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American English Pronunciation


1. Peculiarities of American English Pronunciation as compared to those of RP.

2. Intonation contours of American English.


American English (AE), a variant of the English language, has developed its own peculiarities in vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. American English embraces a wide range of pronunciation varieties. General American (GA) pronunciation is usually referred to as the standard pronunciation of AE. The peculiarities of GA pronunciation (as compared to those of RP) are as follows:

• [r] is retroflexive;

• [t] is voiced between a vowel and a sonorant;

• [l] is always dark;

• [h] is often dropped in weak syllables;

• [j] is omitted before [u];

• the glottal stop is used instead of [t] before [m], [n], [l], [r], [j], [w];

• [æ] is used instead of [a:] in words which do not contain the letter “r”;

• vowels are not differentiated by their length, they are long.

The most frequent intonation contour for statements, requests, general questions in GA is the tune, beginning low, rising to a high level, and then steadily falling. Rising tunes that rise from a low pitch level and end on a high pitch level occur with some general questions when a polite form is desirable. Another frequent intonational characteristic in GA is to end a sentence with a high-pitched fall-rise.

There is a wide range of pronunciation varieties of the English language. They reflect the social class the speaker belongs to, the region he comes from. Some of these varieties are received pronunciations, others are not.



The syllable as a Phonetic and Phonological Unit.

A. Think about the following questions:

· Why is the syllable considered to be the smallest articulatory unit? Why can’t we consider the sound to be the smallest articulatory unit?

· What makes us assert that the syllable is also the smallest perceptible unit? Don’t we perceive separate sounds in connected speech?

· Is the syllable a linguistic unit? Is it the smallest linguistic unit?

· What are the main problems of the phonetic aspect of the syllable? Which of the theories of syllable formation do you think is the most consistent and helpful?

· Could we describe the structure of the syllable with reference to all the languages? What universal features of the syllabic structure could you name?

B. Choose one of the nonsense words given below which can be recognized as either English or Russian due to the structural characteristics of the syllables:

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