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Theory of phonetics.doc
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Constrictive sonorants


Is articulated with the lips forming a round narrowing, the back of the tongue being raised towards the soft palate. The sides of the tongue are raised and the air passage is open along the median line of the tongue. Tone prevails over noise as the air-passage is rather wide.

Don’t pronounce [v] or [у]

There is no counterpart in Russian.


Is articulated with the tongue tip raised towards the back part of the alveolar ridge, forming a rather wide air-passage, while the front of the tongue is to some extent depressed. Tone prevails over noise.


Is a rolled cacuminal alveolar sonorant. The difference is in manner of the noise production. The tongue tip vibrates, interrupting the air-stream repeatedly and forming momentary obstructions against the alveolar ridge 2 or 3 times.


Is articulated with the front part of the tongue held against the hard palate at approximately the same height as in pronouncing the vowel [i]. The sides of the tongue are raised, leaving the air-passage open along the median line of the tongue. The air-passage between the front of the tongue and the hard palate is rather wide. The sound is very short and weak. The tongue immediately glides from the position for [j] to that of the following vowel.


Is pronounced with more noise and is a fricative consonant.


1) “clear” is used before vowels of the high row and [j]. For example, lip [lip], leave [li:v], value ['vxljH]. The front of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate, thus slightly palatalizing the sound.

2) “dark” [ł] is used before consonants and in word final position. For example, children ['CIłdrqn], bell [beł].

The back of the tongue is raised in the direction of the soft palate. It gives a dark colouring of the sound.

In pronouncing both variants of [l] the tongue tip is slightly pressed against the alveolar ridge while the sides of the tongue are lowered forming rather wide passages. The air passes through these channels without audible friction.


Is more palatalized than the English clear [l] because the front of the tongue is raised higher (in Russian). The Russian non-palatalized [л] is darker than the English [ł], because the back of the tongue is raised still higher (in Russian) while the front of the tongue is lower.

The place of the articulation of [л] and [л']

Is different: in Russian sounds the tongue tip is pressed against the upper teeth, whereas in the production of [l] the tip is pressed against the alveolar ridge.

II. The quantitative and qualitative analysis of the English and Russian consonant systems.





Plosives [b], [p], [t], [d], [k], [g]

Affricates [C], [G]

Nasal sonorants [m], [n], [N]

Fricatives [f], [v], [T], [D], [h],

[s], [z], [S], [Z]

Constrictive sonorants [w], [r],

[l], [j]






Plosives [п], [п´], [б] [б´], [т], [т´],

[д], [д´], [к], [к´], [г], [г´].

Affricates [ц], [ч]

Nasal sonorants [м], [м´],

[н], [н´]

Fricatives [ф], [ф´], [в], [в´], [с],

[с´], [з], [з´], [ш], [ш´],

[ж], [ж´], [х], [й´]

Constrictive sonorants [л], [л´]

Rolled sonorants [p], []







All in all





Palatalization of consonants is not a phonemic feature in English though [S], [Z], [C], [G] are slightly palatalized. The softening of English consonants can occur. But this is a positional feature and this doesn’t characterize the consonantal system in general.

Place of articulation. Most of the English consonants are pronounced on the alveolars,

The sounds that are farther back are glottal ones and glottal stops. There are two sounds pronounced in glottis.

The veolar consonants in both languages seem to have the same place of articulation. However the sounds like [k], [g] are further front comparing with the correspondent Russian ones. The English sound system is stricter.

If veolar sounds are pronounced separately they usually end in vowel-like sounds which are different in Russian and English. In the pronunciation of the English consonants it is the neutral vowel [q]. For, example, [kq]

The English sounds consonants in clusters are more independent than they are in Russian, which is especially true of their voice characteristics. For example, iceburg ['QIsbWg]- no voicing.; at that – this combination of the sounds usually requires a glottal stop when they are pronounced in sequence.

One of the features showing the force and the degree of tenseness is aspiration. It’s important to understand that aspiration is an aftereffect of force but not of separate special features. In English as compared with Russian the glottal muscles are much more active giving the presence of the glottal sounds in English.

There are sounds that do not exist in Russian:

  1. the bilabial constrictive median sonorant [w]

  2. the interdental (post-dental) fricative sonorants [T], [D]

  3. the voiced bicentral affricate [G]

the back lingual nasal sonorant [N]

Palatalizationis a phonemic feature in Russian. The palatalized consonants are:

[п´], [б´], [т´], [д´], [к´],[г´],

[м´], [н´], [ф´], [в´], [с´], [з´],

[ш´], [ж´], [л´], [].

Place of articulation.Most of the Russian consonants are pronounced on the teeth. Another contact occurs on the palate, which would be typical of Russian and foreign for English.

There are no glottal sounds in Russian

The Russian sounds are articulated with the back of the tongue.

The Russian consonants have [ы]-like sound at the end. For, example, [kы]


Russian consonants are assimilated to each other in terms of voice. If a voiceless consonant precedes a voiced one it becomes voiced under its influence. For example, от Бога, отбежать - according to vocal cords.

1) the post alveolar constrictive median sonorant [r]

2) the glottal fricative voiceless [h]

1) the rolled post alveolar sonorants


2) the backlingual fricative voiceless [х]

- voiceless consonants [p], [t], [k], [f],

[s], [S], [C]

are pronounced more energetically than the Russian ones:

- voiced noise consonants [b], [d], [g],

[v], [z], [Z]

are much weaker than:

- voiceless plosive consonants [p], [t], [k]

Are pronounced with aspiration in a stressed position when followed by a vowel

- consonants [t], [d], [n], [s], [z]

have apical articulation. There is no

dorsal articulation at all.

- forelingual sonorants [t], [d], [s],

[z], [l], [n]

have alveolar articulation

- phonemes [S], [Z] are short. There are no long consonant phonemes in English.

- the voiced noise consonants [b], [d], [g],

[v], [D], [z],

[Z], [G]

may occur in word-final position and before voiceless consonants.

[п], [т], [к], [ф], [с], [ш], [ч]

[б], [д], [г], [в], [з], [ж],

- whereas the similar Russian consonants

[п], [т], [к] are pronounced without aspiration.

- whereas the similar Russian consonants have dorsal articulation.

- whereas the similar Russian consonants

[т], [д], [с], [з], [л], [н] have dental


- whereas the similar Russian consonants

[ш:´], [ж:´] are long.

- whereas in Russian voiced noise consonants cannot occur in these positions and are replaced by the corresponding voiceless sounds.

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