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I. Principles of classification of speech sounds




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Classification of English speech sounds

Plan:

1. Principles of classification of speech sounds.

2. The Articulation basis of English.

3. The Articulatory classification of English speech sounds

a) Vowels;

b) Consonants.

 

In all languages speech sounds are divided into two main types - vowels and consonants.

From the articulatory point of view the main principles of the division are as follows: the presence or absence of obstruction; the distribution of muscular tension; the force of the air stream coming from the lungs.

Vowels are speech sounds based on voice which is modified in supralaryngeal cavities. There is no obstruction in their articulation. The muscular tension is spread evenly throughout the speech organs. The force of the air stream is rather weak.

Consonants are speech sounds in the articulation of which there is an abstraction, the removal of which causes noise -explosion or friction. The muscular tension is concentrated at the place of obstruction. The air stream is strong.

The articulatory boundary between vowels and consonants is not well marked. There exist speech sounds that occupy an intermediate position between vowels and consonants and have common features with both the vowels and consonants. They are sonorants ( m, n, rj, j, w, r ). There is an obstruction in their articulation and lie muscular tension is concentrated at the place of obstruction as in the production of consonants. Like vowels they are largely based on voice. The air passage in their production is rather wide and the force of the air is weak as in the case of vowels. The wide passage for the air stream is the articulation of sonorant means that the oral and nasal cavities are active. It results in greater audibility (sonority, carrying power, or perceptibility) of the sounds - a feature characteristic of vowels. Because of their strong vocalic characteristics sonorants (w, j, r ) are often referred to as semivowels. Due to their greater sonority some sonorants can be syllabic in some particular positions. But generally sonorants do not perform the function of syllable formation. That is why they are attributed to consonants. Thus, consonants can be subdivided into sonorants and consonants.

From the acoustic point of view vowels are complex periodic vibrations -tones. They are combinations of the main tone and overtones intensified by the supralarngeal cavities.

Consonants are not-periodic vibrations - noises. Voiceless consonants are pure noises. Voiced consonants are actually a combination of noise and tone. And sonorants are mainly sounds of tone with admixture of noise.

Thus, the acoustic boundary between vowels and consonants is not well marked either.

Numerous experiments show that the criterion which justifies the division of speech sounds into vowels and consonants is the physiological criterion put forward by V. Bogoroditsky.

 





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