1 Phonetics as a branch of linguistics

On their articulatory level vowels can change

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On their articulatory level vowels can change:

1. Stability of articulation.

Monophthongs (articul. Is unchanging), diphthongs(organs of speech glide from one position to another within 1 syllable. The starting point(nucl.) is strong $ distinct, glide is weak- ei, эi, au). Diphthongoids (artic. is slightly changing [i:], [u:].

2. The position of the tongue, another principle for consideration, is characterized from two aspects: horizontal and vertical movement. According to the horizontal movement five classes of vowels are distinguished:

According to the vertical movement three classes of vowels are distinguished:

3. Lip rounding is another articulatory feature which is included into the principles of classification of English vowels. Traditionally three lip positions are distinguished: spread, neutral and rounded. For the purpose of classification it is sufficient to distinguish between two lip positions: rounded and unrounded or neutral.

4. Another property of English vowel sounds is traditionally termed checkness (character of vowel end). The degree of checkness may vary and depends on the following consonants. Before voiceless consonant it is more perceptible than before a lenis voiced consonant or sonorant. All long vowels are free.

5. The English monophthongs are traditionally divided into two classes according to their length: a) short vowels: [I], [e], [;:e], [u], [A], [a], [n]; b) long vowels: [i:], [a:], [;):], [3:], [u:].

6. tenseness. It characterizes the state of the organs of speech at the moment of the production of vowels. Special instrumental analysis shows that historically long vowels are tense- i, e, u, o, ɔ, ɑ, ɝ while historically short vowels are lax- ɪ, ɛ, æ, ʊ, ə, ʌ, ɚ.

4. Comparison of English and Russian consonant system

a) in the production of the Russian consonants the bulk of the tongue is mainly in the front-mid part of the mouth resonator. When Russian soft forelinguals are produced the muscular tension is concentrated in the front-mid part of tongue, when the soft back lingual consonants are produced the muscular tension is concentrated in the middle part of the tongue. In the production of the English fore lingual consonants the tip of the tongue and the front edges are very tense;

b) the English voiceless fortis /p, t, k, f, s, ∫, t∫/ are pronounced more energetically then similar Russian consonants;

c) the bilabial [w] which is pronounced with a round narrowing is very often mispronounced by the Russian learners. They use the labio-dental [b] or [v] which is uttered with flat narrowing instead of the English [w];

d) there are definite consonant phonemes in English which have no counterparts in Russian, they are [w, Ө, ð, dg, r, h ].
5. Comparison of English and Russian vowel system

a) in the production of Russian vowels the lips are considerably protruded and rounded. In the articulation of the similar English sounds such protrusion doesn't take place. Englishmen have the so-called" flat-type" position of the lips which are more tense than the lips of the Russian and the comers of the lips are raised to resemble a smile;

b) in the articulation of the English vowels the bulk of the tongue occupies more flat positions than in the production of the Russian vowels;

c) long vowels in English are considered to be tense. There are no long vowels which can be opposed phonemically to short vowels in the Russian language. Length in the Russian vowel system is an irrelevant feature;

d) there are monophthongs and diphthongoids in the 'Russian vowel system, but there no diphthongs (diphthongized sounds, in English they are [i:] and [u:]

e) there are 6 vowel phonemes in Russian and 20 in English, the majority of the English vowel phonemes have no counterparts in Russian: [æ, 3:, ə, u: εə, uə, ai,əu ]
6. Articulatory differences between consonants and vowels

Physiological Distinction

In general, consonants can be said to have a greater degree of constriction than vowels. This is obviously the case for oral and nasal stops, fricatives and affricates. The case for approximants is not so clear-cut as the semi-vowels /j/ and /w/ are very often indistinguishable from vowels in terms of their constriction.

Acoustic Distinction

In general, consonants can be said to be less prominent than vowels. This is usually manifested by vowels being more intense than the consonants that surround them. Sometimes, certain consonants can have a greater total intensity than adjacent vowels but vowels are almost always more intense at low frequencies than adjacent consonants.

Phonological Distinction

Syllables usually consist of a vowel surrounded of consonants. A single vowel forms the prominent nucleus of each syllable. There is only one peak of prominence per syllable and this is nearly always a vowel. The consonants form the less prominent valleys between the vowel peaks. This tidy picture is disturbed by the existence of syllabic consonants. Syllabic consonants form the nucleus of a syllable that does not contain a vowel. In English, syllabic consonants occur when an approximant or a nasal stop follows a homorganic (same place of articulation) oral stop (or occasionally a fricative) in words such as "bottle" /bɔtl̩/ or "button" /bʌtn̩/.

The semi-vowels in English play the same phonological role as the other consonants even though they are vowel-like in many ways. The semi-vowels are found in syllable positions where stops, fricatives, etc. are found (eg. "pay", "may", and "say" versus "way").

7. Modifications of vowels in speech

The phonetic process that affects English vowels in connected speech is called reduction. By vowel reduction we mean shortening or weakening of the sound, or, in other words, shortening in length that is usually accompanied by a change in quality. Vowel reduction in unstressed syllables is very common both in English and in Russian. In connected speech vowels can be exposed either to quantitative and qualitative reduction or both. These changes of vowels are determined by a number of factors, such as the position of a vowel in a word and in an utterance, accentual structure, rhythm, tempo of speech.

Quantitative reduction or shortening of vowel length takes place in the following cases:

1. The length of vowel depends on the immediate phonetic environment (positional length). Vowels are the longest in the final position, they are shorter before a voiced consonant and the shortest in a syllable closed by a voiceless consonant, knee - need - neat.

2. Long vowels in form words are shortened in unstressed positions: At last he [i'] has come. Modifications in quality occur in unstressed positions. The most common form of vowel reduction is reduction to schwa [ə]. In its production the tongue is the closest to the neutral position, the lips are unrounded and it is the shortest of all vowels. The pronunciation of schwa instead of some other vowel saves articulatory effort and time. Man [meen] sportsman ['sp;:dsman], conduct ['knndakt] - conduct [kan'dAkt]. You can easily do it [ju' kan i:zrlI ,du Schwa is considered to be the most frequent sound in English. It is obviously the result of the rhythmic pattern in which stressed syllables alternate with unstressed ones. Unstressed syllables are given only a short duration and the vowel in them is reduced.

3. Vowels are slightly nasalized when preceded or followed by a nasal consonant like in man, no, then, mean.

8. Modifications of consonants in speech

Speech is performed in larger units: words, phrases and texts. There are very big differences between pronouncing a word in isolation and a word in connected speech.

There is a problem of defining the phonetic status of sounds in connected speech. As a result there are some processes of phonetic changes in connected speech:

  1. assimilation;

  2. accommodation;

  3. vowel reduction;

  4. elision.

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