BBN ANG 141 Foundations of phonology 5 Phonology 2: The vowel phonemes of English

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1 BBN ANG 141 Foundations of phonology 5 Phonology 2: The vowel phonemes of English Péter Szigetvári Dept of English Linguistics, Eötvös Loránd University 11 March 2009 szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

2 outline English or Englishes? selecting symbols SSBE vowel phonemes monophthongs diphthongs triphthongs? other vowels standard lexical sets realizational difference between accents systemic difference between accents charting vowel phonemes szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

3 English or Englishes? some clarification what does English mean? English, like any other language name, refers to an abstraction; a question like does English have the phoneme /N/? is not meaningful; unless... English is a shorthand for a given accent of English; in this course, it is a shorthand for Standard Southern British English (SSBE), a.k.a. Received Pronunciation (RP), BBC English, Queen s/king s English (a short discussion of some other accents is scheduled for 13 May) accents of English are much more diverse in their vowel than in their consonant inventories szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

4 selecting symbols analysis in transcription the difference of bead vs. bid may be analysed in two ways 1. as a quantity difference: long vs. short 2. as a quality difference: tense vs. lax accordingly the two vowels may be transcribed as 1. /i:/ /i/ (e.g., Jones English Pronouncing Dictionary, old Országh dictionaries) 2. /i/ /I/ (e.g., Kenyon & Knott s A Pronouncing Dictionary of American English, Giegerich s English Phonology, etc.) 3. /i:/ /I/ (e.g., Gimson s, Wells pronouncing dictionaries, new Országh dictionaries, most current British dictionaries, Nádasdy, this course) szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

5 selecting symbols pedagogy in transcription phonetically i. /i:/ is always tense, /I/ is always lax ii. /i:/ is sometimes long (bead /bi:d/), sometimes short (beat /bi:t/) iii. /I/ is shorter in pick than in pig note that the broad transcription does not indicate (ii) and (iii) so the symbol pair /i/ /I/ is most appropriate for this contrast, since tense/lax is a constant phonetic property of this opposition, long/short is variable nevertheless the symbol pair /i:/ /I/ is more wide-spread, since it is more contrastive visually szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

6 SSBE vowel phonemes monophthongs stressed monophtong vowels of SSBE short /I/ bit /e/ bet /æ/ bat /2/ but /6/ pot /U/ put long /i:/ beat /A:/ Bart /3:/ Bert /O:/ bought /u:/ boot accidental gap it is accidental that there is no word /but/ (and /b6t/) in SSBE, but other pairs prove that the difference in the vowel in but and put is not due to the voicing of the first consonant: bush push, bunk punk alternative symbols /e/, /æ/ are sometimes transcribed /E/, /a/, respectively the high long monophthongs may slightly diphthongize, especially word finally and prevocalically: who, me? [huu mii] (=/hu: mi:/) szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

7 SSBE vowel phonemes diphthongs diphthong vowels of SSBE closing /ei/ /ai/ /au/ /ou/ /OI/ bait bite bout boat quoit centring beer bear boor boar /OI/ contrasts for /OI/: quoit /OI/ quote /ou/ quite /ai/ is obsolete, it is replaced by /O:/ alternative symbols is transcribed by Jones and McMahon, /ou/ is transcribed by Gimson the true diphthongs (a.k.a. wide or low diphtongs) are /ai OI au/ szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

8 SSBE vowel phonemes triphthongs? other vowels of SSBE triphthongs the true diphthongs (/ai OI au/) may occur followed by schwa; some analyse these as triphthongs: fire power Moir others analyse them as heterosyllabic (belonging to two syllables): monophthongization/smoothing centring diphthongs and triphthongs tend to monophthongize: i /O:/, e.g., pore = paw ii /O:/, e.g., poor = pore = paw iii [E:], e.g., hair [he:] { } iv [a:] ( /A:/), e.g., tyre = tower (= tar) this process causes merger in cases i, ii, and iv, resulting in homonyms, but not in case iii szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

9 SSBE vowel phonemes other vowels other vowels of SSBE /ju:/ some analysts consider /ju:/ and unitary phonemes, a rising diphthong and a triphthong, respectively others treat these as consonant+vowel sequences unstressed syllables typically contain (schwa) may also contain /I i ju: ju ju or a sonorant consonant in SSBE schwa occurs exclusively in unstressed syllables (a discussion of unstressed syllables is scheduled for 22 April) szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

10 standard lexical sets standard lexical sets a standard lexical set is a group of words represented by a key word (set in SMALL CAPITALS) containing the same vowel phoneme; in a given accent several lexical sets may contain the same vowel, in other accents they may contain different vowels; the system was devised by John Wells I 1 KIT e 2 DRESS æ 3 TRAP 6 4 LOT 2 5 STRUT U 6 FOOT A: 7 BATH 6 8 CLOTH 3: 9 NURSE i: 10 FLEECE ei 11 FACE A: 12 PALM O: 13 THOUGHT ou 14 GOAT u: 15 GOOSE ai 16 PRICE OI 17 CHOICE au 18 MOUTH 19 NEAR 20 SQUARE A: 21 START O: 22 NORTH O: 23 FORCE 24 CURE i COMMA szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

11 standard lexical sets realizational difference between accents realizational difference a realizational difference is linguistically irrelevant, since it does not affect the linguistic system; if the knight is replaced by another object in a game of chess, that object can also function as a knight, says Ferdinand de Saussure SSBE vs. New Zealand English SSBE NZE E e 2 DRESS æ E 3 TRAP SSBE has the same vowel in dress as NZE in trap, but the contrast between dress and trap remains in both languages szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

12 standard lexical sets systemic difference between accents systemic difference a systemic difference is linguistically relevant, it affects the linguistic system; a contrast which exists in one accent is absent from the other SSBE vs. Singapore English SSBE SgE E E 2 DRESS æ E 3 TRAP SSBE vs. General American SSBE GA O: O: 13 THOUGHT O: O~ 22 NORTH O: o~ 23 FORCE SgE has the same vowel in dress and trap: bat and bet are homonyms in SgE, but a minimal pair in SSBE in SSBE thought, north, and force have the same vowel (force had before it monophthongized), GA has three different vowels: morning and mourning are homonyms in SSBE, but a minimal pair in GA szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

13 charting vowel phonemes SSBE vowel phonemes in the Jones vowel chart monophthongs I e æ 2 6 i: u: 3: O: A: i e I E æ 3 U u o 2 O A 6 diphthongs closing ei ou OI centring ai au szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

14 next week we are going to look at the phonological length of vowels, and the influence R exerts on preceding vowels szp (delg) intro phono 5/vowel phonemes of E 11 Mar / 14

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