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Theory of phonetics.doc
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I. The English articulation basis.

1) The tongue is flat and lies rather low in theу mouth cavity.

2) The body of the tongue is retracted from the teeth.

3) The tip if the tongue is slightly raised in the direction of the alveolar range. The tip of the tongue doesn’t touch the teeth.

4) Since the back part of the tongue is in a low position, the glottis is widened.

5) Lips are slightly spread in order the upper teeth to be visible but not to be protruded.

1. The low and flat position of the tongue suggests lack of palatalization. Indeed the arching of the tongue is not typical of the English articulation as there is no palatalized sound which requires this position. Here we can talk only about exceptions.

For example, [l] before [j], when it is pronounced as a light variant [l'].

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However these cases are exceptions that prove the rule.

2. The fact that the bulk of the tongue is pulled back suggests several points:

a) dental articulation can hardly be typical as there is no contact with the teeth;

b) all articulation (if compare to Russian / Ukrainian) is really farther back, which

means that English front vowels will be less front than Russian ones.

c) English back vowels will be farther back than correspondent Russian / Ukrainian

sounds.

In order to be more precise and objective before defining the vowels and consonants as back, front, forelingual we have to know very well what languages are compared.

For example, The Russian / Ukrainian labial articulation is much more active than in English but at the same time it is practically as active as it is in German and less active than in French or Spanish, where labialization is much more prominent. In other words any articulatory feature is best described against the background of comparison.

3. The raising of the tongue tip suggests that there must be alveolar sounds in English. It is true because most forelingual consonants in English are alveolar but not dental. There seems to be exceptions so called interdental sounds.

For example, [T] and [D]. However we should say that in a natural pronunciation these sounds are very rarely interdental. They are dental sounds pronounced on the lower edges of the upper teeth. Thus, sometimes in special circumstances the tip of the tongue can appear between the teeth.

For example, in emphatically coloured speech: This room. We exaggerate the pronunciation.

4.If you bring the back part of the tongue low the throat automatically widens, which is

easy to check by placing your tongue on the Adam’s apple. English articulation requires

this general back colouring with the glottal resonators being opened much wider than in Russian / Ukrainian.

5. Lip position effects relatively. Weak degree of labialization (if compare to Russian / Ukrainian) British labial work is practically dead. In American English it is more prominent, but it is still much less active than in Russian / Ukrainian. The main reason is in the history of the English language. In the XVI-XVII centuries, Late Middle Ages when French was alive the lips were active. It influenced the English language.

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