Ответы на экзамен по практической фонетике английского языка - файл n1.doc

Ответы на экзамен по практической фонетике английского языка
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  1. Phonetics as a linguistic science.

Phonetics is a linguistic science, consisting of two major components: pronunciation and intonation. To improve them you must know exactly, how to make English sounds. You must have a sharpness of ear and the ability of imitation plus hard practice in listening and learning. To speak standard English you must avoid phonetic mistakes, when English sounds are substituted (подменяться) by similar Russian sounds or other English sounds.

Phonetics is a basic branch of linguistic, because it place a great role in the processes of communication (when a man conveys a massage and then gets information in return).

Quite often mistakes in intonation may be a cause of comprehension problems (polite require LR). “Give me the salt, please”, pronounced with LF, sound categoric. So we must know peculiarities of English not to get into confusing situation.

Sounds are pronounced due to the organs of speech, special position and movements of which during sound pronunciation is called articulation. The change of the voice tone is called intonation.

  1. Classification of sounds.


Consonants are sounds, where noise prevails (доминирует) over tone. Such sounds may be pronounced with or without vocal cords vibration. Consonants are made with air stream that meets an obstruction in the mouse or nasal cavities.

On the articulatory level consonants change:

Noise consonants may vary in the degree of force articulation. Voiceless consonants are produced with more muscular energy and breath effort, that`s why they are fortis. Voiced (lenis) consonants are produced with weak breath effort.

Sonorants (sonorous consonants) are produced with tone prevailing over noise: l, m, n, ?, j (й), r, w.

Occlusive are sounds, where air stream meets complete obstruction. Occlusive noise consonants are called stops because the breath is completely stopped and then it is released (выпускается) with an explosion (пуск). Noise consonants are divided into voiced (d, b, g) and voiceless (t, p, k). Sonorants (m, n, ?) are also made with complete obstruction.

During the pronunciation of constrictive consonants the air stream meets incomplete obstruction. Noise are called fricatives, because air stream goes through the narrowing with friction. Fricatives also differ in the work of vocal cords (voiced: z, ?, v, з, voiceless: s, ?, f, ?, h) and in the degree of force articulation (lenis, fortis). Sonorants: l, r, w, j.

Affricates are noise consonants, which pronounced with friction (dз, t?).

Lingual consonants are classified into forelingual, mediolingual and backlingual. Forelingual are articulated with the tip of the tongue. They may be: interdental, dental, alveolar, post-alveolar, palato-alveolar. Interdental sounds are made with the tip of the tongue between the teeth: ?, ?. Dental sounds are produced with the blade (скольжение) of the tongue against the teeth, there are no dentals in English. Alveolars are articulated with the tip of the tongue against the alveolar ridge: t, d, s, z, n, l. Post-alveolars are mad when the tip of the tongue touches the back part of the alveohlar ridge or is behind it: r. Palato-alveolars are made, when the front part of the tongue raised towards the hard palate and the tip of the tongue touches the alveohlar ridge: dз, t?, з, ?.

Mediolinguals are articulated with the front part of the tongue: j. Backimguals (are also called velars) are articulated with the back part of the tongue raised to the soft palate: k, g, ?.

Glottal consonant [h] is articulated in the glottis (голосовая щель).


On the articulatory level vowels are divided:

In the stability of articulation. According to the stability of articulation all English vowels are divided into three groups: monophthongs, diphthongs and diphthongoids.

In monophthongs vowels the articulation is almost unchanging. The English monophthongs are: i, e, ǽ, a:, o, o:, u, A, ә:, ә (большинство русских).

In the pronunciation of diphthongoids the articulation is slightly changing, but the difference between the starting point and the end is not so distinct as in the diphthongs. English diphthongoids are: i, u (о – в русском).

In the pronunciation of diphthongs the organs of speech glide from one vowel position to another within one syllable. The starting point is strong and distinct. The glide is very weak. The English diphthongs are: ei, ai, oi, au, ou, iә, еә, uә (в русском нет).

1) When the tongue moves forward and backward, different parts of it may be raised to the palate. When the tongue is in front part of the mouth and the front part of it is raised to the hard palate, we pronounce front vowels (such as i:, i, e, әe).

When the tongue is in the back part of the mouth and the back part of it is raised towards the soft palate a back vowel is pronounced: a:, o, o:, u, u:.

When the front part of the tongue is raised to the back part of the hard palate the vowels are called central (A, ә:, ә).

2). When the tongue moves up and down different parts of it raises to different heigh in our mouth. When the front or back part of the tongue is raised high to the palate, such vowels are called high (close): i:, i, u, u:).

When the front or back part of the tongue is as low as possible in the mouth low (open) are pronounced: әe:, a, o, o:).

When the tip of the tongue is in position between high (close) and low (open), we pronounced mid-level vowels: e, A, ә, ә:).

If a vowel is followed by a weak voiced consonant or by no consonant at all the end of it is weak. In this case the vowel is called free. Such vowels are heard in close syllables or in the open syllable: before.

  1. Palatalization.

Palatalization is the softening of consonants, which happens when the front part of the tongue is raised to the hard palate, forming a secondary place of articulation - front secondary focus. The air passage is narrow or constricted (сжатый), which gives consonants soft coloring. In Russian language palatalization is phonemic and it has regular character (пыл - пыль).

Russian students sometimes palatalized consonants before i:, i, e, әe, ә: because of the habit of doing so in the native language, but we shouldn`t do it. English occlusive and constrictive noise sounds (except of ?, з,) are not palatalized, but before such vowels as i, i:, u, u:, ә, ә:, e, әe (front close, mid-open), they are bit clearer: top - tip, father - feet.

In English palatalization is nonphonemic. It takes place in the articulation of sounds l, з, dз, ?, t?. Such sounds become palatalized before i, i:, u, u:, ә, ә:, e, әe (front close, mid-open). Palatalization may be in initial, medial and final positions: question, nature, watch.

  1. Sounds changes in the connected speech. (reduction)

In connected speech phonemes can undergo (подвергаться) considerable changes (значительные изменения) under the influence of the adjoining (соседние) sounds. They lose the clearness of their articulation and gain some new articulatory features.

As a result of mutual interaction (взаимное взаимодействие) of sounds in connected speech there are some process in phonetics: assimilation, reduction, elision, nasal and lateral plosion.


Assimilation is a process of alteration of sounds, which has the result of full or partial similarity to the adjacent sound. Vowel can influence consonants and consonants can influence by each other. Organ of speech, the work of the vocal cords, the position of the lips and soft palate can affect assimilation.

Types of assimilation depend on direction, degree of completeness (законченность) and degree of stability. According to direction the influence of the neighboring sounds in English can be progressive, regressive or reciprocal.

When some articulatory features of the sound are changed under the influence of preceding sound, which is unchanged, assimilation is called progressive. The pronunciation of the plural suffix -s of nouns depends on the preceding consonant; it's pronounced as [z] after voiced consonants: [penz] and as [s] after voiceless consonants: [buks]. In the word stay [t] loses its aspiration under the influence of [s].

When the sound is changed under the influence of preceding one, it is called regressive assimilation. For example, the word width and in the word combination in them (alveolar [d, n] become dental).

Reciprocal or double assimilation means mutual influence of the adjacent sounds. For example, the word tree [tri:] [r] is partly devoiced under the influence of [t] and the alveolar [t] becomes post alveolar before the post alveolar [r].

According to its degree assimilation can be complete and incomplete. During the complete assimilation adjoining sounds become alike (cupboard). Assimilation is called incomplete, when adjoining sounds are partly assimilated, for example, consonants are devoiced.

According to degree of stability assimilation can be historical (obligatory - обязательная) and non-obligatory (ten(?) girls).

False assimilation

False assimilation is wrong articulation of sounds, leading to incorrect pronunciation of words and word units. It depend on the place of articulation, the affect lip position and the work of vocal cords.

Affecting the place of articulation. In the pronunciation of phrases, such as lets think or what`s this it's necessary save the alveolar pronunciation of sounds [s], [z] and not pronounce them like inter-dental [?], [?].

Affecting the lip position. When pronouncing the combinations of sound [v], [f] and [w]; or [f], [v] and [?],[?] in phrases like of water [әv wo:tә], fifth [fif?] a typical mistake is when the [w] is pronounced like [v].

Affecting the work of vocal cords. Russian voiceless consonants get voiced under the influence of the following voiced sounds (кот Гришка [ код гришка]). In English voiceless consonants get slightly voiced (take [k] this).

Double assimilation

Double assimilation can occur in fluent speech, when plosive voiced [d] and palatal sonorant [j] meet. Here the assimilation takes place, when the alveolar [d] influenced by palate [j] becomes palatal-alveolar affricate [dз].

Another type of assimilation is when the plosive sound becomes afficate and the syntagm [? ud ju] sounds like [? u dзu] or the combination [d u ju:] sounds like [dз u].


Adaptation is process, which is suitable for combinations “consonant – vowel”, “vowel – consonant” or “vowel – vowel”. In such combinations there's tendency of sound connection. Such sound junctions (соединение) are pronounced with smooth glide (гладкое скольжение) between them (take an apple or the end). There should be no a gap before a vowel.


Elision is a complex linguistic phenomenon. It occurs in fluent colloquial (разговорный) speech and take place when the articulation of a sound isn't realized. The phrase last year can be pronounced as las year or must be (mus be), wild life (wil life), terrorist (terist).

Vowels can also undergo (подвергаться) the elision when the articulation of phonemes [i] or [ә] is not realized: similar (simlar), different (difrent).

In the words sandwich and grandmother under the influence [n] the consonant [d] become [n] and then disapeared.

Lateral plosion

Lateral plosion is phonetic phenomenon, when sonorant [l] is pronounced together with the preceding plosive consonant. The speaker mustn’t take off the tip of the tongue from the alveolars during the pronunciation of two consonants. The air stream passes through the rims (края) of the tongue and that`s why it is called lateral plosion (little, kettle, settle).

Nasal plosion

Nasal plosion is phonetic phenomenon, realized when nasal sonorants [m, n] in one word or in word junctions give a kind of plosion. The kind of plosion is formed when the soft palate is separated from the nasal pharynx ([fәe] глотка) and the air quickly escapes through the nasal cavity. It takes place in the combinations like [tn], [dn]. For example: kitten, forbidden, written. The articulation of [m, n] starts, when the articulation of the plosive is not finished yet.

Lost of plosion

In English there are some plosive consonants: [p], [b], [k], [g], [t], [d], [tʃ] , [dʒ], which pronounce with plosion. When these consonants meet each other in word junctions, only one of them is pronounced with plosion and other lost the plosion. And pronounce one plosion is more convenient, because we don`t break the smoothness of spaach. For example, good day, dark garden, cat died.


Unstressed words (prepositions (предлог), conjunctions (союз), particles (частица), auxiliary (вспомогательные) and modal verbs), pronouns and sometimes notional (смысловые) verbs change their pronunciation: all unstressed vowels are pronounced weakly, not distinctly, so they become reduced.

During the process of reduction a vowel loses its important features. The quality of vowels changes: әend - әnd, kәen - kәn, әet - әt, bAt - bәt. The lenth of vowel is reduced: mi: - mi, bi: - bi. The vowel is missed. In writing we use the apostrophy: I`m tired, he`s just come in.

During the reduction most forms of words in English have two or more forms (variants of pronunciation): strong (full) used in stress positions and reduced (weak) - in unstressed. The proper choice of full or weak forms in our speech is very important. The pronunciation strong forms instead of reduced makes such words very important in sentence and may change the rhythm.

  1. Linking sounds.

The letter [r] and combination [re] at the end of the word. But they influence the reading of a preceding vowel. If a word ending in [r] or [re] is followed by a word beginning with a vowel, the linking sound [r] appears between them. Both words are pronounced together. For example, your aunt, far away.

  1. Sentence stress.

In a sentence or an intonation group some of the words are of greater importance than the others. This mostly depends on the situation or context. Words which provide most of the information are brought out (высказывать) in our speech by means of sentence stress.

Thus sentence stress is a special prominence, given to one or more words according to their relative importance in a sentence. There are three types of sentence stress:

1) Normal stress affects content (содержание) words which convey the necessary information to the listener. I like oranges.

2) Logical stress. By shifting (перемещение) the position of the last stress we can change the place of the nucleus of the communicative center. My sister hates yellow jeans.

The type of sentence stress which gives special prominence to a new element in a sentence or an intonation group is called logical stress. The word which is singled out by the logical stress is the most important in the sentence.

3) Emphatic stress. Any word in sentence, including form words, personal and possessive (притяжательные) pronouns, auxiliary (вспомогательные) and modal verbs may be logically stressed. Most utterances express not only the speaker's thoughts, but also feelings and attitudes to reality and to the sentence. Both normal and logical stresses can be unemphatic and emphatic. Emphatic stress increases the effort (усилие) of expression. The High Fall of Rise -Fall are usually used in this case. You are so nice!

  1. Intonation and its function.

The information, which is conveyed by a sentence is expressed not only by words and grammar structures, but also by intonation. Intonation is a complex unity of variations in pitch (высота основного тона) (speech melody), sentence stress, tempo (speed) and timbre (a special coloring of voice). Intonation serves to form sentences and intonation groups, to define their communicative type, to express the speaker's thoughts, to convey the attitudinal (относительное) meaning.

Intonation has two functions: constitutive (учредительная) and distinctive (отличительная).

Constitutive function. Long sentences are subdivided into intonation-groups .An intonation-group is a word or a group of words characterized by a certain intonation pattern (тип) and is generally complete from the point of view of meaning. (Can you give me a pen or a pencil?) The number of intonation groups in the same sentence may be different.

Intonation patterns, containing a number of syllables consist of the following parts: the pre-head, the head, the nucleus and the tail. The pre-head includes unstressed and half-stressed syllables preceding the head. The head includes the stressed and unstressed syllables beginning with stressed syllable up to the last stressed syllable. Last stressed syllable is called the nucleus. The unstressed and half-stressed syllables that follow the nucleus are called the tail.

Nuclear tones are rises and falls that take place in the nucleus or start with it.

The nucleus is the most important part of the intonation pattern as it defines the communicative type of the sentence, determines the semantic value of the intonation group, indicates the communicative center of the intonation group or of the whole sentence.

Distinctive function. Intonation serves to distinguish communicative types of sentences. Different types explain aims of the utterance from the point of view.

There are four communicative types of sentences:

1. Statements.
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