UNIT 2
THE
PRONUNCIATION OF
ENGLISH
POEM OF ENGLISH

Dearest creature in creation,
Study English pronunciation.
I will teach you in my verse
Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
I will keep you, Suzy, busy,
Make your head with heat grow dizzy.
Tear in eye, your dress will tear.
So shall I! Oh hear my prayer.
(follows)

Just compare heart, beard, and heard,
Dies and diet, lord and word,
Sword and sward, retain and Britain.
(Mind the latter, how it's written.)
Now I surely will not plague you
With such words as plaque and ague.
But be careful how you speak:
Say break and steak, but bleak and streak;
Cloven, oven, how and low,
Script, receipt, show, poem, and toe.
(follows)
 Finally,
which rhymes with enough
tough, through, plough, or dough,
or cough?
Hiccough has the sound of cup.
My advice is to give up!
GENERAL ISSUES




COMPLEX NATURE OF THE ENGLISH
PHONOLOGICAL SYSTEM
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN ENGLISH AND
ITALIAN SOUNDS
VARIETY OF ENGLISH ACCENTS
therefore
A KNOWLEDGE OF PHONETICS AND
PHONOLOGY IS EXPECTED FROM
UNIVERSITY STUDENTS AND WILL PROVE
TO BE BENEFICIAL TO THEIR
PRONUNCIATION SKILLS
ACCENTS OF ENGLISH:
NATIVE, ‘NATIVESED’, FOREIGN
Accent: the way in which a language is
pronounced in a specific geographical area
 native: UK , Australia, New Zealand, USA
and Canada
 ‘nativised’: where English is a second
language (e.g. India)
 foreign: where English is a foreign language
(e.g. Europe, China)
The British and the Americans are
“divided by a common language”
TWO STANDARDS OF PRONUNCIATION
(Compare the BBC and CNN News):
RECEIVED PRONUNCIATION, RP, OR
BBC ENGLISH
GENERAL AMERICAN
Phonetics and phonology
Phonetics: studies the physical
characteristics of sounds
Phonology: describes the
organization of the sound system
of a language
The articulators
Graphemes and phonemes

grapheme: a letter of the alphabet (a
discrete mark in writing or print) <t>

phoneme: a distinctive sound in a
language capable of creating a distinction
in meaning between two words /d/ dog
/l/ log /f/ fog
International Phonetic Alphabet
(IPA)



a set of symbols used for representing the
phonemes and sounds of all languages
the phonetic transcription of words is
provided by bilingual and monolingual
dictionaries
phoneme symbols are enclosed within
slant brackets // whereas the phonetic
transcription of words is enclosed in
square brackets []
TWO USEFUL WEBSITES

http://www.bbc.co.uk/worldservice/learningengli
sh/grammar/pron/sounds/
the website of the BBC World Service

http://www.langsci.ucl.ac.uk/ipa/
The website of The International Phonetic
Association (IPA)
No one-to-one correspondence
between graphemes and phonemes







<c> e.g. cut, nice, ocean
/k/ in ‘cut’ []
/s/ in ‘nice’ []
// in ‘ocean’ []
<o> e.g. come , home
// in ‘come’ []
// in ‘home’ []
Silent graphemes












castle, Christmas, often
<t>
know, knock
<k>
walk, talk, folk
<l>
in write, wrong
<w>
debt, bomb, doubt
<b>
psychology , psalm
<p>
Homophones and homographs




‘aloud’( ad alta voce) and ‘allowed’ (consentito)
[]
homophones:
words
orthographically
different but phonetically identical
- lead [] (condurre), lead []
(piombo) - tear [] (lacrima), tear
[] (strappare)
homographs:
words
orthographically
identical but phonetically different
English phonology
 segmental:
describes the phonemes
of a language and the way they
combine
 suprasegmental: describes the units
larger than the phonemes
(syllables, rhythm groups and
intonation phrases)
Phonemes and minimal pairs


phoneme: a distinctive sound in a language
capable of creating a distinction in meaning
between two words
/s/ // and /t/  sit [sit]
 set [set]  sat [st]
minimal pairs: a pair of words which differ only
by one phoneme
kit [kt]  cat [kt]  cot [kt]  caught
[kt]
pane [pane]  cane [cane]  rane
[rane]  vane[vane]
PHONEMES AND ALLOPHONES
allophone: the different realisations of the same
phoneme in different contexts e.g. /t/
- aspiration: top []
- affrication: train []
- Not fully audible: set [ ]
- clear /l/: lip []
- dark [] (accompanied by back resonance) in
syllable final position as in ‘hill’ [] or before
another consonant as in ‘milk’ []
THE GAP BETWEEN SPELLING AND
PRONUNCIATION IN ENGLISH

THE ENGLISH ALPHABET IS
MADE OF 26 LETTERS

THE ENGLISH PHONOLOGICAL
SYSTEM (in RP) IS MADE OF 43
PHONEMES
THE ENGLISH ALPHABET
26 LETTERS
abcdefghijklm
nopqrstuvwxy
z
THE ENGLISH SOUNDS:
43 PHONEMES
Vowels:          
 
Diphthongs:     , ,
, 
Consonants: p b  f v   t d    
      k g   w
THE ENGLISH SOUND SYSTEM:
43 PHONEMES
Vowels:  (bit)  (meet)  (test)  (bad)  (are) 
(but)
 (sorry)  (walk)  (book)  (pool)  (girl)
(=schwa)
Diphthongs:  (I)  (day)  (boy)  ( house)
u (go),  (dear) ,  (chair),  (poor)
Consonants: p b  f v  (both)  (this) t d     
(show)  (pleasure)  (chicken)  (jam)   k g
 (ring) 
VOWELS AND CONSONANTS
WHAT IS THE DIFFERENCE
BETWEEN
VOWELS
and
CONSONANTS ?
VOWELS, DYPHTHONGS,
CONSONANTS
VOWELS are oral, voiced and egressive sounds
produced without any obstruction to the
airstream coming from the lungs
DIPHTHONGS are oral, voiced, egressive
glides from one vowel to another vowel uttered
with the same emission of sound
CONSONANTS are sounds produced with an
egressive flow of air coming out of the mouth or
the nose accompanied by obstruction or friction
in the articulators
Vowels
/       
   []= schwa/
Short vowels

rich, English, live, busy, women, build

test, bread, friend, says, bury, guest

bad, have, January, thank, marry

spot, what, orange, holiday, sorry, wash

must, done, love, sun, son, month, London,
country, blood, enough

bush, butcher, pudding, woman, wolf,
book, could
Long vowels

after, father, are, party

church, girl, early, work, world, journal

meet, dream, please, ski, people

walk
wall, caught, daughter, bought, law,

pool, who, move, tomb, through, fruit
THE ENGLISH VOWELS




The distance between
the tongue and the
palate: open, halfopen, close
The part of the tongue
that is raised: front,
central, back
The length: long (
tense), short ( lax)
The position of the
lips: rounded, neutral,
spread
Minimal pairs with vowels




pan


pot
fit
slip
sin
feet
sleep
seen
sad
pen
sat
said
spot
port
set
cot
sport
caught
Diphthongs

a diphthong is an oral, voiced, egressive glide from
one vowel to another vowel uttered with the same
emission of sound

the first element is normally more audible than the
second

closing diphthongs:     
centring diphthongs: , , 


triphthongs:

, , , ,
Closing diphthongs

great
late, baby, rain, reign, they,

life, I, night, die, eye, buy

boy, joy, coin, choice, moist

house, shout, about, down

go, so, don’t, home, road, soul
Centring diphthongs

dear, idea, beard, beer, here

share, Mary, area, wear, chair, their,
there, where
 poor, insure, plural, jury
Minimal pairs with diphthongs
 ball
 bowl
saw
so
call
coal
born
bone
 were
where
fur
fair
bur
bear
bird
bared
Non-phonemic symbols

schwa [] central, short sound
it occurs only in unstressed syllables
It is a word of Hebrew origin, referring to a weak
or missing vowel sound
[i] and [u] represent the long phonemes // and
// in unstressed position
e.g. happy [], react []
you [], situation []
Group these words according to the pronunciation of
the grapheme <a>: car, all, radio, lake, map, again,
final, start, today, hand, small
[]……………………………………………
[] …………………………………………..
[] …………………………………………..
[] ……………………………………………
[] ……………………………………………
answers
[] map, hand
[] car, start
[] radio, lake, today
[] all, small
[] again, final
CONSONANTS
ORAL ( the air through the mouth)
most consonants are oral
but three are
NASAL ( the air through the nose) i.e
/m/ mouse
/n/ no
/ / sing
Consonants can be classified
according to
PLACE OF ARTICULATION e.g. Bilabial
/p/ pen, /b/, bull, /m/ man
MANNER OF ARTICULATION e.g. Plosives
/t/ top, /k/ cat, /d/ do, /g/ get
VOICING consonants can be voiced or voiceless
depending on the vibration or otherwise of the
vocal cords e.g. /s/ versus /z/
UNUSUAL IPA SYMBOLS
(FOR ITALIANS)
both , father
// //
dental fricatives
shop, pleasure,
//
//
palato-alveolar fricatives
China, John
// // palato-alveolar affricates
Sing, playing
//
velar nasal
hall, hell
/h/
glottal fricative
Manner of articulation
 plosives:
p b t d k g
 fricatives: f v       
 
 affricates:  
 liquids:
 
 semi-vowels (or approximants): 

 nasals:
Place of articulation








bilabial:
labiodental:
dental:
alveolar:
palato-alveolar:
palatal:
velar:
glottal:
p b
f v

t d    
    

k g 

Consonant minimal pairs



tin
thin
taught
thought
trill
thrill



sip
zip
niece
knees
ice
eyes


sin
sing
ban
bang
ran
rang

Voicing
vibration of the vocal cords inside the
larynx
 the voiceless consonant phonemes are:
/, , , , , , , /
the voiced consonant phonemes are:

/, , , , , , , , , , ,
, , /



inflections: [] after a voiceless consonant, [] after a vowel or a voiced
consonant, [] after a fricative or affricate sound
e.g. books [], claps []
trees [], pens [penz],
buses //, washes //
Syllabic consonants

a syllabic consonant occurs as the nucleus of
syllables
e.g. //
couple [], middle [],
able [],
//
listen [], rotten [],
sudden []
The semivowels /w/ and /j/
They are phonetically similar to vowels, but
phonologically they behave like consonants
because they precede vowels in syllables and
require the indefinite article “a” rather than
“an”.
e.g. A young man /j/
a wet carpet /w/
/r/: rhoticity and r-linking



in RP only pre-vocalic /r/ is pronounced,
whereas post-vocalic /r/ is silent:
red [], arrive []
car [], hard []
r-linking: in RP if a word ending with silent /r/
is followed by another word beginning with a
vowel, the /r/ is pronounced to link the two
words
e.g. the car is parked in the street

[
]
in American English the [r] is always
pronounced
English / Italian phonemes in
contrast
long/short vowels opposition
leave [] vs live []
 “I want to leave” and “I want to live”
 laxness: the pronunciation of the six short vowel
with little tension in the articulators /, , , ,
 aspiration: in plosives  pain []
tea [], [h]  hotel []

English / Italian phonemes in
contrast



non-voicing of syllable initial [] + consonant
e.g. small [], slim [], snail [], swim
[]  [*, *, *, *]
inflections: [] after a voiceless consonant, [] after a
vowel or a voiced consonant, [] after a fricative or
affricate sound
e.g. books [], claps []
trees [], pens [penz], needs //
buses //, washes //
Failing to aspirate /h/ at the beginning of stressed
syllables
e.g. art should non be confused with heart
English / Italian phonemes in
contrast



dental fricatives, which are very frequent in English, e.g
definite articles and demonstratieves /, / thriller 
[*]
non-voicing of syllable initial [] + consonant
e.g. small [], slim [], snail [], swim
[]  [*, *, *, *]
inflections: [] after a voiceless consonant, [] after a
vowel or a voiced consonant, [] after a fricative or
affricate sound
e.g. books [], claps []
trees [], pens [penz], needs //
buses //, washes //
Pronunciation of the regular past
tense.-ed
e.g.

liked
lived
needed
wanted
]
[]
[]
[]
regular past tense and past participle
inflections <-ed>  []after a
voiceless consonant, [] after a vowel
or a voiced consonant, [] after [t]
and [d]
Sentences in phonetic transcription
[
]
I’d like to take up French next year
[
]
We liked the atmosphere in that club
[
]
Our flight was very late
[
The syllable
a phonological unit made up of one or more
phonemes. A minimum syllable is made of a
vowel (V). The most common syllable in English
is made by Consonant+Vowel+Consonant
V
CV 
VC 
CVC 
are
tea
arm
did
[]
[]
[]
[]
SYLLABLES IN ENGLISH AND IN ITALIAN


closed syllables end in a consonant and are
the most common in English (60%)
e.g. stop, get, bed
open syllables end in a vowel and they are
the most common in Italian (70%)
e.g. Cane, camera, figlio
Italian speakers tend to add a vowel sound at the
end of English closed syllables
e.g. book [bʊkə] rather than [bʊk]
Stress


The prominence given to a syllable
in phonetic transcription stress is indicated by a
vertical line (stress mark) preceding the
stressed syllable. Polysyllabic words may have a
primary and a secondary stress
[]

happiness

newspaper []
Stress patterns – 2 syllables


TYPE   (strong + weak)
e.g. money
[]
river
[]
breakfast []
TYPE   (strong + strong)
e.g. background
[]
phoneme
[],
pillow
[]
Stress patterns – 2 syllables


TYPE   (weak + strong)
e.g. result
[]
report
[]
believe
[]
TYPE   (strong + strong)
e.g. although []
myself
[]
tycoon
[]
Stress shift

predicative
my son is fourteen
[]

attributive
I lost fourteen pounds
[]

digest
[]
[]
to digest
Stress patterns – 3 syllables

TYPE    (strong + weak + weak)
e.g. family [], manager
[]

TYPE    (strong+weak+strong)
e.g. telephone [], summertime
[]

the suffix -ate is always strong in verbs but weak in
adjectives and nouns
Stress pattern – 3 syllables

TYPE    (strong + strong + weak)
e.g. newspaper []
[]

TYPE    (weak + strong + weak)
e.g. remember [] agreement
[]

TYPE    (strong + strong + weak)
e.g. sensation [] unhealthy
[]

TYPE    (strong + weak + strong)
grandmother
Stress and suffixes

Germanic rule: stress on the first syllable
answer [] vs Romance rule: stress
on the penultimate or final syllable reply
[]

suffixes carrying stress
-ee
addressee
[]
Stress and suffixes

suffixes that are not stressed (stress is left on
the root word):
-ful
wonderful
[]
-less
meaningless
-ment
development
[]
[]

suffixes that assign stress to the penultimate
syllable:
-ic
economic
Underline the word which does not have the same stress
pattern in the lists below.

trouble
Britain
cigar
jingle
poker

alone
perhaps
respect
Turkey
deny

colleague
outline
someone
control
Monday

upstairs
divert
goodbye
thirteen
freedom

president
dictation
Arabic
diplomat
visitor

imitate
photograph glorify
wonderful
obedient

newsreader important
grandfather homecoming headhunter

vacation
sincerely
suspicion
professor
library

vibration
lefthanded
dangerous
unlikely
organic
ANSWERS.

trouble
Britain
cigar
jingle
poker

alone
perhaps
respect
Turkey
deny

colleague
outline
someone
control
Monday

upstairs
divert
goodbye
thirteen
freedom

president
dictation
Arabic
diplomat
visitor

imitate
photograph glorify
wonderful
obedient

newsreader important
grandfather homecoming headhunter

vacation
sincerely
suspicion
professor
library

vibration
lefthanded
dangerous
unlikely
organic
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