Introduction to Suprasegmental Features

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Introduction to Suprasegmental Features

  1. 1. INTRODUCTION TOSUPRASEGMENTAL FEATURES
  2. 2. ∗ In linguistics, prosody refers to intonation, rhythm and vocal stress in speech.∗ The prosodic features of a unit of speech whether a syllable, word, phrase or clause are called suprasegmental features because they affect all the segments of the unit.∗ Suprasegmental features operate over longer stretches of speech, such as rhythm and voice quality as opposed to segmental features, which are the individual sounds.
  3. 3. Length – The amount of time it takes to produce a sound ∗ Some sounds are longer than others. Beat Bead ∗ If you were to pronounce both words with longer vowels, the pronunciation might seem strange but the meaning is not lost. In other words, the meaning of beat and bead are the same.
  4. 4. ∗ But in other languages, vowel length actually changes the meaning of words. Therefore, pronunciation of the lengthened sound is very important because the word means something completely different.∗ In English, you can express your emotions by lengthening certain sounds in sentences. By varying the tempo of the words (such as lengthening specific sounds) you can communicate your feelings.
  5. 5. Intonation – The rising and falling of the voice (pitch) over a stretch of sentence ∗ If pitch varies over an entire phrase or sentence, we call the different pitch curves by the term intonation. ∗ Intonation conveys the speaker’s attitude or feelings. In other words, intonation can convey anger, sarcasm or various emotions.
  6. 6. Stress (tense or lax syllables) andJuncture (pauses within sentences to separate words and meaning) ∗ In English, the stress you place on a syllable can change the meaning of a word. ∗ When combined with pausing after certain words, the meaning of the whole sentence can completely change. Light housekeeping means chores such as sweeping, mopping, and A tight-rope walker is an acrobat. cleaning windows. A tight ropewalker is a drunken Lighthouse keeping is running ropewalker. lighthouse operations.
  7. 7. Tone – The rising and falling of pitch in a syllable ∗ If the pitch of a single syllable or word has the effect of influencing the meaning of the word, we call the different pitch distributions by the term tone. ∗ Every language uses pitch as intonation, but only some languages use it as tone.
  8. 8. ∗ There are two basic types of tones in tone languages. Register tones are measured by contrasts in the absolute pitch of different syllables. Register tones may be high, mid, or low. Many West African languages use contrasts of high mid and low tones to distinguish word meaning. Contour tones are tones involving a pitch shift upward or downward on a single syllable. Many languages of East and Southeast Asia use contour tones, the best known being Mandarin Chinese. Mandarin has four tones for [ma:]. Each word means something different ("mother," "hemp," "horse," "scold.")

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