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Unit 1 . The Description of Speech . I . main features of pronunciation. 1. phonemes. (1) definition: different sounds within a language (2) significance: Using one sound rather than another can change the meaning of the word e.g. rat/rot. (3) categories of sounds

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Unit 1

The Description of Speech


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I. main features of pronunciation


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1. phonemes

(1) definition: different sounds within a language

(2) significance: Using one sound rather than another can change the meaning of the word e.g. rat/rot


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(3) categories of sounds

a. vowels: all are voiced when the vocal cords in the larynx are vibrated

  • single/diphthongs/triphthongs: e.g. /e/, /e /, and /la /

  • long/short: e.g. /e/ or / /



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2. suprasegmental features:

those of speech which generally apply to groups of segments or phonemes to indicate how sounds change in connected speech e.g. stress and intonation; both are linked to the communication of meaning


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(1)stress: one or more words within each utterance (anything we say including grammatically incomplete sentences and different ways of saying the same sentences) are selected by the speaker as worthy of stressing and thus made prominent to the listener


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e.g. (anything we say including grammatically incomplete sentences and different ways of saying the same sentences) are selected by the speaker as worthy of stressing and thus made prominent to the listener changes to which syllable is stressed in the same utterance change the meaning of the utterance in various ways

I’d like a cup of herbal TEA. (a simple request)

I’d like a cup of HERbal tea. ( not any other sort of tea)

I’d like a CUP of herbal tea. (not a mug)


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(2) intonation: the way in which the pitch of the voice goes up and down in the course of an utterance

e.g. Where do you live? (a question asked for the first time)

e.g. Where do you live? (for the second time; the speaker has forgotten it )


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II up and down in the course of an utterance . the physiology of pronunciation

1. to study how the sounds we use come out

2. the set of sounds we acquire may vary; learn to use our voices in different ways

3. our ability to adopt an unfamiliar set of sounds diminishes somewhat after childhood


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4. articulation organs: lips, tongue, teeth, hard and soft palates, alveolar ridge, voice box (voice cords- open (unvoiced sounds) or close (voiced sounds with vibration of voice cords); - pitch (high when cords are shortened; low when cords are lengthened)), nasal cavity, jaw

5. articulation happens when the air stream is interrupted, shaped, restricted or diverted


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III. palates, alveolar ridge, voice box (voice cords- open (unvoiced sounds) or close (voiced sounds with vibration of voice cords); - pitch (high when cords are shortened; low when cords are lengthened)), nasal cavity, jaw the articulation of phonemes:

1. articulation of vowels: when the air stream is voiced through the vibration of the vocal cords in the voice box and then shaped using the tongue and the lips to modify the overall shape of the mouth


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2. articulation of consonants: by voicing (e.g. /p/ and /b/) and manner and place of articulation (p.7)


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IV. /b/) and manner and place of articulation (p.7) phonemic transcription

1. 20 different vowel sounds (including 12 diphthongs) and 24 consonant sounds when we speak English

2. no one-to-one relationship between spelling and pronunciation in English

e.g. – ough in cough, bough, rough, although, through, bought, thorough, and lough; read read read; see/sea


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3. difficulties of learners in pronunciation /b/) and manner and place of articulation (p.7)

4. not to introduce all of the phonemic symbols at once but those which cause difficulties first along with a class set of a dictionary

5. Conventions may vary in different dictionaries and reference books


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V /b/) and manner and place of articulation (p.7). phonetics and phonology

1. Phonetics: the study of speech sounds, including physiological phonetics, articulartory phonetics, acoustic phonetics, auditory phonetics and perceptual phonetics


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2. Phonology: concerned with how we interpret and systematize sounds, including vowels, consonants, and suprasegmental features of the language; not about V and C letters; deal with generalizations concerning the organization and interpretation of sounds that might apply across different languages

3. Both have practical significance for teachers