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Transcript of LING5: Phonetics
revision year 1
aspiration and devoiced approximants
/t,d/ are elided between consonants
e.g. in 'postman' and 'handshake'
'shwa' is often elided before an unstressed syllable starting with /r/
e.g. in 'general' and 'history'
but never after /l/, so not in 'salary'
a quick overview
(intrusive) linking /r/: 'the idea is'
In a stressed syllable sometimes a strong plosive is inserted between a nasal and a strong fricative. The plosive has the same place of articulation as the nasal (=homorganic): 'strength, sense'
=> consecutive identical consonants become one longer consonant, indicating the original identical twins (=gemini), e.g. 'this side'
=> consecutive identical consonants become one short consonant, losing the reference to the original identical twins, e.g. 'busstation'
=> assimilation of place (= most common in English): usually the alveolar sound adjusts to its neighbour, except 'th', which tends to adjust to neighbouring /s,z/.
e.g. 'statement, that girl, both sides'
=> assimilation of voice (= common in Dutch but generally not used in English): voiceless obstruents become voiced before /b,d,g/ or in between vowels, e.g. 'stropdas, hoefijzer; voiced fricatives become voiceless after voiceless obstruents, e.g. 'goedzo, huisvrouw'
=> assimilation of nasality (= generally not in English): a vowel and nasal consonant merge into a nasal vowel before a non-plosive consonant, e.g. 'maanlicht, onrust'
The same basic rules for both:
at the beginning (not after /s/)
of a stressed syllable
=> vowel following: aspiration
e.g. in 'talk, appear, recall' but NOT in 'stalk, aspire, escape'
=> approximant following: approximant becomes voiceless (=devoiced)
e.g. in 'choir, control, apply' but NOT in 'squire, construct, dispute'
word and compound stress
RP v GA
Phonemic and allophonic
Phonemic length: the length of the vowel itself, irrespective of the context
=> checked vowels are phonemically short, e.g. 'kit, dress'
=> free vowels are phonemically long, e.g. 'fleece, mouth'
Allophonic length: dependent on the context
=> before a strong consonant a vowel is allophonically short (=pre-fortis clipping),
e.g. 'kit, set, beat, price'
=> before a weak consonant or at the end of the syllable a vowel is allophonically long,
e.g. kid, said, bead, prize'
VOICED PORTION = VOWEL (+/l/) (+NASAL)
Not only vowels have allophonic length; /l/ and nasals are also subject to pre-fortis clipping. The Voiced Portion is shorter (=clipped) before a strong consonant. The final sound of the Voiced Portion shows the main length difference, cf. 'bent-bend, kilt-killed'
The main differences between RP and GA:
GA is rhotic whereas RP is non-rhotic.
Especially in between vowels, /t/ has a /d/-like quality in GA, e.g. in 'letter'
In GA /r/ is part of the Voiced Portion: vowel (+r) (+l) (+nasal)
Vowels in GA:
Long steady-state vowels lose their length before /r/, e.g. in 'hard'
Centring glides (= those that end in shwa) lose the shwa before /r/, e.g. in 'near'.
The LOT vowel does not exist and is replaced by the THOUGHT or PALM vowel.
The GOAT vowel starts closer and rounder.
The STRUT vowel changes into a short NURSE vowel before /r/, e.g. in 'hurry'.
Overview of LING2 subject matter
= basic knowledge for LING5 Phonetics
Four positions of the vocal cords:
open: air can pass freely - voiceless sounds
vibrating: voice is produced - voiced sounds
narrow opening: friction occurs - /h/
closed and sudden release: glottal stop
4-term labels for consonants:
2. weak/strong: only when in a pair
3. place of articulation
4. manner of articulation
Clear /l/: high, flat tongue; used before a vowel sound
(and in RP also before /j/),
e.g. 'leaf, please, clothes' and 'value' (RP)
Dark /l/: lower round tongue; used in all other cases
e.g. 'feel, Beatles, cold' and 'value' (GA)
Clear and dark /l/
Homophones: different words that are pronounced exactly the same,
e.g. 'brake-break' 'key-quay'
Minimal pair: two words that have only one phoneme difference
e.g. 'beg-bag' 'though-so'
For -s endings (plurals, genitives and 3rd person singular) and -ed past participle endings, the pronunciation rules are roughly the same (and no exceptions!):
=> voiced after voiced, e.g. John's, dogs, hugged'
=> voiceless after voiceless, e.g. 'Kate's, cats, kissed'
Function words, such as prepositions, pronouns and auxiliaries, are often pronounced as a reduced form = weak form, e.g. 'to', 'them' and 'can' are pronounced with a shwa
and 'he' and 'she' are pronounced with a KIT or HAPPY
vowel. Words that can have a weak form are called
Content words, such as nouns, adjectives and lexical verbs, are always pronounced as the full form = strong form.
Some words can be tricky, e.g. 'that' has the weak form as a conjunction or relative pronoun but always has the strong form as a demonstrative pronoun.
Using weak forms will make you sound more natural in your speech.
Basic rule: gradation words have the weak form unless there is a reason to use the strong form. Most often this reason is that there is focus on the word in the sentence, e.g. 'I said that I had heard OF him, not FROM him.'
A sentence has one or more stressed syllables, e.g. 'If you tell me what to DO, I'll get it DONE.
Each stressed syllable is the place where an intonation tune starts. There are four intonation tunes in RP which often occur in typical places:
1. fall - indicates the sentence is finished and therefore generally occurs at the end of a
sentence (often also in questions), e.g. 'What have you DONE for me lately?'
2. rise - indicates that the sentence is not finished or that a response to a question is expected.
Typically occurs in enumerations (except for the final element of the enumeration) and some question types, e.g. 'REAlly?' and
'For breakfast I'd like BAcon, SAUsages and scrambled EGGS.'
3. level - has a business-like quality to it and is also used in enumerations.
4. fall-rise - indicates a clause is finished but the sentence is not and therefore typically
occurs at the end of a non-sentence-final clause (often before a comma),
e.g. 'If you don't LIKE it, you can return it to the SHOP.
NB: RP intonation is much livelier than AN intonation; using AN intonation in English can make you seem uninterested. GA is in the middle.
Word and compound stress is a complex subject. Resort to rules only if your instincts fail you. There are, however, a few special cases that deserve some attention:
Two-syllable words that have the same form as verbs, adjectives and nouns often (but not always) have the second syllable stressed as the verb and the first syllable stressed as the noun/adjective,
e.g. to obJECT - an OBject
to inSULT - an INsult
but: to PROcess - a PROcess
There are also three-syllable pairs that behave similarly,
e.g. to interCHANGE - an INterchange
Longer words that have been derived from shorter ones often keep the stress in the shorter word as the secondary stress in the longer word,
e.g. to inTERpret - inTERpreTAtion
to comMUnicate - comMUniCAtion
Generally the vowel is the heart of the syllable. When there is no vowel, /l/ and nasals can take over the function of heart of the syllable. We then call them syllabic. Syllabic sounds are widely used in RP, especially in certain cases:
syllabic /l/ is common after alveolar sounds, e.g. in 'bottle, tunnel, chisel', but also occurs in words such as 'able, local, offal'
syllabic /n/ is common after voiceless sibilants, e.g. in 'lesson, nation'. After other fricatives and /t,d/ it is common if the previous syllable is stressed and there is no other consonant immediately preceding, e.g. in 'often, Britain' but not in 'abandon, inventory'
For GA the rules are a bit different, e.g. there is syllabic /n/ after /t/ when preceded by /n/, as illustrated in the following video.
a brief introductory video about intonation
- by all means search for follow-ups yourself
an introductory video about weak forms,
in the video called 'reduced syllables'
(Note that the lady's transcriptions are not all correct. We would also consider the 'he' and 'she' in her examples to be weak forms, since the vowels are reduced from long to short.)
new subject matter
For each topic there are theory and practice materials available on N@tschool.
a fun attempt at making punctuation audible