A Practical Course
Sign in via your Institution Sign in. Purchase Subscription prices and ordering Short-term Access To purchase short term access, please sign in to your Oxford Academic account above. This article is also available for rental through DeepDyve. View Metrics. Email alerts New issue alert. Advance article alerts. Article activity alert. Receive exclusive offers and updates from Oxford Academic. Related articles in Google Scholar. Citing articles via Google Scholar. Perceiving the sea and crossing senses in La Chambre and La Vie tranquille. It is necessary to say "in similar contexts" because, as we shall see later, the length of all English vowel sounds varies very much according to their context such as the type of sound that follows them and the presence or absence of stress.
The five long vowels are different from the six short vowels described in Chapter 7, not only in length but also in quality. For this reason, all the long vowels have symbols which are different from those of short vowels; you can see that the long and short vowel symbols would still all be different from each other even if we omitted the length mark, so it is important to remember that the length mark is used not because it is essential but because it helps learners to remember the length difference.
Although the tongue shape is not much different from cardinal vowel no. This vowel is almost fully back and has quite strong lip-rounding. A vowel which remains constant and does not glide is called a pure vowel. In terms of length, diphthongs are similar to the long vowels described above. Foreign learners should, therefore, always remember that the last part of English diphthongs must not be made too strongly. The easiest way to remember them is in terms of three groups divided as in this diagram Fig. The closing diphthongs have the characteristic that they all end with a glide towards a closer vowel.
Because the second part of the diphthong is weak, they often do not reach a position that could be called close. The important thing is that a glide from a relatively more open towards a relatively closer vowel is produced. Two diphthongs glide towards U, so that as the tongue moves closer to the roof of the mouth there is at the same time a rounding movement of the lips.
This movement is not a large one, again because the second part of the diphthong is weak. There is only slight lip-rounding. They can be rather difficult to pronounce, and very difficult to recognise. A triphthong is a glide from The triphthongs can be looked on as being composed of the five closing diphthongs described in the last section, with O added on the end. Because of this, the middle of the three vowel qualities of the triphthong i. To add to the difficulty, there is also the problem of whether a triphthong is felt to contain one or two syllables. We will not go through a detailed description of each triphthong.
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Long vowels and diphthongs can be seen as a group of vowel sounds that are consistently longer in a given context than the short vowels described in the previous chapter. Some writers give the label tense to long vowels and diphthongs and lax to the short vowels. The accents are described in 7.
Jakobson and Halle explain the historical background to the distinction, which plays an important role in the treatment of the English vowel system by Chomsky and Halle As mentioned in the notes on Chapter 9, the choice of symbols has in the past tended to vary from book to book, and this is particularly noticeable in the case of length marks As an example of a contemporary difference in symbol choice, see Kreidler , 7. This is not normally proposed, however.
Gimson suggested that this shows a change in progress in the phonemic system of RP. Most of the essential pronunciation features of the diphthongs are described in Chapter 7. One of the most common pronunciation characteristics that result in a learner of English being judged to have a foreign accent is the production of pure vowels where a diphthong should be pronounced e.
Two additional points are worth making. However, I feel that it is important for foreign learners to be aware of this diphthong because of the distinctiveness of words in pairs like 'moor' and 'more', 'poor' and 'paw' for many speakers. English speakers seem to be specially sensitive to the quality of this diphthong, particularly to the first part. The larynx has several very important functions in speech, but before we can look at these functions we must examine its anatomy and physiology - that is, how it is constructed and how it works.
The larynx is in the neck; it has several parts, shown in Fig. Its main structure is made of cartilage, a material that is similar to bone but less hard. If you press down on your nose, the hard part that you can feel is cartilage. The larynx's structure is made of two large cartilages. These are hollow and are attached to the top of the trachea; when we breathe, the air passes through the trachea and the larynx. This point is commonly called the Adam's Apple. Inside the "box" made by these two cartilages are the vocal folds, which are two thick flaps of muscle rather like a pair of lips; an older name for these is vocal cords.
Looking down the throat is difficult to do, and requires special optical equipment, but Fig. At the front the vocal folds are joined together and fixed to the inside of the thyroid cartilage. At the back they are attached to a pair of Fig. The arytenoid cartilages are attached to the top of the cricoid cartilage, but they can move so as to move the vocal folds apart or together Fig. We use the word glottis to refer to the opening between the vocal folds. If the vocal folds are apart we say that the glottis is open; if they are pressed together we say that the glottis is closed.
This seems quite simple, but in fact we can produce a very complex range of changes in the vocal folds and their positions. These changes are often important in speech. Let us first look at four easily recognisable states of the vocal folds; it would be useful to practise moving your vocal folds into these different positions. Your vocal folds are probably apart now. The sound is not very different from a whispered vowel. It is called a voiceless glottal fricative. Fricatives are discussed in more detail in Chapter 6.
Practise saying hahahaha - alternating between this state of the vocal folds and that described in iii below. Air is pressed up from the lungs and this air pushes the vocal folds apart so that a little air escapes. As the air flows quickly past the edges of This opening and closing happens very rapidly and is repeated regularly, roughly between two and three hundred times per second in a woman's voice and about half that rate in an adult man's voice.
When this happens in speech we call it a glottal stop or glottal plosive, for which we use the symbol?. You can practise this by coughing gently; then practise the sequence a? The normal way for this airflow to be produced is for some of the air in the lungs to be pushed out; when air is made to move out of the lungs we say that there is an egressive pulmonic airstream. All speech sounds are made with some movement of air, and the egressive pulmonic is by far the most commonly found air movement in the languages of the world.
There are other ways of making air move in the vocal tract, but they are not usually relevant in the study of English pronunciation, so we will not discuss them here. How is air moved into and out of the lungs? Knowing about this is important, since it will make it easier to understand many aspects of speech, particularly the nature of stress and intonation. The lungs are like sponges that can fill with air, and they are contained within the rib cage Fig.
If the rib cage is lifted upwards and outwards there If we allow the rib cage to return to its rest position quite slowly, some of the air is expelled and can be used for producing speech sounds. If we wish to make the egressive pulmonic airstream continue without breathing in again - for example, when saying a long sentence and not wanting to be interrupted - we can make the rib cage press down on the lungs so that more air is expelled.
In talking about making air flow into and out of the lungs, the process has been described as though the air were free to pass with no obstruction. But, as we saw in Chapter 7, to make speech sounds we must obstruct the airflow in some way - breathing by itself makes very little sound. We obstruct the airflow by making one or more obstructions or strictures in the vocal tract, and one place where we can make a stricture is in the larynx, by bringing the vocal folds close to each other as described in the previous section.
Remember that there will be no vocal fold vibration unless the vocal folds are in the correct position and the air below the vocal folds is under enough pressure to be forced through the glottis. If the vocal folds vibrate we will hear the sound that we call voicing or phonation. There are many different sorts of voicing that we can produce - think of the differences in the quality of your voice between singing, shouting and speaking quietly, or think of the different voices you might use reading a story to young children in which you have to read out what is said by characters such as giants, fairies, mice or ducks; many of the differences are made with the larynx.
We can make changes in the vocal folds themselves - they can, for example, be made longer or shorter, more tense or more relaxed or be more or less strongly pressed together.
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The pressure of the air below the vocal folds the subglottal pressure can also be varied. The stricture is, then, total. This noise is called plosion. We call this the closing phase. We call this the compression phase.
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This is the release phase. The glottal plosive? The plosives have different places of articulation. The plosives p, b are bilabial since the lips are pressed together Fig. Normally the tongue does not touch the front teeth as it does in the dental plosives found in many languages. The plosives k, g are velar; the back of the tongue is pressed against the area where the hard palate ends and the soft palate begins Fig. The plosives p, t, k are always voiceless; b, d, g are sometimes fully voiced, sometimes partly voiced and sometimes voiceless.
We will consider what b, d, g should be called in Section 7. All six plosives can occur at the beginning of a word initial position , between other sounds medial position and at the end of a word final position. To begin with we will look at plosives preceding vowels which can be abbreviated as CV, where C stands for a consonant and V stands for a vowel , between vowels VCV and following vowels VC. We will look at more complex environments in later chapters. During the compression phase there is no voicing in p, t, k; in b, d, g there is normally very little voicing - it begins only just before the release.
If the speaker pronounces an initial b, d, g very slowly and carefully there may be voicing during the entire compression phase the plosive is then fully voiced , while in rapid speech there may be no voicing at all. The release of p, t, k is followed by audible plosion - that is, a burst of noise. There is then, in the post-release phase, a period during which air escapes through the vocal folds, making a sound like h. This is called aspiration. Then the vocal folds come together and voicing begins. The release of b, d, g is followed by weak plosion, and this happens at about the same time as, or shortly after, the beginning of voicing.
The most noticeable and important difference, then, between initial p, t, k and b, d, g is the aspiration of the voiceless plosives p, t, k. The different phases of the plosive all happen very If English speakers hear a fully voiced initial plosive, they will hear it as one of b, d, g but will notice that it does not sound quite natural. If they hear a voiceless unaspi- rated plosive they will also hear that as one of b, d, g, because it is aspiration, not voicing which distinguishes initial p, t, k from b, d, g.
Only when they hear a voiceless aspirated plosive will they hear it as one of p, t, k; experiments have shown that we perceive aspiration when there is a delay between the sound of plosion and the beginning or onset of voicing. In initial position, b, d, g cannot be preceded by any consonant, but p, t, k may be preceded by s. When one of p, t, k is preceded by s it is unaspirated.
From what was said above it should be clear that the unaspirated p, t, k of the initial combinations sp, st, sk have the sound quality that makes English speakers perceive a plosive as one of b, d, g; if a recording of a word beginning with one of sp, st, sk is heard with the s removed, an initial b, d or g is perceived by English speakers.
In general we can say that a medial plosive may have the characteristics either of final or of initial plosives. The plosion following the release of p, t, k and b, d, g is very weak and often not audible. The difference between p, t, k and b, d, g is primarily the fact that vowels preceding p, t, k are much shorter.
The shortening effect of p, t, k is most noticeable when the vowel is one of the long vowels or diphthongs. This effect is sometimes known as pre-fortis clipping. The description of them makes it clear that it is not very accurate to call them "voiced"; in initial and final position they are scarcely voiced at all, and any voicing they may have seems to have no perceptual importance. Some phoneticians say that p, t, k are produced with more force than b, d, g, and that it would therefore be better to give the two sets of plosives and some other consonants names that indicate that fact; so the voiceless plosives p, t, k are sometimes called fortis meaning 'strong' and b, d, g are then called lenis meaning 'weak'.
It may well be true that p, t, k are produced with more force, though nobody has really proved it - force of articulation is very difficult to define and measure. On the other hand, the terms fortis and lenis are difficult to remember. Despite this, we shall follow the practice of many books and use these terms. The plosive phonemes of English can be presented in the form of a table as shown here: Each major type of consonant such as plosives like p, t, k, fricatives like s, z, and nasals like m, n obstructs the airflow in a different way, and these are classed as different manners of articulation.
Notes on problems and further reading 7. In classifying consonants it is possible to go to a very high level of complexity if one wishes to account for all the possibilities; see, for example, Pike The vowel length difference before final voiceless consonants is apparently found in many possibly all languages, but in English this difference - which is very slight in most languages - has become exaggerated so that it has become the most important factor in distinguishing between final p, t, k and b, d, g; see Chen Some phonetics books wrongly state that b, d, g lengthen preceding vowels, rather than that p, t, k shorten them.
It is necessary to consider how one could measure "force of articulation"; many different laboratory techniques have been tried to see if the articulators are moved more energetically for fortis consonants, but all have proved inconclusive. The only difference that seems reasonably reliable is that fortis consonants have higher air pressure in the vocal tract, but Lisker has argued convincingly that this is not conclusive evidence for a "force of articulation" difference.
It is possible to ask phonetically untrained speakers whether they feel that more energy is used in pronouncing p, t, k than in b, d, g, but there are many difficulties in doing this. A useful review of the "force of articulation" question is in Catford Your description should start and finish with the position for normal breathing. Here is a description of the pronunciation of the word 'bee' bi: as an example: Starting from the position for normal breathing, the lips are closed and the lungs are compressed to create air pressure in the vocal tract.
The tongue moves to the position for a close front vowel, with the front of the tongue raised close to the hard palate.
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The vocal folds are brought close together and voicing begins; the lips then open, releasing the compressed air. Voicing continues for the duration of an i: vowel. Then the lung pressure is lowered, voicing ceases and the articulators return to the normal breathing position. Words to describe: a goat; b ape. It is now necessary to consider some fundamental theoretical questions. What do we mean when we use the word "sound"?
How do we establish what are the sounds of English, and how do we decide how many there are of them? When we speak, we produce a continuous stream of sounds. In studying speech we divide this stream into small pieces that we call segments. The word 'man' is pronounced with a first segment m, a second segment a; and a third segment n.
It is not always easy to decide on the number of segments. To give a simple example, in the word 'mine' the first segment is m and the last is n, as in the word 'man' discussed above. But should we regard the aI in the middle as one segment or two? We will return to this question. As well as the question of how we divide speech up into segments, there is the question of how many different sounds or segment types there are in English.
Chapters 7 and 7 introduced the set of vowels found in English.
Each of these can be pronounced in many slightly different ways, so that the total range of sounds actually produced by speakers is practically infinite. Yet we feel quite confident in saying that the number of English vowels is not greater than twenty.
Why is this? The answer is that if we put one of those twenty in the place of one of the others, we can change the meaning of a word. For example, if we substitute as for e in the word 'bed' we get a different word: 'bad'. But in the case of two slightly different ways of pronouncing what we regard as "the same sound", we usually find that, if we substitute one for the other, a change in the meaning of a word does not result.
If we substitute a more open vowel, for example cardinal vowel no. The principles involved here may be easier to understand if we look at a similar situation related to the letters of the alphabet that we use in writing English. The letter of the alphabet in writing is a unit which corresponds fairly well to the unit of speech we have been talking about earlier in this chapter - the segment.
In the alphabet we have five letters that are called vowels: 'a', 'e', 'i', 'o', 'u'. If we choose the right context we can show how substituting one letter for another will change meaning. Thus with a letter 'p' before and a letter 't' after the vowel letter, we get the five words spelt 'pat', 'pet', 'pit', 'pot', 'put', each of which has a different meaning. We can do the same with sounds.
If we look at the short They would quickly discover, through noticing differences in meaning, that 'u' is a different letter from the first three. What would our illiterate observer discover about these three? They would eventually come to the conclusion about the written characters 'a' and 'a' that the former occurs most often in printed and typed writing while the latter is more common in handwriting, but that if you substitute one for the other it will not cause a difference in meaning.
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This new edition takes into account recent developments in the teaching of phonology. It includes updated references, fuller coverage of intonation, and a new chapter on different varieties of English with illustrative recorded material.