After discussing about an inventory ofEnglish speech sounds and the ways ofproducing them in the previous sections,we must clearly understand some other basic concepts in phonology, such as: Phoneme, Minimal Pair, Allophone, and Suprasegmental.
a. Phoneme & Minimal Pair Phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit in a language that is capable of conveying a distinction in meaning. In other words, phoneme is a speech sound that signals a difference in meaning. Consider, for example, the words “dime” and “dine”. They sound exactly alike except for the /m/ and the /n/, but their meanings are different. therefore, it must be the /m/ and /n/ that made the difference in meaning, and these two nasals are established as English phonemes.
Likewise, if we compare the sounds of “sin” and “sing”, we find only one difference between them: sin ends in the alveolar nasal /n/ and sing ends in the velar nasal /ŋ/. (Don‟t be deceived by the spelling of sing; the letters “ng” represent a single sound /ŋ/. This contrast is evidence that /n/ and /ŋ/ are both phonemes. Pairs of words like those above that demonstrate a single phonemic contrast are called minimal pairs. In other words, one method of etablishing the phonemes of a language is by means of minimal pairs.
•Let’s see the examples of English Minimal Pairs :
Pin [ pɪn] Beat [bi:t] Bin [ bɪn] Bit [bɪt] Big [bɪg] Bat [bæt] Dig [dɪg] Bet [bet]Late [leɪt] Pie [paɪ]Rate [reɪt] Buy [baɪ] Pill [pɪl] Tie [taɪ] Kill [kɪl] Die [daɪ]Neck [nek] Sad [sæd]Knock [nɒk] Sat [sæt]Fine [faɪn] Chip [tʃɪp]Vine [vaɪn] Cheap [tʃi:p]Zoo [zu:] Thin [θɪn]Too [tu:] Thing [θɪŋ] Hot [hɒt] Bar [bɑ:(r)] Got [gɒt] Car [kɑ:(r)]
The Rules for Minimal Pairs:1. The words must have the same number of sounds;2. The words must be identical in every sound except for one;3. The sound that is different must be in the same position in each word;4. The words must have different meaning.
b. Allophone Allophone is the variants of the phonemes that occur in detailed phonetic transcriptions. In other words, allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds (phones) use to pronounce a single phoneme. Allophone is non-distinctive individual variation of the phoneme. The use of an allophone does not change the meaning of a word.
Example: [p] and [ph] are allophones of the phoneme /p/ /p/ [ph] [p]Examples: /p/ as in pin [pɪn] is aspirated (as if pronounced by [ph]; /p/ as in spin [spɪn] is unaspirated (plain); In the word paper, the first /p/ is aspirated and pronounced as [ph], and the second /p/ is usually unaspirated and pronounced as a plain [p], like: [‘peɪpə(r)] → [‘pheɪpə(r)]).
c. Suprasegmental Features Vowels and consonants can be thought of as the segments of which speech is composed. That is why vowels and consonants usually known as “segmental phonemes”. Together they form the syllables, which go to make up utterances. Related to the syllables, there are other features known as “suprasegmentals”. The suprasegmental features (also known as prosodic features) are the aspects of speech that involve more than single consonants or vowels.
These features are independent of the categories required for describing segmental features (vowels and consonants), which involve, for examples, air stream mechanism, states of the glottis, and so on. The main components of suprasegmental features consist of: stress, pitch, intonation, tone, and tempo.
STRESS : Stress is the rhythm of a language. In pronunciation, stress can refers to words, part of words, or even one word in a group of words that receives the most emphasis. Stress is one of the suprasegmental features of utterances. It applies not to individual vowels and consonants but to whole syllables. In the level of word, a stressed syllable is pronounced with a greater amount of energy than an unstressed syllable.
• The three basic patterns of STRESS stress in syllables: PATTERNSIN SYLLABLE
Monosyllabic Words eat [‘i:t]At the word level, all good [‘gʊd]monosyllabic words are stressed. book [‘bʊk] on [‘ɒn]
Bysillabic Words Type 1 Type 2 Type 3 Type 4The first syllable The first syllable One syllable Both syllablesreceives primary receives no receives primary receive primarystress, and the stress, and the stress, and the other stress. (The wordssecond syllable second syllable syllable receives are also calledreceives no stress. receives primary secondary stress. “compound stress. words”).table [„teɪbl] yellow [‘je ləʊ] convince baseballopen [„əʊpə n] value [‘væl ju:] [kən’vins] [„beis’bɔ:l] pretend hotdog [„hɒt’dɒg] [prɪ’tend]
Multisyllabic Words Three syllable words: Four syllable words:a. Stressed-Unstressed-Unstressed a. Stressed-Unstressed-Unstressed-Unstressed animal [‘ænɪml] questionable [‘kwestʃənəbl]b. Unstressed-Stressed-Unstressed b. Unstressed-stressed-Unstressed-Unstressed disgraceful [dɪs’greisfl] Phonology [fə’nɒlədʒi] c. Unstressed-Stressed-Stressed-Unstressedc. Unstressed-Stressed-Stressed accomplishment [ə’kʌm plɪʃmənt] Chicago [ʃɪ’kɑ: gəʊ] d. Stressed-Unstressed-Stressed-Unstressedd. Stressed-Unstressed-Stressed phonetician [ fəʊnə’tɪʃn] buffalo [„bʌfə ləʊ] e. Stressed-Stressed-Unstressed-Unstressede. Stressed-Stressed-Unstressed obesity [ əʊ‟bi:sɪti] electric [‘ɪ lektrɪk]
PITCH: Based on the aspect of articulator, pitch is influenced by the tension of the vocal cords. If the vocal cords are stretched, the pitch of the sound will go up. Pitch refers to the normal melodic height of an individual‟s speech. It is like a degree of highness or lowness of one‟s speech.
We make use of pitch as a part of our signaling system. Although we employ many degrees of pitch in speaking, we use only four levels of relative pitch as phonemes. They are: 4 >> extra-high 3 >> high 2 >> normal 1 >> lowThis is to say, the normal pitch of speaking voice,whatever its actual height, is called level 2; and from this,we make various upward and downward. These variationsof pitch we make in speaking will affect the intonation ofour speech.
INTONATION: Intonation shows how the „music‟ of a language rises and falls over a speech. In other words, it can be also described as a fluctuation of one‟s voice, which is characterized as a downward or upward movement of a voice or sound in an utterance as a result of the pitch variations. Thus, the intonation of a sentence is the pattern of pitch changes that occurs.
THE EXAMPLES: 2 3 1 What are you going to find out there?
TONE: Pitch variations that affect the meaning of a word are called tone. The meaning of the word depends on its tone. Tone is shown or heard in how something is being said. It is more like an attitude rather than being a voice pattern. Emotion has also a great deal of influence to one‟s tone. By using different tones, the words in a sentence can have different meanings.
TEMPO : Tempo of speech is the relative speed or slowness of utterance which is measured by the rate of syllable succession/movement, the number, and duration of pauses in a sentence. In English, speakers try to make the amount of time to say something the same between the stressed syllables. If there are three or four unstressed syllable between the stressed syllables, for example, the unstressed syllables will be spoken faster, so that the speaker can keep the rhythm. For this reason, English is a said as a “stressed time language”.
Try to determine how syllables in these sentences deal with tempo: I have much money. (5 syllables) Kenny has gone to France and back. (8 syllables) The Americans are buying some souvenirs and posters. (15 syllables)Note: In English, approximately every 0.6 seconds a stressed syllable must occur.
Symbols Commonly Used SuprasegmentalsSYMBO TYPE: MEANING: L: ː Length Mark indicates the length of a phoneme. ˑ Half-length Mark indicates the partial length of a phoneme. ˘ Breve indicates a shortened phoneme. indicates a syllable break . (Can also be Under Dot . denoted by a space). Slash indicates the end of a phrase. Double Slash indicates the end of a sentence. indicates the primary stress. Superior Vertical Stroke Inferior Vertical indicates the secondary stress. ˌ Stroke