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1 lecture 05.09.10

Соколова М.А. «Theoretical Phonetics of the English Language”

Леонтьева С.Ф.

Nowadays phonetics deals with the functioning. They are studied in connection with a person.

One of the representations of language is its division into layers.

Phonetics as a Science

1) The Subject of Phonetics

2) The Connection of Phonetics with other Branches of Linguistics

3) The Branches of Phonetics

  1. The Subject of Phonetics

Language as an immanent actuality of thought exists in two speech forms: oral and written. There is a division between language and speech. Language is a system, speech is the usage of this system, the process of communication by means of language. Both oral and written forms have a material substance. In oral speech the substance is phonic, in written speech the substance is graphic. The substance is not the language itself, but it is what forms patterns of language. The sound substance gives shape to a spoken message in communication, it forms units of the phonetics system of a concrete language.

Phonetics System

/ \

segmental subsystem suprasegmental subsystem (=prosodic, melodic)

(formed by the sounds) (formed by intonation)

/ \ | | | \ \

vocalic consonantal pitch stress rhythm tempo pauses

subsystem subsystem

(units: vowels) (units: consonants)

(In some languages there is no strict division between consonants and vowels)

(supra – something above)

Supra always exists with the segmental subsystem.

Units of the language which are made up with the help of suprasegmental subsystem: syllables, rhythmic units, intonation groups, utterances.

The sound substance is a medium in which the whole system of the language is embodied. Segmental and prosodic units serve to form and differentiate units of other subsystems of language: lexical and grammatical.

The modification of words and their combination into utterances are first of all sound phenomena. The grammatical form of a word can be changed only by changing the sounds which compose it (e.g. cat - cats). By changing the prosodic structure one can change the meaning of the utterance. (e.g. 'well /done? 'Well \done!)

  1. The Connection of Phonetics with Other Branches of Linguistics

Stylistics combines subsystems of the language.

Phonetics has rather a long history. It was known to the ancient Greeks. Knowledge was not divided, it was like a philosophy. As a science in its own right phonetics began to develop in Russia and in Western Europe only in the second part of the 19th century. It's important that phonetics is not an independent science. It is one of the branches of linguistics alongside with lexicology, grammar and stylistics. Being a science in its own right phonetics is closely connected with the other branches of linguistics. The connection of phonetics with the other branches is firstly exercised through orthography. Phonetics formulates the rules of connection between separate sounds and sound combinations.

Connection of Phonetics with Grammar

  1. Through the system of reading rules phonetics is connected with grammar and it helps to pronounce correctly singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense forms and past participle of English regular verbs. (e.g. begged /d/, stopped /t/, wanted /id/)

  2. Sound interchange is another manifestation of the connection of phonetics with grammar. It can be observed in the category of number, it helps to differentiate between singular and plural forms (e.g. leaf – leaves, house – houses). Differentiation of parts of speech (e.g to prove – proof)

  3. The connection through intonation. Sometimes intonation alone serves to single out the communicative centre of the sentence (e.g. He came home). In affirmative sentences the rising nuclear tone may show that this is a question.

Phonetics and Lexicology

  1. Only due to the presence of stress in the right place certain nouns can be distinguished from verbs. (e.g. 'object – to ob'ject)

  2. Homographs can be differentiated only due to pronunciation, because they are identical in spelling (e.g. lead /lɪ:d/ /led/, wind /wɪnd/ /waɪnd/)

The Connection with Stylistics

This connection is through intonation. Its melody, stress, rhythm and so on.