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English Phonetics and Phonology Lesson 4A

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1 English Phonetics and Phonology Lesson 4A
VOWELS English Phonetics and Phonology Lesson 4A

2 VOWEL GROUPS SHORT bad bed, friend, head good, put, should
his, it, kiss hot, of, on love, must, number the, about LONG car, park door, more, caught free, me, please girl, third, world who, you

3 Vowels may differ in three ways
Quality (i.e. the difference between /i:/ and /u:/ Oral or nasal production (unlike French, this does not have a phonemic function in English) Length

4 We will now look at how vowels vary in quality…

5 These are x-rays of a person producing different vowels




9 In the close front position (unrounded) we produce /i/ - pit

10 In the open front position (unrounded) we produce /a/ - pat

11 Back open (unrounded) - pot

12 Back close (rounded): /u/ - put

13 Connecting these points gives us a box called the Vowel Quadrilateral

14 All the vowel sounds that the human voice can produce may be plotted within the limits of the quadrilateral

15 Here is the vowel quadrilateral divided into sectors with the IPA symbols at fixed points. These are called Cardinal Vowels.

16 N.B. Do not confuse symbols for cardinal vowels with language specific phonemes
The IPA vowel quadrilateral is a grid on which we can plot vowels It indicates the total area in which vowels can be produced by human beings, the cardinal vowels are fixed reference points on this chart, just like lines of longtitude and latitude on a map Plots of language specific vowels do not usually correspond to the cardinal vowels, e.g. the Italian /a/ does not correspond to the cardinal vowel [a]

17 The four corners of the quadrilateral may be seen as the four corners of a map –

18 Plotting vowels within the chart is like plotting the irregular outlines of topography

19 These are the places of articulation of English short and long pure vowels

20 The chart of Standard Italian vowels would look like this:

21 The fact that Italian lacks vowels in the central area may well explain why Italian students of English have so much trouble with these sounds

22 However, it is important to remember that the cardinal vowel system describes vowels from an articulatory point of view…

23 …whereas vowels are an acoustic phenomenon and may also be described according to their acoustic properties.

24 Plotting the values of the 1st and 2nd formants results in a graph which greatly resembles the quadrilateral

25 We can note that the values of the acoustic properties are not always exactly the same: they tend to vary considerably

26 This type of analysis can be used to illustrate the difference between native (left) and non-native speakers’ production (right)

27 Native (left) and non-native speakers’ production (right)

28 Length English vowels differ in length as well as in quality
These differences are as important to perception as quality English long vowels are far longer than Italian equivalents (e.g. /i:/, /u:/)

29 The distinction between long and short vowels is not always very clear
The realisation of long and short vowels depends on their context, this is called Clipping This means that long vowels and diphthongs tend to be shortened before voiceless consonants e.g. /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/ etc.

30 Vowel length in centiseconds:
(Data from Gimson 1980:98)

31 Potential ambiguity Italian speakers of English often produce vowel sounds that can be misinterpreted by native speakers This is particularly important in the case of minimal pairs i.e. where substituting one vowel sound for another leads to semantic changes This can be due to the irregular orthography of English or interference from L1. We will now examine this second case.

32 / i: / v. / i / e.g. sheep v. ship. Italian speakers often use one vowel sound, the Italian /i:/ for both. In the case of sheep the vowel length is too short, in that of ship the quality does not exclude ambiguity.

33 Other cases e.g. ban and bun – here the problem is one of vowel quality e.g. coat and court – the Italian /o/ is often used for both

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