Masaryk University Faculty of Arts

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Masaryk University

Faculty of Arts

Department of English
and American Studies

English Language and Literature

Petra Jureková

The Pronunciation of English in Czech, Slovak and Russian Speakers

Bachelor’s Diploma Thesis

Supervisor: PhDr. Kateřina Tomková, Ph.D.


I declare that I have worked on this thesis independently,
using only the primary and secondary sources listed in the bibliography.


Author’s signature

I would like to express gratitude to my supervisor, PhDr. Kateřina Tomková, Ph.D., and thank her for her advice, patience, kindness and help. I would also like to thank all the volunteers that participated in the research project.

Table of contents

1.Introduction 6

1.2.1. English as a foreign language 7

1.2.2. Pronunciation 7

2.English phonetic system 10

2.1.1. Vowels 10

2.1.2. Consonants 14

2.2.1. Stress 22

2.2.2. Rhythm 26

3.Introduction to Czech, Slovak and Russian languages 28

3.1.1. Segmental level 29

3.1.2. Suprasegmental level 37

3.2.1. Segmental level 41

3.2.2. Suprasegmental level 45

4.Practical section 49

5.Conclusion 61

Reference list 64

Avanesov, R. I. (1964). Modern Russian stress. London: Pergamon Press. 64

Collins, B., & Mees, I.M. (2008). Practical phonetics and phonology: A resource book for students (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge. 64

Comrie, B., & Corbett, G. G. (2002). The Slavonic languages. New York, NY: Routledge. 64

Foley, J. (2007). English as a global language: My two satangs worth. Regional Language Centre Journal, 38 (1), 7-17. 64

Havránek, B., Barnetová, V., & Leška, O. (1976). Příruční mluvnice ruštiny pro Čechy 1: Hláskosloví a tvarosloví (3rd ed.). Praha: Státní pedagogické nakladatelství. 64

Morley, J. (2005). Issues in teaching phonetics/ pronunciation at advanced levels of instruction in English as a foreign language. Journal for Distinguished Language Studies, 3. 9-14. 65

Pavlík, R. (2000). Phonetics and phonology of English: A theoretical introduction. Bratislava: Pedagogická fakulta Univerzity Komenského. 65

Roach, P. (1991). English phonetics and phonology: a practical course (2nd ed.). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 65

Romportl, M. (1973). Stručná fonetika ruštiny (3rd ed.). Praha: Státní pedagogické nakladatelství. 65

Schenker, A. M. (2002). Proto-Slavonic. In B. Comrie & G. G. Corbett (Eds.), The Slavonic languages (pp. 60-121). New York, NY: Routledge. 65

Short, J. R., Boniche, A., Kim, Y., & Li Li, P. (2001). Cultural globalization, global English, and geography journals. The Professional Geographer, 53 (1), 1-11. 65

Slavic languages. (2015). In Encyclopædia Britannica online. Retrieved from 66

Stress. (2015). In Oxford Dictionaries online. Retrieved from 66

Summary (English) 67

Summary (Czech) 68

Appendix A 69

Appendix B 70

Appendix C 71

List of tables

Table 1: The distinctive consonants of English 16

Table 2a and 2b: The review of voiced and voiceless consonants 17

Table 3: Pronunciation of /ð/ or /θ/ when th occurs 20

Table 4: Compressing of the syllables 28

Table 5: Classification of the Slavonic languages 29

Table 6: System of Czech consonantal sounds 33

Table 7: System of Slovak consonantal sounds 34

Table 8: English pronunciation errors in three respective Slavic languages 48

Table 9: Rate of accentedness 53

Table 10: Rate of intelligibility 54

Table 11: Rate of phonaesthetic evaluation 55

Table 12: General overall assessment 56

Table 13: Overview of respondents guesses about the speakers nationalities 58


1.1. English as an important language for international communication

At the present time to have a command of English means to have more opportunities, to be able to communicate with the outer world and also to understand it better. The English language has spread to such an extent that it has penetrated into almost every sphere of life. Apart from travelling, English also plays a major role in the entertainment industry, since it is the most preferred language for films, songs and games (Foley, 2007, p. 3). David Crystal, famous writer, editor and lecturer, says that:

English is the language of international air traffic communication, and its usage is growing in maritime, policing, and emergency services. Most scientific, technological, and academic information in the world is expressed in English; over 80% of all information stored in electronic retrieval systems is in English. (as cited in Short, Boniche, Kim, & Li Li, 2001, p. 3)

Crystal further remarks that English stands out from other languages since it has become the worldwide lingua franca of interaction. People from countries where English is not their native language are trying to learn English to be able to participate in international activities (as cited in Short et al., 2001, p. 3). Mastering the English language can have an essential role in peoples careers, too. There are three main ways of making professional use of speaking English well. (a) English as a global language gives people the opportunity to go and work abroad since the knowledge of it is often enough, even in countries with the first language other than English. (b) Another possibility is to apply for a better paying position with a higher prestige in one’s native land as it is common nowadays that business companies belong to international trade and cooperate with other countries and English can be a helpful tool for the partnership. (c) The third possibility refers to teaching. As the number of those who choose to learn English increases, the number of teachers needed for performing this profession grows as well.

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