Theoretical introduction notes

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English Phonetics and Phonology

© Prof. Juanpe Rica

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INTRODUCTION = PHONETICS VS. PHONOLOGY.
the purpose of the course is to explain how English is pronounced in the accent normally chosen as the standard for people learning the English spoken in the USA: the standard American English (or General American – GenAm). this does not mean that we will not examine other varieties ofEnglish, such as Scottish, Welsh or Irish English or British English (RP – Received Pronunciation). a general theory: this theoretical context is called phonetics and phonology. Pronunciation can be studied from two points of view: a) Phonetics = the study of the way humans make, transmit, and receive speech sounds. It is divided into three main branches: 1. 2. 3. Articulatory Phonetics: The study ofthe way the vocal organs (lips, mouth, larynx, etc) are used to produce speech sounds. Acoustic Phonetics: The study of the physical properties of speech sounds. Auditory Phonetics: The study of the way people perceive speech sounds.

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Phonetics studies all possible sounds that the human vocal apparatus can make. At the phonetic level we study allophones. Allophones can be defined asvariants of each phoneme that: 1. 2. 3. Do not change the meaning of the word. Are all very similar to one another. Occur in phonetic contexts different from one another (syllable initial vs. syllable final). Examples:

[ l ] + a dental sound = health [ helθ ] a fortis plosive + [ l ] = class [ klæs ] [ l ] before consonant sounds or pauses = milk [ mi l k ], wheel [ wi l ] b) Phonology = thedescription of the systems and patterns that occur in a language. Phonology studies only the sounds (phonemes) which make differences of meaning within a language. Examples: pet vs. put sat vs. cat /e/ /s/ vs. vs. /u/ /k/

Phonemes can be defined as the smallest contrastive phonological unit which can produce a difference in meaning As a general rule, the wrong choice of phonemes may lead to adifferent meaning; the wrong use of allophones will only lead to a foreign accent – or another dialect.

0. Introduction

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English Phonetics and Phonology

© Prof. Juanpe Rica

DIALECTS AND ACCENTS IN ENGLISH.
We readily notice regional differences in the way people talk, and although we may be unable to describe these differences in technical ways, we have no difficulty in responding tothem intuitively, laughing at dialect jokes, for example. Regional accent = refers to the features of pronunciation which convey information about a person’s geographical origin. Example: “hold” / hauld / vs. / auld / dropping the h

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Regional dialect = refers to features of grammar and vocabulary which convey information about a person’s geographical origin. Example: I’ll visit in the fallThey real good vs. vs. I’ll visit in the autumn. They are really good.

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It is possible to have a regional accent and yet speak a dialect which conveys nothing about geographical origin, as in the case of Standard English.

PHONOLOGICAL VARIABILITY IN THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE.
variability in the sound system is the presence of alternate pronunciations of the same word or phrase. It can beseen in every aspect of phonology: vowels, consonants, stress, intonation. the goal of teaching pronunciation is to teach students an acceptable phonology: any of the ways that groups of educated native speakers of English regularly pronounce English words is acceptable. Implications: 1. 2. 3. 4. to teach our students to use an acceptable pronunciation. uneducated speech is unacceptable. educatedvariability is acceptable. allowing learners to use any educated variant does not lead learners to develop an unnatural speech.

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Standard English is the variety of English which we teach as a S or FL to speakers of other languagues or dialects. However, what is standard English pronounciation? There is little uniformity or homogeneity in the way standard English is pronounced across the...
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