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Consonant Alternations

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  1. A). Consonants. 1 страница
  2. A). Consonants. 2 страница
  3. A). Consonants. 3 страница
  4. A). Consonants. 4 страница
  5. Articulatory classification of English consonants
  7. Classification of consonants in the manner of articulation.
  10. Consonant clusters at the beginning of the words.
  11. Consonant clusters within and across the words.

Vowel Alternations

1. Distinction of irregular verbal forms:

[i Ч e Ч e]: mean Ч meant Ч meant

[iЧлЧл]: dig Ч dug Ч dug

[aiЧ 3V Ч i]: write Ч wrote Ч written

[i Ч asЧл]: sing Ч sang Ч sung

[еэ Ч э: Ч о:]: wear Ч wore Ч worn

[ai Ч i Ч i]: hide Ч hid Ч hidden

[i -=- зо Ч зи]: speak Ч spoke Ч spoken

[зоЧ u: Ч зо]: know Ч knew Ч known

[i Ч ei Ч ij: give Ч gave Ч given

[e Ч d Ч oj: get Ч got Ч got

[i Ч o: Ч a:]: teach Ч taught Ч taught

[ae Ч о Ч и]: understand Ч understood Ч understood

[ei Ч о Ч eij: take Ч took Ч taken

[ei Ч зо Ч зо]; wake Ч woke Ч woken

[u: Ч о Ч d): shoot Ч shot Ч shot

[e Чзо Чзо]: tell Ч told Ч told

[i Ч ae Ч ae]: sit Чsat Чsat

[i Ч o: Ч o:]: think Ч thought Ч thought

[л Ч ei Ч a]: become Ч became Ч become

[ai Ч зо Ч i]: rise Ч rose Ч risen

[зо Ч u: Ч 30]: grow Ч grew Ч grown

[u: Ч зо Ч зо]: choose Ч chose Ч chosen

[ai Ч u: Ч зо]: fly Ч flew Ч flown

[ai Чo: Чo:]: fight Ч fought Ч fought

[ai Ч аи Ч аи]: find Ч found Ч found

[i;Ч d: Ч i]: see Ч saw Ч seen

[is Ч з: Ч з:]: hear Ч heard Ч heard

and some other less common verbal alternations of this type.

2. Distinction of causal verbal forms:

[i Ч e]: sit Ч set [aiЧ ei]: rise Ч raise [a Чe]: fall Чfell

3. Distinction of singular and plural forms of nouns:

[ae Ч e]: man Ч men

[uЧ t]: foot Ч feet

[u: Ч i:]: tooth Ч teeth

[аи Ч ai]: mouse Ч mice

[o Ч i]: woman Ч women

[ai Ч i]: child Ч children

4. Distinction of parts of speech in etymologically correlated

[i: Ч e]: feast Ч festive

[a Ч ж): class Ч classify

[dЧ e]: long Ч length

[o: Ч e]: broad Ч breadth

[ei Ч ae]: nation Ч national

[ai Ч i]: wise Ч wisdom

[d Ч i:]: hot Ч heat

This type of alternation is often strengthened not only by suffixation but also by the shifting of stress like in: part Ч particular, 'climate Ч cli'matic.

1. Distinction of irregular verbal forms:
[d Ч t]: send Ч sent, lend Ч lent

2. Distinction of parts of speech in etymologically correlated

[s Ч z]: advice Ч advise, house Ч house, use Ч use

[s Ч d]: defence Ч defend

[t Ч d]: intent Ч intend

[k Ч tf ]: speak Ч speech

[t Ч s]: important Ч importance

3. Vowel + Consonant Alternations(often supported by suffixa-

tion and the shifting of stress)

[i Ч ai] + [v Ч f): live Чlife

[a Чei] + [Ё Ч6]: bath Чbathe

[e Ч u] + [6 Ч 3]: breath Чbreathe

[d Чik] + [s Чz]: loss Чlose

In the Russian language there are numerous types of vowel and consonant alternations illustrated by the examples below:

сидеть Ч с€дь резать Ч режу

плыть Ч сплав лететь Ч лечу

судить Ч сужу плакать Ч плачу

Sound alternations are also widely spread on the synchroni-cal level in the present-day English and are known as contextual.In connection with contextual sound alternations there arises a problem of phonemic identification of alternated sounds.The functioning of sounds in different grammatical forms and derivatives of words seems very complicated and flexible. The study of the relationship between phonemes and morphemes is called morphophonemics.The interrelation of phonology and morphology in linguistics' investigations is also known as morphopho-nology or morphonologywhich is actually the phonology of morphemes. Morphonology studies the way in which sounds can alternate as different realisations of one and the same morpheme. A morpheme is a minimal unit of meaning. We would all agree that such words as windy, dusty, sunny consist of two morphemes. Similarly, demonstration, alternation have two component morphemes. The meanings of wind, dust, sun as well as of demonstrate, situate are obvious. But what function do the morphemes -y and -ion perform? On the basis of the examples, it appears that the function of -y is to convert a noun into an adjective. Similarly -ion converts a verb into a noun. These morphemes have a grammatical meaning, their main purpose is to convert one part of speech into another. Now then what is meant by the identification of alternated sounds? Each set of data below exemplifies a sound alternation in one and the same morpheme of two different parts of speech.

malice ['maelis] Ч malicious [ma'li/as]

active ['aektiv] Чactivity [ak'tiviti]

abstract [ asbstraekt] Ч abstract [asb'straskt]

conduct [kondakt] Чconduct [kan'dAkt]

contrast[ kontrasst] Ч contrast [kan'traest]

We are interested now in the sound in its weak position. Vowels are said to be in their strong position when they are in stressed syllables and in the weak position when they are in the unstressed ones. Consonants may well be said to be in their strong position before vowels and in the intervocalic position; they are in weak positions when they are word final or precede other consonants.

There may be different solutions to the problem of phoneme identification in weak positions of alternated words. The question arises whether the sound [э] in the words activity and contrast is a neutral phoneme or it is an allophone of the [ге] or [t>] phonemes (as in active, 'contrast) which loses some of its distinctive features in the unstressed position. The difference is quite essential as in the first case the neutral sound is identified as an independent neutral phoneme, in the second Ч it is a neutralized allophone of the [ae] or [d] phonemes of the corresponding alternated words.

It is fair to mention here that the problem is by far more significant for the Russian language because of the widely spread voiced/voiceless assimilation and vowel reduction in the language, e.g.

a) мороз [млрос] Ч морозы [млрозы]
город [горът] Ч города [гърлда]
зуб [зуп] ' Ч зубы [зубы]

b) коса [клса] Ч косы [косы]
слон [слон] Ч слоны [сллны]
сторона [стърлна] Ч стороны [сторъны]

Scholars of different trends are not unanimous in solving the problem. Though the discussions of the problem are dying down at present the conceptions remain determining for this or that linguistic point of view. The so-called morphological school represented by Soviet philologists R.I.Avanesov, V.P.Sidorov, P.S.Kuznetsov, A.A.Reformatsky supported the theory of neutralization of phonemes.

The concept of neutralization, and the theory related to it derives originally from the Prague School of phonology which flourished in the thirties; it is particularly associated with N.S.Trubetskoy (34) and R.Jakobson (62). A neutralization is said to occur when two or more closely related sounds, which are in contrast with each other in most positions like дом. Ч том, are found to be non-contrastive in certain other positions, e.g. суд [сут] _ судить [суд'йт1]. That means that there are environments where the two sounds do not contrast with each other, even though they normally do. When this happens, the opposition between the two sounds is said to be neutralized. The loss of one or more distinctive features of a phoneme in the weak position is called phonemic neutralization.In English, the voicing opposition is neutralized after the initial [s]. We are well aware of the fact that the phonemes [t] and [d], for example, contrast in most environments: initially (tick Ч Dick), finally (bid Чbit); after nasals (bend Ч bent), after [1] (coldЧ colt). But after [s], no contrast between [t], [d] is possible, nor, similarly, is there a contrast between [p], [b) and [k], [g] in this environment. The voicing contrast is neutralized after initial [s].

The sound which actually occurs in this environment does not correspond exactly to either the voiced or voiceless sounds, but shares the features of both of them: speak, story, sky. If we represent the [p] of peak, as [ph], the sound [p] of speak as [p = ]', and the [b] of beak as [b], the distribution of features is as follows:


[ph] Чpeak [p ~ ] Ч speak [b] Ч beak

bilabial bilabial bilabial

plosive plosive plosive

voiceless fortis voiceless fortis voiced lenis

aspirated unaspirated unaspirated

This distribution of features shows that [p ~ ] is truly intermediate between [ph] and [b]; it shares their common properties, bilabial and plosive, but then it shares one feature (voiceless), with [ph] and the other (unaspirated) with [b]. Does it belong, then, with the phoneme [p] or with [b)? Usually phonologists have assigned it to [p] on the grounds that voicing is more important in English than aspiration, or for other similar reasons. There is a good case, however, for arguing that [p = ] belongs equally with [p] or [b], as shown by the distribution of features, and therefore that speak could be transcribed equally as [spi:k] or as [sbtk]. The choice of [p] is usually preferred, because of the spelling, as English has a long-established tradition of spelling these words with sp, st, sk.

The Moscow philologists claim that interchange of sounds manifests close connection between phonetics as the science of the sound system and morphology of the language which studies grammatical meanings. Alternations are observed in one and the same morphological unit, in a morpheme, and actualize the phonemic structure of the morpheme. Thus the phonemic content of the morpheme is constant.It should be noted here that alternations of morphemes cannot be mistaken for the oppositions of minimal pairs in different stems of words. For instance, [ш] Ч [ж] in нож [ш] Ч ножик [ж] is an alternation of sounds within the same phoneme in the same morpheme, where [ш] is an allophonic realization of the [ж] phoneme, while [ш] Ч [ж] in шар Ч жар is the opposition of two different phonemes which differentiates the actual meaning of the words. Let us compare the sentences: ” него плохой грипп. Ч ” него плохой гриб. The distinction of the sentences is lost as soon as they are pronounced. In the word гриб [п] the final consonant loses one of its distinctive features (voiced/voiceless) but it is associated with the word грибы, it is morphologically bound with them and manifests an allophone of the [6] phoneme. Thus the sound [n] may be an allophone of different phonemes: it is the principal allophone of the phoneme [n] in the word грипп [п] and the subsidiary allophone in the weak position of the phoneme [6] in the word гриб [п].

In the alternation вода Ч воды the sounds [л] Ч [о] are allo-phones of one and the same phoneme [o]. So [л] is the allophone of the phoneme [o] in the weak position of the word вода. It might be an allophone of some other phoneme, [a] for instance, in the word трава. In other words one and the same sound may belong to different phonemes.

In the English word activity the neutral sound [э] is the allophonic realization of the phoneme [ж] in its weak unstressed position. It alternates with the principal allophone of the phoneme [as] in the words of the same root-morpheme: act, active. And [p = ] in speak is actually an allophone of the [p] phoneme.

The supporters of the morphological trend define the phoneme as follows: ЂЁто функциональна€ фонетическа€ единица, представленна€ р€дом позиционно чередующихс€ звуковї (25, р. 107).

The notion of Ђфонетический р€дї, suggested by R.I.Ava-nesov (1), demonstrates positionally determined realizations, of the phoneme. Positionally alternating sounds are grouped into one phoneme whether they are similar or have common features (that is common allophones) with other phonemes.

The Russian preposition с + noun may have the followinc realizations:

с  олей Ч [с] с Ўурой Ч [ш]

с “имошей Ч [с1 ] с ∆еней Ч [ж]

с √алей Ч [з] с „уком Ч [ш1 ]

с ƒимой Ч [з' ]

In the morphological conception the alternations of the phonemes are not analysed apart from the morpheme, as form and content make dialectical unity. The phonetic system is not isolated from the grammatical and lexical structure of the language, and the unity between the form and content cannot be destroyed. Yet as an answer to the problem it is not entirely satisfactory since ordinary speakers are in no doubt that the sound which occurs in a word like гриб is [6] not [n], and in the English word speak [p = ], mentioned above, is nothing but [p]. The perception of the listener makes us find the morphological conception too discrepant and conflicting.

The so-called Leningrad phonological school (L.V.Shcherba and his followers L.R.Zinder, M.I.Matusevitch) assert that the phoneme is independent of the morpheme. So [л] in вода belongs to the [a] phoneme while [o] in воды to the [o] phoneme; [c] in the word мороз belongs to the [c] phoneme and [з] in морозы Ч to the [з] phoneme respectively. The supporters of this conception claim that the phoneme cannot lose any of its distinctive features.

In the line of words of the same root-morpheme гриб Ч грибы Ч грибов the sound [n] in гриб is an allophone of the [n] phoneme and the sound [6] in the derivatives manifests the phoneme [6].

Consequently, the consonants [6] and [n] do not lose any of their distinctive features and represent different phonemes: [n] in гриб and [6] in грибы. They are: a plosive bilabial voiceless fortis stop/a plosive bilabial voiced lenis stop. They are capable of creating phonological oppositions like пыл Ч был, столб Ч столп.

As far as the English language is concerned, the neutral sound [э] in the word activity and the sound [as] in the words act, active of the same morpheme belong to different phonemes. As a phoneme does not lose any of its distinctive features the sound [э] in the word activity is an allophone of the [э] phoneme and the sound [as] in the words act, active is the [ae] phoneme. It seems that according to this point of view the unity between the form and content is destroyed, thus phonology is isolated from morphology.

N.S.Trubetskoy (the Prague phonological school) (34) arrived at an original solution of the phonemic status of a sound in alternations. To overcome the difficulty he introduced a broader phonological unit than a phoneme and named it an archiphoneme.An archiphoneme combines the distinctive features of two different phonemes into one m variations when? one of the phonemes is neutralized in the weak position. An archiphoneme is defined as a combination of distinctive features common to two phonemes. According to Trubetskoy it consists of the shared features of two or more closely related phoaemes but excludes the feature which distinguishes them. The archipaoneme of [p], [b] consists of the features: bilabial, plosive, but excludes voicing which separates them. In our examples eoqa Ч воды [л] and [о] manifest one archiphoneme as well as [n] and [6] in гриб Ч грибы Ч another archiphoneme. For transcription purposes the t symbols of capital [O] is used to represent ihe archiphoneme [л Ч о] and capital [ѕ] Ч of [n Ч 6] respectively. One of the disadvantages in extending the notion of an archiphoneme is that the Prague school phonologists limited neutreJization to closely related phonemes. A neutralization can be said to occur only if there is uncertainty about the identity of the sound in the position of neutralization. Before two phonemes can be neutralized, they must have common qualities which do not occur in other phonemes. Thus [p], [b] can neutralize because they are the only labial plosives in the language, they share these two features, but no other sounds share them. However, [n], [n] cannot neutralize because their common property (nasality) is also shared by [m], so any neutralization of nasals must involve all the three of them [n], [n], [m], and there cannot be a neutralization of [f], [h] before [1] since the features common to these, voiceless, fricative, are also shared by other phonemes, namely [f], [s], [в].

In English initial [s] can precede a plosive, but initial [f] cannot. Since [s), [f] contrast in most other environments in English, they share the features voiceless, fortis, constrictive, fricative, and are the only sounds to have these features, it may seem somehow that the contrast is neutralized, though no one will doubt the sound that occurs in the word speak is [s] and not [f].

In conclusion we have to admit that the described conceptions are arbitrary, none is- ideal. The morphological conception as well as the theory of the archiphoneme seems complicated, though the former appears to be most optimum for theory and practice.

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