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Differences in the articulation bases of English and Russian vowels

Differences in the articulation bases of English and Russian consonants

Differences in the articulation bases of English and Russian vowels


IV. The English Articulation Bases



English was imposed upon the Irish, but they have made it their own and have contributed some of our finest literature. Irish English is strongly influenced by Irish Gaelic:

· r after vowels is retained;

· "pure" vowels ([e:] rather than [ei], [o:] rather than [ou]);

· [T] and [D] > [t] and [d] respectively;

· The distinction between w /w/ and wh /hw/, as in wine vs. whine, is preserved;

· A distinction between [ɛɹ]-[ɪɹ]-[ʌɹ] in herd-bird-curd may be found;

· The vowels in words such as boat and cane are usually monophthongs outside of Dublin: [boːt], and [keːn];

· The /aɪ/ in "night" may be pronounced in a wide variety of ways, e.g. [əɪ], [ɔɪ], [ʌɪ] and [ɑɪ], the latter two being the most common in middle class speech, the former two, in popular speech;

· In some varieties, speakers make no distinction between the [ʌ] in putt and the [ʊ] in put, pronouncing both as the latter;

· In some highly conservative varieties, words spelled with ea and pronounced with [iː] in RP are pronounced with [eː], for example meat, beat;

· In words like took where "oo" usually represents [ʊ], speakers may use [uː]. This is most common in working-class Dublin accents and the speech of North-East Leinster;

· [eɪ] often becomes [ɛ] in words such as gave and came (becoming "gev" and "kem");

· Consonant clusters ending in [j] often change:

- [dj] becomes [dʒ], e.g. dew/due, duke and duty sound like "jew", "jook" and "jooty";

- [tj] becomes [tʃ], e.g. tube is "choob", tune is "choon".

As with the English of the Scottish Highlands, the English of the west coast of Ireland, where Gaelic is still spoken, is lilting, with pure vowels. It, too, is particularly pretty.

1) What dialect was the basis of the national language of England? Why?

2) How is the British literary norm termed?

3) Which pronunciation standard should be chosen for teaching purposes?

4) What is a style of pronunciation?

5) What styles of pronunciation did D. Jones and R. I. Avanessov distinguish?

6) What is the distinctive principal of L.V. Shcherba’s classification of styles of pronunciation?

7) What is sociolinguistics?

8) What is the difference between a dialect and and accent?

9) What are the main types of English spoken in the English-speaking world?

10) How many varieties of the English-based pronunciation subgroup do you know?

11) What are the main peculiarities of the British English dialects? Be ready to describe some of the dialects.


The articulation habits of a community make up the articulation bases of the language of that community. English and Russian articulation bases differ considerably.

The lips. In the production of Russian vowels the lips are consid­erably protruded and rounded: [о, у]. In the articulation of the similar English vowels protrusion does not take place.

The bulk of the tongue. In the articulation of the English vowels the bulk of the tongue occupies more positions than in the production of the Russian vowels. When the tongue moves in the horizontal direction it may occupy a fully front and a front-retracted, a fully back and a back-advanced position. Each of the three vertical positions of the tongue (high, mid, low) in English is subdivided into a narrow and broad variety. Russian vowels are classified accord­ing to the vertical movement of the tongue they may be divided into: high — [и, ы, у], mid — [э, о] and low — [a]. According to the horizontal movement of the tongue Rus­sian vowels may be subdivided into: front — [и, э], central — [ы, a] and back — [o, y].

The principle of the degree of tenseness in vowel classification is connected with the unchecked and checked character of the vowels.

The length of the vowels. Long vowels in English are considered to be tense. There are no long vowels which can be opposed to short vowels in the Russian language.

The stability of articulation. There are monophthongs and diphthongoids in the Russian vowel system, but there are no diphthongs.

There are 6 vowel phonemes in Russian and 20 in English.

Given below are English vowels which have no counterparts in Russian:

1) long and short vowels [i: — I], [O: — Q], [u: —U], [з:-e], [a:— V];

2) slightly rounded, but not protruded vowels [U], [u:], [Q], [O:] , [@U];

3) vowels articulated with the "flat" position of the lips [i:, I, e, eI];

4) very low vowels, such as [æ, Q, a:];

5) front-retracted [I]and back-advanced [u, a:];

6) central or mixed [з:];

7) checked and free vowels [sItI], ['mVnI];

8) diphthongs [eI, aI, OI, I@, аu, Ou, e@, u@].

When articulating English vowels Russian students can make the following mistakes:

1) they do not observe the quantitative character of the long vowels;

2) do not observe the qualitative difference in the articulation of such vowels as [i: — I], [u: —U], [O:-Q];

3) replace the English vowels [i:, Q, U, V, æ] by the Russian vowels [и, о, у, а, э];

4) pronounce [i:, I, e, eI] without the "flat position" of the lips;

5) soften consonants which precede front vowels;

6) articulate [U], [u:], [Q], [O:] , [@U] with the lips too much rounded and protruded;

7) make the sounds [æ, Q] more narrow similarly to the Russian [э, о];

8) make both elements of the diphthongs equally distinct;

9) pronounce initial vowels with a glottal stop.


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