Distinctive and non-distinctive features of English vowels

It is pretty difficult to see how the vowels are produced. At the beginning of the 20th century a British phonetician Danial Johns worked out a set of cordial vowels which makes learning vowels easer. This set served as reference points that other vowels could be related too. Vowels are located on a chart or 4-sided figure (трапеция). Their location identifies their articulatory features.

Non-distinctive features. The oppositional between historically long and short vowels is neutralized.

Non-distinctive feature is the length of the sound. Another feature is the difference between checked and unchecked vowels. Checked vowels are those which end as strong, abrupt and there is no weakening of the energy to put an end to the production. Unchecked are those which end is not strong, and not abrupt and there is weaking of the energy.

The opposition between lax and tense vowels (wide and narrow – according to Russian phonetic). Lax are produced with relatively little energy and tense are produced with greater energy. The permenant oppositions according to which distinctive feature are formed are as followers. Tongue movement on the horizon and vertical plain, lip position and stability of articulation.

Distinctive features. Tongue movement of the vertical plain – high (I, u, u:), need (o, e, e: and low (a, o, e).

Tongue movement of the horizontal plain – front, mid and back. There front retracted (the tongue is not flat much) (i) and back-advanced (u). Sounds can be distinguished into rounded (labialized) and non-labialized (unrounded). According to the stability are monophtongs, diphthongs and diphtongoits. (the ones that undergo changes – long I and u. )

In every language phonemes are characterized by specific structural behavior. Their distribution in speech which characterizes the place of the phoneme in a word and the frequency or occurrence in speech. Consonants of the same manner of production are NEVER used together initially or finally.

In the initial position we can find from 0 to 3 consonants. Two sounds ж и н носовой never appear in initial position in words of Anglo-Saxon origin. Sounds тч, дж, х ш never combine with other consonants in non-zero initial position. Two –element sound plaster in the initial position usually is presented by the following combinations a fricative plus liquid. For example cn, cn

Affricative and applosive – sp, st, etc. The third combination is applosive and a liquid. Dr, kw, pl, r, etc. A free element cluster in the initial position is usually presented by the combination of s as the first element, a voiceless plosive stock as the second element and a liquid as a third element. For example splash, squart, spaw etc. In the medium position we find from zero to four consonants. There are no specific rules that limit combination of consonants in the medium position. Final position. Sounds r, w, h never occur in the final position. We can find from zero to four consonants in the final position. The word texts (teksts).

Frequence of occurance

The most frequently used consonants is an apical phoneme. Linis consonants are used more frequently than fourty, the statictics for the sound th equals to 0, 37. Вэ will be three times more than fe. (0,5%)

As for the most frequently used vowels shwa (e) (перевернутая нейтральная) – nation/ality, doctor, worker. In the unstressed position. Unchecked vowels are also are also frequently used ones. They occur in all positions but before ng (n)

Modification of sounds in speech

Every time we pronounce a phrase we pronounce a continuous sequence of sounds. This sequence is everychanging and it consist of all variations of all kinds. The sounds are pronounced as a sequence. When we pronounce this sound sequences we have to deal with a new phenomena – the transition between sounds in the stream of speech. Nitrate – Nye Trait – night rate. The only thing which seperate them is the transition between sounds. This transition has the name of juncture. We can distinguish two basic types of juncture. It can be clear transition (sharp juncture) or open juncture or muddijuncture. On – glide – retention – off-glide. (the process of speech) In the case of mudditransition stages of sound production namely the off-glide of the previous sound and the on-glide of the following sound merge. We can`t clearly distinguish where one sound ends and another begins.

Phonetic processes

Vowels and consonants change differently. Thus, we shall start with consonants.

1. Assimilation. The notion of it is pretty complicated. We can`t think of one sound being the cause of assimilation and the other being a victim. In most cases sounds influence each other mutually. The result of assimilation can turn out to be a different allophone or a different phoneme. There are cases where this process (assimilation) seems to spread over many sounds, not just the two adustened sounds which are involved in the process. The type of assimilation depends on the specific phonetic laws of the language. It means that in any language you can find a phonetic law for a specific language. Assimilation is the process of two consonants become partially or fully similar to each other. Assimilation can be classified according to the 3 basic criteria : 1) the direction of assimilation. According to this criteria assimilation can be perceived as progressive when the process goes from the previous sound to the following one. Skip, step, spill ect. Plosive sounds lose aspiration. 2) regressive assimilation takes place when the following sound influences the previous one. In English regressive assimilation is more common. Such words will be width, at the, in the, of the, which is. There are fortis (more energy) and lenis. Fortis – voiceless sounds, and lenis – voiced sounds. The process of voicing is very widely spread in the English language. In any position you will sooner find voicing of consonants than devoicing unlike the Russian language. Assimilation can involve both consonants and we deal with reciprocal assimilation. In words like tree, quick, quiet etc. The second criteria is the degree of assimilation.We have partial and complete assimilation – partial - sounds become similar partially preserving their major articulatory features . Complete – when two different sounds become identical or even merge. Partial – of the, quick, complete – cupboard. The third criteria is the stability of assimilation. It can be distinguished into historical and functional. Historical assimilation was completed in the earlier periods and it can be find in the dictionaries. Picture and question. (tj, dj, sj, zj - ) Ассибиляция - из взрывных превращаются в зрывные, аффрикаты. Functional assimilation takes place in the moment of speech. Functional assimilation can be devided into established and accidental. Established appears in speech systematically and it is often fixed in dictionary as a variant of pronounciation. Omission of established assimilation leads to mispronunciation of words. Books (s) and words (z). Accidental assimilation appears in rapid speech. Other phonetic process are Merging and elision. Merging in English can be presented by nasal and latral plosure. Garden, kitten and latral – little, cattle, settle. Allison is the omission of the sound.

2. Adaptation when a vowel is modified under the influence of a consonant. For example – car, card, cart.

3. Reduction when the vowel is weakened shortened changed in an unstressed position. Reduction may lead to elision.

Linguistic change

1) The origin of linguisticс variation 2) the spread of linguistic variation 3) the regularity of linguistic variation. Linguistic change are the result of phonetic processes. First variations appear as a characteristic feature of a subgroup. As the linguistic change progresses it is spread onto other social groups closely communicating with the originalting group. Inevitably this linguistic feature is immediately associated with originating social group.If this group posses high social respect and prestige such change is considered desirable or possessing avert prestige. The social group in which a linguistic change originates may not be considered possessing high social prestige. Still due to some circumstances unknown to the linguists this social group has its followers who do not admit its prestige openly. This group is considered to have covered social prestige. And the linguistic change is still considered to be desirable though not openly. When the linguistic change spreads to other social groups it starts being used systematically and becomes established.

2) The tendencies in pronounciation of English vowels and consonants. Vowels. Monophtongs. Of the five long vowels i,a,o,u,e: are only two vowels a and e: only two vowels are not diphtongates. In everyday speech you can hear high front and high back vowels i,u diphtogrates (pronounced with –end glides). It is not an accidental because in some pronouns courses you will not find long wovels i:,u: (two). Long need back vowel o is also diphtontas ecquaring a central vowel or a shwa (a neutral sound) as the end-glide. This variant of pronounciation is still optional, you won`t find variant saw {soe}. Long o is shortened before fricatives (such as s,f,фэ) across, frost, boss, office and etc. In the word often this shortening is also accompanied by the perspiration of the voiceless plausive. Sound e is gradually lengthened before final voiced consonants in words like man, jam, bag, bed. Under the American influence there is the tendency to lengthen short vowels. Especially in final position. Thus final vowels in words like beauty, city, lily is lengthened especially in plural forms. In non-stressed positions most vowels move to the neutral shwa which gives the speech the monotony of an unstressed syllables. Though recently the opposite tendency is used in the speech which is said to be intearly due to the American influence. It is the tendency to restore full quality to the wovels in weakly – stressed syllables. Diphthongs and triphtongs. By the nature this sounds are at least stable in any language. Sounds ei,ai,,au,oi,ou are plosive and fally. It means the tongue glides from the more open to the more closed position. This sound bears the stress on the first element. Due to the nature sound ei and ou being narrow are easily reduced to monophtongs E and o . Sound ou may undergo a variant of ei- e, ou – eu –o. The words late, face, lake, fate. The rules are not established yet. The words like outside, found a re pronounced as fэуnd эуtsaid. It envolves only British speech. In Australian speech you will find a different tendency – i is changed ai. Other diphthongs au, ai, oi are not reduced to monophtongs yet but can be varied which is movieted by social and individual status. Senterin dipht ie, ie and uwe also change. There is a tendency to pronounce articulate them as two separate cillable. The word year is often pronounced as jie. Diphtong ie is often monophnongated to е:. Diphtoge ue may be changed into ways – it can be devided into u and e, for example endure. It may turn into long o. In the words like pore, sure, sometimes tour. Triphtongs are pretty rare. Thus they are most stable than diphthongs but in rapid speech articulated with one breath impulse. They can be reduced to diphthongs and even monophtongs. Semi-vowels or sonorants. Sound l may be vocalized into w and u. In words like milk, old. Long vowel o in this case is combined with this vocalized variant of l and turns into a diphthong ou. Thus you can see the words involve, solve, revolve pronounced as soulv,etc. Sound i in sound plaster ju usually disappears and goes into allusion. Beauty, sew, tune, student, huge etc only with long sound u. The same sound in combination with d,t,s,z initiated into assimilation. Old opposition of sounds w and hw is slowly becoming quite fashionable in English speech. Which witch. Consonants. There is a very interesting tendency to introduce a apethitic consonants –length, fiancé, warmth, sense, chance.Voiceless plosives p,t,k in the intervocal position are voiced. The words better, matter, letter are pronced bête, mete, lete. In word groups with two succesif identical consonants these consonants are always merged and pronounced as one sound in rapid speech. Such word comb as black cat, lampt post, boat train etc.

3) Supersegmental phonemes. Stress (в слове и в предложении). Intonation (tone), junction (разделение слов, пауза)

4) Syllable. The concept of a syllable is very important in sypersegmental phonetics because a syllable is a minimum sequence of combinations of elements upon which supersegmental phonemes are realized. Being the smallest phonetic unit syllables form bigger linguistic units – words, phrases, texts. Each of the units is characterized by the specific syllabic structure. A syllable is a very complicated unit. Just as a sound it can be studied on several levels. Such complexity give raise to many theories concerning a syllable.

a) Articulatory level. Analyses of the syllable on the articulatory level give raise to the expiratory there are anonyms (chestpals or pressure theory). It is experimentally based by professor Stitso. He assumed that expiration is a regular pulsating process and each syllable corresponds to a sillable expiration. According to this theory the number of the syllables in a phrase or in an utterance is determined by the number of expirations made in the production of those syllable.

b) Another theory was stated by a famous linguist Otto Jasfrson. It is called sonority theory and it is based on the concept of sonority from the acoustic pow. According to it each sound is characterized by a certain degree of sonority vowels are most sonorous then go sonorons , voiced consonants and voiceless consonants. Sonoraty is understood as a linguistic feature and in a sequence of sounds the most sonorous sound forms the centre of a syllable. Accordingly sounds of less degree of sonority form maundaris syllable. From the auditory aspect a syllable is studied by the loudness theory which was stated by professor Жимкин. From the pow of this theory a syllable represents the arch of loudness with the most prominent element in the centre and the lest prominent elements on its boundaries. Another theory was presented by professor Щеба. He studies a syllable from the articulatory pow and according to him a syllable was actualized as the arch of muscular which means articulatory tension. This theory was modified by his follower – professor Васильев. He combined articulatory auditory and acoustic aspects in his view of a syllable. He stated that a syllable is characterized by three physical (acoustic) parameters such as peach or frequency, intensity and length which corresponds to certain auditory parameters such as loudness, duration, force and etc. Within in a syllable this parameters vary from minimum to maximum in the centre and then back to minimum on its boundaries. The difenition of a syllable on a function level identifies the following features : a syllable is a combination of phonemes represented by sounds of vary acoustic parameters. A syllable is constructed on the basis of contrast of its elements which is usually of vowel-consonant type. The nuclears of the syllable is a vowel, presents of consonants is optional. We can distinguish in English four basic types of syllable. They can be presented by the following V, CV, VC, CVC. Syllables which are finished with a V are called opened (V, CV) accordingly syllables which are finished with a C are closed (VC,CVC). Syllables which start with a V are called uncovered. Syllables which starts with a C are called covered. I (uncovered and open), time (один слог, taim, covered and closed).

c) Another problem which characterize the speech continuo in a reference to a syllable is syllable devision. It is not very difficult. Basicly syllable devision is identified in opposition V and C. The difficulty arises when intervocalic consonants or their plasters are encounted. We have to turn to the rules of distribution of the phonemes.

d) Supesigmental phonemes are phonetic units which are actualized on the sequence of sound. We encounter three basic types of supesigmental phonemes. 1) Junctual phonemes. A nice man – an ice man. 2) Accentual phonemes frequent – as an adj and a verb. 3) Intonational phonemes. Accentual phonemes . Syllables within a bigger linguistic unit are not pronounced identically. Some syllables are more prominent than others. Such syllables are called stressed or accented. According to professor Гимсон this phonetic prominence is achieveв by any, or all four factors such as tone, force, length and vowel color. The accential system in which differences between syllables are formed by loudness is called stress system. Accordinly degrees of prominence by which syllables are distinguished are called stresses or stress levels. Loudness as an auditory characteristic can be actualized by dynamic or peach components of a sound. There are two basic types of stress systems. The one in which the dynamic component is predominant is called dynamic or experitive stress system. When the prominence is formed by a peach component the stress system is musical or toning. In European languages are those who has dynamic stress system. South-east Asian languages (Cheneese, Wietnemees, Laoses) are those with musical stress system. The position of a stress in a word is also important. Languages can be distinguished into languages with the fix-stressed system (закрепленное ударение) and free-stressed system. We also distinguish degrees of stress. There are three degrees – primary (the main stress of the word), secondary, tershionary (тёшионари). American linguists also distinguish weak stress. Accentual system of the English language is pretty unstable due to the origin of English lexical system. There are three basic tendencies according to which stress is distributed. 1) recessive tendency. According to it the word stress falls on the initial syllable which is root syllable or on the second syllable which is also root syllable which the first syllable is presented by an old prefix which lost its lexical meaning. Mother, father, begins – be-ginnan – отправляться. Beware – be-warijan-wasijan . Receccive tendency. Borrowed words with similar phonetic structure acquire stress on the first or a second syllable. Appear, ago, again, appearan. Disgusting.

e) Rithmical tendency is alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Words in which rhythmic tendency is present are usually polysyllabic. The third tendency is the retentive tendency. A-A-A. According to it a diriviative always retains the stress of the parent word.

f) Intonational phoneme - in a speech chain a sequence of sounds possesses additional characteristics which are represented by intonation supersegmantal phonemes. They are also defined by the term prosody.

1) Sentence stress and word stress are different. Accent is a word stress, sentence stress is sentence. Two types – automatic (neutral) and logical stress. Neutral stress is also logical. Automatic falls onto the last stressed syllable of a meaningful word in a phrase. Logical stress may fall into any word in the phrase which means to be phonetical prominent.

2) Intonation proper. It is formed by variations of peach, loudness, duration, tembor. On the acoustic level peach correlates with high or low level with high or low frequency. Loudness correlates with the force of vibrations and duration correlates with tempo. These components form intonation patterns. An intonation pattern contains a neclears which is the focal point of intonation pattern and the number of unstressed and stressed syllables preceding and or following the nuclears. The boundaries of an intonation pattern are formed by stops of phonation (pauses). Intonation patterns serve to actualize grammatical sentences (syntagms) in speech. Intonation pattern may consist of one or more syntagms. Usually it is one.

Peach, loudness and duration. We should consider them. Peach. This component represents the dominating aspect of intonation. It is characterized by variations in peach direction, peach level and peach range. 1. Peach direction. Up and down variations of speech represent rising and falling tones. Categorical meanings. A falling tone means the completeness of the phrase. It is perceived as categoric reserved completed acquiring no further participation of the addressee in the process of communication. The rising tone means incompleteness of the phrase. Accordingly – non-categoric incomplete requiring no further participation of the addressee in the communication process. Sorry? Sorry! The second variation is peach level. We have 3 levels of peach – high, mid, low. The third variation is peach range or their pace – wide, normal and narrow peach range.

Variation in loudness. Accordingly variations in loudness are not dominating in the intonation pattern of a phrase. Usually they just add some characteristics to the phonation of the rhythm of a phrase. The same can be said about variations in duration.

Pausation. Pauses occur within the boundaries of intonation patterns and on their boundaries. They may be silent or filled. Silent paused tend to be ambiguous. Filled usually contain conversation noises.

Stylistic variation in English speech

We distinguish 5 phonostyles which are inphonetional, academic, publicistic, declamatory and conversational. Speech can be spoken or oral or written. There are patterns in which these styles can be actualized written or spoken, it may define character the relations between the participants.

When we speak about a phonostyle we should remember the purpose of communication. 1) Informational phonostyle. It is to convey some information. That is why this style is qualified as formal or neutral. It is in the least influenced by extra-linguistic factors. Its components are not very variable. Темп – от 4 до 7 слогов в сек. Loudness should be normal, falling tone, middle peach and normal diaposone. There will be pauses on the boundaries of intonation patterns. The style is characterized by regular rhythm.

Academic. It is basically used to convey some information to attract the listener`s attention carried in the text. It is present in lectures and in conferences. Variation of speech parameters will be greater. The tempo will be vared from quick to slow. Loudness will make the most important parts of speech. Высота тона варьируется, в основном средняя. We use normal range of pitch which can be also slightly varied.

Publicistic style. It`s purpose – to convey info, attract attention, influence the audience`s attitude. То что важно – громче, темп с точки зрения оратора. И восходящий и нисходящий тон

Diclamitary (artistic) – involves grate variety of prosodic components. But its purpose is – to make, co convey some image through speech performance. Создается картинка с помощью речи.

Conversational style which is the most variable. It is used for everyday communication, which means it is extremely variable.

Individual stylistic characteristics. Individual local features are used to build communication strategy. They can characterize an individual as an individual and an individual as a specificс social group.

The first characteristic which identify a member of a specifical social group is gender. Woman`s speech is quicker. Man`s speech is lower. Women use supportive speech strategy they use more polite intonation patterns rising tones variations in pitch range and level.

Age. Older people of the same social group speak more correctly than than younger people of this social group. Level of education. Another factor is background. Occupation and profession.

Characteristic of speech which defined an individual is an individual setting, emotions. Clarity of speech decreases when a person is under some emotion. Falling tone. Используются пониженные тон, широкий диапозон.

Standard of pronunciation. Regional and national varieties of speech.

The number of norms is infinite, but they are a system so there is high ranking of norms. Like a pyramid with layers. National standard is the variant of language which is historically stable, it changes but not very much, it is socially approved, it is accepted by all members of the society as members of communication. Several variants of pronounciation – british, American, Canadian, Australian and other pronounc. Variant (not native speakers). Two basic regional varients – northern and southern. Cockney – наличие твердого приступа. Дифтонг ау отсутствует – заменяется на у в Шотландском английском.


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