the vocalic phonemes in english l.
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The Vocalic Phonemes in English. A new perspective. Introduction. The Big Picture of Phonology based on analysis and segmentation. Extended view based on morphology and contextual phonemes Unstressed vowels  schwa / ə / or /  /

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The Vocalic Phonemes in English

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  • The Big Picture of Phonology based on analysis and segmentation
  • Extended view based on morphology and contextual phonemes
  • Unstressed vowels  schwa /ə/ or //
  • Stressed closed syllables  short vowels
  • Stressed open syllables  long vowels, diphthongs
overview vowels
Overview: Vowels

Description in R.P. phonological system

  • Distinctive features:
    • Quality:
      • Tongue position
      • Mouth opening
    • Secondary Features:
      • Roundness, Tenseness
    • Quantity:
      • Length (D. Jones, 1917, 1991)

Pete boot

pit pert put

pet Peter port

pat putt pot


diphthongs semivowels
Diphthongs & Semivowels


  • Lengthening into a central glide
  • Classification
    • Closing diphthongs
      • Lengthening of original vowels
    • Centring diphthongs
      • Towards neutralization
  • Other feature:
      • Rising diphthongs

Semivowels (/j/, /w/)

  • Frictionless Approximants,
  • near vowel realization,
  • but not syllabic nucleus, falling on vowel

Examples: yes, wet, tabulation

  • Influence of Stress and Morphology
    • Phrase stress

(Phrase as the basic information unit, Brown &Yule, 1983)

      • Structural words (unstressed: tendency to schwa)
      • Lexical words (stressed & unstressed syllables)
        • 40% sounds are vowels, 20% are /ə/, /I/ (Fry, 1947)  50%
        • 65% vowels are unstressed, 90%  /ə/, /I/. (Brooks,1994)
      • Tendency Centralization of unstressed vowels
historical background
Historical background
  • The Great Vowel Shift
    • Stressed short vowels in closed syllables remained short: C`VC
    • Stressed long vowels in open syllables suffered a lengthening and raising, which broke most of them up into diphthongs: C`V·CV
          • (B. Strang, 1970)

i: a, eə,a u

e 


the regular pattern of the pronunciation of english vowels
The Regular Pattern of the Pronunciation of English Vowels
  • Neutralization of unstressed vowels
    • V (/ə/, /Ι/)  some disappear (Ø)
  • Stressed Syllable Patterns:
    • C`VC · CV Short vowels
    • C`V · CV Long vowel

& Diphthongs

  • Variations:
    • Neighbouring consonants
    • Late affixation
        • (Sánchez-Villalón, 1994)
        • 84% regular pattern spelling (Brookes, 1997)

-aC- : //

-eC- : /e/

-iC - : //

-oC- : //

-uC- ://, //






-a- : /e/

-e- : /i:/

-i - : /a/

-o- : /ə/

-u- :/j/, /u:/






morphophonological variations
Morphophonological variations
  • Influence of affixation Word stress
      • Weak (No effect)
        • a-, -ness, -less /ə/ : about, careless, happiness
        • -y /I/ : happy, rainy
        • -able (comfortable) -ance (appliance)
      • Strong
        • Stressed, -ese (Chinese), -eer (engineer)
        • Unstressed, -ic, -al, -ion shifting stress to the preceding syllable (history  historical, maniac maniacal)
    • False affixation
      • Famּily, famּine,
    • Technical terms:
      • Syllabic spelling for clarity: hydroxide,photoelectric, tabulation
influence on spelling
Influence on Spelling
  • Closed Syllables match Pronunciation & Spelling
  • Ending –e =stripe (cf. strip)
  • Doubling consonants in inflections
    • ed, ing, er, est =begin  beginning, but open opening
  • Doubling consonants in affixation
      • -ish, -y:reddish, sunny, robbery, flippancy
      • Others: cottage, pattern, middle
application to teaching
Application to teaching
  • In Reading:
    • Whole language vs phonics
      • phonics /΄fəUnּIks/ noun [U], a method of teaching people to read based on the sounds that letters represent (OALD definition).
    • Mix of both approaches
  • In Listening:
    • Listening comprehension -- for meaning (stressed words)
    • Repeating listened utterances (isolated & connected speech). Group repetition
activity 1 listening comprehension an economical conversation
Activity 1:Listening comprehensionAn economical conversation
  • Stressed/Unstressed Words in connected speech:

(Listening comprehension: Basic Level.Students try to copy most prominent, meaningful words down. Then, they read and fill with structural words)

  • morning, Dad.
  • morning Tom.
  • mind doing favour ?
  • What Tom?
  • wondering lend fiver ?
  • seems lot. What for?
  • Janet’s birthday Saturday.
  • giving diamond ring ? When pay back ?
  • soon can Dad . Thank much Dad.
activity 2 multiskill inferring pronunciation from spelling
Activity 2: MultiskillInferring pronunciation from spelling
  • Advanced level. Reading a text with new words for advanced students (technical, literary or from the newspaper)
  • Reading & asking for meaning or Reading aloud:

Sample text: “The wrought iron rivets that fastened the hull plates to the Titanic's main structure also failed because of brittle fracture during the collision with the iceberg. Low water temperatures contributed to this failure”

  • Student: What is the meaning of … the second word? The one with iron?
  • Teacher: /r:t/ iron?
  • Yes. /r:t/
  • Wrought iron is “Hierro forjado”…
  • And is it /’rvət/ or /’ravət/?
  • Short I influenced by –v-. /’rvət/

And /’brtəl/ as it is a closed syllable. Notice –tt-

activity 3 music listening
Activity 3: Music (listening)
  • Identify the final rhyming vowel phonemes

(Listening for specific sounds)

      • (A rap song)

… Always have fun

Always on the run

Can’t rap now

Till I see the sun

You see 20 dollars

Laying in the ground

Try to pick it up

But it moved across town

from The English Language by David Crystal (1988)

listening and note taking
Listening and Note-taking

Sometimes I just feel

like my father,

I hate to be bothered

with all of this nonsense

it's constant

And, "Oh, it's his lyrical content

-- the song 'Guilty Conscience'

has gotten such rotten responses“And all of this controversy circles me

and it seems like the media immediately

points afinger at me (finger at me)..

EMINEM, The Way I Am, Marshall Mathers, 2000

  • Brookes, M, (1997) Pronounce English, Barcelona: Larousse
  • Brown, G. & Yule, G. (1983) Discourse Analysis, Cambridge:C.U.P
  • Finch, D.F. & Ortiz Lira, D., (1982), A Course in English Phonetics for Spanish Speakers, London: Heinemann
  • Jones, D., (1917) English Pronouncing Dictionary, 14th ed. 1991, Cambridge: C.U.P
  • Sánchez-Villalón, P.P., “The Pronunciation Rule of English”, in Estudios Filológicos Angloamericanos, (1994) Ed.: L. Mora, Cuenca: UCLM
  • Strang, B. M.H.; (1970) A History of English, London: Methuen