Explaining the English
articulatory setting
Piers Messum
p.messum@gmail.com
http://sites.google.com/site/pmessum/home
Spee...
Thanks to Marie-Laure Lagrange
Articulatory settings
what they are (e.g. in English and French)
their significance
the ‘problem’ with the English AS
Spee...
Articulatory settings (AS)
• Sweet (1890):
‘Every language has certain tendencies which control its
organic movements and ...
“The tip of the tongue … [is] the
part that has a mainly vertical
aspect … plus a small area about
2mm wide on the upper s...
Laver (1980:23) posits a neutral
configuration of the supralaryngeal tract, in
which, “Front oral articulations are
perfor...
French vs. English
Honikman on the tongue:
The French AS has the tongue “anchored
medianly … to the floor of the mouth by ...
French vs. English
The English AS has the tongue,
“tethered laterally to the roof of the mouth, by
allowing the sides to r...
From Gilbert 2001 Clear Speech from the Start
English
• Jenner (1987) has the tongue-tip raised
semi-continuously in English speech, with
a result that the area behind ...
Significance of AS’s
“… where two languages are disparate in
articulatory setting, it is not possible
completely to master...
Significance of AS’s
“Without [a representation of the
generalised articulatory and phonatory
settings] the essential natu...
But is an AS teachable?
The ‘problem’ with English
• The ‘problems’ with English …
• Why do English speakers depart from a
‘neutral configuration’...
How are AS’s learnt?
Gick et al (2004:222) asked if AS’s are:
“specified parts of a language’s inventory”
“functionally de...
Speech Breathing
‘Cinderella’ of Speech Science
Simplest adult model:
• Inhalation inflates a ‘balloon’
• Recoil pressure ...
2
4
6
8
10
0 10 20 30 40
AGE
Recoil(cmH2O)
Combined female and male
Stathopoulos (2000)
2
4
6
8
10
0 10 20 30 40
AGE
Recoil(cmH2O)
Combined female and male
A child’s chest wall is very
compliant. His style of s...
From pulsatility to elevated background pressure (Kneil, 1972)
Children’s style of speech breathing
PULSATILE
VOLUME + PULSATILE
SOLUTION
CONSTANT
NET FORCE
Articulation rate slower
All...
Pre-fortis clipping:
cat vs. cad, peace vs. peas
Pre-‘consonant cluster’ clipping:
ram - ramp - ramped
Foot level shorteni...
The ‘problem’ with English
Why do English speakers depart from a
‘neutral configuration’ for their overall
articulatory se...
[t, d, n, etc]
Why articulated with tip not blade?
(Requiring speakers to draw tongue back
from ‘neutral’ position)
Is the...
Standard view, that VOT develops through
temporal imitation:
– VOT’s start effectively undifferentiated in child
productio...
Can English long-lag VOT be explained within the
pulsatile child speech breathing paradigm?
Can English long-lag VOT be explained within the
pulsatile child speech breathing paradigm?
New problem is Pāli/Hindi stop...
Developmental mechanism
• Babble with blade of tongue for front articulations
• Experiment with different ways of releasin...
[p, b]
Why are these articulated within an overall AS
which has notably “loose, inactive lips” (Jenner
1987)?
Part of the ...
Summary
A non-imitative account of development: motor
experimentation plus interlocutor reinforcement is the
mechanism.
Co...
Teaching implications
Articulatory Settings, SSF at UCL
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Articulatory Settings, SSF at UCL

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An explanation for the English articulatory setting

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Articulatory Settings, SSF at UCL

  1. 1. Explaining the English articulatory setting Piers Messum p.messum@gmail.com http://sites.google.com/site/pmessum/home Speech Science Forum, March 2010
  2. 2. Thanks to Marie-Laure Lagrange
  3. 3. Articulatory settings what they are (e.g. in English and French) their significance the ‘problem’ with the English AS Speech breathing how it’s different for young English speakers some of the consequences Reconciling speech breathing in English with its articulatory setting how short/long-lag VOT’s may appear … and the consequences for teaching pronunciation
  4. 4. Articulatory settings (AS) • Sweet (1890): ‘Every language has certain tendencies which control its organic movements and positions, constituting its organic basis or the basis of articulation. A knowledge of the organic basis is a great help in acquiring the pronunciation of a language.’ • Honikman (1964), Abercrombie (1967), Trudgill (1974), Laver (1980) and Jenner (1987a,b) for English • Laver (1978) and Jenner (2001) for history • Gick et al (2004) and Wilson (2006) for instrumental studies
  5. 5. “The tip of the tongue … [is] the part that has a mainly vertical aspect … plus a small area about 2mm wide on the upper surface. Sounds made with the tip of the tongue are said to be apical. Behind the tip is the blade, which is the defining part of the tongue for sounds that are said to be laminal. It is difficult to say how far back the blade extends [but … it] is the part of the tongue below the centre of the alveolar ridge when the tongue is at rest.” Divisions of the tongue From Ladefoged and Maddieson (1996) Sounds of the World’s Languages
  6. 6. Laver (1980:23) posits a neutral configuration of the supralaryngeal tract, in which, “Front oral articulations are performed by the blade.” But there is general agreement that English departs from the neutral configuration. Speakers primarily use the tip. Laver (1980:50): in ‘tip’ settings, the body of the tongue is slightly retracted.
  7. 7. French vs. English Honikman on the tongue: The French AS has the tongue “anchored medianly … to the floor of the mouth by the tip being tethered to the lower front teeth.”
  8. 8. French vs. English The English AS has the tongue, “tethered laterally to the roof of the mouth, by allowing the sides to rest along the inner surface of the upper lateral gums and teeth; the lateral rims of the tongue very seldom entirely leave this part of the roof of the mouth, whereas the tip constantly … moves up and down … Thus, one might regard the tethered part — in this case, the lateral contact — as the anchorage, and the untethered part as the free or operative part of the tongue-setting.”
  9. 9. From Gilbert 2001 Clear Speech from the Start
  10. 10. English • Jenner (1987) has the tongue-tip raised semi-continuously in English speech, with a result that the area behind it takes on “a particular configuration best described as concave or hollowed” • Sweet (1906) and Honikman (1964:77) agree, describing this as a slightly retroflex setting • Further summaries in Wilson (2006)
  11. 11. Significance of AS’s “… where two languages are disparate in articulatory setting, it is not possible completely to master the pronunciation of one whilst maintaining the articulatory setting of the other.” Honikman (1964:74)
  12. 12. Significance of AS’s “Without [a representation of the generalised articulatory and phonatory settings] the essential nature of ‘foreign accent’ cannot be captured and phonetics will not be able to offer the language teacher any basis for an improvement in strategies for the teaching of pronunciation.” Jenner (1987:137)
  13. 13. But is an AS teachable?
  14. 14. The ‘problem’ with English • The ‘problems’ with English … • Why do English speakers depart from a ‘neutral configuration’ (e.g. retract our tongues, and use the tip for front articulations)? • How are AS’s acquired?
  15. 15. How are AS’s learnt? Gick et al (2004:222) asked if AS’s are: “specified parts of a language’s inventory” “functionally derived properties of speech motor production” – Motor efficiency via token frequency? – Or via type frequency (how best to realise all the tokens)? Or is there another basis for the English AS?
  16. 16. Speech Breathing ‘Cinderella’ of Speech Science Simplest adult model: • Inhalation inflates a ‘balloon’ • Recoil pressure drives airflow, supplemented by expiratory muscles Child model is fundamentally different
  17. 17. 2 4 6 8 10 0 10 20 30 40 AGE Recoil(cmH2O) Combined female and male Stathopoulos (2000)
  18. 18. 2 4 6 8 10 0 10 20 30 40 AGE Recoil(cmH2O) Combined female and male A child’s chest wall is very compliant. His style of speech breathing cannot be based on recoil pressures Stathopoulos (2000)
  19. 19. From pulsatility to elevated background pressure (Kneil, 1972)
  20. 20. Children’s style of speech breathing PULSATILE VOLUME + PULSATILE SOLUTION CONSTANT NET FORCE Articulation rate slower All production must be made with expiratory gestures All production is ‘high effort’ Skill in valving of upper articulators is undeveloped Generally, motor skills are ‘jerky’ before they are smooth etc … Laryngeal mechanism probably unavailable for stress-accent, so young speakers of West Germanic languages must use an increase in initiator power to realise routine sentence stress
  21. 21. Pre-fortis clipping: cat vs. cad, peace vs. peas Pre-‘consonant cluster’ clipping: ram - ramp - ramped Foot level shortening (hence ‘stress-timing’): one | two | three | four vs. one and then | two and then | three and then | … ‘Long’ and ‘short’ vowels (‘tense’ and ‘lax’): heat vs. hit, Luke vs. look Temporal epiphenomena
  22. 22. The ‘problem’ with English Why do English speakers depart from a ‘neutral configuration’ for their overall articulatory setting?
  23. 23. [t, d, n, etc] Why articulated with tip not blade? (Requiring speakers to draw tongue back from ‘neutral’ position) Is there a connection with /t, d/ being – [+/- aspiration] – long and short lag VOT in English (in stressed contexts)?
  24. 24. Standard view, that VOT develops through temporal imitation: – VOT’s start effectively undifferentiated in child production, – they progress through ‘covert contrasts’ to sometimes overshoot adult norms, – they continue to develop despite, “the distinction [between them] usually sound[ing] all right to the adult by the time the child is about 4 years old” (Hawkins 1994:4179), – they settle into adult-like values at around age 6, – but their values continue to be more variable than those seen in adult productions until about age 8. Adult data also unsatisfactory
  25. 25. Can English long-lag VOT be explained within the pulsatile child speech breathing paradigm?
  26. 26. Can English long-lag VOT be explained within the pulsatile child speech breathing paradigm? New problem is Pāli/Hindi stops: /p ph b bh /, /t th d dh /, etc How do these develop? New solution: two ways of releasing occlusions …
  27. 27. Developmental mechanism • Babble with blade of tongue for front articulations • Experiment with different ways of releasing plosives • Remember! Higher pressures, etc • West Germanic speaking children adopt stress accent • Stress pulses + passive releases lead to aspirated, long- lag [t] • Interlocutors recognise and reinforce this production • Passive release / crisp sound are facilitated by apical articulation • Development of a new AS is favoured …
  28. 28. [p, b] Why are these articulated within an overall AS which has notably “loose, inactive lips” (Jenner 1987)? Part of the “relative relaxation throughout”. Cf. Dutch “pursed lips” Collins and Mees (1996) Is there a connection with /p, b/ being – [+/- aspiration] – long and short lag in English (in some contexts)?
  29. 29. Summary A non-imitative account of development: motor experimentation plus interlocutor reinforcement is the mechanism. Consistent with a general account where children do not have to pay considerable attention to the phonetic niceties of the ambient language in order to acquire it. Development within the pulsatile SB paradigm ‘explains’ why VOT and aspiration are so connected with stress, and also explains the anomalous VOT data. Further, it ‘explains’ why English-speaking children develop an AS that departs from a neutral setting in various ways.
  30. 30. Teaching implications

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