Lecture 9 Intonation: Falling head and Fall-Rise nucleus English consonants: realization/allophonic variation (fortis & lenis obstruents, voicing and aspiration) cei 1 & 3 si! 1-2 Fall-Rise nucleus

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Lecture 9

Intonation: Falling head and Fall-Rise nucleus

English consonants: realization/allophonic variation (fortis & lenis obstruents, voicing and aspiration)

CEI 6.1 & 6.3 SI!


Fall-Rise nucleus

\/ No, it isn’t

It’s a \/ joke

It’s quite \/scandalous
The fall-rise nucleus

  • starts on a high pitch, falls to a low pitch and starts rising again (usually to mid-pitch)

  • can occur with (low) prehead

  • can occur with a (rising) tail

  • if the tail contains a stressed syllable, the rise may start either on the syllable following the nucleus, or on the one following the stressed syllable

  • NB: does not occur with high head / high emphatic head

  • the head associated with the fall-rise nucleus is called a falling head

The falling head

  • starts on a high pitch and moves gradually towards a lower pitch (different from the High Fall which (a) is a nuclear tone and (b) does the whole fall on one single syllable)

  • combines only with a Fall-Rise nucleus (i.e. cannot be used in combination with High Fall, Low Fall, Low Rise, High Rise)

  • can be emphatic (i.e. if there are two or more accented syllables in it). Then each accented syllable starts on a higher pitch than the preceding syllable (examples in 3)

The meaning of the Fall-Rise pattern

  • a rising tone  it is non-conclusive, non-definite

  • used when the speaker wants to

    • sound tentative (e.g. Ex\/cuse me)

    • express uncertainty (if used in a statement)

    • make clear that s/he hasn’t finished (a continuation rise)

    • express a reservation (typically followed by but, e.g. Id \/ love to)

    • express a contrast (Not \/ Tuesday, | but \Thursday, I said)

    • make a (polite) warning or correction (e.g. \/ Careful! You mean \/ Tuesday )

In addition, the pattern may be associated with complaining, concern, and worry.

Fortis and lenis obstruents: Force of articulation

From The Concise Oxford Dictionary of English Grammar
lenis Of a consonant sound: made with relatively weak breath force. Contrasted with FORTIS. In English, voiced plosives and fricatives (e.g. /b/, /d/, //) tend to be made with less muscular effort and less breath force than their voiceless counterparts. They are therefore sometimes called lenis consonants (Latin lenis, soft, easy).
fortis Of a consonant sound or its articulation: made with relatively strong breath force; contrasted with LENIS. In English the voiceless plosives and fricatives (/p/, /t/, /k/, /s/, etc.) tend to be made with stronger muscular effort and breath force than their voiced counterparts. Such consonants are therefore said to be fortis consonants and to be pronounced with a fortis articulation.
The fortis/lenis distinction

Used about obstruents (fricatives and stops)


  • force of articulation (muscular tension)

  • voicing

  • stronger / weaker friction (fricatives and affricates)

  • +/- aspiration (plosives)

  • length of preceding vowel (+ sonorants)

Fortis/lenis fricatives

Fortis: , , , , 

always voiceless

Lenis: , , , 

voiced in word-initial position: , ,

voiced in word-medial position: ()()

usually devoiced in word-final position (except if a voiced sound follows immediately within the same tone unit): 
Fortis/lenis stops

Fortis: , , , 

Always voiceless (exception: intervocalic /t/ in GA)

Lenis: , , , 

Voiced in word-initial position: , ,

Voiced in word-medial position:  

Usually devoiced in word-final position (unless a voiced sound follows immediately within the same tone unit): 
Allophonic variation

Allophones = alternative pronunciations of a phoneme

Complementary distribution: different allophones of a phoneme are used in different context

Example: voiced vs. devoiced lenis fricatives [z] and [z] are allophones. They are not used in the same phonetic environment.

Voicing of /t/

A voiced allophone is used in GA (but not in RP) in intervocalic position before an unstressed syllable, i.e. it is pronounced as the voiced tap []: writer, sitting

but as /t/ if the following syllable is stressed.

potato [p ]
Lenis stops (plosives and affricates)

  • (wholly or partly) devoiced in word-final position

  • Voiced in word-initial position

  • Voiced in word-medial position (but may be devoiced next to a fortis sound, as in magpie)

Non-nasal sonorants /l, w, r, j/

Devoiced allophones after /p, t, k/

plate 

twist / /

creep / /

cube / /

Aspirated vs. non-aspirated fortis plosives

Aspiration = a h-like sound accompanying the release stage of a fortis plosive (thus delaying the voicing of the vowel slightly as well)

[] as in pie

[] as in take

[] as in Kate

The aspirated allophones are most common in most positions, but

following a syllable-initial /s/, aspiration does not occur (i.e. the unaspirated allophone is used after /s/)

[p] as in spy

[t] as in steak

[k] as in skate

note: the lenis plosives are never aspirated

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