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Саржина - теоретическая фонетика английского.doc
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12 Lecture 28.11.11

Phonologically the syllable is a structural unit which consists of a vowel alone or of a vowel surrounded by consonants in the number and arrangements permitted by a given language.

  1. Functions of the Syllable

As a phonological unit the syllable performs a number of functions that may be combined into the main 3:

  1. The constitutive function – the syllable forms units of the higher levels of the language (e.g. words)

  2. The distinctive function – the syllable differentiates words and word combinations (e.g. garden (bi-syllabic structure) – guards (mono-syllabic), so they differ not only phonemically, but the syllabic structure is also different). Variation in the syllabic structure of one and the same word identifies different styles of pronunciation (e.g. national – official speech (3 syllables), /næʃənl/ - colloquial speech. /əneɪm/ (an aim, a name) the syllable division helps to differentiate words and word combinations.

  3. Identificatory function. It's conditioned by the hearer's perception of syllables as phonetic units with concrete allophones and syllabic boundaries /plʌmpaɪ/

  1. Types of Syllables

There is a generally accepted classification of syllables from different points of view.

From the point of view of the boundaries of the syllable division, whether the syllable begins or ends in a vowel or a consonant.

From the point of view of the syllable beginning syllables can be covered, that is beginning with a consonant, or uncovered, a syllable beginning with a vowel.

From the point of view of the end of the syllable syllables can be open and closed (open one ends in a vowel, closed – in a consonant).

  1. CV no /nɜu/ - covered and open.

  2. VC on /ɔn/ - uncovered and closed.

  3. CVC dog /dɔg/ - covered and closed.

  4. V or /ɔ:/ - uncovered and open.

It should be remembered that phonetic syllables which are distinguished in actual pronunciation of words don't always coincide with orthographic syllables into which words are diveded in writing. Orthographic syllables tend to represent the morphemic structure of the. The word, but not the sound structure. E.g. maker – mak|er, rhythm – rhy|thm, rhythm.

13 Lecture 05.12.11

According to the length syllables may be short and long. Short syllables are marked ~, long – –. The unit of syllable length is called the mora. It is equal to the duration of a short vowel sound or a short syllable. The duration of a long syllable is equal to 2 moras. In some languages as Latin for example the position of word stress is determined by counting the number of moras, not syllables, from the end of the word (3 moras in Latin). English and Russian are syllable counting languages.

Syllables may be classified according to their accentual weight. That is according to the variation in the course of utterance. From this point of view syllables can be stressed and unstressed. Stressed syllables can be further subdivided into syllables with primary stress and with secondary stress.

Dog – covered, closed, short syllable, stressed