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2012-13 LINGUA INGLESE 1 modulo B
Introduction to English Linguistics
prof. Hugo Bowles
Lesson 6 Diphthongs + connected speech
1
Lessons and esonero

22 Ottobre – lesson 6

26 Ottobre – lesson 7

29 Ottobre – lesson 8


2 Novembre – lesson 9: revision +
exam practice
Sabato 1 Dicembre – lesson 10
esonero 9-10 – AL; 10-11 - MZ 2
fear
go
house I
pain
pear
tour
toy
here
know
how
my
play
there
pour
voice
beer
home
down
either
cave
where
hear
bone
loud
eye
reign
air
clear
sew
sigh
made
heir
dear
crow
thai
maid
wear
Don’t
tie
obey
foam
choice
pay
3
foe
TRIPHTHONGS
/ei/ +
schwa
/ai /+
schwa
/au/ +
schwa
/oi/ +
schwa
schwa + /u/
+ schwa
player
fire
hour
royal
lower
liar
power
4
Minimal pairs
Beware of heard
a dreadful word that
looks like beard and
sounds like bird
5
While the position of the tongue is
more or less stable for a pure
vowel…
6
… a diphthong is characterised by a
graceful movement from one point
to another, for this reason they are
also sometimes known as glides.
7
English diphthongs may cause
Italian speakers difficulty for two
main reasons:


Italian has four diphthongs while
English has eight. All the Italian
diphthongs have equivalents in
English which are not the same but
which are reasonably similar
Nowhere is the English spelling
system more bizarre than in its
representation of diphthongs
8
If one has a clear idea of where pure
vowels are articulated on the
quadrilateral then interpreting the
diphthong symbols is not difficult.
9
Technically, English diphthongs are
divided into two groups:

Closing diphthongs – which tend to
move from an open to a close
position, these roughly correspond
to Italian sounds


Centring diphthongs – which tend
towards a central position
10
First we will look at the closing
group…
11
… the ‘pay’, ‘ made’, ‘maid’, ‘reign’,
‘obey’, sound:
12
Then we have the ‘I’, ‘my’, ‘tie’,
‘sigh’, ‘either’, ‘eye’, ‘Thai’, sound:
13
Then there is ‘boy’, ‘choice’:
14
Then ‘down’, ‘loud’:
15
To end the closing group, the most
common diphthong in English, that of
‘no’, ‘know’,‘bone’, ‘foam’, ‘sew’, ‘though’,
‘don’t’, ‘foe’, ‘crow’:
16
To start with the centring group, we have
the most common, that of ‘clear’, ‘deer’,
‘here’, ‘wier’:
17
Then ‘air’, ‘where’, wear’, ‘care’,
‘heir’:
18
Finally, there is a diphthong which is
quite rare - ‘tour’, ‘poor’:
19
Pronunciation change



Poor used to be pronounced like puer in
Latin (and still is in some regions, e.g.
Scotland).
Now it tends to be pronounced as a long
vowel (like “door” and “more”)
Is there a difference between the
pronunciation of “poor” and “paw”
(zampa) ?
20
Finally:

Diphthongs are the element in a
language which are most liable to
change. The majority of the
characteristics of a given accent
are usually to be found in this area,
so understanding of the underlying
mechanics is vital if one wants to
understand accents and accent
change.
21
Connected speech
Aspects of Connected
Speech




Weak Forms
Yod coalescence
Elision
Assimilation
Weak syllables (vowels)
father
happy
thank you
open
photograph
radio
influence
Weak syllables
(consonants)
bottle
parcel
threaten
seven
happen
Weak forms
When we talk about weak forms in
the phonetics of English this
regards a series of words which
have one pronunciation (strong)
when isolated, and another (weak)
when not stressed within a phrase.
e.g. a car
v
I bought a car
Look at this phrase:
I went to the station and
bought two tickets for my
father and his best friend.
What are the most
important words?
I went to the station and bought two
tickets for my father and his best friend.
went
station
bought
two
tickets
father
best
friend
If we eliminate the other
words can we still
understand the
message?
went
tickets
station
father
booked
best
two
friend.
Let’s look at the phrase
transcribed:
I wet to the statio
bought two tickets
ad
/wetsteb
tutkts
for y father
best fried
ad
his
There is a tendency for vowels
in unstressed syllables to shift
towards the schwa (central
position)
Weak form are
commonly used words



Prepositions
Auxiliary verbs
Conjunctions
Pronunciation
Spelling
preposition strong form weak form
to
tu:
tǝ
for
fɔ:
fǝ
from
fr
frǝm
into
ɪntu:
of
ɒv
ɪntǝ
ǝv
as
æz
ǝz
at
æt
ǝt
Auxiliary
verbs
Strong
Weak
do
du:
a:
wɒz
wɜ:
wʊd
kʊd
ʃʊd
kæn
m^st
dǝ
ǝ(r)*
wǝz
wǝ
wǝd
kǝd
ʃǝd
kǝn
mǝs(t)
are
was
were
would
could
should
can
must
Other words
and
but
than
that (as a relative)
you (object pronoun)
Strong form
ænd
b^t
æn
æt
ju:
Weak form
ǝnd, ǝn, n
bǝt
ǝn
ǝt
jǝ
your
jɔ:
her (as object pronoun) hɜ:(r)
jǝ(r)
(h)ǝ(r)*
a
an
the
ǝ*
ǝn
ǝ, i: (before a vowel)
æ, ei
æn
i:
Weak=unstressed
In the following sentences the underlined words are
stressed and so would be pronounced using the strong
form:
- I do like chocolate.
- She drove to Las Vegas, not from Las Vegas.
- We were surprised when she told us her secret.
(stress on ‘were’ for emphasis)
Yod coalescence
Yod is the name of the smallest letter in the Hebrew
alphabet – it stands for the vowel / I / or the semivowel / j /. In English phonetics Yod coalescence is
a form of assimilation – it is a phenomenon which
takes place when / j / is preceded by certain
consonants most commonly /t / and / d /:
/t/ + /j/ = /t/
…but use your head!
/ bǝtʃu:zjǝhed /
what you need….
/ wotʃu:ni:d /
the ball that you brought / δǝb:lδətʃu:br:t /
last year….
/d/ + /j/ = //
could you help me?
/kuu:helpmi:/
would yours work?
/wu:zwɜ:k/
she had university
exams
/ihust
iig

Yod coalescence is common in colloquial speech
and is becoming ever more so. Note that it can
occur:
- between word boundaries (as above examples)
- within words
e.g. You Tube = /ju:tub/
The fact that two extremely recurrent words in
English, you and your, start with /j/ means that
understanding of this simple mechanism is
vital to the understanding of spoken English.
Do you and also did you are often pronounced
as /ʤə/
Do you live here?
/ʤəliviə/
Did you live here?
/(di)ʤəliviə/
Exercise.
Identify places where yod coalescence may
occur in the following phrases:
What you need is a good job!
You told me that you had your homework done.
She didn’t go to France that year.
Could you open the window please?
You’ve already had yours!
Exercise. Identify places where yod
coalescence may occur in the
following phrases:
What you need is a good job!
You told me that you had your homework done.
She didn’t go to France that year.
Could you open the window please?
You’ve already had yours!
Elision
Elision is very simply the omission of certain sounds in certain
contexts. The most important occurrences of this phenomenon
regard:
1 Alveolar consonants /t/ and /d/ when ‘sandwiched’ between
two consonants (CONS – t/d – CONS), e.g.
The next day…. /δǝeksd
ei/
The last car…
/δǝlask
a/
Hold the dog!
/hǝulδǝd
og/
consonant + affricate
elision
This can also take place within affricates /ʧ/ and /
/ when preceded
by a consonant, e.g.
lunchtime
/luʧtai/

/lutai/
strange days
/streideI/
/streideI/

Elision of ‘not’
The phoneme /t/ is a fundamental part of the negative
particle not, the possibility of it being elided makes the
foreign students life more difficult. Consider the
negative of can – if followed by a consonant the /t/
may easily disappear and the only difference between
the positive and the negative is a different, longer
vowel sound in the second:
+ I can speak….
/aiksik/
- I can’t speak…
Assimilation
Assimilation can be:
 of Place
 of Voicing
 of Manner
We will look at the first two
Assimilation of Place
The most common form involves the movement of place of
articulation of the alveolar stops /t/, /d/ and /n/ to a position
closer to that of the following sound.
For instance, in the phrase ten cars, the /n/ will usually be
articulated in a velar position, /te
ka/
so that the tongue will be ready to produce the following velar
sound /k/.
Similarly, in ten boys the /n/ will be produced in a bilabial
position, /tem
the bilabial /b/.
boi/
to prepare for the articulation of
This phenomenon is easy to find also in Italian: think of the
different pronunciations of the ‘n’ in Gian Paolo, Gian Franco
and Gian Carlo.
Assimilation of place before a VELAR

/n/ before a velar becomes /ƞ/
e.g. ban
= /bӕn/
bank = ban+k = /bӕƞk/ not /bӕnk/

/d/ before a velar becomes /g/
e.g. good girl = /gʊg gɜ:l/

/t/ before a velar becomes /k/
e.g. that girl = / æk gɜ:l /
49
Assimilation of place before a BILABIAL ( /b/ /m/ /p )/

/n/ before a bilabial becomes /m/
e.g. ten boys = / tem boiz/

/d/ before a bilabial becomes /b/
e.g. bad man = /bæb mæn/

/t/ before a bilabial becomes /p/
e.g. hot meal = / ho mi:l /
50
ASSIMILATION OF
VOICING
The vibration of the vocal folds is not something that can be
switched on and off very swiftly, as a result groups of
consonants tend to be either all voiced or all voiceless.
Consider the different endings of ‘legs’ /leg/ and ‘hats’
/hæts/, of the past forms of the regular verbs such as
‘kissed’ /kist/ and ‘sneezed’ /sni:zd/.
The assimilation of voicing can radically
change the sound of several common
constructions:
have to
/ha
/hft
tu/
/
has to
/ha
hst/
tu/
e.g. I have to go!
/aihftgu/
used to
/u /us
d
t/

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