Masaryk University Faculty of Arts



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Conclusion


The objective of this thesis has been to analyze the most problematic areas of the pronunciation of Czech and Slovak speakers of English, compare them to the rules of pronunciation in the Czech and Slovak languages, and investigate how the speaking habits of their mother tongues affect their pronunciation of English. The thesis focuses on sonority and articulatory energy in the speech of Czech and Slovak speakers of English.

In the theoretical section of the thesis, the areas of pronunciation connected with sonority and articulatory energy are analyzed. Aspiration and its rules are outlined and the importance of observing the aspiration is emphasized and explained on examples. The section then deals with voicing and neutralization of certain consonants which follow immediately another consonant, primarily those which are aspirated in syllable-initial position. The differences in the perception of the voicedness of the phoneme /h/ are analyzed in the context of the English, Czech and Slovak languages. Another part of the theoretical section deals with the voicing of final consonants in English, which appears to be one of the major difficulties for Czech and Slovak speakers as these two languages treat this phenomenon in a different way from English. Comparisons of the examples in English, Czech and Slovak are drawn and recommendations for the correct pronunciations are made. The section is then concluded with the analyses of the concepts of assimilation and linking in the English, Czech and Slovak languages.

The practical section contains a research of the degree of aspiration, final consonant voicing and linking in the speech of Czech and Slovak speakers. Six volunteer students of the English Department at the Masaryk University have been asked to read an excerpt from Jonathan Swift’s novel Gulliver’s Travels and briefly answer three questions. Three of the speakers were Czech and three were Slovak. The aim of the research was to compare the Czech and Slovak participants’ proficiency in aspiration, linking and final consonant voicing and to what extent their mother tongues affect this proficiency. The research also compares the numbers of errors of the speakers made in reading of the text and speaking spontaneously (answering the questions). However, the values gained from the spontaneous speech are only informative as the answers of the speakers are short and thus cannot be expressed as a percentage and compared to the error rates of the reading part. The error rates of each speaker and average error rates of each nationality were expressed in tables.

Several observations have been deduced owing to the results of the research. Slovak speakers struggled less with aspiration. Both groups, Czechs and Slovaks, had problems with the aspiration of the phoneme /p/, less then with the phonemes /k/ and /t/. Slovak participants managed partial devoicing of final lenis consonants better than their Czech counterparts. Both Czech and Slovak speakers had rather the same numbers of mispronunciations in linking of two neighbouring words. Czech speakers showed a slightly higher error rate when linking two words where the following one begins with a vowel, as opposed to the Slovak speakers. Slovak participants struggled more in linking of two words where the following word begins with a consonant.


Reference List

Bázlik, M., & Miškovičová, J. (2012). Pravidlá výslovnosti britskej a americkej angličtiny. Iura Edition, a member of the Wolters Kluwer Group.

Collins, B., & Mees, I. (2013). Practical phonetics and phonology: A resource book for students. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Flege, J. (1995). Second-language Speech Learning: Theory, Findings, and Problems. In W. Strange (Ed) “Speech Perception and Linguistic Experience: Issues in Cross-language research.” Timonium, Md: York Press.

Gimson, A., & Cruttenden, A. (2008). Gimson’s pronunciation of English. Sevenoaks: Arnold.

Kráľ, Á. (1984). Pravidlá slovenskej výslovnosti. Bratislava: Slovenské pedagogické nakladateľstvo.

Krčmová, M. (1996). Fonetika a fonologie: zvuková stavba současné češtiny. (3rd ed.). Brno: Masarykova univerzita.

Melen, D. (2010). Výslovnost angličtiny na pozadí češtiny. (1st ed.) In Prague: Big Ben Bookshop Prague.

Roach, P. (2009). English phonetics and phonology: a practical course. (4th ed.) Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Skaličková, A. (1974). Srovnávací fonetika angličtiny a češtiny. (1st ed.) Prague: Academia.

Skaličková, A. (1982). Fonetika současné angličtiny. (1st ed.). Prague: Státní pedagogické nakladatelství.

Skarnitzl, R. & Šturm, P. (2014): Assimilation of voicing in Czech speakers of English: The Effect of the degree of accentedness. Research in Language, 12(2), pp. 199-208).

Swift, J. (1994). Gulliver’s Travels. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books.

Vachek. J. (1973). Chapters from phonology of modern English. (1st ed.). Prague: Státní pedagogické nakladatelství.


Summary


The thesis deals with the pronunciation of Czech and Slovak speakers of English, focused strictly on the aspects of sonority and articulatory energy.

The theoretical part analyzes the main areas where speakers make mistakes: aspiration, devoicing, assimilation and linking. The differences between the English, Czech and Slovak languages in these areas are outlined, compared and explained on examples.

The practical section contains a research of the speech of six Czech and Slovak students of English. The research examines their degree of aspiration, devoicing and linking when reading a prepared text and answering three questions. Slovak speakers achieved better results in almost all of the analyzed areas, except for the linking of two neighbouring words the following of which begins with a consonant.

Shrnutí


Práce se zabývá výslovností českých a slovenských nerodilých mluvčích angličtiny, a zaměřuje se výhradně na aspekty sonority a artikulační energie v jejich výslovnosti.

Teoretická část zkoumá hlavní oblasti, ve kterých mluvčí chybují: aspirace, desonorizace, asimilace a vázání. Jsou zde popsány a porovnány rozdíly mezi angličtinou, češtinou a slovenštinou v těchto oblastech výslovnosti, které jsou vysvětleny na názorných příkladech.

Praktická část obsahuje výzkum výslovnosti šesti českých a slovenských studentů angličtiny. Výzkum analyzuje jejich míru aspirace, desonorizace a vázání při čtení připraveného textu a odpovídání na otázky. Slovenští mluvčí dosáhli lepších výsledků téměř ve všech zkoumaných oblastech, mimo vázání dvou sousedních slov, z nichž následující začíná na souhlásku.

Glossary of terms


Alveolar A place of articulation involving the tip/blade of the tongue and the alveolar ridge

Aspiration Pronunciation of a letter with a strong emission of breath

Bilabial A place of articulation involving both lips

Dental A place of articulation involving the tip of the tongue and the front teeth

Elision A process by which a phoneme is deleted

Fortis A phonological class of voiceless obstruent consonants with energetic articulation

Fricative A manner of articulation which involves a narrowing in the vocal tract so that audible friction is produced

Glottal Referring to articulations involving the glottis

Glottis The space between the vocal folds

H-dropping Elision of /h/ in pronunciation in syllable-initial positions

Labio-dental A place of articulation involving the lower lip and the upper front teeth

Labio-velar A double articulation involving the lips and the back of the tongue against the velum

Lateral A manner of articulation in which the airstream escapes over the lowered sides of the tongue

Lenis A phonological class of voiced obstruent consonants articulated with relatively little energy and with potential voice

Nasal A manner of articulation involving the soft palate being lowered so that the airstream escapes via the nasal cavity

Palatal A place of articulation involving the front of the tongue and the hard palate

Plosive A manner of articulation which involves a complete closure in the vocal tract followed by a rapid release of the airstream

Post-alveolar A place of articulation which involves the tongue touching the back of the alveolar ridge

Sonority The relative loudness or carrying power of a sound compared to that of other sounds

Velar A place of articulation involving the velum and the back of the tongue

Voicing A consonantal articulation involving the vibration of the vocal folds
Collins, B., & Mees, I. (2013). Practical phonetics and phonology: A resource book for students. (2nd ed.). New York, NY: Routledge.

Gimson, A., & Cruttenden, A. (2008). Gimson’s pronunciation of English. Sevenoaks: Arnold.


Appendices

A Original text of the excerpt and the questions


Jonathan Swift – Gulliver’s Travels

My father had a small estate in Nottinghamshire: I was the third of five sons. He sent me to Emanuel College in Cambridge at fourteen years old, where I resided three years, and applied myself close to my studies; but the charge of maintaining me, although I had a very scanty allowance, being too great for a narrow fortune, I was bound apprentice to Mr. James Bates, an eminent surgeon in London, with whom I continued four years. My father now and then sending me small sums of money, I laid them out in learning navigation, and other parts of the mathematics, useful to those who intend to travel, as I always believed it would be, some time or other, my fortune to do. When I left Mr. Bates, I went down to my father: where, by the assistance of him and my uncle John, and some other relations, I got forty pounds, and a promise of thirty pounds a year to maintain me at Leyden: there I studied physic two years and seven months, knowing it would be useful in long voyages.

Soon after my return from Leyden, I was recommended by my good master, Mr. Bates, to be surgeon to the Swallow, Captain Abraham Pannel, commander; with whom I continued three years and a half, making a voyage or two into the Levant, and some other parts. When I came back I resolved to settle in London; to which Mr. Bates, my master, encouraged me, and by him I was recommended to several patients. I took part of a small house in the Old Jewry; and being advised to alter my condition, I married Mrs. Mary Burton, second daughter to Mr. Edmund Burton, hosier, in Newgate-street, with whom I received four hundred pounds for a portion.
QUESTIONS:


  1. Why was the narrator sent from Emanuel College in Cambridge to be an apprentice to Mr. Bates?

  2. What did the narrator learn during his four years at Mr. Bates’s and what did he study at Leyden afterwards?

  3. Have you ever heard the term “voicing” in relation to phonetics and phonology? What do you think it means?


B Error spots in the original text


Jonathan Swift – Gulliver’s Travels

My father HAD A small estate in Nottinghamshire: I WAS THE THIRD OF five sons. He sent me to Emanuel COLLEGE IN CAMBRIDGE AT fourteen YEARS OLD, where I resided three YEARS, and APPLIED MYSELF close to my STUDIES; but the CHARGE OF maintaining me, although I HAD A very scanty allowance, being TOO great for a narrow fortune, I WAS BOUND APPRENTICE to Mr. JAMES BATES, an eminent surgeon in London, WITH WHOM I continued four YEARS. My father now and then sending me small SUMS OF MONEY, I LAID THEM out in learning navigation, and other PARTS OF THE mathematics, useful to THOSE WHO intend to travel, AS I ALWAYS BELIEVED IT would be, some TIME or other, my fortune to do. When I left Mr. Bates, I went down to my father: where, by the assistance OF HIM and my uncle John, and some other RELATIONS, I got forty POUNDS, and a promise of thirty POUNDS A year to maintain me at Leyden: there I STUDIED PHYSIC two YEARS AND seven months, knowing it would be useful in long VOYAGES.

Soon after my return from Leyden, I WAS RECOMMENDED by my good master, Mr. Bates, to be surgeon to the Swallow, CAPTAIN Abraham Pannel, commander; WITH WHOM I continued three YEARS AND a half, MAKING A VOYAGE OR two into the Levant, and some other PARTS. When I came back I resolved to settle in London; to which Mr. Bates, my master, ENCOURAGED ME, and by him I WAS RECOMMENDED to several PATIENTS. I took part OF A small house in the Old Jewry; and BEING ADVISED to alter my condition, I married Mrs. Mary Burton, second daughter to Mr. Edmund Burton, hosier, in Newgate-street, WITH WHOM I received four HUNDRED POUNDS for a PORTION.
QUESTIONS:


  1. Why WAS THE narrator sent from Emanuel COLLEGE IN CAMBRIDGE to be an apprentice to Mr. Bates?

  2. What did the narrator learn DURING HIS FOUR YEARS AT MR. BATES’S AND what did he study at Leyden AFTERWARDS?

  3. Have you ever heard the term “VOICING” in relation to phonetics and phonology? What do you think it MEANS?

Linking: marked in green with frames

Final consonant voicing: marked in blue

Aspiration: marked in yellow

C IPA Chart

D Contents of the enclosed CD-ROM


Six recordings of six participants

The text which was read by the participants, including the error spots

Six typescripts of participants’ text, questions and answers with marked errors in their pronunciation

Tables used for the analyses in the practical section of this thesis


E Audio CD


E.1 Original text of the excerpt

E.2 Error spots in the original text

E.3 Research Section - Tables

E.4 Speaker 1 – errors

E.5 Speaker 1 – recording

E.6 Speaker 2 – errors

E.7 Speaker 2 – recording

E.8 Speaker 3 – errors

E.9 Speaker 3 – recording

E.10 Speaker 4 – errors

E.11 Speaker 4 – recording

E.12 Speaker 5 – errors

E.13 Speaker 5 – recording

E.14 Speaker 6 – errors



E.15 Speaker 6 – recording



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