English Phonetics: Vowels and Connected Speech

Classified in English

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/æ/ Unrounded, front, between half-open and open

It is halfway between Spanish /a/ and /e/.

Quantity: usually a short sound

May be lengthened when followed by /b, d, g, m, n, ŋ, ʤ/. Thus, compare bad [bæ:d] vs bat [bæt] or bag [bæ:g] vs back [bæk].

Distribution: never found at the end of a syllable with the exception of the word baa /bæ/ in AmE

Allophones: may be more open in England

Graphemes: The most representative grapheme is (a), except when this grapheme is followed by 'r' act, add, happy, flat, man, black, glad, wrap, bad, have

Exceptions: (ai) – plait & (i) in words of French origin: impasse /æmˈpɑːs

Lenis/Fortis: degree of articulatory strength-breath and muscular effort

LENIS: relatively weak degree of articulatory effort due to the proximity and vibration of the vocal folds, which reduces the force of the air expelled (voiced and devoiced sounds)

FORTIS: relatively strong degree of articulatory strength. The vocal folds are open and there is little to break the flow of air (voiceless sounds are fortis)

Connected speech

Assimilation: it si a process of alteration of a peech sound in order to become more similar (or identical) with another sound which follows or precedes it, as a way of easing the articulation.

Coalescence: assimilation of manner (bi-directional assimilation) two sounds merge into one which shares characteristics from the two original ones A - B

Elision: is a process of leaving out one or more sounds in speech (rapid/casual) which would be present in isolation (or when pronounced slowly)

Linking: process by which two separated words are pronounced with no noticable break between them.

Devoice: For a voiced consonant t be fully voiced it has to be placed between voiced phonemes (vowels or consonants). Voiced consonants are

Tap r: Tap/flap: the tongue (articulator) makes a single rapid lightly striking movement against another articulator

Clipping is the reduction in the duration of a vowel sound.

Rhythmic clipping happens in stressed syllable followed by an unstressed syllable (in the same word). For example /a:/ in the word hard is a long vowel, in the word harder it is shortened because of the presence of a following syllable, i.e /hɑ·də/. Certain compound words do not follow these rules e.g /ei/ in playtime does not experience any type of clipping.

Pre-fortis clipping

Pre-fortis clipping happens in stressed syllables followed by fortis consonants. E.g: (bead>beat).

Definition: combinations of 3 vowels in a single syllable. It’s a glide from one vowel to another and then to a third (rapidly & without interruption). There are 5, and are the result of adding /ə/ to the first 5 diphthongs:

1. /eɪə/(payer), 2. /əʊə/ (lower), 3. /aɪə/ (fire), 4. /aʊə/ (flour) and 5. /ɔɪə/ (lawyer).

B) Its recognition is difficult, they are fully pronounced only:

- When using a slow, formal style of pronunciation

- When the word containing the triphthong is given special emphasis

C) Standard British tendency: little vowel movement and a weakening or omission of the middle element in the glide (/ɪ/ or /ʊ/). This compression –usually in conversational style- is called levelling or smoothing. This makes difficult to distinguish them from some diphthongs & long vowels, producing a new set of homophones:

- No. 1 /eɪə/ - /eə/ (payer = pear) No. 2. Sewer = Sir No. 5 Layer = lore

- No. 3 & 4: Allophonic /aə/ for both triphthongs (lawyer = lore)

1)Diphthongs are sequences of two vocalic elements which form a glide (or transition, movement) within one syllable (e.g. /aʊ/)

They are movements from one vowel to another within a single syllable.

There should be a noticeable change of quality, as it is quite normal for long vowels to be slightly diphthongal due to the fact that it is difficult for the tongue to be held in one particular position for more than a brief moment.

Diphthongs are made up of two elements:

a) A first element, which shows the starting point.

b) A second element, which indicates the direction in which the glide is made


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