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Phonetics&Phonology (phonetics&phonology.doc)

Phonetics– is the study of sound in human language. The basic unit of phonetics is the sound. Phonetics is further subdivided into:


1)Articulatory phonetics– studies movements of the tongue, lips and other speech organs.

2)Acoustic phonetics– studies physical nature of the speech signs.3)Auditory phonetics– studies how the ear receives the speech signal.


Phonology– is the study of the selection and patterns of sounds in a single language. The basic unit of phonology is the phoneme.


Accent– several ways in which the language can be pronounced by people from different geographical places, social classes, ages and educational background.


Dialect– covers variation in grammar and vocabulary.


Variety– all aspects, pronounciation, grammar, vocabulary (regional, social variation)


Received Pronounciation (RP)– variety of English pronounciation in the British Isles, prestige accent, connected with monarchy, model of pure English. Also called BBC English, Oxford English or the Queen´s English.


Non–Regional Pronounciation (NRP)- without social connotation, neutral type of modern English. The present-day variation to be heard from educated middle and younger generation.


Phonemes (44),

Consonants (24),

Vowels (20) - Short (7)

Long (5)

Diphthongs (8)


Happy  vowel /happi/- linked with duration of pronounciation, in this case i is not long as long i and not so short as short i.


R – rotic (AmE), non-rotic (BrE), thrilled (SVK)


Minimal pair– pair of words which differ in one sound only and have different meaning


Estuary English(EE)- term coined by David Rosewane in 1984. Compromise between traditional RP and popular London slang (or Cockney). Estuary English will in the future become the new prestige accent of British English.


Fyziology- how the sound is produced in the human body.


Basic phonetics : L-glottalisation (shelf, middle), T –glottal stop (football)


Speech Production:

1) Respiration  

2) Phonation  

3) Modification


Respiration- the basic condition for the production of speech is the air stream. During speech production the expiratory air stream expelled from the lungs. The expiratory air stream is further processed from lungs to the bronchi, then to the trachea, and finally to the larynx.


Lungs– initiator of air stream located in the rib cage

Trachea– wind pipe

Larynx– vocal cords located here, made up of 4 cartillages and muscles


Phonation– the phonation starts in the larynx (voice box). If the vocal folds vibrate we will hear the sound that we call voicing or phonation.


Basic phonation position– is established by closing the glottis. The vocal folds are closed and the expiratory air stream becomes blocked in the subglottal space. The compressed air overcomes the elasticity of the muscles and the glottis is opened. The expiratory air stream escapes from the subglottal to the supraglottal cavities. The activity of the vocal folds are repeated duting the phonation, this is called vocal folds vibration.


A states of vocal folds:


1) wide apart– for normal breathing and for voiceless consonants like: p,f,s.

2) narrow glottis– small opening, voiceless glottal fricative: h

3) vocal fold vibration– the edges of the vocal folds are touching each other or nearly touching, air passing through the glottis will cause vibration– vowels.

4) vocal folds tightly closed– the vocal folds can be firmly pressed together so that air cannot pass between them. When this happens we call it a glottal stop or glottal plosive.


Glottis– the space between the vocal folds. During breathing the glottis is open. During phonation the arytenoid cartillages and vocal folds are held closer together.


Modification- in the supraglottal cavities the expiratory air stream is further modified.


Supraglottal cavities– vocal tract ends in the mouth, from larynx air stream goes to the pharynx, then to the oral (mouth) cavity and finally to the nasal cavity.


Pharynx– is a tube which begins just above the larynx. Is not variable in shapes, Its dimensions can be altered by raising the larynx or by raising the soft palate. From pharynx air goes to oral cavity.


Articulators- different parts of the vocal tract


Passive– maxilla (upper jaw), teeth (upper, lower), alveolar ridge, hard palate, upper lip (more passive than lower lip)


Active– tongue (tip, blade, front, back, root), mandibolla (lower jaw), lower lip, soft palate


Articulation- in the narrower sense indicates the activity of the speech organs in the oral cavity, implying also phonation since the participation of the vocal folds plays important role. In broader sense is understood as the coordinated activity of all 3 component parts (respiration, phonation, modification) as an interrelated process of sound production.


Lips– upper is passive, lower is active. The positions of the lips could be:

1) rounded (o)

2) spread (e)

3) neutral (a)


Nasal cavity– its primary function is that of a resonator. Nasality is the term used for the modification within the nasal cavity. The nasal cavity participates in articulation through the soft palate:

1) raised– prevents the air straem from passing to the nasal cavity (oral sounds)

2) lowered– enabling the expiartory air stream to pass to the nasal cavity (nasal sounds: m,n, velar n)


Acoustic aspect of speech production


Sound- is formed by means of the vibration of air molecules and is transmitted in sound waves.

Voice- comes into existence on the basis of vocal fold vibration


Periodic vibration- of the vocal cords gives rise tone

Aperiodic vibration- results in the production of noise


Vowels- are represented by tones.

Consonants- some of them are noises accompanied by tones, other consonants are mere noises.


Tone- is characterized by 3 basic qualities:

1) pitch- is given by the frequency of the vibration of the vocal folds in cycles per second.

2) intensity- of a sound is the amount of energy transmitted through the air.

3) timbre- is given by the composition of the tone.


Auditory aspect of speech production


The ear has 3 major functions:

1) collect

2) transmit

3) analyze


The ear is subdivided into the:

1) outer ear

2) inter ear

3) inner ear


Speech sounds are percieved in 4 categories:

1) pitch

2) loudness

3) quality

4) length


Classification of sounds- based on the following 3 criterias

1) production- determines the articulatory characteristics

2) transmission- covers the acoustic characteristics

3) reception- established the auditory characteristics


Phonetically :

Vowel- is a type of sound depending largely on very slight variation of tongue position. Tone of free cavity.

Consonant- is a type of sounds which is most easily described in terms of articulation, the contacts and movements of two articulatory organs. Noise at the place of obstruction.


                                   INRODUCTION TO PHONOLOGY


Phoneme– complex of phonic features (articulatory, acoustic, auditory), which enables the user to differentiate a certain sound, on the basis of the complex of features, from every other sound as an independent, non-interchangeable unit capable of meaningful distinction. Phonemes are abstract units based on the generalization of the basic, for the given language, characteristic qualities of certain types of sounds. Each sound realization has different time and conditions.


Features of phonemes:

1) relevant features– the presence of which enables the phonemes to distinguish the meaning of words, these features are called distinctive features.

2) irrelevant features– not capable of distinguishing meaning, they are just allophones – variants of phonemes.


Subsystem of English consonantal phoneme - CONSONANTS


Articulatory point of view – consonant is the type of blockage in the air stream and contacts of the articulatory organs.


1) Place of articulation

2) Manner of articulation

3) Acoustic impression

4) Position of the soft palate


1) Place of articulation:

Bilabial- p,b,m

Labiodental- f,v

Dental- th, d

Alveolar- t,d,s,z,n,l,

Palato-alveolar (post-alveolar)- š,ž,tš,dž

Palatal- j

Velar- k,g,velar n

Glottal- h


2) Manner of articulation:

Plosive- p,b,t,d,k,g

Fricative- f,v,th,d,s,z,š,ž,h

Affricate- tš,dž

Nasal- m,,n, velar n

Lateral- l

Approximant- w,r,j


MANNER of Articulation – Stricture type


Stricture –kind of narrowing of vocal tract that effects airstream


  1. Complete Closure – forms an obstruction that blocks air stream
  2. Close approximation – form narrowing giving rise to friction
  3. Open approximation – forms no obstruction, but change shape of vocal tract, thus eltering nature of resonance.


A) COMPLETE CLOSURE – (stops, nasals, thrills and taps)

1) STOPS (occlusives) – complete closure of vocal tract which block the air stream, that´s why we are call it stops. Soft palate raised, no escape of air trough nose, that´s why they are called oral consonants. Compressed air can be released:

a) part quickly – releasing the air with explosive force. Sound made in this way are termed plosives (p,t,k,b,d,g)

b) part relatively slowly – producing homoorganic friction (at the same point of articulation). Sounds made in this way are termed affricates (tš, dž) – semi occlusives

2) NASALS – soft palate is lowered, allowing air to escape through nose, nasals are normally voiced (m,n,velar n)


Tap- single rapid percussive movement

Trills- alveolar and uvular, more percussive movements

a) Alveolar- tip of the tongue touches alveolar ridge

b) Uvular- when uvular strikes the back of the tongue



Fricatives – when articulators are close to each other, but do not make complete closure. The air stream then passes trough narrowing and producing audible hiss like friction. (f,v,s,z,th,d,š,ž,h)



Centrals – (approximants) – no audible friction, no obstruction (w,j,r -semivowels)

Laterals – (l) – air stream escapes from both sides of tongue.


Phonological opposition- mutual relations between two phonemes, established according to their similarities and differences.

Phonological opposition of:

1) tension

2) voice

3) continuance

4) compactness

5) stridency

6) nasality


1) Phonological opposition of tension- according to the presence vs. absence of muscular tension during articulation:

fortis– voiceless- p,t,k,f,th,s,š

lenis– voiced- b,d,g,v,d,z,ž



  1. articulation is stronger and more energetive
  2. more muscular effort and greater breath pulse
  3. articulation is voiceless
  4. p,t,k when initial in a stress syllable have a strong aspiration
  5. vowels before fortis consonants are shorter
  6. fortis syllable could be glottal stop


  1. articulation is weaker, less muscular effect and less breath force
  2. articulation may have voice
  3. b,d,g, are unaspirated
  4. before lenis consonants are full vowels
  5. no glottal stop


2) Phonological opposition of voice- according to the participation vs. non-participation of the vocal folds in articulation:

voiced- participation of the vocal folds in articulation

voiceless- non-participation of the vocal folds in articulation


3) Phonological opposition of continuance- is established on the basis of the presence vs. absence of the interrupted air stream. According to the opposition of continuance we distinguish 2 types of consonants:


1) continuants-        1a)voiced continuants

1b)unvoiced continuants


2) stops-        2a)voiced stops

2b)unvoiced stops  


4) Phonological opposition of compactness- based on the closer vs. looser distribution of formants in the spectrum: s-š,z-ž


5) Phonological opposition of stridency- found in English in pairs: th-s,d-z. The former members of the pairs are characterized a greater inteensity of noise (marked members), while the latter members contain a lesser degree of noise (unmarked members).


6) Phonological opposition of nasality- in English can be found in the 3 consonantal pairs: b-m,d-n,g-velar n. The former members of the pairs do not imponant the distinctive feature of nasality, the latter members of the pairs do imponant the distinctive feature of nasality.


PLOSIVESp,t,k,b,d,g are articulated by means of a complete stoppage in the air stream. In this way a compression of air is brought about, and the pressure causes a sudden release of air through a tense opening of the air stream passage.


1) Closure phase – articulators form a closure

2) Hold phase – the compressed air is stopped

3) Release phase – the stricture gives way and the air is allowed out

4) Post-release phase – acoustic effect and also an effect on the following sound


VOT – voice onset time – time when voicing is coming into being, could be delayed because of aspiration (p,t,k)


Aspiration – a period during which air escapes through the vocal folds making a sound like h. Aspiration occurs when fortis plosives are initial in a stressed syllable (p,t,k)

- com ´petitor – there is aspiration in stressed syllable, starting with  (p,t,k)

competent – no aspiration, cause there is no stressed syllable starting on p,t,k


Cluster – group of consonants. When initial cluster started with s (spoon, school), in this case aspiration is absent


GRE – Glottal Reinforcement (glottalisation, pre-glottalisation)

  1. typical feature of plosives and stops
  2. english syllable final fortis stops are accompanied by reinforcing glottal stop at or before the whole stage      
  3. this is one of the most significant markers of final fortis stops in English.
  4. e.g.(football)
  5. when fortis consonant is followed after vowel, this vowel is shortened


NASALS – (m,n,velar n) from the articulatory point of view, these phonemes correspond to some extent to oral plosives. The basic difference lies in the way air escapes from the larynx. It does not pass through the mouth, but escapes through the nose. Nasal consonants are continuants because the air stream can freely escape through the nasal cavity during their articulation. Velar n is an independent phoneme, which is capable of distinguishing the meaning of the word. (in slovak it is only allophone), never appears in the initial position of the word,frequent in the medial position.

Spelling groups:

nk - k is always pronounced (link, ink, rank)

ng - sometimes pronounced without g and sometimes with g

  1. withhout g – if it occurs on the boundary of two morphemes (singer)
  2. with g (finger) – we can´t divide into morphemes. Comparative and superlative forms are exception  to this rule. In spite of morphological boundaries, g is usually pronounced (long -longer -longest)


LATERALS– from the articulatory point of view, laterals are articulated by means of a partial closure. The air escapes along the sides of the tongue. We can distinguish 3 basic allophones of this phoneme:

1) clear l– articulated in the front part of the oral cavity and resembles a vowel, with the front of the tongue is raised, it occurs before vowels and before the semi-vowel (j)

2) dark l– articulated in the back part of the oral cavity, with the back of the tongue raised, it occurs after a  vowel, before or after a consonant (meal)

3) devoiced l – occurs after fortis plosives p,t,k in a stressed syllable (plain, claim), this effect is similar to aspiration when a vowel follows, the first part of vowel is devoiced.


AFFRICATES (semi-occlusives)- are characterized by a closure which is immidiately replaced by a narrowing. Acoustically no plosion occurs, but the release of the air causes friction.(tš,dž)


VOWELS– all vowels are voiced sounds, formed by no obstruction in the air flow, no fortis vs. lenis contrast, articulators do not touch each other, there is a considerable space between, all vowels are approximants, the most important articulator in vowel production is the tongue.


Physical variables of vowels:

1) tongue shape

2) lip shape

3) tongue and or lip shape held constant or undergo change (pure vowel or diphthong)

4) position of soft palate


Non – physical variables:

1) duration – duration of sound



  1. tongue hight – how close the tongue is to the roof of the mouth
  2. when the tongue is lower, the oral cavity decreases and opens in size
  3. if the upper part of the tongue is close to the roof of the mouth, then sounds are called close vowels
  4. if oral cavity is open with the tongue far away from the roof of the mouth, then sounds are called open vowels
  5. cardinal vowel scheme – invented in 1917 by Daniel Jones


Upper vowel limit – beyond this point can´t reach palate

Lower vowel limit – limit beyond which tongue cannot be depressed


VOWELS –pure vowels (steady-state vowels) and diphthongs


20 vocalic sounds – 7 relatively short vowels, 5 relatively long, 3 closing diphthongs ending in i, 2 closing diphthongs ending with u, 3 centring diphthongs ending in schwa


Glide – movement from one vowel to the second one

Steady State Vowel – no glide, no movement from one vowel to second one, we can divide them into checked and free.

  1. Checked – relatively short pure vowels
  2. Free – relatively long pure vowels
  3. Free diphthong – regarded also relatively long


Checked – cannot occur in word final stressed open syllable position (tea –tí, cant be ti), they are definitely shorter than free vowels


Schwa – is separate pohneme, do not appear in a checked or free vowel clasification


Open syllable – ends with a vowel

Closed syllable – ends with a consonant


Closing Diphthongs

Backing – when the second component is (u), glide to back vowel: au,schwa+u

Fronting – when the second component is (I), glide to front vowel: ei,ai,oi

Centring Diphtong – glide to central position, ending component is schwa:  i+schwa,e+schwa,u+schwa


                                                THE SYLLABLE


Syllable – unit in language

  1. minimal syllable – consist of 1 phoneme
  2. combination of phoneme within syllable is called phonotactics
  3. each syllable has to have a vowel (nucleus)
  4. syllable consist of     onset + nucleus + coda
  5. there are syllables which have zero onset and zero coda
  6. maximum onset consonants in syllable in English is 3
  7. maximum coda consonants in syllable in English is 4
  8. consonant cluster – 2 or more consonants


Structure of syllable :



  1. pre – initial : s
  2. initial – any consonant
  3. post initial : l, r, w, j



  1. vowel



  1. pre – final – s,l, m,n velar n
  2. final – any consonant
  3. post – final – s, z, t, d, th
  4. post – final – s, z, t, d, th
  5. post – final – s, z, t, d, th


final coda consonant – if only one consonant in coda


Aspects of connected speech


Stressed-time rhythm (English)- stressed syllables appear at relatively regular intervals whether they are separated by unstressed syllable or not.

Syllable-timed rhythm (Slovak)- all syllables whether they are stressed or unstressed, they tend to occur at regular time intervals.