English Phonology is the Study of the Sound System

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Srimad Andavan Arts and Science College Department of English Spoken English Guide The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) Objective: Transcribe English speech sounds in the international phonetic alphabet. Transcription Tips: ã Sounds Not Spelling When transcribing words into the IPA, focus on the sounds, not the way that they’re spelled. Say the word aloud. ã Normal (Fast) Speech Be careful not to say the word too slowly and carefully, because that may change some of the sounds. The idea is
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  Srimad Andavan Arts and Science CollegeDepartment of EnglishSpoken English GuideThe International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)   Objective:  Transcribe English speech sounds in the international phoneticalphabet. Transcription Tips: ã Sounds Not Spelling When transcribing words into the IPA, focus on thesounds, not theway that they’re spelled. Say the word aloud.ã Normal (Fast) Speech Be careful not to say the word too slowly andcarefully, becausethat may change some of the sounds. The idea is to transcribe the way youusuallypronounce the word in normal speech.ã IPA Symbols Are Not the Same As Letters An IPA symbol may look likean Englishletter, but represent a different sound than that letter normally does. This isespecially trueof vowels. Note, for example, that [e] is the vowel sound in “say” or “weigh”, not  in“bed” (that would be [  ]).ã Ignore Silent Letters Many English words have silent letters, the “e” at theend of “cape,” for example. Remember, the difference between “cap” and “cape”doesn’t haveto do with the “e”—it’s a different vowel between [k] and [p] (that is, [kæp] vs.[kep]).ã  Your Pronunciation May Vary Even within English, people with differentdialects maypronounce words differently. (Again, this is especially true of vowels!) Theremay bemore than one way to transcribe a word, but there is only one way totranscribe the wordthe way  you say it.ã Use Your Friends If you’re worried that your accent or dialect is too non-standard, or if you can’t tell what sound you’re saying, ask someone else to say the word. If you’reworried about “priming” them to pronounce the word the way you do, writedown theword and have them read it to you. The charts on the following pages give examples of the English consonantsand vowels. Wetranscribed the words into IPA using our own dialect of Standard AmericanEnglish; your  mileage may vary. (The symbols in parentheses show alternative symbols forthe same sound.) Phonetics  Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. PhonologyEnglish phonology is the study of the sound system ( phonology) of the English language. Like many languages, English has wide variation in  pronunciation, bothhistoricallyand from dialect to dialect. In general, however, the major regional dialects of English are mutuallyintelligible.Although there are many dialects of English, the following are usually used as prestige or standard accents: Received Pronunciation for the United Kingdom, General Americanfor the United States, andGeneral Australianfor Australia.The organs of speech This kind of diagram helps us to understand what we observe in others but is less useful in understandingour own speech. Scientists can now place small cameras into the mouths of experimental subjects,and observe some of the physical movements that accompany speech. But most of us move our vocalorgans by reflexes or a sense of the sound we want to produce, and are not likely to benefit fromwatching movement in the vocal fold. The diagram is a simplified cross-section through the human head –which we could not see in reality in a living speaker, though a simulation might be instructive. But we doobserve some external signs of speech sounds apart from what we hear. A few people have the ability tointerpret most of a speaker’s utterances from lip-reading. But many more have a sense of when the lip-movement does or does not correspond to what we hear – we notice this when we watch a feature film withdubbed dialogue, or a TV broadcast where the sound is not synchronized with what we see.The diagram can also prove useful in conjunction with descriptions of sounds – for example indicatingwhere the airflow is constricted to produce fricatives, whether on the palate, the alveolar ridge, the teeth or the teeth and lips together. Speech therapists have a very detailed working knowledge of the physiology of   human speech, and of exercises and remedies to overcome difficulties some of us encounter in speaking,where these have physical causes. An understanding of the anatomy is also useful to various kinds of expert who train people to use their voices in special or unusual ways. These would include singingteachers and voice coaches for actors, as well as the even more specialized coaches who train actors toproduce the speech sounds of hitherto unfamiliar varieties of English or other languages. At a more basiclevel, my French teacher at school insisted that we (his pupils) could produce certain vowel sounds onlywith our mouths more open than we would ever need to do while speaking English. And a literally stiff upper lip is a great help if one wishes to mimic the speech sounds of Queen Elizabeth II.So what happens? Mostly we use air that is moving out of our lungs (pulmonic egressive air) tospeak. We may pause while breathing in, or try to use the ingressive air – but this is likely to produce quietspeech, which is unclear to our listeners. (David Crystal notes how the normally balanced respiratory cycleis altered by speech, so that we breathe out slowly, using the air for speech, and breathe in swiftly, in order to keep talking). In languages other than English, speakers may also use non-pulmonic sound, such asclicks (found in southern Africa) or glottalic sounds (found worldwide). In the larynx, the vocal folds set upvibrations in theegressive air. The vibrating air passes through further cavities which can modify the soundand finally are articulated by the passive (immobile) articulators – the hard palate, the alveolar ridge and theupper teeth – and the active (mobile) articulators. These are the pharynx, the velum (or soft palate), the jawand lower teeth, the lips and, above all, the tongue. This is so important and so flexible an organ, thatlanguage scientists identify different regions of the tongue by name, as these are associated with particular sounds.Working outwards these are:  the back – opposite the soft palate  the centre – opposite the meeting point of hard and soft palate  the front – opposite the hard palate  the blade – the tapering area facing the ridge of teeth  the tip – the extreme end of the tongueThe first three of these (back, centre and front) are known together as the dorsum (which is Latinfor backbone or spine). Phonemes A phoneme is a speech sound that helps us construct meaning. That is, if we replace it withanother sound (where this is possible) we get a new meaning or no meaning at all. A  phonemeis a sound or a group of different sounds which is/are all perceived to have the same function byspeakers of the language or dialect in question. For example, the word sound has four phonemes:the s , the vowel diphthong ou , the n , and the d . Note that a phoneme is a feature of  pronunciation, not of spelling (which in English sometimes does not relate directly to the phonemes that are present: e.g., cough has three phonemes — the initial consonant sound, themonophthong vowel sound aw , and the final consonant sound f ). Allophones Anallophoneis one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds (or  phones) used to  pronounce a single phoneme. For example, the phoneme /t/ is pronounced differently in tonsils than in button , and still differently in cat . All of these t sounds are allophones of the same phoneme. The sounds of English Vowels Monophthongsof Received Pronunciation [4] FrontCentralBack longshortlongshortlongshort  Close i ː ɪ u ː ʊ Mid ɛ ɜ ː ə ɔ ː Open æ ʌ * ɑ ː ɒ Thevowelsof English differ considerably between dialects. Because of this, correspondingvowels may be transcribed with various symbols depending on the dialect under consideration.When considering English as a whole, no specific phonemic symbols are chosen over others;instead,lexical setsare used, each named by a word containing the vowel in question. For example, the vowel of the LOT set ( short o ) is transcribed / ɒ / in Received Pronunciation, / ɔ / inAustralian English, and / ɑ / in General American. For an overview of these diaphonemiccorrespondences, seeIPA chart for English dialects.English has twelve vowel sounds. An alternative way of organizing them is according towhere (in the mouth) they are produced. This method allows us to describe them as front, centraland back. We can qualify them further by how high the tongue and lower jaw are when we makethese vowel sounds, and by whether our lips are rounded or spread, and finally by whether they areshort or long.Front vowels/i:/ - cream, seen (long high front spread vowel)/ ɪ / - bit, silly (short high front spread vowel)/ ɛ / - bet, head (short mid front spread vowel); this may also be shown by the symbol /e//æ/ - cat, dad (short low front spread vowel); this may also be shown by /a/ Central vowels/ ɜ :/- burn, firm (long mid central spread vowel); this may also be shown by the symbol /ə:/./ə/ - about, clever (short mid central spread vowel); this is sometimes known as schwa, or theneutral vowel sound - it never occurs in a stressed position./ ʌ / - cut, nut (short low front spread vowel); this vowel is quite uncommon among speakers inthe Midlands and further north in Britain Back vowels/u:/ - boob, glue (long high back rounded vowel)/ ʊ / - put, soot (short high back rounded vowel); also shown by /u// ɔ :/ - corn, faun (long mid back rounded vowel) also shown by /o:// ɒ /- dog, rotten (short low back rounded vowel) also shown by /o// ɑ :/ - hard, far (long low back spread vowel) Diphthongs English diphthongs RP l  ow /ə ʊ / l  ou d  /a ʊ /
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