The Origins and Development of the English Language The

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The Origins and Development of the English Language The Powered By Docstoc
					The Origins and Development
  of the English Language
  Chapter 2: The Sounds of
       Current English
   John Algeo and Thomas Pyles

          Michael Cheng
    National Chengchi University
 26 letters in the English alphabet
 More than 26 sounds (phonemes) in the
 English language
 a  cat, came, calm, any, call, was
 [e]  baker, day, bait, gauge, mesa, they,
 neighbor, great
 Phonetic alphabet solves this problem
The Organs of Speech
 1-nasal cavity
 4-aveolar ridge
 5-hard palate
 6-velum (soft palate)
 8-apex (tip) of tongue
 9-blade (front) of tongue
 10-dorsum (back) of tongue
 11-oral cavity
 15-vocal cords
Consonants of Current English
 Classified according to
 –   place of articulation (where they are made)
 –   manner of articulation (how they are made)
 –   Voicing
 –   (see interactive flash)
Consonants of Current English
 Historical Stuff:
 Similarity between [r] and [l]
 Sally/Sarah, Kathleen/Katherine, stella
 (Latin)/steorra (Old English)
Consonants of Current English:
Dropping [r]
 New England, New York City, coastal
 South, British RP (received pronunciation)
 Dropped when followed by consonant
 Kept when followed by a vowel, or the next
 word begins with a vowel
  – farm, far distance, the distance is far
  – faring, there is, far away, very, Carolina
  – ‘arf, cokernut, Eeyore, Marmee
‘arf, cokernut, Eeyore, Marmee
Consonants of Current English:
Dropping [r]
 Intrusive r
 New England, New York City, RP
  – Have no fear, the fear of it
  – Have no idea, the idear of it
Vowels of Current English
                               English Vowels and their IPA symbols

    IPA symbol             Example word(s)               IPA symbol                 Example word(s)

          i              beat, meet, machine                  u                     boot, crude, new
                             bit, mitt, live                                        book, could, put
         e               bait, great, play, they              o                       boat, no, sew

                            bet, said, head                                      bought, caught, coffee*
                                                          ('open o')
                                                               /a                bottle, father, palm
                             bat, fad, plaid                               (bought, caught, coffee in many
       ('ash')                                                                       CA dialects)

                         but, son, none, cup                ay/aj                  bite, buy, fly, might

                          about, focus, sofa*              aw/au                    about, cow, flour
                                                            oy/oj                   boy, coin, Freud

* Schwa appears only in unstressed syllables.The vowel of words like 'bought', 'coffee' varies among
dialects. Northeastern American varieties use this one, called 'open o', while most Californians (esp.
Southern Californians), use 'ah' (the next one down in the table).

Rubba (2003). Retrieved from
Vowel Tongue Position
Front               Back
Variant vowel sounds
[a], [æ:], [ɨ], [ө], [ɒ]
 [a] ask, half, laugh, path (eastern New Eng)
 [æ:] cap[kæp]-cab[kæ:b], bat-bad, lack-lag,
 can (be able) – can (to tin)
 [ɨ] in just, children, would ????
 [ө] short o sound ????
 [ɒ] pot, top, rod, con (slightly rounded in
 Brit Eng)
Variant vowel sounds
[ɔ], [ɑ], [ɪ], [ɛ]
 [ɔ] and [ɑ] caught-cot, taught-tot, dawn-
 don, gaud-god, pawed-pod (Pittsburg)

 Lack of a contrast in a specific environment
 [ɪ] and [ɛ] pin-pen, tin-ten, Jim-gem (before
 nasal in American south)
Tense vowels are longer than lax vowels
Vowel length is hardly ever a distinguishing
can-can, halve-have, balm-bomb, vary-very
Vowels before [r]
 Sound of the vowel changes before [r]
 –   cut-curt
 –   bust-burst
 –   moan-mourn
 –   father-farther
 Schwa glide can intrude
 – near [niər] [n ɪ r]
 – The time drew néar. The time dréw near.
Vowels before [r]
 Tenseness is not distinct before [r]
 nearer-mirror [i] (tense) or [ɪ] (lax)
 Fairy-ferry [e] (tense) or [ɛ] (lax)
 Touring-during [u] (tense) or [ʊ] (lax)
 Lax vowel more common
Historical vowel merging before [r]

 hoarse [o] – horse [ɔ]
 Mourning – morning
 borne – born
 four – for
 oar – or
 foreword – forward
Present day merging before [r]
 Mississippi Valley and the West
 [ɑ], [ɔ], [ɒ]
 form – farm
 or – are
 born – barn
 lord – lard
 [i] [ɪ] [ə] are often used in unstressed
 [i] and [ɪ] vary in final position and before
 another vowel
  – lucky, happy, city, seedy
  – various, curiosity, oriel, carrion
 [ɪ] and [ə] vary before a consonant
  – [ɪ] bucket, college, elude, illumine
  – [ə] many Americans starting to prefer [ə] in
    these words
 Emerging rule: used [ɪ] before velar
 consonants and [ə] elsewhere
  – ignore, comic, hoping
  – stomach, mysterious
Kinds of Sound Change:
 Assimilation – Sounds become more alike
 What is your name?
 What’s yer name?
 Whacher name? (palatalization)
Kinds of Sound Change:
 Dissimilation – Sounds become less alike
  – Diphthong [f] replaced by [p]
  – Chimney [n] replaced by [l]
 Complete loss of sound because of
 proximity to another sounds
  – caterpillar, Canterbury, reservoir, terrestrial,
    southerner, barbiturate, governor, surprised
Kinds of Sound Change: Elision
 Elision – Sounds are omitted
 What is your name? (unstressed vowel in is
 Aphesis– loss of unstressed initial vowel
 – about  ‘bout
 Apheresis – loss of sound from beginning of
 – almost  ‘most
Kinds of Sound Change: Elision
 Apocope – loss of sound from end of word
 – child  chile
 Syncope – loss of sound from middle of
 – family  fam’ly
Kinds of Sound Change: Intrusion

 Intrusion – Sounds are added
 svarabhakti, epenthesis, anaptyxis
 Intrusive [ə] often appears between
 elm, film
 Henry, Dwight, Smyrna
 arthritis, athlete
Kinds of Sound Change: Intrusion

 Consonants can be intrusive
 warmth  warmpth (p inserted)
 sense  [sɛnts] (t inserted)
 length  lenkth (k inserted)
 Nasal + voiceless fricative
 Nasal + stop (vcls) + voiceless fricative
Kinds of Sound Change: Metathesis
 Metathesis: Sounds are reordered
 Tax and task originally developed from the same
 [r] frequently metathesizes with an unstressed
  – produce, perform
 A sound and syllable boundary can metathesize
  – another  a whole nother thing
Causes of Sound Change
 Contact with another language
 – substratum or superstratum theory
 Distributing sounds evenly through
 phonological space
 Ease of articulation (assimilation, etc.)
 – makes it easier to talk faster
 Spelling pronunciations
Causes of Sound Change
 Spelling pronunciations
 – controller  comptroller
 – talkin’, somethin’  chicking, Virging Islands
 – [ž] azure
 – rajah, cashmere, kosher
The Phoneme
 Regarded as the same sound by speakers of a language

 Phonemes are made up of allophones – similar sounds that
 are not distinct
 Complementary distribution – allophones only appear in
 specific environment
  – after [s] unaspirated [t] occurs but not aspirated [t]
 Free variation [t] or [t*] can appear at the end of fight

 stone, tone, fight, item, little, matter, bottle, out come
Differing Transcriptions

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