stagcs occur (closllre, stop, releasc). which can have nasal release in carerlll Spanish
("étnico, técnica"). ln familiar style, though, these

54 For teaching purposes it is not necessary to mark this allophonic variant, which
is in free variation with the oral relcase.
\\ Tllal is, seqllenccs Ip,bl I Im/; It,JI I Inl or Ik,gl I 1r)/.

86 87
Cvnsvmmls Consonanls

seqllenccs tcnd to be realised as ton] and ['tn] 01'

[f)n] respectively. Pre-nasal lenis plosives ... the voicing 01' the vowel does not begin togethcr \\'ith the
rdense stage 01' the plosiw, but some time latel'. When the lips
become fricative: [om] and [~m] as in "admirar,
separate after the stop for the first segment in "purse", for
instance, the tongue is already in position for the vowel, but only
Lateral release: ItI is exploded laterally in just a
fcw instances: "atlas". breath comes out ([ 3o D before the vocal folds start vibrating. This
voice!ess interval between the release stage of a plosive Ilnd (he
Another phonetic process which is typical of Eng]ish plosives is voicing 01' a lollowing vowcl is caIIcd aspiration, and although it
aspiration. Although the first phase (Le. the closure) in the production of consists of a voiceless vowel, convention has assigned it the
a plosive is similar in English and Spanish, vocal folds are not completely diacritic [h J. AlIophonically, then, "purse" is transcribed [lph3'S J
closed in the production of an English plosive. So,the released air do es i~lstead of [lp~3SJ, though both notations are correct, phonetically
not come only from the mouth butalso from the lungs, and that is why a speaking, since [h] is nothing but a voiceless variety of any
strong aspiration is produced. On the other hand, in Spanish, there is a vowel quality.
complete closure of the vocal folds. So when air escapes, this comes only
from the mouth. When an English speaker is trying to produce an
accurate Spanish plosive he will have to avoid this aspiration. He will
have to produce a perfect closure ofthe glottis, something similar to what There are various degrees of aspiration: ~ and strong aspiration.
English voiceless plosives are weakly aspirated in unaccented syllables
he would do when producing a vowel in initial position. In the following
and generally in word-final position: [lIp"]. These plosives are
picture (Quilis and Fernández, 1996: 84) we can compare the production
01'an Eng!ish am! a Spanish plosive: unaspirated when preceded by Isl ([Skld]) or when followcd by II,r,w\i/.
In the case of 11,1', w j/, the aspiration of Ip,t,k/ makes them devoiced:
"please": [pli:z l "try" [uaI l "quick" [kWIkl "nure" [piU::1]. Aspiration is
cierre obertura cierre oberturo
d. la d. la baca d. la d. la boca easy to recognise because it implies a "puff of air". A good practice is to
boca boca
hold a sheet of paper in front of your mouth: it will flap if you have
asplralcd 11.
•• t.,"t' ~. -

entrada In vibración cierre 5.3 Fricatives and affricates

d. los cu.rdos vocales d. la glotis

Figure 1 Frieatives can also be called "spirants" « Latin "spirare" = "to

breathe") or breathed consonants. English has nine fticatives: two
labiodentals (lf/ voiceless and Ivl voiced); two dentals (181 voiceless and
This aspiration is produced when the English fortis plosives Ip,t,k/ 101 voiced); two aIveolars (lsl voiceless and IzI voiced); two palato-
precede vowel sounds in an accented syllabIe. As Pinch and Ortiz Lira alveolars (19 vokeJess and 131 voiced) and one glottaJ (1hI voiceless).
(1982:54-5) explain:
There are five fticative phonemes in Spanish: 1 voiceJess 1abiodental/f/,
1 voiceless interdental/8/, 1 voiceIess aJveoJar Is/, 1 voiced .paJatal Ijl and

, 88 89
Consonants Consonants

1 voieeless velar Ix/. PhonetiealIy, we find: 1 voieed bilabial W]

(alIophone of lb/); 1 voieeless labiodental [f] (alIophone of If/); 1 voieed Although the Spanish eonsonant system lacks a v;oieed frieative alveolar
phoneme (English 1zJ), it has a voiced allophone of the phoneme Is/: [§].
dental [o] (allophone of Id/) and 1 voiceless interdental [8] (aIlophone of
Although this realisation is' not very constant, it tends to oecur when
IS/); 2 alveolars: 1 voiceless [s] (allophone of Is/) and 1 with voieed [§]
followed by a voiced sound: "muslo" [mú§lo], "mismo" [mí§mo]. In
(allophone of Is/); 1 voiced palatal m(allophone of Ij/); and 2 velars: 1
some are as of Spain (for example Andalusia) when this sound is in a
voieeless [x] (aIlophone of/xI) and 1 voieed ["6"] (allophone of/g/). postnuclear position, it is normally produced as a laryngeal frieative, a
kind of aspiration: "este" [éhte], "mismo" [míh~o]. Finally, it can even
As eXplained previously, many ofthe voieed counterparts disappeared in disappear and modifY the preeeding vowel (making it more open): "dos."
the Spanish phonological system and it is among fricative consonants [d:,)]. This phcnomcnon is vcry eommon in somc arcas of Eastcrn
where this phenomenon is mueh more evident. One example which is
Andalusia. Another eontext in which this sound can disappear in
worth mentioning is that of the voiced labiodental Ivl which disappeared
eolloquial speeeh is when it precedes fr/: "Israel" [iraél], "las rejas"
at the beginning of the Modero Age. Many Spanish speakers still believe
that this sound really exists in our language. This could be due to the fact [Iaréxas] .
that many teachers at primary ::hool use this sound to help their students
to write correctly some words such as "vino", which must be written with The voiced palatal fricative U] is realised as sueh when it is not preceded
"v" and not "b". This phenomenon is ealled hypercorrection.
by a pause, nasal 01' lateral. In these cases 01' when spoken with emphasis'
in absolute initial position ("yo" (jó]), we get an allophone which is a

There are plaees in Spain and Latin America where speakers do not know voiced affrieate palatal sound [j] 01' [d3]. So, we have two affrieates in
the Spanish interdental sound 18/56 and they only use the alveolar one Is/. Spanish: one voiceIess phoneme (lel or ftS/) and one voiced allophone:
This phenomenon is known as "seseo". The distinetion Is/-/OI is [3] or [d3]. The English affrieates are ItL d3/. Some phoneticians treat
lleLltralised and words such as "caza" and "casa" are pronounced in the the Itrl am! Idrl 0(' words like "trial" am! "dream" as single-unit phonelllL:s
same way. Just the opposite can also happen, that is, that speakers do not and put them in the alTricate category, too. Those who support this view
use lhe sound Isl <lne!they only employ 10/. This is something typical 01' argue that the realisation of the phoneme Irl is a frieative realisation afld
sOl11e AndalLIsian villages and it is calIed "ceceo". For these speakers, rol' this rcason we havc a plosive plus a fricative and there is no reasoll to
there is no di f1crcnce betwecn "serrar" and "cerrar". difTercntiate them Irom ItSI and Id3/. Thc main dincrcncc betweell
Spanish and English aflrieates is that the seeond are produccd in a more
Spanish Isl and English Isl are not identieal. Whcreas you use the tip of advanced point of articulation. Apart from their point of artieulation, they
your tongue in the production of a Spanish Is/, in the produetion of an also differ in their distribution. Whereas both English phonemes can
English Is/ you use the blade. In fact, the tip is the part of the tongue appear either in pre- or post-nuclear position ("ehureh" ItJ3:tJI and
(approaching the baek of the alveolar ridge) used in order to produce an
English ISI. For this rcason, somc English speakers think a Spaniard is
"judge" Idy,d3/), both Spanish sounds can only oeeur in pre-nuclear

prooucing n soulld similar to thcir IJ'I whcn in fi.Jct it is an Is/. position: "chico" [eíko]; "el yugo" [el jÚYo]. So, the main problem for a
Spania~d is one of distribution, mainly when they oeeLlr very close
together: '~Which George" "Each judge", ete.
,"6 Orthographically, it eorrcsponds to "e + e, i" and "z + a, o, u".

90 01
( 'U".\'U"III1I,I' ( 'UII.I'U"c/lIIS

5.4 Nasals to t::kc into considcratil)n ¡s that \\'l' ha\'c ll) distingu\sh th\\\.' n\:\\n
positions: initial, medial and final:
The basic characteristic of a nasal consonant is that the air escapes
through the nose because the soft palate is lowered. So, the air does not
pass through the mouth, it is prevented by a complete closure in the ]. In initial position: IfJI never occurs in this position. It is a phoncme
mouth at some point. There are three types of cIosure in both English and
of restricted occurrence (together with /h, r, 3, w, j/).
Spanish but only two ofthem are identical: the bilabial (lips): 1m! and the
alveolar (tongue blade against the alveolar ridge): InI. Apart from these 2. MediaIly: The spelling "n k" always corresponds to [1Jk], that is, you
two common to both English and Spanish, English has a velar nasal (back always pronounce the sound [k]. But the spelling "ng" may be
,of thc tongue against the soft palate): IfJI and Spanísh has a palatal nasal pronounccd [IJg] or [IJ]. There is a morphologícal rule which predicts
I.rl. that when the word can be divided into two morphemes, Ig/ will not
be pronounced ("singer" = "sing" + "er"). But when the word cannot
Thcy are also calIcd frictionlcss continuants because, the samc as
be divided, Ig/ will be pronounced ("finger"). As with every single
fricativcs, YOll can go on making thcm as long as you have enough air in rule, it has an exception: the ru]c ,'redicts that the Igl wilI not be
your lungs but they are frictionless because no audible friction is
pronounced in super]atives and comparatives but the opposite·
produced. For this reason they resemble vowel-type sounds, In fact, they
happens: "Ionger" [Iol)gg] and "Iongest" []DIJgrst].
may perform thc syIlabic function of vowcIs. Thc most common nasal
3. Final: As the final position of a word is also the end of a rnorpheme,
cansonant which can be syllabic nucleus ís the alveolar one ("ridden"
it seems obvious that "ng" wi1! always be pronoullccd wit!1out thc r g]
IndI,1/); thcn the bilabial ("rhythm" /non~/) and finally the vejar onc
sound: "ring" [lltJ].
("bacon" IbeI kIJ/).
4. Vowels that folIow: A fourth way in which the distribution of IfJI is
The phonemes Iml and InI represent no problem for Spanish/English
un usual is that it never occurs after a diphthong or long vowel, and in
learners of English/Spanish because apart from being identical in their
fact there are only 4 vowels which can precede this consonant: h, ~,
articulation, thcy can occur in prc- amI post-syllabic positions in both
/\, DI.
languages57• Howcver, the English velar hJI gives considerable problems
to Spanish speakers for two reasons: (1) the Spanish phonological system
lacks this phoneme; and (2) the distribution of this phoneme ís unusual. Nasals (mainly the alveolar one) assimilate very readily in both English
In relation to the first point it is worth mentioning that although Spanish and Spanish. There is a long list of a1!ophones in both languages. The
lacks this phoneme, it has a velar allophone of the alveolar InI. The main 7 alIophones of Spanish InI are:
problem is that Spanish speakers only produce this sound when followed
In! [n] (Le. alveolar):
by a velar sound ("ganga", "anca"'). For this reason, when a Spanish
speaker tries to pronounce words such as "song" [SDlJ], he pronounces in prenuclear syllabic position: "cana" [kána]

[sólJg]. In relation to the problems of distribution, the first thing we have in postnuclear syllabic position followed by an
alveolar consonant or vowel: "insociable"
[ins08já13le]; "un eje" [ún éxe]
5: English has 1m! in all positions bu! Spanish ]acks this phoneme in word-final
position, except in the onomatopoedic word ("¡pum!"). Syllable-final [m] is . [m] (Le. bilabial):
found in Spanish before Ipl and Ibl: "improbable, imbécil". in postnuclear syllabic position followcd by a
bilabial consonant: "un vaso" [úm báso]

92 93
· Consonants Consonants

(Le. labiodental): English learners of Spanish also have to leam a new nasal sound: the
followed by a voiceless labiodental fricative If/: palatal I]l! -orthographical!y represented by "ñ". It is rare word-initially
"infáme" [illJ fáme ] (Sp. "ñoño") and does not appear in final position in Spanish. This
(Le. iI)terdental): , position is particularly interesting to note in the case of al! Spanish nasal
sounds. Quilis and Femández (1996: 116) describe the process of
fol!owed by a voiceless interdental fi'icative 18/:
neutralisation of Spanish nasal consonants in post-syllabic position in
"once" [óI)8c] thc folIowing way:
-} (i.c. dcntal):
Los fonemas nasales funcionan como tales Únicamente cuando se
fol!owed by a voiced or voiceless dental It,d/:
"donde" [dóI;1de]; "lento" [léI;1to] encuentran en posición silábica prenuclear, explosiva: cama -:-
cana - caña (/ká-ma, ká-na, ká-Jla:/). Por el contrario, cuando se
[n,] (Le. palatalized: but not so palatal as IJl/):
encuentran en posición silábica implosiva, postnuc1ear, pierden
followed by a palatal consonant [c] or [J]: "un sus caracteres distintivos. En esta situación, los fonemas 1m, n,]11
chico" [ún, cíko] no se oponen, se neutralizan. Por lo tanto, en el plano fonológico,
[r:¡] (Le. velar): es necesario sustituir todos los alófonos· dados para Inl por el
followed by a voiced or voiceless velar /k,g/: arehifonema INI: 1Nf, N8, Nt, Nd, Nk, Ng,Nb, Np, Ne, NJ, Ns/.
"manco" [mar:¡ko]; "un gato" [úlJ gáto]
For this reason, minimal pairs sueh as "thin" and "thing" will represent an
important diffieulty for Spanish speakers ofEnglish.

Some of the most common aJlophones of English Inl are:

5.5 Approximants vs. Liquids

In! [rl)]
Is/: "snorc"
(before bcft)rc
devoiced l
whcn J:ain"un
contact words):
with "tenet"
"ten or
a pause
If thc articuIators nearly make contact but do not actual!y constrict the air
when a"ten
cups", voiceless
girls". consonant precedes, espccialIy
passage as to produce a friction noise, then we produce what are known
as npproximants 01' frictionlcss continllnnts; which in English are
II,r,i,w/~K as in "Iip" Illp/, "rcal" 11'1:11/, "YOIl" fill:/, "was" IWlJz/. Thne i.';
no dividillg line bclwcen tlH: consonant category ami thc vowel catcgory,
we arc dealing with degrces of stricture. If we widen the articulatory
channel, we will produce a vowel; if we narrow it, we wil! utter a
fricative. In contrast to fricatives, in the produetion of an approximant
there is no noise component or turbulenee.

58 Some phonetitians (notably Catford, I988, chp. 4) a]so cJass the nasal
consonants Im,n,r:J/ and the c]ose vowe]s /i,u/ as approximants because the air
flow becomes turbulent when they are devoiced. ]n Spanish linguistic manua]s,
the nasal consonants are often referred to as "continuantes".

COIlSOllallls C<J//soll<1II1s

In the scale of promincnce, approximants are almost as prominent as Th.: sounds Il,m,n,I]1 could be considered contoids and vocoids at the
vowels59 and much more prominent than the rest of consonants. I-Iere is a samc time. The sound 11/ is a contoid beca use the tongue tip is in contact
verticalline representing the different degrees of prominence: with the alveoles but a vocoid because ·the air is exploded lateraIly
without obstruction. SimilarIy, .the nasals can be considered contoid
because there is an obstruction in the mouth (the lips; the tongue +
+ prominent alveoles; the back of the tongue + the soft palate). But at the same time
they can al so be considcrcd vocoids because the air escapes freely
open vowels through the nose. Their (/l,m,n,I]/) vocoid quality is stressed by the fact
close vowels
that they can be a syIlabic nucleus.
nasals and Il/
'yoiccd eonsonants The approximant Irl has fallen from pronunciation in Standard English in
voiecIcss consonants post-syIlabic position but in many American dialccts it is retained as a
retroflex consonant (the tip of the tongue is curled back). When this post-
- prominent syIlabic Irl is pronounced it mereIy gives the preceding vowel a particular
rcsonancc. This vowcl bccoll1cs an "/r/-colourcd" or rhotacizcd vowc1.
RP and all of south-castcrn England, Australia, Ncw Zealand, SOllth
If we take into account that the nucleus of a syllable represents the peak Africa, and, variably, the sOllthern United St:\ks ami Enstcrn Nc\\'
of promincnce in the syllable, it is not jllSt a coincidence that sounds sllch England are non-rhotic. Northcrn and wcstern England, Scotland, Wales,
as /m,n,I],r,1/ can be a syllabic nucleus. Marginal positions are occupied Ireland, Canada, and most ofthe United States are rhotic. So, a word such
by the rest of the eonsonants. Thc only obligatory clcment in a syIlable is as "car" wi1l be pronounced as Ika:/ in a non-rhotic accent and as !ka:JI in
the nucleus; the onset and the coda are optional elements. I-Iere you have a rhotic accent.
some examples:
_ .•.. __ •. __
--.0_'--~-_. ------
---.---- .--
111 Ikl
Coda'" 111
------- ..
/tIMarginal position
On the other hand, /j,wl are vocoids because they arc open artieulation
but consonants because of their ~arginal position in the syIlable and
because they combine with vowels just like a1l consonants. In fact,
articles have their pre-consonantal rrom when they are followed by /jI or
Iw/: "lhe univcrsity" lo;,jll:m'v3 :s;,til and not */o¡ju:m'v3 :s;,til ami "lhe
water" li')';I'w;,:I';I1 and not "'li~I'w:1:t';l/. Additiol1ally, Ihe so-calkd "lillki,1I'.
Ir/"I>Ois !lol uscd whC!l a Ij/ 01' Iwl follows: "They are young" is lócI~ljArJI
and not loeI~J'jAI]/; and "They are wet" is loeI~lwetl and not IOeI~j'wctl.
The articulation. of each approximant may vary depending on the
articulation ofthe following vowel. Check the position ofyour tonglle in

60 In non-rhotic accents, it is possible that a linking Irl is pronounccd if the

following word begins with a vowel and the preceding one en~s wilh an Ir/:
59Vowels are the most prominent sounds, and among these, open vowels are
"He's got a ear and a bike" /hrz'gvta'ka:J;mda'bark/
more prominent than close vowels.

96 97
Consonants I Consonants

the pronunciatiop. ofthe fel10wing pairs: ''\ve-water''; "reed-raw"; "leave- aproximantes tienen un grado menor de estrechamiento del canal
law"; "yes-yokel". Gimson (1989: 214 and 216): supraglótico, de tal manera que deja de percibirse claramente el
ruido de frotamiento que caracteriza a las fricativas. Además, la
tensión articulatoria y la cantidad total del sonido es bastante
menor. Se escucha como una leve modificación de las vocales
contiguas. 1\. Martine! las llama "cspirnntes" ... No obstante el
nL."u~e inglés tiene otro problema .. Nos referimos a la
identificación de las glides (semjconsonantes y semivocales) y
aproximantes. En castellano esto es inadmisible, pues el sonido
consonántico interior de la palabra "mayo" es diferente por
complcto del segundo de la palabra "pie". El primero es mÚs
cerrado y menos tenso que el segundo, que suele ser un sonido
Figure 2 transitorio, próximo a una vocal. Así pues, adoptaremos la
denominación inglesa, pero para nosotros serán diferentes
siempre las aproximantes y las glides. Las glides son los
elementos que acompañan al núcleo silábico en los diptongos,
mientras que las aproximantes son siempre consonantes, que no
intervienen para nada en los diptongos.

Basically, the term approximant would be used to describe what we have

called up to now the fricative realisations (W,Ó,Y]) ofthe voiced plosives
(Ib,d,gl). Martínez Celdrán points out that a fricative like /s/ is basically
ditTerent from a sound like [(.~]beca use the friction componcnt of thc first
is·rnuch more noticeable. In this way, the tel'll1 approximant would be
Figure 3 used to describe two very different types of sounds in English ami in
Spanish: in English they are open articulation sounds (there is no noise
component) and in Spanish there is so me friction and turbulence
In relation to the use of the term approximant in Spanish Martínez (although less than in a fricative). And finally, they have to be kept
Ccldrán (1986: 170) explains that distinct from the glides. In Spanish, the sounds [jJ and [w] are
semiconsonants and are part of the Spanish rising diphthongs. For this
reason, they are very different from the sounds W,Ó,Y]. SO, MartÍnez
Celdrán concludes, they (U,w]) cannot be included in the same group of
Articulaciones aproximantes. Éste es un neologismo, procedente approximant sounds.
del inglés, que hemos adoptado porque nos parece totalmente
necesario. Este tipo de articulaciones son frecuentes en castellano
y conveniente distinguirlas nctamentc de las fricativas. Las

98 99
Consonants Consonants

We can appreciate these differences in the following diagrams (Martínez pa1JC~ 01' preceded by In,1I'2. Similarly, th:; first sound in the English word
Celdrán, 1986: 173): "we" is different fram the first sound in the Spanish word "guitarra" and
the first sound in the English word "wood" is different from the first
sound in the Spanish word "bueno". In the first examp:::: ("we" -
"guitarra") we have to take into aecount two featurcs: (a) the Spanish
sound is a plosive (Le. there is closure); and (b) the English sound is also
labial. In the second example ("wood" - "bueno") it is important to
remember that: (a) the Spanish sound is a plosive (Le. there is closure);
and (b) the English sound is also velar. So, none of these substitutions is
acceptable. Nevertheless, there is a strong tendency to substitute English
Iwl for Spanish Ibl when this sound is followed by Iv, u:1 01' even h:1 and
ap..-o;O:;IJI,¡¡utt.: b,I ••¡,j••1 \'000.:;,01 p;sIOlt •• /
EJ. }1411k1 t:j. plW
to substitute it for Spanish Ig/ in the rest of the cases. Mott (1996: 137)
suggests that "Just as Eng1ish Ij/ is best practised as a shortened li:1 by
Spanish people, Iwl can be considered a shortened form of lu:/."

In relation to the Spanish sounds 11, 1..., f, r/, they are labelled "liquids"
("líquidas"). The main characteristics of Spanish liquids are: (1) they
represent the maximum opening among consonantal sounds; (2) they
",ltK ••d.l poll"I"¡
EJ. n!/lvu¡;r
have the highest tone in the consonantal system; and (3) despite their
degree of opening, there is some noise component. Liquids are made up
of lateral s and vibrants ("vibrantes").
Figure 4

Quilis and Femández (1996: 122) define lateral consonants in the

foIlowing way:
So, Ij/ and Iwl cannot be compared in both languages because apart from
the faet of (1) being very short elements and (2) and never oeeurring as
syllabic nuelei in English and Spanish, these two sounds61 do not share
Las consonantes lateralcs son aqucllas cn las quc durantc su
any 01 her fcature. They are di ff'crent from Engl ish in that they can be part emisiÓn el aire fonndor sale a través de IIn cs1rech:lIl1icnlo
o!' III[~ I)['al, 01' Ihe syllnbk ("picrna"). So, Ihey dilTcr in Ihcir
producido por un lado o los dos de la lengua y el reborde o los
reborde s homólogos de la región pre o mediopalatal. Las cuerdas
vocales vibran siempre durante la emisión de estos sonidos.
The Spanish speaker has to take into aceount that the first sound in the
English word "yes" is radieally different fram the first sound in the
Spanish word "yo".' The Spanish saund is pranaunced with frlctian al'
even closure (affricate) when uttered 'with emphasis, in contact ",ith a

62Spanish leamers of English should keep IjI distinct rrom Id3/ as thcrc are
(,] Which are hornographones in both languages. minimal pairs like "yacht" /jDt/ and "jot" /d3Dt/.

100 101
Consonants Consonants

PhonologicalIy" there are 2 laterals: 1 palatal Ifj and 1 alveolar 11/. Quilis andFernández (1996:129) define vibrant consonants in the
Phonetically, there are 4 allophones: l palatal [Á], I alveolar [1], l dental following way:
[,1], and 1 interdental [!]. In English there is just one lateral phoneme 11/

and it has 3 main allophones: l alveolar [lt3, 1 velar [l]M , and ] Se da el nombre de consonantes. vibrantes a aquel grupo de
devoiced UJ65. sonidos cuya característica principal es la de poseer una o varias
interrupciones momentáneas durante la salida del aire fonador,
Although standard Spanish speakers should be aware of this velar 1, producidas por contacto entre el ápice lingual y los alvéolos. Las
Catalan speakers should not because they al so has th1s velar l in their cuerdas vocales vibran siempre durante ]a emisión de estos
phonetic inventory. In relation to English students, they should pronounce
something like [Ij] ("million") when trying to pronounce Spanish IIJ. "La i
[Á] se pronuncia en un tiempo, y con un amplio contacto de la lengua en
Phonologically, there are 2 vibrant consonants in
I Spanish: 1 simple Ir!
el paladar duro." (Quilis and Fernández, 1996:123).
and 1 multiple!rl. PhoneticalIy, there are 2 allopnones: 1 simple [r] and 1

Due to a process of "deslateralizacióll" this [Á] has disappeared and is multiple [r]. In English there is. just one phoneme and it is an

pronounced like a central fricative: U]. This is called "Yeísmo". So, you approximant Ir/. Whereas the articulation of Sp~nish Ir! is characterised
by " ... la formación de una breve oclusión del ápice de la lengua contra
may hear [ká]e] instead of [káÁe] ("calle"). For many Spanish speakers
los alvéolos", the production of a multiple !rI iQ characterised by" ... la
the following "pollo vs. poyo ", "olla vs. hoya ",
pairs are homophones:
formación de dos o más oc]usiones del ápice de la lengua contra los
"halla vs. haya", "valla vs. vaya". Therefore, the distinction IJI - 1IJ is
alvéolos."(Quilis and Fernández, 1996: 129-30). The graphemes which
lost in these areas66• On the other hand, those who distinguish 1IJ and IJI represent multiple rr; are: (1) "r" in initial positions of a word or in
(northern Spain and marginal arcas of AndaIlIsia) are called "/Iel\"tas".
internal positions when preceded by n or 1; and (2) "rr" in internal
Yeísmo is so widespread nowadays that it cOllld be said that lIeísmo is
positions. Multiple rrJ occurs in initial and medi~1 positions or preceded
becoming a recessive feature " in modern Spanish. For most Spanish
speakers the 1IJ has become a IJ/. by [n, 1]: "roca" [róka], "perro" [pero], Enrique [enríke], "alrededor"
[arre5e5ór] .

These two phonemes (Irl and Ir/) are neutralized in implosive positions. 1t
depends on the emphasis used when speaking. So, the word "puerta" is
normalIy represented with the archiphoneme IR!: /puéRtal.
63 AIso calIed cIear I. It is pronounced as such before vowels or [j], initial 1

position: "Jeave, silIy".

64 AIso caIled "dark 1". It is pronounced as such before consonants, pauses, and Within RP, an English speaker may pronounce a tap in intervocallc
[w]: "steel works, cold". position ("Mary") and following 18,61 ("three", "with respect") and
65Following accented or aspirated plosives [p,t,k]. Considerably less devoicing . Americans generally use a tap articulatiÓn for the ItI in words like
occurs alter [s,f,8,J] or unaccented [p,t,k]. "matter" and "Iater".
66Mainly in Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, Extremadura. Murcia, Andalucía y

102 1ni
Consonants T :=.. VG{,U el Consonants
hRubber VisionIJ I
5.6 Distributional problems Desk
Buy ()
U River
Weak Some
dr tgbd
kP v8
Finch and Ortiz Lira (1982:63-4) summarise in the following points the
main problems of frequency and distribution in the Spanish ys. English
phonetic systems:

1. Consonants occur a lirtle more rrequently in English than in Spanish.

J,~,2, ..eEngliSh~~ have an occurrence ofjust over 20 %, as opposed to 14
~:\(}.\% in Spanish. A phonetic count shows that Sp./b,d,g/ are realised as
(\ (¡\' \ :..,'; (')\ > plosive.s only. in one fifth of the cases, and as fricatives 01'
,\ ;- /v, approxlmants 111 the rest.
,1' f( 3. Thc distributional tablc of thcEng1ish consonant phoncmcs shows
" qnly cighC6i1plY-~, out of a total of scvcnty-cighí: Itr, dr67, h, 1',

\ (f.;:;;, w, jl in final positions and 1368, 1]1 in initin] position69• If we fillcd in

;:':7 thc slots corresponding to phonemes common to both languagcs, we
wOllld find lhat more than half thc resulting tab]c wOllId rema in
cmpty. This wOllld be particularly noticcable in IinaI position becausc
Spanish words tend to end in vowels (some of the slots could be 4. Spanish Ib,d,gl are mainIy rcaIiscd as fricativcs [j3,o;~"].
fillcd in with a few loan words). Distributional table of English 5. Spanish [J] 01' [éf3J, an allophone ofljl, can be hcard most frequentIy
consonant phonemes:
after Inl ("cónyugue" ['kond3uxe D. Eng. [d3] is of much freer
6. Spanish [s] is normally dropped in pre-consonantal and final
positions in Argentina, Chile, Central America, aad Andalusia and
replaced by [h].
7. Spanish L~],a voiccd allophone of Isl used by some nationalities (i.e.
Colombian, Castilian), occurs only before voiced consonants
("mismo" ['mizmo]). Eng. [z] is ofmuch rreer occurrence.
67For some authors (like Finch and 0rtiz Lira) the sequences ItI + Irl and Id! + Irl
are considered one phoneme each, for the same reasons that ItI + !S! and Id! + 131 8. Spanish [IJ], an allophone of In/, oc;: 's only before velars ("hongo"
are also considered one phoneme each. In the case of the sequences Itrl and !dr! ['olJgo D. Its occurrence without tÍ1e intervention of vchrs is restrictcd
the Ir! h<:sa fricative reaIisation. And in the case of ISI and 131 in ItS! and Id31 the
to some Andean and Central American nationalities. Eng. IrJ/ occurs
friction is shorter.
68 ¡nitial 13! can be found injust a few loan'words: "gigolo, genre".
medialIy and finally, with 01' without the presence of other velars.
9. Spanish 11/ is realised as a clear variety in all positions70• Eng. 11/ is
69 There are six phonemes of restricted occurrence in English: /hl (not found in
cIear only preceding vowels and Ij/.
final position); Ir! (not found in final position in RP); !3! (not found in initial
position, possibly in a few loan words); Ir)! (not in initial position); !j,w! (not in
fina] position). 70 It depends on the variety spoken. Catalans also produce a dark f.

104 105
[!] --*
[g] -> --* --* --*
[pC] •

[k] --*
nasal relcasc:
of explosion,
accented final
in postalvcolar
aspiration:[d] final
BAKER +[0,8]):
oral plosive
+ nasal:
CAKE front
[r]): TRY
position: T THE
+ oral plosive: TOPCOA T

riations 106
I retractcd tonguc (post-velar, + back vowel):

voiced (between voiced sounds): HUSBAND

partially or complctely devoiced in contact with a
pause or a fortis consonant: ROBE, OBST ACLE
* lack of explosion, and non-audible release:
* nasal release: SUBMERGE

voiced, between voiced sounds: HIDING


partially or completely devoiced in contact with

pause or fortis consona~t: GADFL Y, MAD
* lack of explosion, and ¡Jan-audible release:

* nasal release: SUDDEN I

* lateral reJcasc: I-IEADUESS

dental alJophone (advanc~d + 18,0]): SAID THE
retractcd (+ postalvcolari[r]): DRY

voiced (between voiced sounds): AGO

partially or completcly devoiccd in contact with
pause or fortis consonant: GO, EGG SPOON
* lack of cxplosion, and non-audible release:
* nasal rclease: I3IG MAN
advanced articulation (prcvelar + fron! vowcl):
retracted articulation (postvelar + back vowel):

[p,I,k]. -*
-> [t]
['{] [d3]
with GIRLS
or normal:
(before Tvoiced
(bctwccn [f,v]:
or sounds:
pallsc: LATE, PLAY.
[j], LEA
Consonwll.l' THER
by a pause
and vowel):
Consonanls VE or
t GIN,
occurs altcr [s,f,O,S] or lInacccntcd 11/
-*Iso in
-* [q]
pIosivcs COLO.LEA
WORKS,[p,t,k). Lcss VE, SILL y dcvoicing

108 109
-t ¡ -t
-} I
I Iml
. In!the
devoiced [m]PUNE
as [téla]
pause): [t] ARE
[ópera] following
after vowels:
[g] [bóte]
[p,t,k] Consonants
Y),[p,t,k] WITH
or contact
fricative, or
Ig/ Consonants
Idl [y] If
t [r]
H after
W] /k/ after
in initial
[úm bóte]
with pausc: with pause:
a phonic group (i.e.

(Le. as plosive):
in initial position of a phonic group (Le.
after pause): "dedo" [dé50]
after the nasal [n] and the lateral [1]: "un
dedo" [ú¡;I dé5o]
(Le. as fricative):
in any other positioi1: "ese dedo" [ése 5é5o]
(Le. as plosive): :
in initial position iof a phonic
group (Le.
after pause): "gasa'! [gása]

after the nasal [n] Ii (> [1)]): "un gato" [úl)

gáto] i

(i.e. as frícative): I
in any other rositian: "é~e gata" [ése Yáto]


"mamÚ" [m'i'lfl1Ú]

(Le. alveolar):
in prenuclear sylIabic pasitian: "cana"
in postnuclear syllabic positian falIawed by
an alveolar consonant or vowel:
"insociable" [inso8já0Ie]; "un eje" [ún éxe]
(Le. labiodental):
followed by a voicqless labiodental fricative
If/: "infáme" [iI1Jfáme]

(Le. interdental):
folIawed by a voiceless interdentaI fricative
/8/: "once" [ól)8e]

11 () \ \ \
( 'O/l.\'Olllll/I,\' ( 'O!/S 011111 /1,\'

in some arcas it disappears and mod,ifies the

timbre ofthe previous vowel making it more
open: "dos" [d::>]
(i.e. dental):
[0]: (i.e. it usually disappears in colloquial style):
foj]owed by a voiced or voiceless dental
when /s/ precedes M: "Israel" [iraél]
It,d/: "donde" [d6¡;¡de]; "lento" [lél)to]
IJI [J]: (Le. as fricative):
[11,] (Le. palatalized: but not so palatal as 1]1/):
when not preceded by pause, nasal or
followed by palatal consonant [c] or [J]:
lateral: "cayado" [kaJá50]
"un chico" [ún, cíko]
[J] or [d3] (i.c. as affricate):
-, (Le. velar):
whcn preceded by pausc, nasal or lateral or
followed by voiccd or voiceless velar Ik,g/: when spoken with emphasis in absolute
"manco" [malJko]; "un gato" [úlJ gáto] initial position: "yo" [JóJ; "el yugo" [cl
1]11 [p.] "caña" [ká]1a] JÚYo]
lxi [x] "caja" [káxa]

Icl [c] or [tJ]: "muchacho" [mucáco] 11/ [1] (i.c. alveolar):

FRICA TIVES in prenuclear syllabic position: "pala" [pála]

in postnuclear syllabic position but when
Ifl -? followed by voweI, pause or any consonant
[f]: "café" [kafé]
except [t, d, 8]: "mal" [mál]; "alférez"
181 -? [8]: "caza" [ká8a]
[alférc8 ]
Isl -? [s] (Le. voiceless): "casa" [kása]
(i.e. interdental):
L§]: (Le. voiced):
in postnuclear sylIabic position and followed
whenever it precedes a voiced consonant
by [OJ: "calzado" [k'\,IOÚoo]
(this realisation is not constant): "muslo"
-, (i.c, dental):
in postnuclcar syllabic position and followed
-? [11]: (i.c. as a laryngcal fricativc in some arcas of Spain &
by dental soi.ll1d (/t,d/): "toldo" [tó,ldo]
Latin America): 11..1
"llave" [l..áPe]
in postnucJear syllabic position: "este"
[éhte ]

112 113

Consonants Consonants

VIBRANTS • If/: it is always represented by the letter "f'.

Ir! • 18/: it is represented by the letter "z" and "e" (when followed by
(i.e. simple, in internal positions of a word):
"pero" [péro]
"e" or "i").
[r] (Le. multiple, in initial and medial positions or • Is/: it is always represented by the letter "s".
preceded by [n,l]): "roca" [róka]; "alrededor" • /j/: it is represented by the letters "y" ~md "hi" (followed by "e" or
[aIreBeOór], "a") .

• Ix/: it is represented by the letters "j" ancl "g" (when followed by

t "e" or "i").
5.8 Spelling systems
• le/: it is always represented by the letters 'reh".

Whereas Spanish has 28 spellings to represent its 19 phonemes, English • Im/: it is represented by the letter"m" qr "n" (preeeding "p" or
has 120 spellings for its inventory of 24 phonemes (Fineh and Ortiz Lira, "b" at the beginning of a worcl). :
1982:65). , I

• In/: it is always representeo by the IcHer "\1".

Here is a list of some spelling rules you have to take into aeeount when
studying Spanish: • IJl/: it is always represented by the letter "~".

• 11/: it is always represented by the ¡etter "1:'.


• /1'/: it is always representedby the kUcr "1'''. Whcn followcJ by • /1../: it is always rcprcscntcu by the IcUcr "'11".
"s", it is not pronouneed: "psicología"
• Ir!: it is represented by the letter "1''' if (aY it is not at the beginning
• Ibl: it is represented by the letters "v" and "b".
of a word or (b) it is not preceded by "n", f'I", 01' "s".
• ItJ: it is always represented by the letter ''t''.
• ,IN: it is represented by the lettcrs "1'1''' and "1''' (if it is at thc
• Id/: it is always represented by the letter "d". beginning of a word 01'preceded by "n", "1", or "s").

• Ik/: it is represented by the lcHers "e" (when followed by "a", "o", • /ks/: it is rcprescntcd by thc IcHer "x". Somctimcs it is simplifico
"u"), "qu" (when followed by "e" or "i") and "k" (foreign to [s].
words 72).
• /k8/: it is represented by the letters "ee". Somctimes it IS

• Ig/: it is represented by "g" (when followed by "a", "o", "u") and simplified to [8].
"gu" (when followed by "e" or "i").
• Ano here is a list of some spelling ruIes YOll have to take into
aeeollnt when studying English:
71 01' [.r] for contrastive reasons.
• "e": the hard "e" is pronollneed like /k/ and the soft "e" is
72 Sometimes it is possible to use both spellings "qu" 01' "k". For example
pronollneed like Is/ (when preeeding "e", "i" or "y").
"kiosco" ,and "quiosco" 01' "kilómetro" and "quilómetro", The second option is
Ih~'\'n~' whkh i~t~(\'mm~'\\\kd.

\\., 115

• "x": it is normally pronounced like Iksl and exceptionally like Igz/ "s": island
("exam"). "t": -stle, -sten: apostle, chasten
• "q": it is nearly always followed by "u". It represents /kI. "w": wr-, wh-: wrong, who, also in "answcr"
• "sh": it represents a single consonant phoneme: ISI.

• "ch": it represents a consonant phoneme: ItSI.

• "j": it rcprcscnts a consonant ph<:H1cl11c:


• "g": the hard "g" is pronounced like Ig/ and the soft "g" IS
pronounced like Id31 (when preceding "e", "i" or "y").

• "th": it rcprcscnts two dilTcrent phoncmes: 101 and 10/.

• "ng": it has two possiblc pronunciations: IIJg/ and IIJ/73.

• "y": it represents the phoneme Ij/.

Silent Ictters are an additional problcm for Spanish speakers becausc

Spanish has no more than 4 silent letters74• English has a total of 14 silent
letters, most of which are of extremely common occurrence. Here is a list
of some common silent lerters:

"b": -mb, -bt: tomb, doubt

"e": musc1e
"g": -gm, -gn, gn-: diaphragm, assign, gnaw
"h": honest, rh: rhetoric, -ham: Durham
"k": kn-: knee

"1": -Ik, -1m: folk, calm

"n": -mn: autumn

"p": cupboard

7~ See previous explanations.

74 "h" is the most common one.
116 117
Consonants Consonants

2. Match the initial sounds of each word in the left-hand column

with the initial sound of a word in the right-hand column:
5.9 Exercises
1. bo bo cetáceo
2. yacer hacer
l. Match the final consonant of each word in the left-hand column
3. zeta __ geranio
with the initial consonant of a word in the right-hand column -if
4. antes bien
there is such a match (sound, not letter). An example is given.
5. llover __ yogurtera
Then, answer the following questions: (a) Two of the words in
the left-hand column have final consonants for which there is no 6. herbívoro kilo
7. galán llorar
match in initial position. What are the words? (b) Three words in
the right-hand column haye initial consonants for which there is 8. veinte __ ejemplar
no match in final position. What are they? (Kreidler, 2004:31). 9. kilogramo ~ gente
10. grave VInO

l. beige I I . caridad __ gorila

__ pitch
2. breathe team 12. situación __ querido
3. chip kilJ 13. casa __ suspensión
4. coach bad 14. gitano __ queso
5. comb dame 15. jinete __ guerrero
6.collgh __ goal i

7. door choke 3. Look for examples of minimal pairs whi~h contain the following
8. face __ jell sounds and decide if they are phohemes.I
(Adapted from
9. Jane _6_ fun Machuca, 2000:67) ,
10. Jedge think
11. lick safe Spanish:
12. maid valll
13. meat __ they [n] vs. [IJ]: _
14. nave zone
15. nose mode [s] Ys. L~]: _
16. robe . name
17. rogue lace
18. rung rake
m YS. [J J or [d3J: _
19. rush __ yeIl
20. Ruth wet [b] ys. [0]: _
21. sail head
shift [f] ys. [e]: _

118 119
CUllso/ltll/ls CO/Jsonanls

Gwcn: Did YOll see Victor on Wedncsdny, Wemly?
[n] YS. [IJ]: _ Wendy: y cs. We wcnt rOl' a walk in lhc woods nellr lhc
Gwen: Wasn't it cold on Wednesday?
[s] vs. [z]: _
Wendy: Yeso ft was very cold and wet. We wore warm
[j] vs.[d3]: _ clothes and walkcd quickly to kcep warm.
Gwen: !t's lovely and quiet in the woods.
Wendy: Yes. Further away from the railway it was very
[b] vs. [v]: _
quiet, and there were wild squirrels everywhere.
We counted twenty squirrels.
[J] vs. [e]: _
Gwen: How wonderful! Twenty squirrels! And did you
take lunch with you?
Wendy: Yes. About twelve we had veal sandwiches and
4. Ask a non-native speaker ofSpanish to read aloud the following sweet white wine, and we watched the squirrels.
text. Then, study the different realisations of the phonemes It was a very nice walk.
(A. Baker, 1981:126)
Barrabás llegó a la familia por vía marítima, anotó la niña Clara
con su de1icada caligrafía. Ya entonces tenía el hábito de escribir
las cosas importantes y más tarde, cuando se quedó muda, 6. Look for eighl Spanish words which havc al least oIJe al\'colar
escribía también las trivialidades, sin sospechar que, cincuenta consonant: (Nuño Álvarez and Franco Rodríguez, 2002:89):
años después, sus cuadernos me servirían para rescatar la
memoria del pasado y para sobrevivir a mi propio espanto. El día
que llegó Barrabás era Jueves Santo. Venía en una jaula indigna, --A(,
--- L ()
Ñ __
S ---
.--- ..

cubierto de sus propios excrementos y orines, con una mirada E
1 J
cxtraviada de prcso miserable e indefenso, pero ya se adivinaba -
por el porte real de su cabeza y el tamafto de su esqueleto- el
gigante legendario que llegó a ser. (Isabel Allende, La Casa de
los FS[Jíritus).

5. Ask two non-nativc spcakcrs of English to rcad aloud the

following dialogue. Then, study the different realisations of the
phoneme /w/.

120 121
Consonants Consonants

7. Fill in the following sentences with the suitable letters. Then, d. The sounds 11,Á, f, rl are caIled _
classify the words in 6 different groups taking into account the
e. The sound Ir! is called a
sound uttered: [b,d,g,~,o;t]. (Adapted from Nuño Álvarez and
Franco Rodríguez, 2002:55 and Quilis and Fernández, 1996:203) f. English Irl is an sound and

1. La mujer del ar ero los sá a os come Spanish frI and Ir! are _
g. There are pIaces in Spain and Latin America where
2. A_rí_ate por fe_rero con _os capas y un
som rero. speakers do not pronounce the sound 181 and they only
3. Na_a du_a cl que na_a sa_c
4. A_oga_o sin conciencia merece _ran sentencia. use the alveolar one Is/; this phenomenon is known as
5. No to- o se da a to - os
6. Tanto ale el hom re cuanto vale su nom re. _______________
amI thc oppositc is cnllcd _
h. The voiced palatal fricative []] is realised as such when it

[b] [y]
[0] is not preceded by -----,...¡ , or

Otherwise, you pronounce an ¡

J. Nasals are also calletl

J. In the scale of prommence, are

almost as prominent as vo~els and much more

prominent than the rest of consonants

8. Complcte the foIlowing: 9. FiIl in the blanks in the following text to obtain a summary of the
major difficulties Spanish people have when producing English
a. The Iwl and the Ijl are approximants in English and consonants. (Brooks, 2000:30)
10 Spanish.
a. I I does not exist in Spanish and is wrongly replaced by
b. The allophones [0,O,y] can be called or
I I and I l.
______ (it depends on the author).

c. Spirant is an alternative name for _


122 123
COI/so/Ja//Is ( '0//.1'0//(1//1.\'

b. The English Irl is an whereas the consonants (consonant clusters) than Spanish, these only

Spanish Ir! is a consonant. Attempts to produce this cause difficulties for the Spanish speaker when they

sound can sometimes lead to a Iwl instead of an Ir/. The cantain unfamiliar sounds such as /111 and 1 1 (e.g. the

othcr problem cancerning this saund is that, unlike

Smiths' house =1 /). Even a cluster af

Spanish, it is not pronounced before a _ seven consanants as in "He attempts strenuaus exercises"

(e.g. "shirt") or at the end af a word (e.g. "bar") except in should therefore provide fewer problems than the

the case ofa "linking r" (e.g. "father and mother". previous example.

c. Ihl docs not normally occur in and is

lO. Arc thc following statclllcnts trtlc or fldsc? Corn:ct any t'alsc
either omitted by a Spanish person speaking English or

else overemphasised. a. __ A Spanish speaker tends to pronounce [I]g] instead

of [IJ] because the sound [IJ] ¡san allophone and not a
d. Thc nasal I I does not exist inSpanish and the Spanish phoneme in Spanish.

speaker may wrongly replace it by In/.

b. __ A Spanish speaker wil! wrongly pronoLJnce
"younger" [jAIJ gg] instead of [jAIJ g].
e. The palato-alveolar I I does not occur in

c. __ There are no lateral elusters in Spanish.

words of Spanish origin and so is sometimcs assimilated

[o I l. d. __ The sOllnds 1!,m,n,I]1 are eontoids oecaLJse the air is

exploded late rally or through the nose withaut
f. ItI and Id! are obstruction.
stops in Spanish but

_____ in English. e. __ The English sound Irl has a fricative realisation in

the sequences Itrl and Idr/.
g. Ip/, I 1, and lkI are not aspirated in Spanish.

124 125

f ~_ The English sound ITJI is a phoneme of restricted UNIT VI. VOWELS AND DIPHTHONGS
occurrence (together with /h, r, 3, S, w, jl)

g. __ The English word "tenth" and the Spanish word

"once" both share a dentalised aIlophone of In/.
C.S \j;::') ~J--je.:~
h. __ The English word "wonder" nnd Ihe Spanish worlJ :': ../:.~:,",r ;. f/~X-~~_~',;:

"donde" both share a dcntalised allophone aUn/. 6.1 Compal"ison of Spanish ami English systcms

1. __ Voiceless consonants are more prominent than A phonetic lan~ua~ is a language in which orthography appro;ximates
voiced ones. closely to the sounds represented by it (Finch and Ortiz Lira, 1982).
Whereas Spanish is a phonetic language, the relationship between
J. __ The second syllable of the word "apple" has no orthography and sounds is much more compJex in English. 80th English
nucleus, only an onset [p] and a coda [1]. and Spanish use the same five vowel lctters (a, e, i, o, u), but whereas
Spanish uses them to represent five vowel sounds, English uses them to
represent twelve. '

As it has been prev iously said, there is no conta~t in the production of a

vowel sound and so it is impossible to "feel"i the movements of the
tongue. For this reason, vowel sounds are generally learnt auditorily. X-
ray photographs of the tongue are used to show the different positions of
the tOI)gue. In order to describe a vowel soun(l, we have to takc into
account (a) which part of the tongue is being ra/sed and to which level;
(b) the shape of the ]ipS75; and (e) the position ofthe velum. Differences
in "yowel Quality," are due to variations produced by ehanging the shape
of the mOllth resonator (Finch and Ortiz Lira, 1982). Ir we link the
highest poinl reaehed by the tongue to the lowesl one we get nn oval
shaped arca callcd Ihe "YOWCLU.LC~(. This oval arca is subscqllcnlly
simplified and the final result is a vowel diagram. Finch and Ortiz Lira
(1982: 12) illustrate this in the foIlowing figures:

75 Front vowel sounds are unrounded in both langllag~s; back ones are rounded
(cxccpt 10:/ in English) ..

full't'is (inel f)//Jill!wngs
J 'oll'ds llIld Dip!Jr!Jongs

and followed by a nasal consonant: "ham" [heem]; "man" [meen]; "bring

anot!ler" [bJIIJ3InAó;,]; "every night" ['evñ1nalt]. In Spanish, nasalization
of vowel sounds is common between nasal sounds: "niño" [ñiJ1o];
"mano" [mImo]; and it is also common at the beginning of word
boundary: "enfermo" [eI1]férmo].

It should also be noted that the Spanish vowel system is tenser than the
Either a triangle or a trapezium can be used to describe the position of English one, which has a strong tendency towards 'iU~gisatiol!. For
the tongue during the articulation of the vowels of a given language. If example, words such as "feel" are normally pronounced as Cfi:~f]. AS
the vowel sound system is small, we use a tTiangle (like Spanish)76; ifit is Carr (1999: 162-3) states:
Jarge, we use a trapezium (like English). Navarro Tomás (1985:38) shows
the Spanish triangle in the folIowing picture:
Diphthongal realizations ofvowel phonemes may be triggered by
an adjacent consonant, as in the [i:~] rcalization of /i:/ bcforc dark
1, 01' m!lY OCClIl' "spol1t!ll1collsly"; \Ve huve scel1 1l\!lI1Y eX!l111pks 01'


the latter in General American, New York City English, General'

o· Australian, London English, Rp ~md Tyneside English.

According to Mott, this English tendcncy towards diphthongisation

exrlajns the development of some present-day English diphthongs. Mott
Figure 2 (1996:] ]9) expJains that:

The vowel sounds of English and Spanish share two common

characteristics: they are voiced sounds (i.e. there is vocal folds vibration) Of the nine English diphthongs, it wiII be recalled that there are
and they are usualIy oral sounds (Le. the air escapes only through the
four which we calLccntring...2!: ccntripctal: /r~, E~, ;);', u';J/. Thc
l1]outh). In some cases, vowel sounds could be "devoiced" and
origin 01' these diphthongs is to be found in diphthongisation 01'
"nasalii'.ed". Aspiration in English is heard as a kind 01' voiceless vowel.
long vowels before /1'/ 01', to use Well's term (1982: 213-218),
In facl a word slIch as "peace" cOllld be represented as [phi's] 01' [pjis]. In
~,E:.R...IlREAKI~G. Arter the additional process 01' ~
Spanish, final vowels in words like "pronto" could be voiceless . .s.CI-UY.A..L~ING_the diphthongs are formed; thus, we have the
Voiceless vowels are common in languages such as Cheyenne, following development:
Comanche, Malagasy and Portuguese. In relation to nasalization, we can
find nasalized vowel sounds within words 01' at word boundaries in
English. This is possible when the vowel sound is followed 01' preceded

76,There is no front-back opposition in Spanish at the open position.


' ..
Vowels and Diphthongs Vowels and Diphthongs

beer chair more sure Mott (1996: 264):

[bi:r] [tSe:r] [mo:r] [Ju:r]
Pre-R Breaking [bi:;}r] [tSe:gr] [mo:;}r] [J u:;}r] BEGINNING OF END OF
Prc-Schwa [b¡;-)r] [tSE~r] [m~~r] [Ju~r]
gloois vocal cord vocal cord glottis
closed vibrat;oo vibrJtion op<:n

This English tendency towards diphthongisation is transferred into
Spanish by English speakers. So, they tend to diphthongise Spanish [-e]
and [-o], or use [-i] instead of [-et. Thus, "libre" (['li13re]) is
articulated as ['1 i: breI]78. But /e/ and /ei/ are in phonological
opposition in Spanish, as can be seen in the following words: le -ley, re-

f~ --.:
rey (Mott, 1996). gloois vocal cord vocal cord glottis
op<:n vi bracion vibracion clOsM

Finally, English and Spanish vowels begin and end very differently.
According to Mott (1996: 263):
Figure 3

In the articulation of English vowels the vibration of the vocal

rolds bcgins abruptly and dies away slowly. On lhc olhcr hand, in 6.2 V owcls
Spanish and Catalan the opposite happens: vocal fold vibration
begins gently and stops brusquely (see fig. 26). This means that In the fol1owing chart Finch and Ortiz Lira i (1982: 42) show some
English vowels, especially syllable-initial ones, are preceded by a correspondences between the Spanish and the English vowel systems.
glottal stop (see 2.3). The phenomenon ofthe sudden onset ofthe

O,ou eI
vocal conl vibrntio/1 thal charnctcrizcs this kil1d of articulnlio/1 is English ---------
l u
calIed HARD A TT ACK. re,a:,A
e,3:,e ue

77 English vowels, lre,e,A,o: 1, are nOI1 final.

711 BUI Id nnd Idl are in phonologicnl opiJosition in Spnnish (le/ley or re/rey).

130 111
Vowe!s amj Diplll/¡ongs Vowels and Diphlhongs

As it can be seen in the above ehart, there are some important differenees h.) l'dl is in a line between English le-a:/. It is the typical
. between both vowel systems: (1) there are many more English pure hesitation noise in English. The learner should take eare and
vowels (twelve vs. five)79; (2) there are central vowels in English; and (3) not produce a Spanish Ia/.
no English vowel so un , matehes any Spanish one
,.. ,'. ,:...-:1,
, . ",,1 1 .'.r1..C'L
'r.o t'rf~ (!r . \!) .;
(b) Irl can be elicited by going from li:/ to l'dl.

. Our fírst priority must be to get the í~i~;1~r to master a larger number of (e) lul is half-way betwecn lu:! and !'J/.
pure vowel oppositions, plaeed articulatorily and auditorily eloser to (d) lrel is between lel and Spanish Ia/.
eaeh other, than those of his mother tongue. This will imply the (e) 10,0:1 can be elieited by produeing opener and closer
separation of qualities, e.g. lFEI- IAI and IDI - 10:/, and the use of the
varieties of Spanish 101 respectively.
central part of the vowel area. (t) la:1 must not be as far baek as CV 5 lal, sinee this will
sound affected.
According to Finch and Ortiz Lira (1982: 42-3), there are 3 important
(g) 1'd,3 :,a:1 must be praetised with spread lips; lul with loosely
points concerning vowel quality whieh any Spanish learner should take
into account when leaming English vowels: rounded lips; 101 with open lip-rounding, and 18:1 with close
1. Spanish li,e,a,ul are near equivalent to English li:,e,A,u:/. (h) la:,a:,3 :,'dl must be practised with the tongue-tip behind the
Nevertheless, this is not an advantage, there are important lower teeth, so as to avoid any r-eolouring. Spelling r is to
differences and the student will need good practice. The leamer will be pronounced only when a vowel sound follows it. ,
have to note that:
Exeeption: 'iron' laI'Jn/.

(a) EngJish lel is opener than Spanish le/.

(b) English IAI is not so open as Spanish Ia/.
(e) English li:,u:1 are not so close as the Spanish vowels, and
will often be heard as slight diphthongs.
From a physiological or articulatory point ofview, Spanish vowels can be
elassified according to the different functions ofthe articulatory organs as
2. English le(3),I,ul deserve special attention duc to the high
well as the different. forms they adopt, that is, thcir manner and placc 01'
frequeney of oeeurrenee of le,rl and the difficulty in produeing articulation:

qualities within the central area80. New vowel qualities can be taught
1. Manner of articulation:
providing a sound at an intermediate point between two already
known vowel qualities. Examples:
If the tongue approximates as close as possible to the palate, we get a
series of vowels known as "close vowels" (vocales de pequeña abcrtura,
79The numerical proportion is reversed in the case of diphthongs: eight in vocales cerradas, vocales altas o vocales extremas), such as Ii/ and lu/.
English vs thirteen in Spanish. If the tongue keeps away from the palate, we get the vowels Icl and 101
HO There are no miel-central vowcls in the Spanish vowel system. known as "mid vowels" (vocales medias o de abcrtura medi¡i).

132 133
Vowels and Diphthongs Vowels and Diphthongs

If the tongue ke.eps further away rrom the palatal region, thus being as far b) When it is the post-dorsal part the one that approximates to the
as possible from the palate, we get the vowel/a/ known as "open vowel" palate, \Ve refer to these set of vowels as "back vowels" (or velar
(vocales de gran abertura, vocales abiertas, o vocales bajas)8!: vowels). In Spanish both lul and 101 are back vowels ("vocales
posteriores o velares").
c) FinaIly, when it is the central part 6f the tongue the one that
anlerior untrat po~l.rior
reaches the palate, we talk about "central vowels". In Spanish, we
, •••• o' ""0"(-'.'- .•.• "'10.0 .• --."""
only have one central vowel: la! ("vocal central").
o !¡
::o .I
i\: ; . !! t! I
II Generally speaking, back vowels are usually pronounced with rounded or
._._.-!~._._. - .-. _.~_._.
I labiaJized lips whereas front vowels are pronounced with unrounded or
"o ! spread lips. Thus lul and 101 are rounded, whereas liI, lel and la! are
I o unrounded or spread.
. .m._i I
.2. I j We can also take into account some other factors such as: nasalization,
.z!I !
! .=~•.,,~ -.['I/,-t'f·("'5 the intensity (or loudness) in their emission, and their length or quantity.

vs "" ~'-'-r-c-
, . • ,/"'.'.F,i /1 -~7
.-"{'" .•. _.1'\~~
Figure 4 3. Nasalization:
r°"S' ,

A!though al! Spanish vowels are oral, they can: be nasalizcd in ccrtain
contexts. Machuca (2000: 44) states that: "los sonidos vocálicos pueden

nasalizarse cuando aparecen en posición inicial absoluta seguida de nasal

We do not need the labels "mid or half close" and "m id or half open" for o entre consonantes nasales". So, the vowel sdunds in words such as
the Spanish set of vowe]s as we do for English. The English language "infiel" or "mente" are nasalized. !
nccds to be more specific in its classiJicalion as lhe number 01' vowels is '5' V'lO -.¿ j I Ci y')"-,';y-")'~:j

greater. (¡ 'i '-f. 1') I C', o

4. Intensity or loudness: o ~.

2. Place of articulation:
Those vowels which receive the greatest degree of muscular jeffort are
known as "accented vowels" (vocales acentuadas o tónicas). On the
A further classification has to do with the part of the tongue which contrary, those vowels which receive a lesser degree of muscular effort
reaches the palatal region: are referred to as "unaccented vowels" (vocales inacentuadas o átonas).
Unaccented vowels "presentan menor estabilidad en su timbre y menos
a) When it is the pre-dorsal part of the tongue the one that perceptibiJidad que las tónicas" (Quilis and Femández, 1996:55). Finally,
approximates to the palate, we talk about "front vowels" (or only in very specific contexts can we talk about "relaxed vowels"
palatal vowels). In Spanish the vowels Ii/ and lel are front vowels ("vocales relajadas"). Quilis and Femández (1996:55) state that:
("vocales anteriores o palatales").
En el sistema vocálico castellano apenas si es posible hablar de vocales
relajadas. Se realiza de este modo la que se encpentra en posición fina]
~I Quilis y Fernándcz (1996: 52).

134 135
l' uH'eLs and ulpllLhungs VOH'eLs una' Diphthongs

dcl grupo fónico, cuando precede a una pausa, y aun así, conserva Nevertheless, English speakers have to take into aecount that Spanish
nc(an1Cnte su timbrc caractcrístico.
long vowcls are not as long as English ones ('.lee!, .\'(i(i!l ') ¡¡mI the S11Or!
vowels are not as short as the unaccented English vowels.
5. Length or quantity:
Length is not a distinctive feature in the Spanish vowel system. Finally, from an auditory point of view, Spanish vowels can be classified
Nevertheless, in words such as "azahar" 01' "paseé" it is possible to talk according to their timbre as follows:
about longer phonetic realisations of the vowel sounds. Quilis and
Fernández (1996: 146-7) describe five different circumstances: a) high (agudas): when the tongue occupies a front position in the
mouth cavity. Here we find two vowels: Ii/and le/.
a) "Cuando las dos voca]s que se haIlan en contacto son tónicas, la b) low (graves): when the tongue occupies a back position. The
solución preferente es la de una vocal larga tónica. Ejemplo: "papá vowels lul and 101 fit into this category.
ha venido" [papá:Benído]". c) neutral (neutras): when the tongue occupies a mid position,
b) "Cuando las dos vocales que se hallan en contacto son átonas o thus creating two resonating cavities, one back and one front, of
inacentuadas, la preferencia es hacia el resultado de una vocal equal dimensions. The vowcl la! represents a neutral vowel.
breve átona. Ejemplo: "a ninguna atiende" [a níIJgúnatjénde]".
c) "Cuando concurrcn dos vocales homÓlogas Monas o inacen!uadas,
pero una de ellas pertenece a un vocablo átono (artículos 11. CLASSlrICA TION AND DESCRIPTION OF ENGLlSJ-I
determinantes, preposiciones, conjunciones, etc.) el resultado es VOWELS
también una vocal breve inaeentuada. Ejemplo: "para arriba y para
abajo" [pararíBaj paraBáxo]". The English vowel inventory includes seven short vowels(all pure) and
d) "Cuando concurren dos vocales iguales de las que la primera es five long vowels. We shall first offer a short articulatory description 01'
átona o inacentuada y la segunda tónica o acentuada, la solución English vowel phonemes.
preferente es una vocal larga acentuada. Ejemplo: "está en lo
hondo" [está en ló:r;¡do]". a) English Long Vowels:
e) "Cuando concurren dos vocales homólogas, la primera acentuada
y la segunda inacentuada, la solución preferente es una vocal • front, unrounded, almost fulIy close. It is nearer
li:/: to CVI than
CV2. Examples: 'free, beaf, peace, mean '.
breve tónica. Ejemplo: "Juan está alegre" [xwán estáléne]."

• /3 :/: central, unrounded between half-open and half-close. It cannot

Anyway, as Quilis and Fernández (1996: 149) add: "Esta prolongación
aparece cuando la dicción es lenta o enfática, pero en la conversación be defined in relation to CVs. The lip position is neutral. Examples:
normal tiende a suprimirse, apareciendo el sonido resultante con la misma 'hird, Jan, girl, pllrse'.
duraciÓn que si se encontrarse en posición intervoeálica." So, "azahar" in
cllsual, ,!!lick spccch is nonllally pronollnccd laOÚr] anJ in carcflll, slow • 10:/: almos! flllly back, lInrollllCkd, flllly open. Examples: 'co/', /¡oU:
speech [aGá:r]. pass, card '.

• h:/: back, rounded, bctwecn half:'open and half-closc. Thc lips are
held close together. Examples: 'board, fom, horse'.

136 137
Vowels and Diphthongs
I! Vowels and Diphthongs

• lu:/: allJ10st fully baek, roul1Jed, almost fully elose. Examples:

'moon, ¡ood, soon, loose'.

b) English Short Vowels:

• 111: front, though slightly retracted, unrounded, between close and

half-close, but almost half-close. Clase to CY 2. Examples: 'ship, bit,

• le/: front, llnraunded, between half-clase and half-open. Examples:

'leg, bet, men, yes'. -Illt.~ twclv(' [~nglish vuwel phOTlCrnC5

! .. /i:1 as In cal
• 1A1: between front and central, but nearer central; unrounded; between
J fe,'/ ,l~ 1r1 h/~cJ
opcn and half-opcn, but ncarcr hall' opcn. F:\amplcs: '.1'1111. hui. sO!lle. .1 t' .t·; .:1 (",Ir

I'ush' . ~¡. lO:! d'J 1(\ c.Jrt.

6 :01 as ;r~ lo:
/:):/ as In aff
• /-dl (schwa): central, unrounded, between half-open and half-close.
B J¡)/ ;)s in puf
'3:tI ~s ~r. sc,,:n
1 (1 ,. \/ (l'; 111 rlft
Examples: 'Qho/lt. fJf.I'f}/lOfJS'.
1 " ,,'; 1"" bl."(1
bn ..J!l1t·?r
,:~ ;;)/ .:l~ !t1 Ule ~L'c()nd sylf:'hi11-1 of
• 10/: back, rounded, between half-open and open, but almost fully
open. Examples: 'dog, pot, gone, eross'.
Figure 5

• /a:-/ (ash): ti'ont, unroundcu, bctwccn halr-opcn anu open. Examplcs:

'eat, man, gas, bat'.
6.3 Diphthongs
• lu/: between back anJ central, rOllnded, bctween clase amI half-clasc
Diphthongs can be classifíed artieulatorily and auditorily. They are
(almost half-clase). Examples: 'put, pul!, pllsh '. categorised according to (Finch and Ortiz Lira, ] 982):

j-jere is a picture which shows all English pure vOwels (Mott, 1996: 60) i) The distancc the tongue travels: they can be "wide" (when the
glide is long) and "nan-ow" (when the glide is short).
ii) The direction 01' the movemcnt the tongue makes in producing
diphthongs: English diphthongs can be "closing" al' "centring",
and Spanish diphthongs can be "closing" 01' "opening". If a
diphthong is closing that l1leans that the glide 11l0ves towards a

138 139
Vmvc!s {1m! IJiphilu!I1gs Vowc!s (lnd Diphl/wngs

closer position; if it is eentring, towards a central position; and if

it is opening, towarJs a lJIorc open position.
iii) The prominence ofthe elements: diphthongs can be "falling" (the
first element is more prominent than the second), and "rising"
(the second is more prominent than the first). All English
diphthongs are generall)' falling. Spanish diphthongs can be
falling or rising: all Spanish falling diphthongs are closing, and
most Spanish rising diphthongs are opening. English diphthongs
(Mott, 1996: 67): Figure 8



Qllilis and FernÚndez (1 <)<)G: (5) definc a dip/¡{/¡ong as:

La existencia de dos vocales en la misma sílaba constituye un

diptongo. Una de cstas dos vocales prescnta la mayor abertura, la
mayor energfa articulatoria, y constituye el ccntro o nÚc!co
silábico; la otra es margensilábico prcnuclcar o margen silábico

There are two types of diphthongs in Spanish: (1) rising diphthongs

Figure 6 ("diptongos crecientes") and (2) falling diphthongs ("diptongos
decrecientes"). Rising diphthongs are defined by Quilis and Femández
Spanish diphthongs (Finch and Ortiz Lira, 1982: 36 and 37): (1996:65) as:

Los que llamamos diptongos crecientes, en los que la vocal que

forma el núcleo silábico está situada en posición secundari", por
lo que los órganos articu]atorios, principalmente la lengua, se
desplazan dcsde una posición cerrada a una abierta. La vocal mÚs
cerrada recibe en este caso el nombre de semiconsonantc, y ocupa
una posición silábica prenuc]ear. Se transcribe fonéticamente por
estos signos. [j] o [w].
Figure 7,

140 141
Vowe/s and Diphthongs Vowe/s and Diphthongs

When there are three instead 01' just two consecutive vocalic elements in a
In this way, we have the following rising diphthongs in Spanish: [ja, je, syllable, this is call a "triphthong" ("triptollgo"). As Quilis and
Fernández explain (1996:69): "Como en el diptongo, la vocal más abierta
jo, ju, wa, we, wi, wo]. Some speakers tend to pronounce the diphthongs
es la que fonna el núcleo silábico, y posee también la mayor energía
uu] and [wi] as [i~] and [uj] as in "ciudad" 01' "ruido". When the articulatoria. Las otras dos vocales serán semiconsonante o semivocal,
diphthong [we] is in word initial position many speakers tend to según vayan situadas antes o después del núcleo silábico.": "despreciáis"
pronounce the sounds [g] or [.] before it: "huevo" [gwéBo], "el huevo" [despreOjájs]; "buey" [bwéj].
[el.wéBo], "hueco" [gwéko].

On the other hand, falling diphthongs are described as (Quilis and n. CLASSIFICA TION ANO OESCRIPTION OF ENGLISl-I
Fernández, 1996: 66-7): DIPl-ITHONGS

English diphthongs can be central 01' elosing:

Los llamados diptongos decrecientes, en los que la vocal que
forma el núcleo silábico está situada en primera posición, por lo a) Centring Oiphthongs: These diphthongs. gl ¡de towards the IJI
que los órganos articulatorios se desplazan desde una posición (sehwa) vowel:
abierta a una cerrada. La vocal más cerrada recibe en este caso el ,

nombre de semivoeal y ocupa una posición silábica postnuclear. /¡'dl "dear" ldI'd1 , "beard "plan ~erce"
Se transcribe fonétieamente por los signos [j] and [!;I]. le'dl 'there' loe'dl, "aired, sca.rce"

IU'd1"pOOl''' lpu'dl, "moored, moljrn,

/':1;¡1 "before" Ibl'I':1;\I, "storc, !loor', your"X2
There me si:\: Spanish ¡¡dling diphtllOngs: [aj, ej, oj, al1, ell, 011] as in I

"baile, ley, hoy, jaula, deudor, lo~untó". In this way, Spanish scmivowcls b) Closing diphthongs: Thcse diphthongs haJeI the characteristic that
and semieonsonants are vowel allophones. The distinction between they al! end with a glide towards a cJos:er vowcl. Three 01' the
semiconsonant and semivowel depends on its pre 01' post-nuclear position diphthongs glide towards /¡I and two glide tqwards lu/:
in the syllable:

ALLOPHONES le!1 "play" Iple!/, "paid, pain, face"

[j] semivowel
[!;I] semivowel lall "die" Idar/, "ti de, time, nice"
[j] semiconsonant
[w] sem ieonsonant I'JII "boy" Ib'JI/, "void, loin, voice"
laul "mouth" ImauO/, "Ioud, gOWi1, house"
IJul "go" Ig'du/, "Ioad, horne, most"

82 Some authors (see Mott, 1996) include this diphthong among centring
diphthongs, Although old h;:¡/ diphthong dcvclopcd ;into nowadays h:/, /Ja/ is
still rctaincd both in conscrvativc RP and in many regional aspccts.

142 143
In English, all falling and closing diphthongs (i.c. /CI, aJ, ~I, ;:)u, aul) may es/te/ tiem/po aldi/vi/no" (Garcilaso de la Vega): 11 syllables instcad of
13 .
. be followed by Ig/ within the word: / elg, alg, ~lg, gUg, aug/. This is
possible in three main circumstances (Gimson, 1989):

1. A ~ :;:1 : ,separable part of the word: "tire" I'fal;:)/. 6.5 Distributional problcms
2. As a suffix: "employer" IIm1pblg/.
3. As a separable element in a composite form: "nowadays" First of all, it has to be mentioned that the frequcncy 01' occtI!Tcncc 01'
I'naUgdelz/. vowel phonemes in English and Spanish is different; Spanish presents a
higher proportion of vowel sounds than English (43.49% vs. 39.21%).
Secondly, whereas Spanish shows a high frequency of occurrence of the
Ncvcrthelcss, there is a tcndency in rapid and advanccd RP to omit the
three most open vowels (la,e,ol totallillg 33.65%), the cClltralizcd vowcls
second clemellt (M or lu/), especially in the sccond illstance (i.e. as a
(l8,I,A,8U,U,3:,I8,uel.1 totallillg 23.98'1'0) pn:dominatc ill Ellglish.
separable morpheme). This process is known as "smoothing".
Additionally, English strong vowcls occur two or tl1n~c timcs lcss
frcquentIy in unacccnted syIlablcs than in accented oncsS4.

604 Hiatus and syncrcsis

Whereas all Spanish vowels can occur in all three positions in the word
(initial, medial and final), English vowels are subject to so me restrictions:
In Spanish, when two vowels come together in a word, one ofthem being
[i,u], the other being [e,o,a], they may not form a diphthong. Thus, each (a) /g/ is not normally accented.
vowel will remain in a different syllable, constituting a syllabic nucleus
(b) /e;~,D,u,A/ never occur tinally in a word. Possible exceptions: /ul
by its own. We refer to this phenomenon as "hiatus" ("hiato"). Some
in 'to' and 'into '; IAI in 'uh-huh' /A' hA/.
examples include: "tía" [i-a]; "ríe" [i-e], "lío" [i-o], "acentúa" [u-a],
"sitúe" [u-e], "huir" [u-i], "cuota" [u-o], "país" [a-i], "Ieísmo" [e-i], (c) lu,u;:)/ do not occur word initially. Exceptions: lu/ in 'oomph'
"oído" [o-i], "reúno" [eu]. There is aIso a hiatus when the same vowel is
repeated: /aal, /ee/, /iíl, /00/, /uu/: "Arahal", "vehemente", "alcohol". I /urnfl (brío), 'umlaut' and 'Uruguay'.

This is also true for the sequences of vowels [eo,oe], [ea,oa,ae,ao]. Sach
vowel in a sequence constitutes a syllabic nucleus, thus not forming a
6.6 AIIophonic variations
diphthong. Some examples are: "veo, poeta, lea, toalla, caer" ane!
"ahora". Frequently in casual speech those vowels that constitute the
The most important allophonic vanatlons are related to differences in
"hiatus" are pronounced together in a syllable. Thus, words such as
quantity in the English vowel system and important modificalions in the
"bohem io" ("bo-he-mio") and "real" ("re-al") are pronounced as "bohe-
quality of three Spanish vowcls: la,e,o/. In relation (o (he English vowcls,
mio" alld "rcal". This phCIlOIl1CIlOIl is rcfcrred to as "sYllcresis"
it hus to be noted that long vowcls lIl1dcrgo UI1important rcductiol1 wht.:11
they are followed by voiceless consonants. In this way, we can establish 11

FinalIy, when two consecutive vowels belonging to two different words

are pronounced together, that. is called "synaloepha" ("sinalefa").
Synaloepha is normal and usual in Spanish verse: "Enl tan/to, /que en/ 83 The most common contralized vowels are Ig/ and /¡/.

84 AII these figures have been extracted fTom Finch and Ortiz Lira' (1982).

144 145
Vowels and Diphthongs Vowels and Diphthongs

kind of continul!m from long to short vowels with an intermediate point • The sound laI presents three allophonic varieties:
(Le. the reduced long vowels):
J) a paJatal allophone [a] is produced when the sound precedes palata;
[i:]-[i']-[r] as in "seed, seat, sit" consonants Ic,Á,Jl,jl as in the words "malla", "facha" or
[::>:]-[::>"]-[0]as in "poured, port, pot" "despacho".
[u:]-[u}[u] as in "mood, boot, book,,85 2) a velarized allophone [a] is produced when this phoneme precedes
the vowels 101 and lul and the eonsonants 111 and Ix!, e.g. "pausa",
English diphthongs can also become longer when tlley are In open
"palma" or "maja".
syllable or even when followed by a voieed eonsonant:
3) the default allophone [at7 is found in those contexts where the
other allophones do not oeeur. For example: "caro" or "compás".
"say" [ser] or "veil" [veri] vs. "eight" [ert]
"so" [Sgu] or "old" [::>uid] vs. "both" [b08]
"idea" [al'(j¡::>] nr "wcird" [wl::>d] vs. "¡¡cree" [fl::>s]
6.7 Spclling systcms

Regarding the three Spanish vowels la,e,ol, they undergo the following Whereas the relationship between phonology and orthography is quite
quality variations: straightforward and predictable in Spanish, the situation is quite different
in English. i
• Thc sOllnds lel and 101 becol11e opener ( [El [::>1 ) in the Collowing i

cuses: In Spanish thc l110sl notcworthy cxal11plc is that pC thc phoncl11c lil which
has two possible spellings "y" ("y griega") and 'ji" ("i latina"). The ¡etter
1) in contact with the sound IN (rr), as in "perro, "torre" or "roca". "y" is pronounced as liI in the following contcxtsr8:
2) when preceding the sound Ix!, as in "teja" or "hoja".
l. When alone: the eonjunction "y": "Maríd y Pedro".
3) when being part of a falling diphthong, as in the words "peine" or
"boina". 2. When followed by a consonant: "Ybarra'f.
3. In word final position: "rey". '
4) the open allophones [::>]and [8] appear in all those syllables closed
by a consonant86: "pelma" or "costa".
Yau also have to take ¡nto account the followingrulcs:

1. y ou use an "i" whcn the sound lil is at word initial position and
followed by a consonant89: "iglesia, idea, isla".
2. y ou use a "y" when it is at word or sy lIable initial position and
followcd by a vowcl. In tbis context, it is prollOllllccd as a

85 Examples fram Finch are Ortiz Lira (1982). 87 It is represented with the same symbol as the palatal.al1ophone [aJo
86 In the case of the al1ophone [8], any syl1able c\osed by consonant cxcept 88 EIscwberc it is pronollnccd as T (i.c. a palata\. fricati"c. voiccd sOllnd).
d.I\\,';.n,O .
~" Lxcept propcr na111es sllch as lnduráin / Yl\durÚin: ¡riarte / Yriarte, dc.
y oweis ami DlpllilJOngs VoweLs and Diphthongs

fricativc, patatal, voiced consonant /]lO: "yeso, yugo, mayor, Some syllablcs with lax vowels end in two consonant letters (which
cobaya". may be identical or different): add, telL off, pend, fc!!, lo.f!.
3. At word final position you can use "i" or ''y''. If it is "tónica"
(strcsscd), you writc "i"; if it is "Mona" (unstrcssed), yoÚ writc 2. Anothcr mcans of signalling lax vowcls is through medial consonnnt
"y": "bisturf, fui, huf, aquf, vi" and "buey, ley, rey, hay, muy'\ Icttcrs doubling, which does not occur with tense vowcls:
4. Words ending in "y" have two possible plural forms: "-y es" and
"-is". If it is a new word, you normally change the "y" to "i" and Lerter Eddie
Lax lel
pin Vowel
add an "s": 'jerseys, espráis, bonsais". If it uoeais !ln oId word, you
pinning /¡/
just add an "es": "reyes, leyes, bueyes".

You also have a silcnt vowcllcttcr in Spanish. This is the leltcr "u" when
preceded by "g" and followed by "e" and "i": "guerra" [gera], "guiso"
[giso]. Ir the letter "g" were not foIlowed by a "u", it wouId be
pronounced as [x]: "gitano" [;-citáno],"geranio" [xeránio]. 3. In c10sed syIlables, tense voweIs can be signaIled by the use of a
voweI digraph92 before the final consonant: eat, meet, boot, boat, bgil,
The relationship between sound and spelling is much more complex in boil, bawl, bowI93.
English. This complexity is mainly due to the distinction between lax
4. In open syllabIes, tense vowels are signalled through the use of a
(short) and tense vowels (long pure vowels and diphthongs). According voweI digraph ending in w or y: low, how, m-ªy', b!!y. In closed
to Celce-Murcia, Brinton and Goodwin (1996:272)91 there are four main
syllabIes, tense vowels can be signalled with a vowel digraph ending
mIes which heIp us to guess the pronunciation ofvoweIs: in w: howI, dawn, sewn.

1. Lax sounds are often spelled with a vowel letter followed by at least To sum up, in English:
one consonant lettcr (VC). Tense vowels are often spelled with a
vowel lettcr followed by a consonant plus a word-final sitent "e"
a) The same vowel phoneme is usually representcd by several
spellings. Example: le/: "set" and "dead".
Letter rot
Lax 101
rote leTIVowel
b) One speIling may represent several vowel phonemes. Example: "a":
cute Iju:1
"that" and "many".
c) Two or more vowel letters may represent only one vowel phoneme
d) One vowelletter may represent no vowel phoneme at all ("fac~").

Finally, the mos~ common silent voweI letter in English is "e" in final
position: "pIcase, name, tease"

91 V owel digraphs are scqllences 01' (wo vowcl lelters tha( may be the same or
90 Except words beginning with "h" and ceratin words: "iátrico, iota, IOn, different.
raranoia". 93 This combination does not always signal a tense vowel. There are nurncrolls
1 See also Dickerson (1994).
exceptions in words spelled with the digraphs ea, 00, and ou: bread, look, cOllld.

148 149
Vowels and Diphthongs I Vowels and Diphthongs

FinaIly, as Finch and Ortiz Lira (I982: 44) point out: "The Iearner can
also make use of the rules goveming vowel aIternations, i.e. those rules 6.8 Excrciscs
that prcdict variations in the vowel quality of roots when affixes are
added". Examples:

1. A) Put your own vowels in the first chart, using a set of words.
Inl -4 III li:1 -4 lel leI/-4 I<EI Listen to each vowel carefully and try to judgc how it sounds
Derive -4 derivative relative to the other vowels.
ivic .. ilc -4 mobility I B) Try to find a speaker of a dialect different from your own (or
Hostile -4 hostility perhaps a foreigner who speaks English/Spanish as a foreign
Blblc -4 blblical langllage ). Repeat section ¡\ llsing the second chart.
Arthritis -> arthritic
f<irst chart:




150 151
Vowcls and Diphthongs Vowels and Diphthongs

Sccond char!:

4. Do YOll think that thcrc are homophones in Spanish. I f possibk

name five (provide the transcription):

(1) _

(2) _

(3) _
(4) _

(5) _

5. Circle the English words that ...

2. Compare the vowels in the English words "car, cart, calm, cat" to
the vowels in the Spanish words "carpintero, cateto, camilla", do
!hcy havc any thing in common? Is there any diffcrcncc? Now y Con!ain a long, fron!, clase, 1I11t'OlllHledvo\Vcl sOllnd:
say the sentence "Dale esto a Ana". Do you notice something
special in connection to the previous words? tree - reason - machinc - sit - fill- girl

3. "Homophone" is a term used to refer to words which have the ~ Begin with a short, front, half-close and half open, unrounded
same pronuneiation hut differ in meaning, for example "mect" vowel sOllnd:
and "meat" /mi:tI. Each of the following transcriptions represents
a set ofEnglish homophones, write the words they represent: else - Eddie - edgy - mine - ate - her

/sart/: -------~-------- ~ Begin with a short, front, between close and half-closc,
unrounded vowel sound:
/si:/: _
eel- each - earo - ibis - Ibiza - idiom
------------------ ~ Contain a closing diphthong:
/sed/: _
my - dear - below - toe - sewer - cure

152 153
Vowels and Diphthongs Vowels and Diphthongs

>- End with a centring diphthong:

d. __ The English sound Ij! and the Spanish sound Ij! are
share - tour - hoe - foe - sure - rare both marginal.

6. Transcribe the following Spanish words: e. __ All Spanish falling diphthongs are closing.

Yerno: f.. __ Spanish has no mid, central vowels.

Ybarra: g. __ English li:1 is tenser than Spanish li/.

h. __ Lenthening is a cornrnon phenornenon in rapid,

Reyes: _ colloquial Spanish speech.
~ Identify a11 the diphthongs and hiatus in mid-word position in the
Convoyes: _ following text:

Muchos años despl!.és, frente al pelotón de fusilami.21to, el

7. Justify the use of"i" or ''y,,94: coronel ~reliano B\~,ndía!. de recordar aquella tarde
remota en que su padre lo llevó a conoce~ el bielo. Macondo era
entonces una al~ de vciPte casas cie barro y cañabrava
hurí zahorí Yemen
constrWi1as a la oI;illa de un ~ío de ~g!!ill' dillfanas que se
. yataí velahí jabalí precipitaban por un lecho de pj~ras puli?as, blancas y enormes
quilmay siboney quibey como h~os pr~stóricos. El mundo ¡ era tan re~te, que
yaqul yegua yerno muchas cosas careci!,n de nombre, y para menc.tiwarlas hab.ia. que
señalarlas con el dedo. (G. García Márquef, 1967:1)

S. Say whether thc following statclllents are true or false: 10. Fill in the blanks in the following su m 111 aty of difficulties for the
_S panlS1SpCa"Cr
. I k '15 . .

a. __ Spanish diphthongs are more numerous than English AII the diphthongs (1 1, leg/, and I

/) must be pronounced without an in RP. It

b. __ Spanish vowels are tenser than English vowels.

should bc notcd that, cvcn thollgh i\lI1cricans pronollncc thc "r" -

c. __ There are no centring diphthongs ií1 Spanish.

'14 This cxcrcisc is includcd in the book: Larolisse Ortografía. 95 This exercise is included in M. Brookes (2000) Pronollnce English.

Vowel,\' (lml Diphlhong.l' VOlI'eI,\, (/1/(1 f)il ¡fll hong,l'

thc phcnomenon of rhotacization ("r" colouring of a Yo\\'cl, C.g.

"beard") this "r" in no way resembles the Spanish "r". words such as "coin" and " ", " _
h-;;¡I should be clearly distinguished from both the close, tense and "tore".

front vowel I I as well as le:;)1 in words like "beer",

" ", and " ."

Similarly lu:;)1 must remain distinct from lu:1 so as not to confuse

words such as " " and "two", "sure" and

" "

ICII should not be confuscd with the purc vowcl Icl (e.g. the

oppositions" " I "pcn", "bail" I" ").

I:ml must not be assimilated tothe open, lax back vowel I l.

This wOllld make it impossib.le to differcntiate between words

such as "phoned" and " ", " "

and "rod".

Nor ShOllld I:>ul bc confllscd with thc back

vowel h:1 (cf. the oppositions "low" I " ",

" " I "hall") .

. 156 157

7.1 The structure ofthe syIlable

It is very hard to define a syllabJe scientifically in phonetic terms because

no one knows what physical action of the speaker creates a syllable. So,
most scholars W;ll try to define a syllable in phonological terms. For
example, we know that the word "going" Ig~UIIJI has two syllables and

we know that the sound lul is the dividing point; but does lul belong to
the first or to the second syllable? I~ul is a phoneme (Le. a diphthong)
and that means that this is one segment and we cannot break it. But this is
a phonological explanation, not a phonetic one. Gimson (1989) mentions
different theories which try to define the syllable:,

l. The ~r.omi!1.Cllj;~_s~Uahle: Syllablesi would be peaks of

prominence. i

2. The Pulse theo~Syllables would be c11estpulses accompanied

by increases in air pressure. i

3. The ~gl!i..s.tic_alW~: The syllable! would be defined with

reference to the structure of one particular language.

Different languages have different kinds of syIJable structure. The basic

syIlable structure in both English and Spanish Is V (i.e. one vowel by
itself). This vowel is the _"uclcus or ~ df the syIlable and the

marginal (pre- an~ post-) posi.tions are typica~ly occupied by. consonants . .Ji'\
of sounds which can be ::'j lIabic nucleus and the other is related to the
But thereof are
number two which
words Important dIfferences,
can occupy one IS C.oncerned
the marginal positions. wlth
In relation to
the typescu..g;'

l' !wllo[ae[ ies l'hOllol<ldics

6) the first one, it has to be noted that English has a set of consonants
, IJ, 1,r/)96which can be syllabic nucleus: .
(1m, n,
When a syllab!e has no onset, this is called "emp.t)r•.o_ns~~ when there is
more than one consonant, we refer to it as "branching_ons..e.t:.': In the
same, we can talk about '~~ty_cQda~, ':br.aItching codas~' and
"bortom" lbDtn;V ~bing.....!!l!de~". When there is no coda that is an .QP~Jlabl~
("sílaba abierta") and the vowel is fW.,"vocallibre"). On the contrary,
"burton" lbAt~ when the nucleus or peak is followed by a consonant (i.e. it has a coda)
"bacon" lbelk61 that is called a "closed syllablc" ("sílaba cerrada") and the vowel is a
"bubble" l'bAb,ll "fhccked vowel" ("vocal trabada"). A branching nuc!eus is a type of
"particular" Ipr'tIkj;)lrt7 umt which has a long vowel or diphthong as its nucleus. If the nucleus is
, ,
a short vowel, this is a ~on-branching nucleus". The verb "sit" is an
example of a non-branching nucIeus and the veros "seat" and "sail" have
Syllabic consonants are very common in English. In contrast, we can a branching nllclellS. The peak and coda are ealled the rhyme. In "put" the
""Oñ¡Y¡iiiaatcw examples of syllabic consonants in colloqllial Spanish in anset is Ipl and the rhyme is lut!. In wards such as "and" the rhyme is
interjections such as "anda" (/~da/), or "pan" (lp~. equivalent to the whale syllable.

It is paradoxical that English speakers pronounce words such as "canoe" Delattre (1965:41) offers the following fcnlures for the four l11os1frcqtlcnt
with a sy!labic consonant (['kl,1U:])bllt non-indigcnous words sllch as syllable types:
"gnu" is pronounced with an s,nenthetic vowel ([~u:]) because the eev
3].8 %
sequence Igol is not an English onsel. As
Spanish Carr (1999:79) explains: "The
important arc
to be in
hereof ispcrmissiblc(phono!ogical
that constrtints on English syIlable ' ..:~
rather than phonetic ones." O~"Ckcih.{I ft,lQ\'"éCL¡ \'€.S\nUJ.:
As it can be seen in the above table, Spanish clearly favours the CV type.
Obviously, this means that in English there is a predominance of cIosed
@ •onset~),
syllable may take up to three consonants before the vowel (Le. the
The second
and difference
up to fOllr is much
after more
it (Le. the remarkable. Whereas
.coda): Spanish the take
can only English
syllables .

consonants before, and one --exceptionally two- after:

There are _uniyersal and Iangill!ge-specific constraints on the
syllabification of seqllences of segments. We can mention two universal
English syllable: (CCC)V(CCCC)99: "sprain, texts"
constraints: (1) sequences of segments are syllabified in accordance with
Spanish syIlable: (CC)V(CC): "trans-bor-da-dor"
a sonority scale; and (2) the Maxil}lªLOn~principle. According to the

(b) as one approaches the nucleus, sonority increases. [,here is one

96 Same speakers also syllabifY fTicatives. Words such as "suppart" can be
pronaunced [S~lph;):t]ar ['~ph;):t].
sonority scale
exception principie:
to the (a) the
second rule: s +most sonarous
consonan~ element
onset iS1 nucletis
clusters Only and
onsets violate the sonority hierarchy. In words such as "spray" thc
97 Only in rhotic accents.
sonority dccrcascs rathcr than incrcases as OlJe approachcs the nllclells;
')K"cabeza" or "arranque" in Spanish.
'i'i FOllr C0l1S0llallt codas are ollly possiblc whcll a surlix with thc phal1eme Itl ar
Id/, /::/ 01' I/J, 01' 101 i:ó addl'd lo ollll'r l'OIl:¡Ollilllls: "1<:lIlpl:;" 11l'lIIpls/.

160 161

.0: . ,1
Phonotactics Phonotactics

the [s] sound is¡;nore sonorous than the [p] sound. As we may remember, 4. Coda consonants are much more likely to undergo loss of
the sonority scale takes the following form 100: articulation in the course of the historical development of
languages than onset consonants.
+ Low vowels 5. There are no known languages which have VC-type syllabIes but
High vawels lack CV -typc syllables, whcreas the reverse is not the case
N asals There are some important phonotactic restrictions in English:
V oiced fricatives
V oiceless fricatives l. Long vowels and diphthongs dónot precede final IfJ/.
Voiced stops 2. le, re, A, DI do not occur finally 101.
Voiceless stops
3. Initially:

The Maximal Onset principIe predicts that " ... where the language-
specific phonotactics will allow for two or more syllabificatiúns
syllable boundary, it is the syllabification
across a
which maximizes the material
a. IfJI and
no consonant
do not occur.
clusters are possible with ItS, d3,
Ir, j, wl can occur in consonant
5, zJ.
clusters only as the non-initial
in the following onset which is preferred." (Carr, 1999: 74). For example,
the word "appraise" l~pre!ZJ' could be syllabified 1~.prelzJ or l~p.relzJ. In 4. Finally:
a. only 111may occur before non-syllabic 1m, ni.
theory, both could be correct because (1) Iprl is an acceptable onset and
b. Ih, r, j, wl do not occur103•
(2) Ipl can be a coda in words such as "cup" and Irl can be an onset in
words such as "red". But the Maximal Onset principIe predicts that only
the first aptian is the correcto This principIe is connected with a universal
fact: "that syllables with an onset consonant are in some sense more basic
than those withaut, and that presence of onset cansonants is in some 7.2 Initia} clustcrs in Spanish and English i
sense more basic than presence of coda consonants." This means that the i

most basic syllable structure in human languages is CV and Carr (1999: We can find two-consonant initial clusters in bqth English and Spanish.
74-5) name several types of evidence which support this: In English, we can find the following combinatiohs:

l. CV-type syllabIes appear to be the syllablc types that human l. Isl + Ip,t,k,f,m,n,l,wj/: "speak, steak,
sph4re, smack, snack, sIab,
children first utter when they begin to speak (e.g. [ba], [maD swab, super" :
regardless of what language their parents speak. 2. pIe;' ~ or fricative or nasal (/11 in a few words) + approximant:
2. In many cases of aphasia, CV syllable structures also appear to be >- Ipr-I and /fl-/: quite common: "pride,fluent".
the sort that first begins to appear as the patient recovers his or her
101 These are called "checked" vowels. In contrast to these vowels which can
3. Languages which have both onset and coda consonants typically
occur word finaJly are called "free" vowels. In Spahish they are called "vocal
allow for a wider range of consonants to occur in onset position trabada" and "vocal libre".
than in coda position.
102 In native English words. There are words such as "Gisel1e" 01' "gigolo" with
an initial 131 bUllhe are of Frcnch origino
¡no As one proceeds from the bottom to lhe top of the scale, sonority incrcases. 10) 11'1 may occur in this posilion in rholic accents.

162 163
/'holJolaclics l'honolaclics

>- Igw-, dw-, Jr-, 8w-/: rare: "Gwen, Dwight, shrink, thwart". 7.3 Final cIusters in Spanish and English
>- Isf-/:limited to "sphere, sphinx, sforzando".
>- 18j-, gj-, gw-/: uncommOn word-initiaIly but may appear in
In English, there is a large number of possible final clusters 106. There are
syIlable-initial position: "enthusiasm, argue, language".
two main difficuIties for Spanish speakers of English:
>- Isj-, lj-/: old-fashioned in some words: "suit, lurid".
>- Isl + Ir/: "Sri Lanka". But [Jj-] is preferred as in: "shriek,
1. Four final consonant clusters: "glimpsed" /'glrmpst/, "texts" heksts/.
shrew" .
>- Ipw-, bw-, fw-, vw-/: only found in foreign words because
2. Isl + cons. + Isl in word-final position: "asks, wasps, masts".
English does not allow two labial consonants in initial
groups: "pueblo, bwana, foie gras, voyeur". In Spanish, there are no final consonant groups in word-final position but
"En cuanto a la coda compleja, sólo la Isl puede aparecer como segundo
>- Ivl-, vr-, Jw-/: only in foreign words: "Vladimir, Schweppes,
segmento de una coda compleja." M. Machuca (2000: 65): "ins.truc.ción,
cons.tre.ñir, trans.por.te". AIthough 1-1, -n, -r, -s, -8, -d, -xl can appear in

On the contrary, in Spanish, only those consonants combined with 11/ or word final position, they are unstablc ( there is a predilection for
consonant-vowel syllable structure)I07:
Irl can form a consonant cluster. Machuca (2000: 63) points out that
"Cualquier fonema consonántico puede formar parte de un ataque simple,
salvo la vibrante simple Ir! en posición inicial de palabra. En cambio, sólo I >-

1-1/: loss is common in Andalusia: "cual".
I-n/: velarizes in some varieties of Spanish (Peruvians,
constitl~ye~ ~n ataque ~omplejo en español los siguientes gr~~40~ Ecuatorians).
consonantlcos. Ipr-, tr-, kr-, br-, dr-, gr-, fr-, p!-, kl-, bl-, gl-, 0-1 .
>- I-r/: dropping is a wide-spread feature of non-standard
Clusters of the type Isl + consonant are particularly difficuIt for Spanish
speakers. So, in words such as "s peak" or "school" the sounds Isl plus Ipl
>- I-s/: becomes an aspirated consonant ("muslo") or drops
or /kI are not tautosyIlabic for Spanish speakers; they are pronounced as
"es.peak" and "es.chool". completely ("dos") in large areas of southern Spain.
>- 1-8/: is aIso lost in Andalusia ("luz").
W e can also find three-consonant clusters in English. These clusters are >- I-dl: is usuaIly lost but some Castilian speakers (mainly In
formed: Isl + unvoiced plosive + approximant: Ispl-, spr-, sp}, str-, stj-, Madrid) use 18/: "verdad".
skl-, skr-, skj-, skw_/105:"splash, sprain, spew, sclerosis, scrabbIe, skew, >- I-xl: is rare. The most cornrnon word in which it occurs is
square". In Spanish, they can be possible if we consider Iw, j/ as 1 "reloj" but it also has a less prestigious pronunciation [rsló].
consonants: "pliegue". FinaIly, in the same way that there are no groups
Isl plus consonant in Spanish, there are not Isl plus two consonant
clusters. Finally, final plosives of foreign words like "club, autostop, light, chip,
spot" are either weakened or elided108:

106 Duc lo Ihc fael Ihat plural ami vcrbal !I1orphc!l1cs arc usualIy suffixcd withouI
1(1-1 words sucli as "atleta" are syllabilied "al. le. la". a support vowcl: "books", "sits".
11" /spw-, sll-/ ami h;lw-/ are nol possible (Ipw-, tI-/ are nol possiblc bul /lw-/ is 107 Mott (1 ')%; 274).
possiblc "lwellly"). IOH Mott (1')96: 274-5).

164 165
Phonotactics Phonotactics

> I-rd/: rcduccd to 11'/: "standard" =:> "standar". > When Ib,dl are followed by a voiceless plosive, they are
> I-d/: it is cithcr droppcd 01' bccomcs fricativc "raid" =:> [rai()]. devoiced ([p,t)) 01' weakened ([[3,0)): "obtener [pt] - [[.H];
> I-SI: usually articulated as Is/: "squash, flash". "adquirir" [tk] - [ok].
> I-r:/ last vowel nasalized 01' pronounced as In/: "camping". > When Ib,dl are followed by a voiced plosive, both of them
become fricatives: "abdicar" [po]; "advertir" [013],
> I-m/: may be pronounced with a support vowel: "film" =:>
"filme" . > When a plosive is followed by a nasal consonant 01' fricative,
> Other examples: "lor(d), sprin(t), stan(d), relax [r8Iá(k)s]". it becomes a voiced fricative: "abnegación" [0n];
"atmósfera" [cm]; "técnica" ["(n]; "eclipsar" [~s];
"subyugar" [0J].
7.4 IntrasyIlabic c1ustcrs in Spanish aud English > In some varietiesl 11 these postsyllabic plosives are substituted
by an aspiration: "técnica" [1m]; "admira" [hm]; "adquirir"
In Spanish, intrasyllabic clusters show combinations whose components [hk], etc.
do not exist independently in syIlable-initial 01' syllable-final clustersl09:
In Spanish, when we find one 01' several consonants in an intrasyllabic
> /-b/: is l10l typical 01' Spanish and lends to be devoiced 01' position, we have to take ¡nto aecount several rules in order to know how
even elided in foreign words like "club" 01' "esnob". to syIlabifY the word:
However, it may be voiced across syllable boundaries as in
1. VCV ~ V.CV: the consonant is always the onset of the following
> l-kJ: there may be voicing ofthis plosive in "técnico". syIlable: "ala" ("") 01' "hora" ("ho.ra"). '
> I-s/: normally pronounced in standard Spanish but lost before
Irl ("Israel"). Also at word boundaries: "las ranas". 2. VCCY:
> I-m/: Spanish does not have word-final/m/ but it does appear I

intrasyIlabicaIly in "cambiar". Also at word boundaries: "un a. V.CCY: If the second consonant is an "1" 01' an "r", both
vino". consonants form an initial consonant cluster: "abril"
> 1-1/:in some areas of Spain and in a quite coIloquial and rapid ("a.bril") 01' "doble" ("do.ble").
speech it is possible to hear an Ir! sound: "algo" is b. VC.CV: If the second consonant is neither an "1" nor an "1''',
pronounced as [afYo]. each consonant belong to a different1syIlabIe. So, the first one
is the coda of (he preceding syIlaDe and the second is the
Spanish very often simplifies intrasyllabic groups by weakening the first onset of the foIlowing syllable: "este" ("es. te") 01' "puerta"
consonant: ("puer. ta").

> When there are two consecutive voiceless stops (/ptl, Iktl) the
first one is weakened 01' even lost: "septiembre" 110 [pt] - [t];
"suscriptor" [~t] - [t].

110 Oficn omittcd from thc spclling (RAE).

109 Mott (i996: 275). 111 Very common in Andalusia.

166 167
I'hollolaclics Pho¡;:aclics

.3. YCCCY: 2. VCnY: If two vowels are separated by a consonant cluster ,syJlable
divisiol1 depends 011what consonants are in the cluster:
a. YC.CCY: If the third consonant is an "1" or an "r", the
seco~:d and the third are the onset of a different syJlable: a. Y.CnY: If the cluster is of the type which can occur word
"comprar" ("com.prar") or "inflar" ("in.flar"). initially and the following vowel is strong, thc who1e cluster
b. YCC.CY: Ifthe second consonant is an "s", the flrst and the is part of the syllable with the strong vowel: "decline"
second are the coda o'f the preceding syllabIe: "inspirar" IdI.'kIam/.
(ins.pLrar) or "substancia" ("subs.tan.cia"). b. V'CnY: Ifthe second voweI is weak the flrst consonant ofthe
cluster in ambisyJlabic: "sacred" isetknd/.
4. YCCCCY ~ YCC.CCY: The flrst and the second consonant form a
c. YCI. C2 Y: Ifthe consonant cluster is one which cannot occur
consonant cluster which is the coda of the flrst syJlable and the third
and the fourth constitute another consonant cluster which is the onset in initial position, the consonants are divided in such a way
that the second syJlable l: _ :¡s with a single consonant or a
of the following syllable: "construir" ("cons.truir") or "transplante"
cluster that can occur initially: "emblem" /em.blgm/; "atlas"
("trans. plan.te").
/; "candy" /kren.di/.

In English, when we flnd one or several consonants in an intrasyllabic

position, we have to take into accoullt several rules in order to know how 7.5 Juncturc
to syllabifY the word:
There is a narrow :elationship between one sOllnd and the sOllnds that
1. VCV: immediately precede and follow it even at word boundaries. The
relationship bctween Iml and lall , between ItI and 13:/, and betwcen 13:1
a. Y.CY: If one consonant occurs between two vowels and
and In! in the phrase "my turn" is one of "close juncture". On the other
the second vowel is strOr.gI12, wh6ther stressed or not, 'the
hand, Iml and Inl are said to be in a position of"cxternal open juncture"
consonant is part of the second syllable: "vacation"
bccause they are preceded (1m!) and followed (In!) by silencc. Finally, the
relationship bctwccn Iml and ItI is more difficult to cbssify; is it diffcrent
b. V vCV: Ir onc consonant occurs betwcen two vowels and
01' similar to the relationship between larl and ItI in "might earn"? This
the second vow'e1 is a weak one, the consonant is
kind of relationship is cal!ed ,"internal open juncture" (or just
ambisyl!abic (i.e. in certain contexts it would go with the "juncture") and it· is highly connected to syl!able division at word
following voweLand in others with the preceding one): boundaries.
"vacation" IVd.'kc{J¡;¡/; "copy" /kDvpi/.
In Spanish, when the last sound of a word is a consonant and the flrst of
the foIlowing word is a vowelJJ3 they are pronounced as ifthey belonged
to the same syllable. This is called "enlace". Wc can also find a similar
casc when the last sOllnd is n vowcl and Ihe fírst nnothcr vowcl whcncvcr

112 That is, closing diphthongs, long vowels and short vowels folIowed by two
consonants. 113 Obviously, ifthey are in !1:~same tane group.

168 169
Phonotactics Phonotactics

is yowe] is ¡u~ unstressed Ii/ or lu/. ] n th is way, the coda o r the last

syllable of the preceding word becomes the onset of the first syIlable of
the foIlowing word:
7.6 Exercises
"un amigo" ~ u - na - mi -go.
"los otros" ~ lo - so - tros.
"el hombre" ~ e - lhom - bre l. Say how each of the underlined words in the following text is
sy llabified.
If the ]ast sound of the first word is a vowel the link is carried out in the
foIlowing way:
El sol cae a plomo sobre la gran llanura. La frente del príncipe
"su hijito" ~ suhi - ji - to descansa sobre las rodi11as de su esposa. Todo a su alrededor
"hombre imbécil" ~ hom - breim - bé - cil calla o duerme. En los países tropicales, el mediodía es la noche
"lo uso" ~ lou - so de la Naturaleza. Sólo interrumpen esta calma profunda el grito
breve y agudo del bengalí, el zumbido monótono y tenaz de los
insectos que voltean en el aire, brillando a la luz del sol como un
torbellino de piedras preciosas, y la acelerada respiración de
In this way, we can find funny examples such as: Siannah, respiración sonora y encendida como la del que sueña
embriagado con opio. (Bécquer, 1967: 91)
"el hado" YS. "helado"
"en ojo" vs. "enojo"
"en aguas" vs. "enaguas" 2. Transcribe the previous words and cqmment on any possible
"el hecho" vs. "helecho" dialectal variety you consider worth me~tioning.

Something similar happens in English in expressions such as: 3. Say how each of the foIlowing words is syIlabified and why
altemative syllabifications are ruled out::
"at tease" vs. "at ease" I

"nitrate" vs. "night rate"

"might raili" vs. "my train" I

"he lies" vs. "heal eyes" Apprehension: IlJiterate:

Nevertheless, it is possible to distinguish these pairs in connected speech

thanks to allophonic variations. For example: (l) the ItI in "tease" is EJJipse: Aspect:
aspirated; (2) the Irl in "nitrate" has a [ricative realisation; (3) the Ir! in
"train" is devoiced and has a fricative realisation; and (4) the 11/ in "heal"
is a dark or velar "1". Equable: ApJenty: .

170 171
Fhonolaclics Phonolaclics

Atrium: Afraid:
d. lhe only English fricativc which can fÓllow init!nl Isl is
____ , occurring only in a tew words 01' Greek

e. The only English syllabic sequence which violates the
4. Of the foIlowing words, say which are English, and which are
non-English. Support your Ianswer with arguments related to sonority hierarchy is _
f. The first syllable in the Spanish word "huevo" has an
r ""A~,\..(r c9~ ~~~ jQ:(
sy ]labificat!OIhr\(¡)Ji
N0 f"V'" _____ onset whereas the English word "hue" has a
~ri:d'yl() Ipsarl IlgUlJI tJr L~~ Ipegrl ~¡ _____ syllable st. '.:cture.
I~i:k/ Isfregngm/5L. Ihhl tI tI" Iswreg! Si 7. Look for the Spanish names of six different animals and writc
, ',WitW-div.. (1" ~ ~D thcir orthographic forms:
I .
t.~-IRcctL 5. Of the fol Q~ \\ .words, say which are Spanish, and which are
I ()..!; ~-?bi.e..- non-Spanish. Support your answer witll arguments related to

I tt,
(;lVI~/' Il SYIla,bification:'I~,).\e
OelY- \.'"
'0\1.' ~if¿f¡1L"~
~ ~S\.éf.\.
/gu/ /bron/
I I srL: ,eck.~i~r.."'Y' Ict~(\e~LO-~o- Iga!
I ~ ~"fv ¡rP' ~ lt.9 ~~&í~
¡ ,
Isrimel 11
Ito~1 J!; " Idrapearl E
Iglabr;)l.:J ItenJka!-
I MC~f ISPJrtI)1
r\v el1
iR,- c.c~
6. Complete the following statements:

a. In English words with a CCC- onset the first consonant is

8. Write three words in English or Spanish or English and Spanish
with the .following syllabic structures. 11' any 01' these
b. The first vowel of any native English word may be combinations is not possible in either of these two languages,
explain why.
preceded by any single consonant except or

c. In Spanish words with a CC- onsct the second consonant

is or

./ r ,'.,"'\."'7 !¡-': .:..:\

(;. \',

172 173 ..":,

\ Ió
Phonotactics Phonotactics

10. For each of the fol1owing words, say how it is syl1abified and
cv+cv Eng. why alternative syllabifications are disallowed:
VC+CVC Span.
Suspect (verb and noun) - circumscribe - paediatrician -
bachelor - daffy - geological- squelched .

II Activar - advertir - salchichón - examen - toalla - almohada -

constancia -:-había.

9. Which oi' (hc consononts ond consonont clustcrs bclow occur os n

coda afler laI/? Think of a word that ends in larpl like "pipe", and
so on. When you finish, try to make a general statement about the

I-pl ; I-b/; I-t/ ; I-dl ; l-d31 ; l-kJ ; I-g) ; I-f/; I-vl ; I-sl ; I-v ; I-ml ;
I-nl ; I-DI ; 1-1/

I-mp/' , I-nt!· , I-nd/ ,. I-spl ., I-st!· , I-skl ., I-Ibl ,. I-Ig/

Which of these consonants and clusters occur after laul? What
constraints do you find?114

114 Exercise adaptcd li-orn Kreidlcr (1997: 96).

17·\ 175

8.1 Prominence

I Stress is one of the so-called

rhythm and intonation.
suprasegmental features, along with

Aeeording to Trask (1996: 336) stress is u eertuin type 01' promincnee,

which in some languages, is present upon certain syllables. Native
speakers and phoneticians usually find it easy to determine which
syllables bear stress, and even to distinguish varying degrees of stress, but
the phonctic charactcrization of stress is exccedingly dimcult: stress is
variously associated with greater loudness, higher pitch and greater
duration, any of which may be most important in a given case, and
sometimes also with vowel quality. Earlier attempts to identify stress with
greater intensity of sound are now discredited, and current thinking holds
that stress is primarily a matter of greater muscular effort by the speaker,
and that hearers take advantage of several types of information to identify
that effort.

In fact Laver (1994:511) states: "Other things being equal, one syIJable is
more prominent than anothcr to the extcnt that its constitllcnt scgments
display higher pitch, greater loudness, longer duration 01' greater
articulatory excursion fram the neutral disposition ofthe vocal tract."

Stress actually refers to perception. When a syllable is perceived as more

prominent, that syllable is said to be stressedllS• There is a combination of
factors in making a syllable stresscd: grc'ater loudncss, higla::r piteh und
greater length contribute to this perception of stress.

115 Ultimate syllable, penultimate and antepenultimate are adjectives that are
used to refer to the last syllable, the second syl1able tTom the right and the third
syllable to the right, respectively ..

Lexical Stress Lexical Stress

specific sound. Stress as being prominent is perceived when there is a

In English, stress is actuaIly gradual: a stressed syIlable in English can contrast between what the listener expects to hear and what they reaIly
show some or a1l of these characteristics, which results in different levels get. That is, an already prominent sound like a vowel, can be enhanced to
of stress.
produce a "stressed version" which is' perceived as being specifically
highlighted in a particular context. '
Loudness means that the sound has be en produced with more energy,
usuaIly with an open vocal tract and voicing. That is why vowels are
naturaIly louder than consonants. And, as we saw in a previous unit, are Accent is sornetirnes used instead of stress. However, the terro accent
described as being sonorant116• Sonority is, in many respects, similar to wil! be lirnited here to prorninences where pitch is involved (hence it is
loudness. But loudness has al so to do with a greater 'muscular e ffo rt, equivalent to PITCH ACCENT). Word-stress will be used to refer to
which results in a more dense and bigger airflow. Al! other things being those syllables which would be'rnarked as stressed if stress were marked
'\.. ''f!J equal, the same sound can be produced with more or less energy, in a lexicon or dictionary and which therefore have a potential for
Rl \f.':/ depending on the inspiration process and the muscular tension along the "accent" in utterances. Sentence-stress will be used to refer to those
~~ G\. vocal tract, starting from the diaphragm and ending at the lips. words which show stress in a sentence, in correlation with meaning,
~\ hado.d./I~h.ue- emphasis and focus, as will be explained below .

. Kr.
'fJ "-- Pitch means
given that amount
the sarne the Vaí'eofvibration
of time, the ofthe
vocal vocal
folds folds
showis greater. That is,
more cycles of Mott (1991: 215-216) divides the languages of the world into two groups
vibrations. Pitch can be seen as a synonyrn of tonc: for example, the pitch on the basis of stress. There are:
at the end of Ihe qllestion "Are YOIl te/linK me YOIl 're not coming?" when
pronollnced showing discredit and anger, is higher than it is at Ihe 1CiJLanguages which have a fixed place rol' the stress in words: In
beginning 01' the question. French, Turkish or Modern Hebrew the stress, is always on the last
syllable of a word. In Hungari2n, Finnish and Cz~ch the stress is a]ways
Lcngth has to do with the duration in the production of a sound. on the first sy Ilable of words. i

There is, as we have already said, a close connection between sonority "'~Languages in which there is no fixed placei for the stress in words
and strcss. Both sonority and stress have to do with prominence. The (Dynamic Stress Langllages). Languages like E$glish, Spanish, German
diffcrcnce is that, while sonority is related to the inherent characteristies or Russian have variable word stress. Spanish has the advantagc of using
of a sound, stress has to do with temporary qualities enhanced for a a graphic accent to rnark irregular stress (términq, terminó as opposed to
termino), but English uses no such device to assist the ¡earner. However,
lió Sonority must be seen as a progressive quality. In general, sounds produced English stress cannot be entirely unpredictable! because native EnglislJ
with a more open articulation are said to be more sonorant. Voiced sounds are speakers are able to place the stress to unfarniliar words with at least
also more clearly perceived than voiceless ones. The sonority hicrarchy some degree of success, which means that English stress pJacement rnust
cstablishcs a scqllcncc of sonorant vs. obstrllcnt sOllnds. SOllnds which show a be rlllc-bollnd.
greatcr dcgrce of stricture are not as clearly perccived as those which are
produced with a more open articulation. The progression (from more to less
sonorant sounds) for English sounds could approximateJy be the one that
foIlows: High Vowels - Mid Vowels - Low Vowels - Approximants - Laterals
_. Nusal Stops .- V oict'd Fricnti\'cs .-. V oiL't'lt'SS Fricnti\'és - V oiccd A fTricfI!cs -
\'l)kckss '¡\m'k:\tes Yoked Plosives Yoicckss Plosivcs,

In 179
8.2 Degrees of Stress follo\Ving different criteria, some of them morphological, but, mainly,
semantic. That is, important words carry more prominencc than, words
Every word in English has at Jeast one stress in its citation formo But that carry less important information in the message. This distribution is
some types of words most commonly occur in an unstressed form in always done in the discoursal contcxt. In Spanish, on the other hund, the
connectcd specch. Olher typcs of \Vords 1l10st commonly occurring dilTerel\ce bctweel\ prominenl syllnblcs (i.e. slresscd syllablcs) 1I1\d1\01\-
without a stress (and with reduced vowels) are auxiliary verbs, personal proll1inent ones (i.e. uIlstressed syl!ables) is not as cJearly stnted as it is
pronouns and shorter prepositions and conjunctions, whereas the in English. That produces a more static or monotonous rhythmical
majori:y of nouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs, numerals, impression to Spanish. In Spanish, every word carries primary stress. In
quantifiers, and personal pronouns commonly occur with a stress. Thc English, on the contrary, only so me words are stressed in the sentence.
exaet syllable on which the stress occurs wiII, of course, be detcrmined
by mies for word-strcss.
8.3 Strong and Weak Forms
We will distinguish three such degrees of stress/accent.
Many words in English are pronounced both with and without stress
1) PRIMARY STRESS (or PRIMARY ACCENT), involving the depending on the structure of the sentence. The presence or absencc of
principal pitch prominence in the word. We mark the strongest or stress changes the quality of the vowel. This altemation is defined as the
primary stress with a short raised stroke [ ']. alternation strong vs. weak
of a word unit.
2) SECONDARY STRESS (or SECONDARY ACCENT), involving a Generally, it is words such as articles, prepositions, conjunctions, and
subsidiary pitch prominence. We mark the middle level or secondary pronouns which have this alternation, that is,_functional word~ verbs,
level with a short Jowered stroke [ ,]. nouns, adverbs, and adjectives, that is, lexical wQ11l~,_generally do not
have this alternation. Alternation in weak vs. strong forms is, basically, a
3) UNSTRESSED, involving a non-prominent syllable containing no
qualitative and quantitative alternation: the vowel becomes reduced in a
pitch change and one ofthe vowels Ir, u, el. weak form and, sometill1cs, \VCmay find dclclion 01' consonants as in (lml
or hi/ll (strong forms /amd, hrml vS. weak lorms lend, en, rm/).
Every word unit has at least one primary stress and one or more
unstressed syllables. Polysyllabic words in English al so show, in general,
The loss 01' stress can only take place when the word appears in a
primary and secondary stress, apart from unstressed syllables.
sentential context, and never in isolation. When the word is emphasized,
Polysyllabic in English uSltally reCcrs to words with 3 syllablcs or more
stress can not be Jost cither. Stress rcmains whcn the word occurs finaIly,
and compounds. Spanish words only show a primary stress. Thcre is one
for example in Who 's comingl 1 am or Where do you come fi'om l.
exception, and it is the case of adverbs ending in -mente. In these
adverbs, the adjective keeps its original stress and mente carries stress on
In the foIlowing sentence, for example some words carry a stress: we can
the penultimate syllable.
say those words are~g..rhese are the lexicaUY..o_t..ds.
This accentual pattern in English, as we wil! see, has to do with the way
It was the best car for Us to buy
English prominence is distributed along the speech chain. English
rhythm is characterized by an alternation of strong and weak syllables,
that is, ofprominent and non-prominent syllables. These syllables, being
part of the different words that make up each statement, are chosen

180 181
Lexical Stress Lexical Stress

The remaining, words are the grarnrnatical words, and they are (I.e) Object Pronouns:
unstressed or we~k. However, if each grammatical word· is said in Strong Weak

isolation, it has a different sound. Me Imi:1 ImII
y ou 123 Iju:1 Ijulljal
(1) PRONOUNS: Him /hlm! Irm!
(1.A) Personal:
Weak Herl24 /h3:1 13:1/hel lel
y ou 117 US\25 Il\sl lasllsl

Iju:1 Ijulljal
!1¿18 /hi:1 /hII Irl li:1 Them -- loeml loem! 10m! lem! Iml

.§!le. ISi:1 ISII (l.D) Relative Pronouns:

IWII Strong Weak
~~ Iwi:1
Who /hu:1 /huI lu:1 lul
1j,;y~20 loeII loel
Whom Ihu:ml Ihuml
(I.B) Rcnexives:
Weak ~hose .•.. /hu:z/ lu:z/
Imm'sclf/ ImI's-llme's-1
Thae26 lo re ti loatllotl

(l.F) Demonstrative Pronouns:
Ij::J:'selfl Ij::Je's-1 Ijue's-I Ije's-I
Strong Weak
Himself12\- Ihlm' sel fl 11m 's-I
~,~,;? 10ISI
HerseJe2 - /he's-113:'s-lle's-1
Ourselves laue 'selvz/ la:' s-I (2) AUXILIARIES:

Strong Weak

1l7When "you" is weakly stressed and preceded by a word ending in "d", the two
words are joined closely together as if they formed a simple word with the

le * 1 Irllarl
affricate Id31 linking the two parts: "Did you fail?" /'dld3ufeIl/. The same !

happens when the preceding sound ends in "t": "Don't you bow?"
Ijul occurs as a strong form in the express ion "you are" when "are" has I23Same restrictions as before.
its weak fonn la*l. "You are" in this case is also written "you're". 124Samerestrictions as before.
\18The weak fonn is lIsllaI1y pronollnced without "h" cxccpt at thc bcginning of a 125Theweak fonn IsI is only used in "let's".
sentcnce. \26The strong form is seldom used, except in very delicatc speech 01' whcn the
119/wll also occurs as an strong form in the single expression "we arc" when
word is said in isolation ..
"are" has its weak form la*1 ("we're") 127Itis used in "this moming, aftemoon, evening"
128/z/ is used when the preceding word ends in a vowel or a voiced consonant
12°/Gel occurs as a strong form in the single express ion "they are" when "are" has
other than Iv, 13101' Id3/.
lis \Ven\.:. I'orm 10*1 ("they'rc"). Isl is uscd only whcn the prcccding word cnds in a voiccless consanant
121Theweak form Irm's-I is ~scd when not initial. ather than Is/, ISI al' ItJ/.
122The weak fonn 13:'s-1 and le's-I are used when not initial. 1r7) is used after Is,z,J,3,tJ,d3/.

182 lR3
- Lexical Stress Lexical Stress

Was Iwo'll Iw'li Iwe'li SOll1ehow 115 /' 5/\ll1huu/ 150m-llsm-1

~ IW3:*1 (wea) Iwa*llwrl (3.B) Subordinating:
Can 130 /kcenl Strong Weak
/kanl !kQI !k1)1
Could /kud!
For136 1f'J: */ Iforl Ifa * 1 Ifol If* 1
/kad! /kd!
01'137 la*1

~l IS éB J/ ISal/ 1S,1/
Than 13M 15éBnl 15enllonl
Shmdct.:.32 IS ud! ISad! ISd! 1St!
That139 IOéBl! loel! lotl
WiIJ IWII/ 11/Iwal/ lel/

Would Iwud! Iwed! led! Id!
Must Im/\stl Imastl Imesl Imstl (4.A) Articles:

Strong Weak
(3) CONJUNCTIONS: ~o 10i:1 1011loal 101

(3.A) Coordinating: A141 leII lal
Strong Weak
An142 Icen! len! In!
In! Irj! land! lan! Ind!
But lb /\tI Ibatl (4.B) Possessive Adjectives:

Strong Weak
Forl34 IfJ:*llfor/ Ifa*1 If*/ Ifrl ImaII ImII
Or I~:*I /a*/
Ij~:*/ Ij~a*/ Ijua*1 Ij a *1
Nor In~:*1 Ina*1
/soul Isal
135/'sl\maul is used occasionally in quick speech.
136Samerestrictions as before.
129The strong fonn 10:1 and the weak fonn lal are used when followed by a 137The weak fonn is chiefly used in common phrases, such as "two or three
consonant. And the strong fonl1 10:1'1 ami [he weak forms 181'1and 11'1whcn
I3KThe slrong rÓrm is norrnally lIscd only when the word is isolated.
followcd by a vowel. . 139Thc strong form is rarcly uscd
13°Thefonn /k01 occurs only before words beginning with "k" or "q". J4°/oi:1is sometimes used as a weak fonn before vowels.
131Thefonns ISal ISI are chiefly used when "we" 01'"be" folIows. 1011and loi:1 are used before vowels.
132Theform 1St! occurs only before voiceless consonants. loel and 101 are used before consonants.
133Thefonn ImI occurs only next to Ipl or (bl and the fonn 101 only occurs next to 14llel is used before a consonant.
"k" or"q". 142/an! is used before a vowel.
134/forl occasional strong fonn before vowels.
Ifl altemative weak fonn before consonants. 143Manypeople confine the use of ImII to the special expression "My Lord" a11(1
Ifrl altemative weak fonn before vowels. (at Eton ColIege) to the expression "My tutor" and "My dame". Some use ImII in
The strong fonn If~:1 and the weak fonn Ifal only occurs folIowed by common expressions such as "never in my life" but not elsewhere.
consonants. 144Thestrong fonn Ij'J:I and the weak fonn Ijal are used when followcd hy 11

The strong fonn lf'J:rl and .the weak forms Ifarl and Ifrl only followed consonant. The strong form Ij'J:rl and the weak form Ijerl when followed hy 11

by vowcls. vowel.



Lexical Stress

13:*1 /he*1 le*1
In all the weak or unstressed
name for this vowel
Lexical Stress

forms, the vowel

is the Hebrew
lel is used. The technical
word schwa. This sound is often
difficult to hear exactly, and it is always unstressed. Ifyou think there is a
vowel in a word but you can not hear exactly what it is, it is probabIy
(5) PREPOSITlONS: schwa.
Strong Weak
~ l~tI le ti Some people beIieve that this is a careIess way of speaking and that we

--- shollld pronollnce all our syllables equally clcarly, as ir they were all
f3y Iba!1 1b!1Ibel
~1'IK If':):" I If'-J:rl Iferl Ife" I Ifrl !f* I strong forltls. Ilowever, English spoken with only strong fonns sOllnds
fum most unnaturaI and does not heIp the listener to distinguish emphasis or

Iffoml Ifreml IffmI
Into 149 Imtu:1 Imtellmtul
0[150 lovl le vi Ivl !f/ lal
Because our speIling does not show whether a word is weak or strong, we
Onl~1 lonl lanllnl are often' unaware of the changes we make every time we speak. In
T0152 Itu:1 Itul Ital ItI spelling, some weak forms are shown as contractcd forlTIs: can '1, >van '1,
le 'pon! lapan!
didn '1, J '!l, he 's, she 'd, etc.

A similar phenomenon can be foundin Spanish. Many unstressed voweIs

can be pronounced weaker when they are not stressed. Yet, what
characterizes the English language is the gap that exists between weak
and strong forms. The reason for doing s'o is the necessity for

14~lrzJ is not used in initial position.

146/3:1 and lel are used in initial position.
prominent words with a more d~gree of length, 10udness
and pitch. This is caIled the borrowing rulc! This theory' states that
stressed syIlables can be made much more prorrj.inent because unstressed
syllables are greatly weakened. ¡
147/5erl is used when followed by a voweI.
14KThe slrong form If':):1 anu Ihe weak forms Ifel anu Ili are followeu by I

consonanls, The slron forrn If'-J:rl anu lhe weak forrns Ilorl anu Ifrl by vowcls. 1

149The variant l'mtu:1 occurs chiefiy at the end 01' sentences. I'mtel is used only
before words beginning with a consonant.
150Thefonn Ifl occurs only before voiceless consonants.
151/enl is very rare.
152/tu:1is occasionally uscd as a weak form, espccially in tina! positions.
Itul is also uscd as a strong fonn before vowels,
Itu:1 or ltul are only used before vowels.
Ital is used before consonants,
ItI is an occasionally used weak fonn before consonants

!.exiCil! Stress !.('xical.'';¡ress

8.4 li.ulcs for acccntuation in English

I B. T1m::e-s\'lIabk words


1. SIMPLE WORDS _ 1 _ : if the last syIlable: contains a short vowel and ends with no more
than one consonant (stress on the preceding -penultimate-):
"determine" /dr't3:mrn/

__ 1_: if the last syIJable: contains a long vowel or diphthong, or ends

A. Two-sylJable words with more than one consonant: "entertain" /ent'J1tem/.

NOllns: require a different rule:

_ 1_ : if 2nd syllable.: (a) contains a long vowel or diphthong; or (b) ends _ 1__ : If: (a) the final syllable contains a short vowel or eu; (b) the
with more than 1 consonant: "apply''' /;:)lpla1/; "arrive" /;:)lra1v/; "assist" syllable preceding this final syllable contains a long vowel or diphthong,
/;:)'S1st/ or if it ends with more than one consonant: "disaster" /d¡lza:st'J/
1__ : ir tlle final syllable: (a) contains a short vowcl and onc (or no) final 1 : Ir: (a) Ir the final syllable contains a short vowel; (b) tbc middle
consonant; (b) ifit contains /'du/: "enter" l'ent'J/; "eqllal" l'i:kw'Jl/; sylJable contains a short vowel and ends witb not more than one
"folJow" I'fTIbu/ consonant: "qllantity" /Ikwotlti/

Adjectives: are stressed according to the same rllle: "divine" /dl1vam/; Adjectives: seem to need the same mle, to produce stress pattems such as:
"correct" /b'rekU; "Iovely" I' "opportune" l'op'Jtju:n/

NOllns: require a different rule:

1 __ : ifthe 2nd sylJable: contains a short vowel: "money" I'mAni/.
_1_: the rest of the cases: "design" /d¡IZa1n/ Suffixes affect stress in one ofthree ways:

* Other two-syIlable words sllch as adverbs

behave like verbs and adjectives.
and prepositions seem to
(1) They may have no effect on the stress pattem of the root word:
"child" vs. "childhood".
(2) They may receive strong stress themselves: "kitchen" vs.
(3) They may cause the stress pattem in the stem to shift from one
syIlable to another: "advantage" vs. "advanillgeous".

When the sllffix has no effect on the stress pattern of the root word it is
callcd a neutral suffix. Most ncutral sulTixes are or Gcrmanic origin: -cn

188 189
Lexical Stress Lexical Stress

(widen), -er (b~er), -fui (wonderful), -hood (childhood), -ing (amazing), In some cases of such compounds the second element is unaccented and
-ish (devilish), -less (powerIess), -Iy (hurriedIy), -ship (relationship). has the weak vowel le/: chairman, postman, saucepan.
Nevertheless, there are some other neutral suffixes whieh are not of
Germanic origin: -able (comfortable), -al (refusal), -dom (kingdom), -css Some other compounds, however, bear the primary accent on the second
(hostess), -ling (yearling), -ness (yellowness), -some (irksome), -wise syllable: downstairs, first-class, ground-floor, mincepie, short-term or
(otherwise) and -y (funny). even on the third syllablc: country-hollse, secondhand, broken-hearted,
When the suffix receives the stress it is called a strong suffix. Most of
them are of Latín origin: ~aire (millionaire), -ee (refugee), -eer The placement of stress on English words is extremely complex, and the
(mountaineer), -ese (Vietnamese), -esque (picturesque), '-ique (antique), - main reason for this complexity is that the English language is a largely
eur/-euse (chaufTeur), -oon (saloon), and -ette (cassette). mixture of Romance and Germanie (Mott 1991: 216). Ir we look at
suffixation in these twolanguage groups, we find two opposite principIes
And finally, suffixes can also cause a shift Df stress in the root word: they acting on words. In the Romance languages, if a suffix is added to a
cause the stress to shift to the syIJable immediately preceding the suffix: - word, the stress is moved up onto it. For example, in Spanish, estÚpido,
eous (advantageous), -graphy (photography), -ial (proverbial), -ian
estupidéz, In the Germanic languages, on the other hand, the stress stays
(Parisian), -ic (climatic), -ieal (ecologieal), -ious (injurious), -ity where it is. For example, in English, jóllow, jóllower, fóllowing. The
(tranquillity), and -ion (perfection).
problem is that English has adopted both principIes but very often
regardless of the origin of worJs. To take one example, catholic « Lat.
CATHOLICUS < Gr. katholikos) wouldbe expected to bear stress on the
IlI. COMPOUND WORDS second syllable, as in Greek and Latin, but the word has undergonc
Gcrmanic stressing and the stress has been frontcd.
English words with 3 or more syllables show two stress leveIs: primary
and secondary stress. 80th of thern In\'olve a pitch change, but to a lesser While it is not possible to predict the stress in ~I1English words, there
extent in the case of secondal)' stress. Primal)' stress usually comes last, are m~ny others which follow general principies br mIes. Stress mIes are
although this can change depending on the regional accent. basecj on three kinds of information: syntactic, morphological and
phonologjcal information (Krcidler 1989). I!
Compound words (i.e., words composed of separable root morphemes, Di/Terent rules apply to the difTerel1t parts of speech (nOllI1S,vcrbs,
whether or not the compound is hyphenated in the spelling) normally adjectives and adverbs). The noun ínsult is streksed differently from the
contain a single primary (nuclear, tonic) accent on one eIement of the verb insÚlt; simiIarIy, compare the adjectivei présent with the verb
compound, the othcr elcment or elcments carrying secondary accent. presént.

The most eommon type of compound has the primary accent on the first On the other hand, themorphological composition of a word has a role in
element: backache, blackmail, birdcage, bookcase, bridesmaid, bulldog, determining stress. Different kinds of suffixes are relevant in determining
cardboard, crossword, earthquake, footprint, highbrow, liftboat, the place of stress. The followingare examples of words with tonie
nightdress, teapot, windscreen. endings: employée, ballóon, kitchenétte, Chinése, millionáire, or antíque.

The place of stress in particular words depends in part on the nature of

the last t\\'o syl1ah1cs, nnd occnsionnl1y on the nature of an carlier

190 191
Le.xica/ Sfress Le.xica/ Stress

syllable. We need to consider whether a syllable has a free vowel (long ("eXHmen", "salas", "crema"). If the last sound of a llana word is an "n"
vowel or diphthong) and the number of consonants which close the or an "s" preceded by another consonant153, the word is orthographically
syllable, that is, whether it is stressable (free vowel or short vowel stressed: "cómics", "cámpings". Finally, esdrújulas and sobresdrúJulas
followed by two consonants) or noto words are always orthographically stressed: "ábaco", "ídolo", "deficit",
"pancreas", "devuélvemela".
Since phonological facts interact with, morphological and syntactic facts,
we.;shall see that rules are different for nouns, verbs and adjectives.
In compound words or words made up of two elements, there are again
some general pattems. It depends on the degree of consolidation as a single word in the
languagc. If there is a hyphen between the two words, then each word
1. If the first part of the word is broadly speaking a noun, then the first folIows the normal accentuation mIes eXplained above: "hispano-belga",
element will nonnaJJy carry more stress: "físico-químico", "teórico-práctico". On the contrary, if they are not
typewriter cal'¡erry suitease tea cup separated by a hyphen they lose the original stress which they had when
they were t\Vo sing1e words ami they are stresscd as ir they \Vere onc
2. Ir the first part is broaoly speaking an adjeclive, then the secano
single \Vord (in fact, they are a single ward now): "decimoséptimo".
element will carry more stress:
"asimismo", "viandante".
loudspeaker bad-tempered black market young learner

8.6 Distinctive Fllnction of Stress

8.5 RuIes for accentuation in Spanish
In English, stress has a distinctivc function. That is, stress can be used to
In Spanish, words are usually stressed on the penultimate syllable. In this establish a distinction in meaning between two words, where the only
case, the word is said to be llalla. A great percentage of words is also difference is the place where stress is shown. Here are some examples:
stressed on the last syllable. These words are called agudas. Finally,
some other words can be stressed on the antepenultimate syllable, also
s o

known as being esdrÚjulas. Only very few words are stressed on the
syllable before the antepenultimate. These latter are called import
sobrestlrlÍjula .••.An aguda word is orthographically stressed (i.e. it has transfer
the diacritic ') if the last sound is a vowel, an "n" or an "s": "comerá", record
"patán", "además". If the word is monosyllabic ("pie") or the last sound conduct
is a consonant different from "n" or "s" ("afinidad") or is a diphthong rotest
("caray") or the "n" and the "s" a~e preceded by a consonant ("Isern",
"robots"), the word is not orthographically stressed. On the contrary, a
llana word is orthographically stressed if the last sound is a consonant mercase
different from "n" or "s": "hábil"; "carácter", "césped". If the last sound
is an "n" nr an "s" nr a vnwel, the word is not orthographically stressed
153 Only in rorcign words.

192 193
Lexical Stress Lexical Stress

conflict con tract

As a consequence of the alternation, the words in the first column always
finish with a weak voweI (unstrcsscd 'ultímate sylIable) /::1t/, while the
words in the second colllmn finish with a strong vowel (the 1Iltímate
sy lIab le is stressed in th ís case) ¡t CIt!.

Other words change their meaning, and not only the morphological
category. Here are some examples taken from Dauer (1993):

l. a. invalid = a sick person

b. inv¡. : .. = not val id
2. , a. Augllst = a month
b. august = magnificent, grand
Note that when the word functions as a noun, the stress is placed on the 3. a. personal office = private office
penultímate syllable, while it appears on the last one for verbs. The b. personnel office = staff office
alternation in the stress pattern also afTects the quality of the vowels in 4. a. trust y = reliable
the words. When the syllable is unstressed, the vowel wil! usually be a b. trustee = a person who manages someone else's property
schwa, while a strong vowel wiIl appear in strong syIlables. 5. a. consol = control panel in a cal'
b. con sale = to make someone feel bctter
record I'rekgd/ vs. record /n'k):d/
A similar phenomenon happens in Spanish. Below are some examples:
In other cases, the distinction is made between noun 01' adjective and
verbo as in the following tablc: l. a. ténnino = tinishing line
b. termino = l tinísh
Stress in the Stress in the ultimate c. termir.~ = he/she finíshed
antepenultimate syllable =' syllable = VERB 2. a. píe = he should make the sound of a bird
NOUN IADJECTlVE b. pie = foot
I'aduate c. pié = 1 made the sound of a bird
separate 3. a. olvido = l forget
b. olvidó = he/she forgotl54
aDproximate approximate In Spanísh, the alternatíon of accentual patterrts wilI not determine a
altemate alternate
change in the quality ofthe vowels.
moderate moderate
appropriate appropriate
elaborate elaborate
de Iibernte deliberate 154 In general, the I si person singular simple present i'n Spanish is stressed in the

penultimate syllable, while the 3rd person singular simple past is stressed in the
ultimate syllable. Other examples are: canto ys. cantó, guiso Ys. gu¡:j (1 sing vs.
he sang, 1 cook YS. he cooked), cte.

194 195
Lexical,)/res.\ Lexical Slress


8.7 Exercises
1. The addition of suffixes and prefixes can determine a shift in the
accentual patterns of words in both English and Spanish. Below naturally
you will find an example for each language. That stress shift is generally
mainly due to the use of suffixes that attract stress. Provide some
more examples.
3. Say how many syllables there are in the following words. Which
syllable is stressei.l?
refr16eration SPANISH h.
i jI
1 ,
~ offered
istribut ion J.1.a.
preference individually 197

·. individual
c. .1

. 2. Read the following English words aloud. Check the syllables that
can be deleted. Follow the examp1e:

interesting = interesting




Lexical Stress 1 Lexical Stress

'1. The foll(1wing words in English have a rolllanic origino Pine! the
•• .0 oitit isis a11vcrh
AlwHYS. 1101111

Spul1ish translalion. lJl1derlinc Ihc sll'cssed wOl'ds in eaeh case . .

1 o

politics ize

5. Organize the following words in the columns below (adapted

from Vaughan-Rees, 2002).

repeat subject vamish contrast

rebel rewrite damage escape
answer mcrease present credit
debate object export regret
suspect fiddle treasure reply
rcplay produce account pcrvert

198 199

9.1 Rhythm in English and in Spanish

Every language has its own rhythm. The languages of the world are
generalIy classif¡ed into two types on the basis of their segmental timing.
'~llable-tim~" languages, sueh as Spanish, are considered
jSQcht.o.n..ou~ exhibiting a highly regular pattem of sy llabie duration. In
contrast, are the "stress-timed 155" languages, such as English, whose
syllable timing varies greatly, both within and across sentential domains,
~llable-time_d_du1hm means that aIl syIlables are equaIly distributed
along the speech chain, in the sense that the inherent quality and quantity
of each sOllnd is kept throughout the pronunciation of the message. There
will be slight variations depending on the position of the stress. On the
contrary, a stress-timed rhythm implies an emphasis on prominent
syllables, which show a greater duration in comparison \Vith nOI1-
prominent syllables. Jt has traditionally been stated that sentences like:

The dog chases the cat

The QQR- \Vas chasing the cat
t The dog has been chasing the cat

take more or less the same duration in their pronllnciation given the fact

j that aIl ofthem have the same l1umber ofprominent syllables.

The borrowing rule explains that prominent syl1ables take up part of the
duratlOn inherent to Ilon-prominent (and thus, unstressed) syllables. This

155 Stress-timed rhythm or English rhythm is stress timing. The same for

Rhylhm Rhylhm

phenomenon explains the great gap that exists in English between souno 'bad', as we have seen. This is precisely why we fino a particular
stressed and unstressed sy llables, that is, between stressed and unstressed 1 phenomerJ\hat is called stress shiftjqg" In sentences like the folIowing:
words in a message. We could actually say that the time cmployed in
uttcring a scntcnec in English depends on the number of prominent l. Mary just turned nineteen
words. On the other hand, the time used to pronounee a Spanish sentenee 2. May is nineteen years old
depends on the number of syllables. Given the same cireumstances, the 3. Sheila lives right next-door
perception of Spanish will be noted as being more monotonous than that 4. The Flints are our next-door neighbors
of English. 5. Let's go to New York!
6. 1 used to read the New York Times on Sundays
So, the rhythm of English involves an alternation of stressed and
unstressed syllables, the former being _strong. and the latter normally The stress of words such as "nineteen", "next-door" and ''New York"
weak, .rcd~~d"" Having a number of stressed syllables in suceession is change depending on their syntagmatic position. The stress is shifted to
unnatural in English, and this is ealled,staccaJp r.hy.thm. An essential the first syllable if the word is in contact with another stress syIlable (as
characteristic of English rhythm is 'that stressed syllables are longer, in 2, 4 and 6). 111ishappens beeause of a necessity in English to kcep an
clearer and higher in piteh and unstressed syllables are shorter, unelear altemation of stress and unstressed syIlabJes. When the stress is shifted it
and lower in piteh. In Spanish unstressed syllables do not ehange their is called strcss-shifting.
quality and their vowels do not disappear.

This means that the difference between stressed and unstressed syllables 9.2 Wcak amI Strong Forms of\Vords
in a seIltence is very marked in English, espccially in familiar, rapid
In an English sentence eertain words are stressed, spoken with a clear,
full vowel, and other words are normally lInstresscd, spokcn rather
In Inngllngcs likc Spanish, on thc contrary, thc contrast bctwccn strcsscd quickly and not vcry elcarly. This lattcr fcatme or English pronunciation
nnd unstrcsscd syllablcs is not so l1larkcd, ano unstrcssco syllablcs arc is thc rnain rcason why s01l1etirncs learners ~r English as an L2 have
only a bit shorter than stressed sylIables, and normally they are as elear as difficulty understanding spoken English. In ¡general, content words
stressed sylJables.
(nouns, main verbs, adjectives, adverbs and demonstratives) are more
important 'in the message. They are llsllalIy pronounced with a long,
However, this is not completely true, many studies have demonstraled strong vowel. On the contrary, function words or grammatical words
that, even in a language as theoreticalJy isochronous as Spanish, the (artieles, auxiliary verbs, pronouns, prepositio:ns and conjunctions) are
duration of sylJabic segments is as variable as their English counterparts. pronounced with a short, weak vowel. i
Experimental studies have also shown that things do not really work this I
way in the real world and that the more important difTerenee bctween In order to aehieve a good rhythm in English, S;)anish spcakers need to
languages like English and Spanish is that EngIish differentiates very (a) slow down, (b) streteh out, and (e) very clyarly pronounee stressed
markedly between stressed and unstressed syllables, making the first syllables. And they a]so need to reduce unstressed syllabJes. The two
mueh ]onger, elearer and louder.
most common mistakes made by non-native speakers are pronouncing
stressed sylJables too qllickly, and not redueing fllnetion words and
In addition, stressed and unstressed syllable in English tend to altcrnate in llnstrcssed sy lIables. Stress is the main sign' of word bOllndaries in
the Strcam of speech, which is the rcason why too many stressed syllables

202 203
Rhylhm Rhyllll/'

spokcn Innguagc (cquivalen( (o spaccs in wri((cn I!\nguagc), which (ell J{)"" Hnd .l0nn)' tb:lded tu bÚ)' !\ rÚI'III. !\nd \\'h0n (hey' d hÚu~~htthl' ran".
Ihc listcncr where words bcgin and end. they w<Ínlcd to séll it. (No stress on "ji.1J'I1I"). '

01' course, grammatical words may also be pronounced with more (Mott, 1996: 212-3)
prominence, depending on their importance in the message. So, for
example, when a preposition is emphasized, it will be pronounced with a Mott (1996: 212-3) mentions a few more exceptional cases:
long, strong syllable, as in the following example:
>- ExcIamatory what is unstressed:
She c1imbed up the ladder, not down
What a béautiful pícture! What lóvcly wéather!
where the preposition "up" is emphasized as being the correct
inrormation. >- The word slreet in names of streets is never stressed:

Prepositions are also pronounced in theír strong form when they appear at Óxford Street, Dówning Strect.
the end ofthe sentence, as in: But Párk Láne, Cháring Cross R6ad.

What are you looking at? >- In phrases of a parenthetical nature the words are often
Note that in Spanish it would not be normal to stress the preposition and
destress the noun unless special emphasis were demanded by the context: "IIów do YOll dó", M r Sm ¡th.
"Y 6s," .he said.
- ¿Quiére habitación eón báño, o sín báño?
- Con baño. >- The various parts of the verb to be are generally unstressed even
- ¿Me ha dícho sín báño, nó? when they are a principal verb, except in final position:
- ¡He dícho eón baño!
The tráin was láte.
In this last sentence there is now a note of impatience, which warrants 1 was wáiting for yóu.
the use ofthis special stress in Spanish (Mott, 1996: 212) 1 dón't know whére it ís.
I lére we árc.
New information is also emphasized, as in "1 don't like grapes, 1 like
applcs" but when a sentence contains a word which has been used just So, in summary, words show a strong 01' weak form depending on their
before, that word is not generally stressed. This is called the "anaphora , role in the message. This has to do with sentenee stress. In a sentence,
rule". Examples: only important words are stressed. This importance is giving by the
wcigh cach sClllantic unit has in thc IlIcssagc, considcring (he discollrsal
Hów many tímes have you béen there? Thrée times. (No stress on contcxt: new information, change oftopic, emotional weight, and isolatcd
I¡ units are usually stressed. On the contrary, old information and most of
grammatical words are not stressed.


204 205

Rhythm Rhythm

9.3 Linldng and, Pausing: Pause.groups I when they indicate a special state ol' mind or interest on the part ol'
the speaker, as in "Mis amigos / son estupendos,,156
Good rhythm in English also means speaking at a regular speed with 5. Meaningful pause: The meaning ol' the sentence changes drastically,
correct phrasing and pausing. Grouping function words together with as in "Los libros / que son verdes / son míos" (meaning that there are
content words into phrases also helps the listener understand you. Pausing books elsewhere)" and "Los lib:'os que son verdes / son míos" (where
(equivalent to punctuation marks in writing) lets the listener know where "que son vedes" only provides complementary information).
the main grarnmatical unit ends and gives the listener time to figure out
the meaning. In l'act, pauses, together with other crit~ria" are used to Another classification l'or pauses could 'be the l'ollowing, Cruttenden
indicate intonation-groups, also known as tone units. (1997):

Pauses can be classified into two groups (this is one possible 1) The unfilled pause (i.e. silence)
classification) : 2) and the filled pause.

a) Physiological pauses Pauses, whether unfilled or not, are used as a phonetic criterion to de! imit
b) Linguistic Pauses ton e units, together with changc of pitch Icvcl or pitch direction of
lInaccen ted syl1ables.
They coincide many times, meaning that we stop to breathe in at an
adequate point in the pronunciation ol' the message. That is, we take Pauses seem typically to occur at three places in utterances:
advantage ol' a physiological necessity to distribute and organize the
message we want to transmito (i) At major constitllcnt boundaries (principally bctwcen
elalises alld bctwcclI subjcct alld prcdicatc). Thcrc is a
Linguistically speaking, pauses delimit tone units. Tone units are chunks correlation between the type ol' constituent boundary and the
ol' inl'ormation, with a specific intonational weight which is in connection length of pause, i.e. the more major the boundary, the longer
with the message we are sending. According to Quilis & Fernández the pause.Moreover, pauses tend to be longer where
(1996), Spanish pauses can be classified into the l'ollowing groups: constituent boundaries ,(usually i in this case sentence
boundaries) involve a new topie. ¡
l. Final absolute pause: at the end ol' a statement Oi) Before words ol' high lexical con~ent or, putting it in terms
2. EnZ/merative paZ/se: in a sequence ol' items, as in "me gusta saltar / ol' inl'ormation theory, at poihts ol' low transitional,
reir / cantar..." probability. So words preceded by¡a pause are oiten difficult
3. Explicative pause: when we extend or clarifY a piece ol' inl'ormation, to guess in advance. This sort bf pause typically occurs
as in "el comandante de la nave / muy emocionado/ recibió su bel'ore a minor constituent boundary, generally within a
condecoración". noun-phrase, or adverbial phrase, ie.g. between a determiner
4. Potential pause: it depends on the intention ol' the speaker; they are and l'ollowing head noun.
called hyperbatic when the canonical order of the sentence is altered,
as in "cuando llegamos / estaba cantando"; they are called expressive

156 When the subjeet is placed after the predicate, as in "Son estupendos mis
amigos", this typc ofpallsc docs not occur. .

20() 20?
,\".,./J'" "",lll'llj

(iii) After thc first word in an intonation-group. This is a typical Instrumental measurements have not demonstrated conclusivcly a
position for other 'crrors of performance', e.g. corrections of correlation between pause-type and pause-Iength. lndeed tbe mínimum
false starts and repetitions. threshold at which a pause is perceived has been put at different levels,
varying from one second down to one quarter of a second. A better
Pause type (i) is generally to be taken as indicating an intonation-group system for measuring pause may be to relate it to the length of syllables
boundary. Although this type of pause will typically be unfilled,it may or rhythm-groups in surrounding speech. Whichever way of measuring is
sometimes be filled, and in such cases the filling seems to be used as a used, most investigators find bOllndary pallses to be longer than hcsitntion
turn-keeping device, particularly in conversation, i.e. it is used to prevent pauses.
an:>ther potential speaker interrupting the current speaker. AIso it cannot
be assumed that every intonation-group boundary will have such a pause. It should by now be apparent that the criterion of pause as a marker of
Pauses at intonation-group boundaries, even where these occur at major intonation-group boundaries cannot be used on its own. Despite its
constitllcnt bOllndaries, may sometimes be obliterated rather than filled as explicit or implicit lIse as sllch in muny studics !lnd textbooks on
an allcrnativc method 01' tllrn-kceping. Whcn such oblitcration occurs, it inton!ltion, pause does not always mark intonution boundaries, nor me
is frequentIy followed by a pause type (iii). intonation boundaries always marked by pausc. Pallse can only be uscd as
a criterion for intonation boundaries if considered together with other
Pauses types (ii) and (iii) are generally to be taken as examples of external and internal criteria.
hesitation phenorncna. Typc Oi) indicatcs a word-finding :·rficulty.

A hesitation pause before the nucleus (for the moment this can be thought
of as the accented syllable of the most prominent word in an intonation
group) is of rare occurrence. But evidence from slips of the tongue
indicates that the word carrying the nuc\eus is planned well in advance.

Thus a hesitation pause of type (ii) will occur before a word of low
transitional probability although it is unlikely before a word carrying the
nucleus ofthe intonation-group in which it occurs.

Pause !ype (iii), occurring afier the first word of an intonation-group,

seems to serve a planning function, i.e. it i<: essentially a holding
operation while the speaker plans the remainder ofthe sentence.

Pauses types (ii) and (iii) are not ta1.:cn as markers 01' intonation-group
boundaries, beca use they do not resuIt in ut1erance chunks each 01' which
has a pitch patlern typically contained within an intonation-group. Pause
types (ii) and (iii) are more common in all types ofunscripted speech than
in rcading or prcparcd specch.

208 209
Rhythm Rhythm

a. (When do you have meat?) I always eat meat on Fridays

(A. I don't like tea). B. Do you fancy a cup of coffee?
(A. Are they Scottish?) B. My cousins are from the north of
9.4 Exercises England.
I think we wiII have fish and chips, for a change
1. Look at the following sentences. Underline the syllable that takes I'd like to speak with Laurie.
the main stress in the words or phrases printed in italic. I don't want to go to Cardiff, but I'd like to go to Edinburgh.

a. I always like working ouáoors. I'm reaIly lucky to have 3. In the following exercise, underline sentence stress (stressed
syIlables, whether they are tonic or not) taking into account the
found an ~utdoor job. l'
b. Put the TV on. We'I1 be just in time for the ten o 'clock news. discoursal organization of information:
c. As a novelist I'd say he isfirst-'rate. But he's really a ~~econd-
rate poct. A. What did YOlldo with the books?
d. My friend's Chihese - she plays in thelChinese orchestra. B. What do you think I didwith the books? 1 ¡eft the books
e. I live in PiccaUilly, near 'Piccadilly Circus where they should be.
f. 1 reaIly hatc'over-cooked vegetables. A. Well, 1 don't think so. I cannot find them!
g. They always wear reaIlY}llp-to-date cIothes. B. They are in the bookshelf.
h. y ou can take a hoat llpsfream from Grccnwich to A. l am talking about my Economics textbooks.
Westm inster. I3. Well, your textbooks are on the desk. Your fiction books are
I. y our food wiII be stone-~old if you don't eat it now. on the shelf.
j. She's a iwell-known actress, but I don't thínk she deserves
being so "well-i¡g¡own". 4. Read the foIlowing sentences and ask a native speaker of English
k. My husband is a ~ood-Iooking guy, but yours is not so good- to read them aloud as wel!. Measure the time with a
Ilooking. chronometer157 :

!. We only buy Jarm-fresh eggs.

m. The chips you bought were oven-~eady. Telegraph: ARRlVING BJ!.NFORD STATlON
2. Not aIl syIlables in a sentence are stressed in Bnglish. OnIy I

important words bear stress in the sentence, this is what we calI FlllI note: 1 shall be arriving at Bahford Station on Saturday
sentence stress. Besides, when a stressed word in a sentence is
at noon. Please can you meet me? iIWith love from Jane
eonsidered primarily stressed, it is said to bear a tonie syIlablc. I

"Tonie" here is connected to the piteh level at that syIlabIe, that Now try saying the whole note as TUM ti TUMS, keeping your
is, the word is central in the intonation-grollP as showing a TUMS at strictly regular intcrvals oftirhe:
ehange in the pitch level, thus forming part of what is caIled
nuclear tone. In the foIlowing series of sentences, underline ti ti ti ti TUM I ti ti TUM I ti TUM I ti ti TUM I ti ti ti
strcsscd syllablcs nnd doublcundcrline tonic syllnbles (Le. TUM I TUM I ti ti TUM I ti ti TUM I ti TUM.
primary stress in the intonation group) . ......

1~7 Excrcisc adapted from ]>onsollby's!!mv 1100V,hro\1'11 cmv!

1"\' ! "''''.

210 211
6. Conseclltive stresses 159:

1 shall be ar I ri I ving at I Ban I ford I Sta I tion on' Sa

Long walk taIl rnan blue sky green grass black cat
tllrday at I noon 11 Picase I can YOlll meet I me, with I love I
Brown dog bright sun rnain road fresh fruit whole cake
froin I Jane.

Shc went lar a long walk

5. Practice with the following nursery rhymesl58: I've bought a brown dog
He's looking for a tall rnan
Te market, to markct, [ love the bright sun
To buy a fat pig. What a wonderful blue sky
Heme again, home again,
J iggcty ig. j
T o market, to market,
To buy a fat hog.
Home again, home again,
Joggety jog

Humpty Dumpty saton a wall,

Humpty Dumpty had a great fal!.
AIl the King's horses, and aIl the King's men,
Couldn't put Humpty together again

Littlc 130 Peep

Has 10st her sheep,
And doesn't know where to find them.
Leave them alone ¡
And they'lI come home,
Wagging thcir tails bchind thcm .

159 Exercise adapted from Ponsonby's How now, brown cow?

158 Exercise adapted from Ponsonby's How now, brown cow?

212 f 213

10. 1 The Meaning of Intonation

In this section we will analyzc how nuent speakers of English segment

speech and highlight important information in discourse. The basic
function of nuclear stress and intonation in Cnglish is to focus the
listener's attention to what the speaker feels is important in his or her
message; in this sense, it is one of the fundamcntal fcaturcs of spokcn

On the other hand, intonation also serves the very important function of
signaling the grammatical function of an utterance, and sometimes it
also conveys the speakers' attitude or emotional state. We will study
more closely the first two roles of intonation: semantic and grammatical.

Intonation is actually the sequence of pitch levels, as they are perceived

by the listener. Some ofthe sounds that we use:in specch (both in English
and Spanish) are produced with a vibration of¡the vocal folds. When the
vocal folds vibrate, the sound emitted is said t6 be voiced; when they do
not vibrate, the sound is defined as being a vpiceless sound. The vocal
folds are two elastie tissues situated at ¡the glottis. When they
approxilllllte, the air stream that goes through ~cts the lolds into motion,
producing vibration. It is this vibration which i~ perceived as the piteh, or
tone. A higher rate of vibration will be percdived as a higher pitch; a
lower rate of vibration at the vocal folds willl be perceived as a lower
pitch. In reality, change in pitch is produced initwo ways: by tensing the
vocal cords, or by increasing subglottal pressur~.

In the pronunciation of an uttcrance, an aliernation of voiced and

voiceless sounds will occur. However, the listener will not perceive the

illlollalio/l I i/1l0llallOlI

gaps in 10ne between voiced ane! voicclcss sOllne!s, but rathcr the pitch !
contour, or \Vhat \Ve kno\V as intonution will be perceived as a
eontinuum. This is the effect of a mental abstraction. \'


The possibility of alternating different rates of vibration at the vocal folds
and, therefore, of producing different intonational eontours, is very
Inlonation reflecls lhe IIttitudc or emolional stale oflhc speaker: friendly,
productive in lhe language. Spcakers usc intonation all the timc, wi1h
business-like, hostíle, happy, sad, ete. or even if the speaker is expressing
different functions. lntonation has four principal funeticns: grammatieal,
a partíal or a complete agrecment. Basically conveyecl by means of pilch
attitudinal, accentual and discourse.
range and pitch direction. For example, in greelings:

a. high 11 good / morning // cheerfuJ and fríendly

b. low // good '\o morning /1 routine and perfunctory

lt has to do with the division into major constituents. The listener is able
to recognize the grammatieal and syntaetie strueture of what is being said
b:y using the information contained in the intonatíon, for example such
things as the placement of bOllndaríes between phrases or sentenees are
marked by the tone lInits. This is the grarnrnatical function of intonation.
It highlights important words. Intonation contributes to produce the effect
COllper-KlIhlen (1986) illustrates the so-called grammatical fllnction of of prominence on the nuclear stress of a tone unít, this is the accentual
fllnction of intonation.
English intonation, (ha( is, in(ona(ional contras(s related to scntcnce-typc,
by means ofthe following examples:

a. John's going '\o home. IV. DISCOURSE FUNCTION

b. John's going / home.
c. Shullhe '\o door.
d. Shut lhc / door. A lone-group is a unil 01' informalion, and tonicily is lhe location 01' the
key word in a unit of information. Changes in tonicity show us what
information is new and what is given. There are also cues to indieate
The use of a rising contour as opposed to a falling contour appears to tllrn
whether it is our turri to speak and what sort ofresponse is expeetcd ..
a statement (a) into a qllestion (b), a command (e) into a request (d).
Intonation can signal to the listener what is new and old ínformation, or
On the other hand, intonation is claiined to disambiguate what would
, can suggest when the speaker is indicating some contrast with material in
otherwise be an ambiguous syntactic construction. For example:
another tane unit (contrastive stress). These functions are examples ofthe
discourse function of intonation.

Al: //1 met / Mary and Elena's mother / at themall yesterday //

A2: //1 met / Mary / and Elcna's mother / at themall yesterday //
216 í 217
intonation intonation

According to Brazil et alii (1980) a falling (proclaiming) tone marks the of this physiological necessity and, if possible, tries to make them
information as 'new, whereas a fall-rise (referring tone) marks the coincide with key points in the speech. That is to say, we pause to breathe
information as given: in at points where a tone unit finishes. We must remember here that a
tone unit is a linguistic structure with a specific function in spcech, a
coherent structure from the point of view of syntax and semantics, a
n. Qucstiol1: When will he be twcnty? cohcsivc unit with a compact fllnction in the message.
Answer: 11 He'll be '\¡ /' twenty 11 in '\¡ August 11

Each tone unit typically:

b. Queslion: How old will he be in August?
Answer: 11 He'll be '\¡ twenty 11 in '\¡ /' August 11 1. is set off by pauses before aJILlafier,
2. contains one prominent element,
A rising (marked referring) tone means that the area of convergence 3. has an intonation contour of its own,
needs reactivation. And with a rise~fall (marked procIaiming tone) the 4. has a grammatically coherent internal structure.
speaker is simultaneously adding inforrnation both to the common ground
and to his own store of knowledge, this meaning is more evident in The prominent element is a syllable that receives what we will call
responses to unexpected news. nuclear stress (in what is known as sentence stress), and this is precisely
the nucIeus of a tone unit.

c. 111went to the /' cinema and then 1 went back homell (The
There is no infallible way to divide an lltterance into tone units. In rapid
speaker is Iying when he says he wenl lo (he cinema)
d. Do you know who's been chosen? ~/\;. l' Arthur// speech, tone urtits may be fairly long; in slow speech, they may be
shorter, and breaks between units will be therefore more frequent. Where
the utterance division falls will also dcpend on the individual speaker,
with some speakers producing fewer or more brcaks than others. FinaJJy,
10.2 Tbe Structure of a Tone Unit ¡ such divisions are dependent on the cantext. Public speakers, for
exampIe, tend to pause frequently to make their message cIearer or more
Intonation units are the same as the pause groups we have seen above. ! el11phatic, as in a political statement:
This is ho\V the speech streal11 is divided into structured ullits. Other J

terms j'or pausc group are: mtonatIon

" groups or tone umts. 160 . TIlere IS
. j 1 prornise / to serve / my fellow citizens / toI 1110bcst / of Il1Yability
not a general agreement as to which terrn should be used, and different j
authors use different terrninology. Takt; also into account that too many pauses I (and in consequence tone
units) can slow down speech and create too Inany prominent elements, .
Pauscs havc trnditionally been used as a marker to delimit tone units. causing lilc listener a difficu:ty in comprehendiing the overall message.

Pauses are necessary in speeeh: they are used so that we can inhale air in I

the respiration process, we would not be able to go on speaking without There are other criteria to identify tone units. Generally, the last syllable
air coming out of our Iungs. However, the human being takes advantage in a tone unit is lengthened. AIso, the last prbminent syllable in a tone
unit (also called the nuclear stress, that is, ce~tral stress in the tone unit)
shows a variation in the direction ofthe pitch leve!: at that point, the pitch
160 "Grupc; jónico" or "tonema" in Spanish.
can sllffer an increase or a decrease, going up dr down.

218 219

lO.4 Rull'S rol' LOl'nt!lI~ NlIl'knr Strt.'ss

According (o Quilis & FernÚndez (1996), Spanish (one units are typically
eomposed of 8 to 11 syllables, although there could be 1 syIlable long t
There are three basic rules to know which word has nuclear stress. The
tone units, as in a yes-no answer. The duration of a tone unit, both in first is where the speaker places prominence on new information. Within
English and Spanish, really depends on the syntactie and semantic a tone unit, words expressing old 01' given information (this rneans
structure of the utterance, the rate of speech and the discoursnf context. infonnation that is semantically predictablc) are unstressed nnd spoken
The basic structure ofthe tone unit is: j with lower pitch, while words expressing new infom1ation are spoken
with strong stress and higher pitch. Normally, it is the last content word

(pre-head) (head) nucleus 01' tonic sy]]abIe (tail)

1I that tends to have prominence:

I Patricia: , I
I've lost an umBRELIa
• TOllic syIlable: the syllable in the tone unit which stands out because John:
it carries the major pitch change. f AILAdy's urrlbrella? i f
~ Patricia: iyES, atlady's um~rella with STARS on it. 'GREEN1stars
• Head: all that part of a tone group that extends fTom the first stressed
syllable up to (but not including) the tonic syllable. Ifthere is no stressed ¡ Ariadna: He perdido mis gaLLEtas
syllable preceding the tonie sylJable, there is no head. ¡ Jan: ¿Tus galletas de chocoLAte?
• Pre-head: alJ the unstressed syllables in a tone group preeeding the J Ariadna: SI, las del paquete con esTREllas. Las estrellas aZUles.
first strcssccl sy lIable.
• Tail: any syllables between the tonie syllable and the end ofthe tone
lInit. In this eX3.mple, "umbrelIa" in the first tone unit fllnctions as nc\V
inforl11ation; howcwr, in John's reply "Iady's" rel:civcs promincnl:c
j because it is new information. In Patricia's second utterance, both

10.3 Definition ofNucIear Stress: Prominence I

"umbrella" and "I",oy's" are old information, whereas "stars" and "green"
are new information, thus receiving prominence. A similar analysis can
¡ be done of the Span ish conversation.
As we have seen, just as individual utteranccs can be divided into words 1
and these words into syllables, so to the ]arger stream of speech can be ¡ A second circumstance goveming 'the placement of prominence is
broken into smaller units, which we have ealled pause groups 01' tone I emphatic stress, when the speaker wants to place special emphasis on a
units. One characteristic of these tone units is that they contain at least I particular eIement. In the phrase "I'm NOT going to class today", for
one prominent eIement, which is the most stressed word in that group. instance, the speaker rhight want to mean a strong negative attitude
toward the fact of going to class.
The discourse context generally inf1uences whieh stressed word in a
given utterance receives prominencc, that is, which word the speaker The third circumstance goveming the placement of prominence is
wants to emphasize. contrastive stress. In this case, two parallel elements can receive
prominence within an utterance. For example, in the utterance "I didn't
rncet the PREsident, 1 met the EX-president" both "president" and "ex"
are prominent, they are contrasted by the speaker.

lntonation lntonation

10. 5 Tone and ~ntonation Languages 1) they should be under the speaker' s control,
2) they must be perceptible to the human ear,
Languages of the wor/d are different according to how they treat 3) they are capable of contrasting with another item.
intonation within their linguistic structure. There are tone Ianguages like
Chinese and many African languages, in which differences in tone signify
differenccs ofmeaning within a word. The classical examplc comes from
10. 6 Tonality, Tonicity and Tone
the root ma in Mandarin Chinese, which means:
Intonation is concerned with three matters:
ma with a level tane means "mother"
ma with a with a rising tone means "hemp"
ma with a low fall-rise means "horse"
ma with a with a faJling tone means "scold" 1. TON E

These languages therefore use ton e to difTerentiate words; tone is then a As in the example above, yes with a rising tone [,/] signals a question,
phonoIogical feature. However, in language like English or Spanish tone whereas yes with a falling tone [\o] it is a factual answcr. Thcsc
is used in a different way, different tones do not change the fundamental differences are of tone. Tone in a tone unit is selected from a number of
meaning of a word, rather they reflect the discourse context within which tone-patterns. Languages do not use rises and falls in identical ways:
a word occurs. Consider the following example: Spanish uses rising contours in questions much more than English and
that is why Spaniards very often have to ask English speakers of Spanish
Yes with a level tone denotes boredom or tiredness from the part of the whether they are asking a question or making a statement. Every
speaker. language or dialect has its own characteristic intonation patterns and
Yes with a rising tone indicates that the speaker is ready to listen. th:.::se are more noticeable in some language varieties (as Welsh and
Yes with a falling-rising tone means that the speaker is unsure or dubious. Galician) than in others because of the "sing-song" quality of the
Herc, the word "yes" docs not changc its fundamental meaning, it simply
implies different attitudes [rom tbe part oftbe speaker.
Languages which do not use tone for lexieal contrast but have a melody
spread over a complete utterance, such as English or Spanish, are called
In tonality the choice is that of the i location of the tone unit
intonation languages. By varying the direction of the pitch in these
boundaries. The particular part of a sentenc~ over which a particular·
languages, we introduce attitudinal or grammatical changes, not lexical
ones. pattern of pitch extends is called a torie unit oritone group. Whenever we
have a complex sentence, each of its compohents has a different ton e
unit. A ton e unit is a unit of information rhther than a syntacticaJly
As Roach (1983) explains, we will not be interested in all aspects of a
defined unit. However, there is a strong tendel~cy for the tone unit to be
speaker's pitch, but only in those which carry 1inguistic information.
co-extensive with the clause; and the nuclear tqne mostly falls on the last
There are three necessary conditions for pitch differences to be 1exical item in lhe ton e unit. :
linguistically significant:

222 223
illlUlI<lllOl/ I /1//oll<l/iOI/

// He's a teacher / a cook / and a painter // i

// He's going / because he's young // A: Excuse me
], 13: Yes?
11r. TONICITY 4. Fall-Rise ['" l']: the piteh descends and then rises again. This tone is
used a lot in EngIísh and it has rather special functions. It may rnean
Tonicity is a synonym for prominence. As we have seen, this refers to "Iimited agreement" or "response with reservations". It is al so used
the position ofthe prominent word within a tone unit. For example, when the speaker is unsure, and it is also used in parentheticals like
well, really.
1 want you to LEA VE
and A: 1've heard phonetics is a lot of fun
1 want YOU to leave 13: Ves .oo oo.

differ only in tonicity. In tonicity the choice is that of the location of the 5. Rise-Fall [l' "']: the piteh rises and then it descends. This tone IS
nuclear tone in the tone unit (tonie syllable or nucleus). used to convey strong feelings of approval, disapproval or surprise.

A: Your girlt'ricnd is rcally nicc

13: Ves!!
10.7 The Forms of English and Spanish Intonation

According to Roach (1983) the folJowing are the tones of English: So me scholars distinguish between high falJ and low fall, ete. In fact,
each speaker has his or her own normal pitch range: a top level (high
1. Level [~]: it sounds very unnatural pitch) and a bottom level (low pitch), that is, there are no absolute values.
In ordinary speech the intonation tends to take place within the lower part
2. FalI ["']: it descends from a higher to a lower pitch. This tone is ofthe speaker's pitch range, and emotional speech within the upper parto

regarded as more or less "neutral". If someone is asked a question

Here you have a summary with the main functions ofEnglish tones:
and replies yes or no with a falJ it wilI be understood that the question
is answered and there is nothing more to be said. This tone gives an ¡
ShOli, quite --(neutral)
used definite
shortin tag
enumerations invitation
(yes (and toMain functions
/ no).relatcd
impression of finality. It is used in statements, wh-questions,
Falling and
Rising ! - continue.
except the lastelements):
co-ordinated one ( which the isdifferent
falling). parts,
eommands, and in tag-questions eliciting agreement. ¡¡
Please come here!
3. Rise [l']: movement from a lower pitch to a higher one. In a variety
of ways, this tone givcs an impression that something more will f

folIow. It is therefore used in yes/no questions, repetition-questions, ¡¡


unfinished statements, open~choice questions, enumeration,

questions signaling uncertainty.
and tag

! 225

Intonation ~I

ShJrt somebody
Wh-qucstions: -exc1amation.
onor feels
questions aftertone tired.
a not
tag for tone).
questions; someonc
it part
first askcd
of j
Same-way question tags; and AdditionalIy, Aguijar (2000) expJains that there are five "tonemas" m
- ---c.
b. ora.
conveys ).
statement with
feeling reservations
a pause
saying ("but").
a register). a routine,
or boring (a teacher calling the Spanish:

According to Quilis & Fernándcz (1996) the following are the tones of

1. Level [~]: (suspensión, tonema horizontal)

2. Fall [\o]: (cadencia, tonema descendente)

3. Low FalI: (semicadencia, tonema descendente)

4. Risc [)']: (anlicadencia, lonema ascendente)

5. Low Risc: (semianticadencia, tonema ascendente)

226 227
ANJ'/('/If Jf'.N('f:l (11) El plinto + alto de la
línea Ional de lInafrase,
Semianticadencia (t) Movimiento ascendente According to Quilis & Fernández (1996), these are the gramlll:!tical
del entorno melódico. functions of Spanish intonation:
Suspensión (~) Ausencia de cambio en
la línea tonal de lafrase.
1) Level [-1-]: (suspensión, tonema horizontal) It indicatcs
Semicadencia (.J,) Movimiento descendel,lte
del entorno melódico. incompIeteness, so it appears every time a scntence is not íinishcd, whcl1
CADENCIA (JJ) El punto + bajo de la the speaker is looking for a word or preparing what he/she is going to say
línea tonal de una frase. next. AIso in enumerations.

El sobrino, totalmente agotado, abrió la puerta de su casa

80th the semicadencia and the semianticadencia are in utterance interna! positions and
the nevcr mark thc end of
thc dtterancc. Hcrc you havc somc cxamplcs of questions: In the example, the first tone unit ("el sobrino") shows a level con tour,
the second ("totalmente agotado") a rise intonation, and, the last one
(A) Absolutasl61:
("abrió la puerta de su casa") has a fall intonation.
(a.!) ¿Se va mañana? 11

(a.2) ¡,Quicrcs aprender más inglés

(13) I'rolJuminales1ú2:
t y en menos tiempo? 11
2) FuI! [\¡ ]:(cadencia, tonema descendente) Typically in s(atcl11cn(s,
(b.l) ¿Dónde 11 vas? JJ but also in some qllestions.
(b.2) ¿Qué 11 esperan ustedes de ellos? JJ

Me voy a mi casa

3) Low FaIl: (semicadencia, tonema descendente). It is used to indicate

that the message is not completely defined, it shows uncertainty, that the
speaker is not confident on what he/she is saying.

4) Rise [./]: (anticadencia, tonema ascendente). It is uscd in qlJcstions

(especially yes-no questions), but aIso in sllbordinate clauses, between the
main clause and the subordinate one.

A quien madruga Dios le ayuda

The intonation rises at t"'e end of the subordinate clause "a qUien

5) Low Rise: (semianticadencia, tonema ascendente). It indicatcs an

opposition or a contrast.

16\ Yes/No questions.

](,2 Wh-word qllestiol1s.

lntonation lntonation

I Iere you haye a ,summary 01' the main Spanish tonaluses: 10.8 F.xcrciscs
never 1, In the following English sentences (extracted from different
ameanmgas bofetwcen
choice are
conveying questlOns Normal Simple
When a yes/no
statements questions
qucstion end
clicits Tone
elicitinan in used
a rising
pitch because
rises withthey
each dialogues) underline which word should bear contrastiye stress.
ons is
in begin
and then
a falling with
falls iswords,
Thiswith the same
the final

. Example: l.a. We would like to order two white coJJees

l.b. No, 1 want a black coffee

2.a. My daughter goes to bed arB.30

2.b. Mine goes to bed at 9.00 .
3.a. I'd like to meet al 2.15
3.b. I'd better meet at a quarter to two
4.a. Would you like an ice cream?
4.b. I don't like ice cream
S,a. Did YOll buy that green cardigan?
S.b. No, I got the red one
6.a. So your Jather works as a doctor
6.b. No, my mothcr docs.
7.a. You 'refrom New York, lllnderstand
7.b. I'm from Indiana

Finally, Spanish speakers have to take into account that: 8.a. 1 used to live in South Dakota, like you
S.b. Ilived in NortL "akota
9.a. Wuuld yuu like tu go tu the cinema'!
1) Spanish speakers seem to use too narrow a pitch range. In contrast,
9.b. I'd p,cfer to stay at home
English spcakcrs start quite high and finish fairly low in thcir rangc. so
that's why Spanish studcnts fail to convey "involvement" or "interest" in
I O.a. So you \I'ork as a tele¡;/¡one operatm'
10.b. I am an engineer
convcrsations with English speakers.
2) Final falling pitch moycment (i.c. statemcnts Or last items in a lisl): It
may not sound low enough. 2. In these scntenecs some words are in contrast and, therelore, are
3) Thc rise-fall seems difficult perhaps due to the pitch-reversal itself. primarily stressed. Underline the heavjly stressed words as in the
Especially on short phrases or on one sy llable ("Oh" or "W onderful
idea! ").
Example: 1 don't know \,¡ Jane /', bu~ 1 do know her \,¡ fath /' er
\,¡ Jack
A good intonation, i.e. the use 01' an appropriate intonational contour, is many I

times more important than a good pronunciation 01' individual sounds. This is I

vcry important for L2 leamers. Intonation is perceived as a continuum all a. Do not eat the banana pie; led have so me apple pie
through the utterance: even if some segments were not clearly pronounced, the b. Carrots are much hcalthíer thm1 chips
final impression 01' a gooo intonation, will somehow compensate for a c.
Wc're not going to Paris thisl weekend, we're going to
mispronunciation at the segmental leve!.
London. ! ,

d. My father was born in 1936, aIjd rny mother in 1945

230 231
ill/Ollil/IOII llllUIJUIIUIJ

~. He worked as a telephone operator in 1989, and as an algunos botes pero yo me tuve firme y sereno mostrándoJe que
engineer in 1990 era su amo castigándoJe con la espuela tocándole con el látigo en
r. The fonner was built in 1970, thc latter in 1977 el pecho y retcniéndole por la hrida Luccro quc casi sc hahía
g. I wcnt to South Amcrica in thc summcr, to North pucsto dc pic sobrc los cuartos trascros sc humillÓ cntonces hasta
Ameriea in the fall doblar mansamente la rodilla haciendo una reverencia.
h. 1 don't like bananas, but 1 love banana split V ALERA: Pepita Jiménez
i. My friend Brittany Jives in New York, but her boyfriend ¡
lives in Spain 5. In the foIlowing text, indicate where the pauses would probably
J. 1 didn't say "green", 1 said it was red ; be placed.
3. Find the parenthesis:
. Libya this country has been begging to play the part for some
time Icd by the cross-dressing Muamar Khaddafi Libya mccts
a. The president of USA George W. Bush was re-eJected many of the nccessary requirements for Most-I-Iated Status we
b. Queen EJizabeth Prince's Charles mother got sick after think they may have had something to do with blowing up Pan
her first pregnancy Am flight 103 (suspicion alonc is enough for us to scnd in thc
c. Nick NoIte the famous actor got the Oscar award Marines the proof we can always manufacture later) Libya also
d. Armstrong thc American astronaut left the NASA 10 ¡ keeps trying to make nuclear weapons and in a slap to the rest of

years Jater
Manchester United the famous soccer team didn't win
I, the world it refuses to field a team for the Winter Olympics but it
has no probJem sending miIJions of dolJars to Louis Farrakban.
the championship that year MICHAEL MOORE: Downsize tbis!
f. Hugh Grant the 13ritish actor presented his new film ¡
g. AIJ our friends who were at the party got fooci poisoned 6. Read the foIlowing dialogue with a partner. Then listen to a
h. Cervantes the famous Spanish writer spent some time in ¡ native speaker. Pay attcntion to the differences in tonicity163:
pnson 1
1. My parents both from Florida got married in Miami ! (1) A: Can 1 help you?
j. Elvis Presley the welJ-known singer was from Memphis
! B: I'm looking for a dress

¡! A: They're on the second floor.
4. In the foIlowing text, indicate where the pauses would probably B: Thank you
be pJaced.
(2) A: What do you think?
I B: 1 don't like the colour
No bien sintió Pepita el ruido y alzó Jos ojos y nos vio se Jevantó j A: I thought you liked red.
dejó la costura que traía entre manos y se puso a miramos Lucero 13: 1 prefer blue
que según he sabido después tiene ya la costumbre de hacer
piernas cuando pasa por delante de la casa de Pepita empezó ,a (3) A: ShaIl we eat here?
retozar y a levantarse un poco de manos yo quise calmarle pero B: Let's sit over there
como extrañase al jinete despreciándoJe tal vez se alborotó más y
mÚs y cmpczó a dar resorlidos a hacer corvetas y aun a dar
1(,1 Exercise adapted Crom M. 1!ewings's Pro/lu/lcia/io/l Tasks.

232 233

A: Under that tree? UNIT XI. CHECK YOUR KNOWLE '; E

B:'The other one.

7. Rend the f'ollowing dialogue wilh n pnrtner. Then listen to a

native speaker. Pay attention to the differences in tonalityl64:
);> 1dentify the following statements'as TRUE (T) or F ALSE (F)

(1) A: Was it expensive?

I o
r 1. At first, babies produce different
depends on the language they hear.
B: Quite expensive 2.
A: How much? 1nfants can discriminate place and voicing
B: A thousand pounds
'T 3. __ The child's mispronunciations are due to
production difficulties and not to perceptual difficulties,
he has the right Undcrlying Representations of the
(2) A: 1s it stilJ raining? sounds.
B: 1 think so.
A: Heavily? r¡::: 4. __ L1 and L2 phonological acquisition are very
B: Not vcry.
~\ 5.
__ Thc acquisition of an L 1 is almost always
completed when the child is 7 or 8 years old.
6. __ There are two types of acquisition of an L2: guided
(3) A: What's on TV tonight?
B: A horror fi1m. and non-guided (or natural). The first one is related to
"learning" and the sccond to "acquisition".
A: Is it good?
13: ¡'ve heard it is 7. __ Lcarning English as a t'orcign 01' as a sccond
" language are similar terms.
~'i' 8. __ 1nterlanguages are systcmatic and static.
~~\_9. __ There are no cases of substitutions and
simplifications in the Interlanguage (IL).
~\·l O. __ There are similarities between the 1Ls of different
learners; in fact they can bei grouped depending on the
LI. i

11. __ The speaker is constant ~n his/her pronunciations ..

12. __ Fossilizable linguistic i phenomena are linguistic
items, mIes, and sUbsysters which speakers of a
particular NLl65 wilJ tend to ~ecp in their IL relative to a
particular TL 166, no matter what the age of the learner or

165 Native Language. I
164 Exercise adapted fram M. Hewings's Pronul1ciatiol1 Tasks. 166 Target Language.

234 235
Check YOIll' Kl1oIV/edge
Check yo 111' KI/o\l'/edge

amount of cxplanation and instruetion he reeeives in the explain those cases oi' ínterfcrence that had becn already
TL. fOllnd.

13. __ Fossilization can al so be fOllnd in phonology but it 23. __ J. Kcn\\'orlhy (19l)O:'1-9) llames some im¡H\rl:ml
is much common in grammar. factors in the acquisition ol' an L2: Age; Quantity 01'
14. __ According to Eckman's (1977) Markedness exposition; Phonetic ability; Identity and attitude; and
Oifferential Hypothesis (MOH), unmarked phenomena Motivation for a good pronuneiation.
are acquired before marked phenomena. 24. __ When the native language has a similar phoneme,
this of course will be transferred. This is the case of
15. __ Vocalic epenthesis is a phonological process where
one element is elided. Spanish lel and Idl and English ItS! and Id/.
l6. __ Contrastive Analysis (CA) was introduced by Lado 25. __ We can say that a phoneme has a low funetional
(1857). ¡oad whcn its occurrence is very freqllent.
l7. __ CA tries to predict all the possible difficulties in the 26. __ The best way to detect a 1'oreign or NN aecent is
acquisition of an L2 and these predictions will be bascd rcading a word list. On the contrary, it \ViiI bc more
on a comparison of the phonological systems of L! and difficult to detect when listening to an infonnaI
L2. conversation.
18. __ It is sllpposed (CA) tl1at it will be Il1l1cl1easier to 27. __ The learner's age 01' arrival to the eOllntry where
learn those elements which are similar to L! (negative this TL is spoken and the age when he was exposed to
transfer) and much more difficult those which are this language for the firsttime seem to be crucial factors
different (positive transfer). In fact, this negative transfer in order to determine whether this ¡earner wiIl acquire a
or "interference" is the origin of the difficulties in the nativelike accent.
aequisition of al! L2. 28. __ The Critical Period Ilypothesis claims that a person
]9. __ Before Lado (1957), Weinreich (1953) had already must be exposed to a language during a certain period of
described seven types of transfers: Sound SlIbstitution; time (also ealled scnsitive period for those more sensitive
PhonoJogical Processes; Overdifferentiation; to the term eritical) in order to acq lIire that language
Underdifferentiation; Reinterpretation of Oistinctions; natively; otherwise, if exposed to that language after the
Phonotactic Interference; and Prosodic Interference. critica! period (CP),· nativelike competence eannot be
20. __ Overdifferentiation refers to those cases where two achieved.
phonemcs of L2 correspond to onc single phoneme in 29. __ Although the CP was first proposed for L2
LJ. acquisition, it was soon extended to explain L1
21. lJnderdiffercntiation refers to those cases whcrc acc]\lisition.
onc single phoncll1c of,LI corr(:sponds to t\Vo dilTerent
phonemes oI' L2.
22. __ Wardhaugh (1970) proposed a distinction between
a "strong" and a "weak" version of the CA. The weak
version would only cxplain thosc diffieulties already
found when learning an L2. So, this weak version of the
CA was based on real proofs and it should make
reference to both systenis (L! and L2) only in order to

236 237
Fac. Filología· Biblla!eC3
~ ~ _•.•••. -- .•--.--. -···--·-~~_·_-.·_'· __ k""" __ '·_~_"_'~ __ ._~ . ~ ~_. •••..._ ••.•• ~_""-_._-......- .__ •.. ~ ••••


h ------~- - tI d- - I -r -
8/5 J- Labio-
English m
8 1-tI- df..J1--1} f/v
f/- k/g n rI
alveolar tJ I- d3


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