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The Accentual Structure of English Words




 

1. The syllable as a phonetic unit.

2. The syllable as a phonological unit.

3. The syllabic structure of English words.

4. Word and utterance stress.

 

The smallest pronunciation (articulatory) units, into which the speech continuum is divided, are called syllables. The notion of the syllable in modern phonetics is the problem of syllable formation, syllable division, and the phonological status of the syllable. The phonetic aspect of the syllable is characterized by the following features: the peak of the syllable has a higher intensity than its marginal consonants and perceptually, it is louder and higher in pitch. Due to these features the syllable as a phonetic unit may be defined as a peak of articulatory effort.

Like the phoneme the syllable is an abstraction which is realized in speech in phonetically definite units. In each language there is a limited number of syllable structures. As a linguistic unit the syllable performs the following functions: constitutive, distinctive and identificatory.

The syllabic structure in English has certain features that distinguish it from other languages. Syllabic sounds in English are not only vowels but also sonants. The following types of syllables are distinguished depending on the position of the vowel and that of the consonants:

• open syllables

• closed syllables

• covered syllables

• uncovered syllables

The fundamental syllabic type in English is the closed syllable.

The auditory impression of stress is that of prominence. There may be one prominent syllables in a word, there may be two equally prominent syllables or more, two unequally prominent syllables. This correlation of degrees of prominence of the syllables in a word forms the stress pattern of the word, which is called the accentual structure of a word. Word stress belongs to the word when said in isolation. Whereas utterance stress belongs to the utterance. The placement of utterance stress is primarily conditioned by the situation and linguistic contexts, by the speakers’ intentions to bring out words semantically important. The stress pattern of a word is also conditioned by pronunciation tendencies and the orthoepic norm of a language.

A stressed syllable is a syllable that that has special prominence. The effect of prominence may be produced by a greater degree of loudness, greater length of the stressed syllable, some modifications in its pitch and quality. Thus prominence is created by an interaction of four acoustic features: loudness, pitch, length, quality. English word stress is of a complex nature and manifests itself in various ways.

 

 

Лекция 3


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