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Write a brief definition for the following key terms from the course of theoretical phonetics. Give examples where relevant


American English


The formation of the American English underwent under the influence of minorities' languages, but its starting point was the English language of the 17th century. The American language has fewer dialects as Standard English had already existed when first English settlers came to America. Still three main types of cultivated speech are recognized in the USA: the Eastern type, the Southern type and Western or General American. The following phonetic features of GA are distinguished:

- length is not differentiated in [i:] - [ɪ] and [u:] - [ʊ];

- [e] is more open;

- [æ] is used in the words in which RP has [a:], often before a combination of [s] with another consonant, but when there is no letter “r” in spelling: dance [dæns], can’t [kænt];

- there is no vowel [ɒ], which is replaced by [ɑ:]: god [gɑd:], clock [klɑ:k];

- there are no diphthongs, ending in [ə], all vowels occurring before “r” within a syllable become “r-coloured”: more [mɔ:r], heard [hɜ:rd], letter [ˈletɚ];

- [r] is retroflex (pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back) and is used in all the positions where there is an “r” in spelling;

- [1] is hard: relieve [rɪˈłi:v];

- [t] between vowels is voiced: better [ˈbedə], letter [ˈledə];

- when [t] follows [n], it is omitted and the vowel becomes nasalized: twenty [ˈtwenɪ], winter [ˈwɪnə];

- in [ju:] [j] is not pronounced in all positions: mute [mu:t], super [ˈsu:pɚ], nuclear [ˈnu:klɪɚ];

- in "where", "when", etc. [w] is pronounced as [hw];

- the suffixes -ory, -ary, -mony have an additional secondary stress (sometimes called tertiary): ˈdictioˌnary,ˈ testiˌmony, laˈbora.tory.

Intonation is smoother and seems rather dull and monotonous due to the narrower pitch range and Mid-level Head. Level-rising tones in special questions and statements are also common in American English:

- What’s your name? - Sixbie.

So as we can see the norms of GA and RP pronunciations are highly variable and are subject to further changes.

Tasks and questions:

Read on the topic “Territorial Varieties of English Pronunciation”and make reports on the varieties of English pronunciation in Great Britain and the USA.

Recommended literature:

1. Соколова М.А., Гинтовт К.П. и др. Практическая фонетика английского языка - М.: Высшая школа, 1997. – 384 с.

2. Соколова М.А., Гинтовт К.П., Тихонова И.С., Тихонова Р.М. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка - М.: Высшая школа, 1997. – 384 с.

3. Шевченко Т.И. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка – М.: Высшая школа, 2006. – 191 с.

4. Roach P. English Phonetics and Phonology. - Cambridge: Cambr. Univ. Press, 1987



minimal pairs consonant phoneme pitch range allophone bilabial reduction International Phonetic Alphabet affricate vocal cords vowel intonation vowel length accent central vowels Received Pronunciation commutation test diphthong invariant labiodental assimilation nasal Low Fall sonorant   syntagm tail constrictive diglossia intonation pattern lip position prosody glide syllable Low Rise pre-head extra-linguistic factors fricative front vowels pitch communicative centre hesitation pause mid vowels Estuary Engish intonation styles nucleus Fall-Rise head stress  


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British English | GLOSSARY

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