1 Phonetics as a branch of linguistics

English phonemes in writing

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30. English phonemes in writing

Language performs its function as a means of communication not only in oral but also in written form. That’s why it’s important to establish relationship between orthography and pronunciation.

Transcription is a set of symbols representing speech sounds. The symbolization of sounds naturally differs according to whether the aim is to indicate the phoneme, i.e. a functional unit as a whole or to reflect the modifications of its allophones as well. The first type of notation is the broad or phonemic transcription; it provides special symbols for all the morphemes of a language. The second type the narrow or allophonic transcription suggests special symbols including some information about articulatory activity of particular allophonic features. The broad tr is used for practical expedience, the narrow-serves the purposes of research work.

Graphemes in the English language may indicate the phonemic reference of a preceding, or the following grapheme. They perform diacritic function. E.g.

1. The doubling of consonants:

(a) indicates the shortness of the preceding vowel and differentiates the meaning of words:

planed — planned

noted — knotted

(b) differentiates the meaning of words:

assent — a cent

arrival — a rival

(c) lengthens the preceding vowel:

barred, stirred, furred

2. The use of a "mute" e or r:

(a) indicates the alphabetic reading of the preceding vowel and performs differentiatory functions:

rat — rate

pet — Pete

fin — fine

(b) differentiates homophones:

born — borne

pleas — please

step — steppe

(c) indicates the lengthening, or the diphthongal nature of a preceding vowel:

are toe awe pore mere

were due cure fury sire

Morphemic reference of graphemes is many-sided. Any graphic difference must be considered as having an independent morphemic reference. E.g.

boys /boız/ — boys' /boız/ — boy's /boız/

s, s’, ’s have different morphemic reference: s indicates the plural form; s’ indicates the plural form, possessive case; ’s indicates the posessive case of the singular form.

A morphograph is that part of a word which represents a morpheme it graphically, e.g. the suffix -ing is a morphograph in the word singing; the suffix -ed is a morphograph in the word long-legged, etc.
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