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Саржина - теоретическая фонетика английского.doc
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  1. The Structure of the English Syllable

In a monophonemic syllable one phoneme is the vowel and it forms the whole of the syllable, e.g. or, awe /ɔ:/. In a polyphonemic syllable the vowel forms the crest or the peak of the syllable. The consonants preceding or following the crest form syllable slopes. Vowels are always syllabic occupying the central position in the syllable. Consonants are non-syllabic and marginal.

According to the presence, number and arrangement of consonants in the syllable there are 23 syllable patterns in English. V, CV, VC, CCV, CC and so on. In a syllable there can be up to 3 consonants before a vowel (e.g. street) and up to 4 consonants after it (e.g. texts).

Syllable patterns

  1. The most frequent and fundamental syllable pattern is CVC

  2. Syllables with 2 consonants at the beginning constitute more than 50 combinations in English. In Russian it is 236 combinations. E.g. speak, вчера

  3. Syllables with 3 consonants at the beginning constiture 14 combinations in English and 97 in Russian, e.g. strong, скинуть

  4. 4 consonants in the initial position are impossible in English, but there are a lot of such combinations in Russian, e.g. всплакнуть, взгляд, вздрогнуть

There are certain restrictions on the possible consonant clusters in English. In the initial position the restrictions are the following: 1) Before a vowel there can be any consonant except /ŋ/. 2) No consonant combinations are possible with the consonanst /ð,z,tʃ,dʒ/. 3) The following consonant clusters are impossible initially /kn,gn,mh,sr,sʃ,spw,fs,hr,stl/.

Final clusters are much more complex in English than the initial ones and they are more complex than in the Russian language. This is due to the fact that final clusters in English express grammatical meanings, e.g. plurality (text, texts), tense (talk, talked), ordinal numbers (six, sixth). While in Russian most grammatical meanings are expressed by prefixes, e.g. вскрикнуть, всплакнуть.

  1. The Main Rules of Syllable Division in Modern English

The boundaries between the syllabes in English are predetermined by the restrictions on the possible combinations of phonemes.

Rules of division:

  1. English historically short stressed vowels occur only in a closed syllable. It means that the syllabic boundary never occurs after the vowel, but after the following consonant, e.g. lovely /lʌv|lɪ/. Sometimes the boundary can be within a consonant if this is the only consonant between the short vowel and the succeeding vowel, e.g letter /letə/. The consonant splits into 2. If a short stressed vowel is separated by one consonant from a syllabic sonant the boundary between the syllables is also within the consonant, e.g. little /lɪtl/.

  2. When a lone monophthong, a diphthong or an unstressed short vowel is separated from a succeeding vowel by 1 consonant the syllable in which the vowel occurs is always open, e.g. idea /ɑɪ|dɪə/, cartoon /kɑː|tuːn/.

  3. When there is a cluster of consonants between 2 vowels the place of the syllabic boundary is conditioned by whether the cluster is possible or impossible at the beginning of the word. a) If a cluster can occur in the initial position in English the syllabic boundary is before it, e.g. agree /ə|griː/; b) if a cluster doesn't occur initially the boundary is between the consonants, e.g. admit /əd|mɪt/; c) when 2 vowels are separated by more than 2 consonants the boundary can be in different positions, depending on whether the clusters are possible or impossible at the beginning of the word, e.g. extra /ek|strə/ or /eks|trə/.

  4. The so-called triphthongs are bisyllabic combinations, they contain 2 vowels and the syllabic boundary is between these vowels, e.g. flower/flau|ə/.