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Accentual tendencies in English. Other factors affecting the position of word stress in English
There are four accentual tendencies in English:
1. Recessive – original stressing the initial or the second (the root) syllable.
2. Rhythmical – placing the primary stress on the third syllable from the end.
3. Retentive, when a derivative retains the stress of the original word.
4. Semantic, when the stressed morpheme is the one of greater semantic significance.
There are two major functions of word stress:
− Constitutive – organizing the syllables into a language unit (a word) having a definite accentual pattern.
− Distinctive – differentiating the meaning of words and their forms, In English word stress can differentiate:
− Verbs and nouns: an accent – to ac'cent,
− Lexical meaning of words: be'low – 'billow,
− Complex nouns and free word combinations: a 'bluebottle – a 'blue 'bottle,
− Complex nouns and phrasal verbs: a 'walkout – to 'walk 'out).
In Russian word stress can differentiate:
− Lexical meaning of words: мука – мука,
− Grammatical forms of words: руки – руки.
The types of affixes affecting the place of word stress are:
− accent-neutral – able, age, al, ful, ing, less, ly, ment, ness, ous, en, those ending with -y (-ie), and ish, ism, ist, ise, er, ess;
− accent-attracting – ade, eer, esque, ette;
− accent-fixing -ic, ion, ity attract stress to the preceding syllable, ate fixes the stress on the third syllable from the end.
The interrelation between word stress position and part of speech the word represents is brightly illustrated by noun-verb oppositions: e.g. accent – ac'cent.
!The accent pattern of a word can be changed under the influence of rhythm. This is called stress shift,
e.g. We stayed in Belgrade. We listened to the Belgrade Orchestra.
13. Prosody and intonation: basic concepts. Functions of prosody and intonation.
Prosody is an umbrella term to refer collectively to all modifications of voice during speech (pitch, loudness, tempo, rhythm and voice quality).
Intonation can be defined as a complex entity of interrelated components – pitch, loudness, tempo, pause and voice quality, which are realized in speech and differentiate the meaning of a phrase.
Functions of intonation.
1) Syntactic function, or phrasing. It is the division of utterances into meaningful units called intonation groups,
e.g. Those who sold quickly / made profit. //
Those who sold / quickly made profit. //
2) Accentual function. Intonation helps to distinguish new and old, topic and comment, theme and rheme,
e.g. This is Mark ↓Darcy. // Mark’s a top ↓barrister. //
The rheme usually has a falling or a rising-falling pitch pattern regardless of its position in the utterance.
3) Attitudinal (expressive, or emotional) function,
e.g. ↓John’s come. ↓↓John’s come!
4) Semantic function.
e.g. 1. She doesn’t lend her books to anybody (with a low fall) – не дает книги
e.g. 2. She doesn’t lend her books to anybody (with a fall-rise) – не дает книги
5) Discourse function. By means of intonation the speaker can:
− refer to shared knowledge of the speakers in the conversational interaction;
− focus the listener's attention on important aspects of the message;
− indicate to others that they have finished speaking, that another person is expected to speak, that a particular type of response is required.
6) Stylistic function. Intonation can characterize a style of oral speech (public speech, news reading, telephone conversation, etc).
14. Prosodic settings. Prosodic settings in English and Russia: comparison and contrast. New trends in English intonation.
English and Russian prosodic settings.
- Firstly, though on average the pitch range applied by English speakers is close to the one of the Russian speech, the English pitch range includes lower pitch level as well. Indeed, the pitch level applied by an English speaker depends on their social status: the higher it is, the lower pitch level they use.
- Secondly, Russians speak louder than the English and make fewer pauses, these pauses being longer though.
- Thirdly, the languages differ in the forms of their basic tonic contours as well. For instance, the English falling tones are steeper and end on a lower pitch level than they do in Russian. On the other hand, the rising tones in the English language start on a lower pitch level and have a gentler slope than in Russian.
- Finally, the typical scales of the Russian and English languages have their peculiarities, too. The basic English Stepping scale (emotionally neutral speech) is characterized by level tone in the stressed syllables and placing the following unstressed syllables on the same pitch level as the stressed ones. By contrast, the corresponding emotionally neutral Russian scale is characterized by a sharp tone rise in the stressed syllables followed by lowering the pitch level of the unstressed ones.
New trends in English intonation.
Contrary to the general expectations some speakers of English use a rising tone in statements and wh-questions.
According to a sociolinguistic study in Australia and New Zealand conducted by D. Britain and J. Newman,
• women used it twice as much as men.
• teenagers used it 10 times more often than people over 20, and people in the 20–30 age group used it 5 times as much as those over 70.
• working-class people used it three times as much as middle-class people.
• ethnic minorities used it 2 to 3 times more often than members of the majority group.
Many authors suggest the following explanation: high rising tone is used as a natural and widespread feature of conversational interaction. According to D. Crystal, a speaker might introduce it for any of several discourse reasons: as an informal check to see if the listener has understood, as a request for empathy or some other form of feedback, or even as an indication that the speaker has not yet finished speaking. D.R. Ladd also views the incidence of a rise as an asking-for-feedback device. Ladd claims that the speaker is making a statement but at the same time is asking for feedback from the listener, as if asking: "Do you follow me?"
Geographical variation of English pronunciation worldwide, and within a country. A dialect and an accent. National and regional standards. The status of RP in the UK and the status of GA in the USA.
Sociophonetics deals with the way language functions in the speech community, in social environment. Sociophonetics considers the way people's pronunciation, or accent, varies in different social situations. Accent variation may be geographical, social and situational.
In geographical variation there are two basic concepts: a dialect (or variety) and an accent. A dialect is distinguished for its vocabulary, grammar and pronunciation. An accent is a type of pronunciation. Phonetics is mainly concerned with accents of English spoken on different territories, in diverse social groups, by particular individuals.
Accents of English worldwide are grouped into:
• accents in the countries where English is the mother tongue of the majority of the population ("the inner circle"): the UK, the USA, Canada, Australia, New Zealand, the white population of the Republic of South Africa;
• accents in the new developing states, former British colonies, where English is one of the official languages ("the outer circle"): India and Singapore, for instance;
• accents in the countries where English is the most widely used foreign language taught at schools ("the expanding circle"), like Russia and China.
Within the countries there are their national pronunciation standards, regional standards and local accents.
National pronunciation standards are associated with radio and television newsreaders and presenters of serious channels, such as Channel 3 and Channel 4 on BBC, CBS and NBC on American Network. Georgaphically, the area which is associated with Received Pronunciation (RP) in Britain is the south-east of the country. As for the American standard, the linguists trace back its origin to the Great Lakes area, i.e. the North.
• RP, or BBC English, in the United Kingdom,
• GA (General American), or American Network English, in the USA,
• GenCan (General Canadian) in Canada,
• GenAus (General Australian) in Australia. General Australian shares a few features with London popular speech (Cockney). The most salient vowel characteristic is [ai] in day, take.
Regional standards are smaller geographical divisions. They are the accents of educated population in a certain area. Regional standards show a certain degree of regional deviation from the standard, often referred to as regionally "modified RP".
• Southern, Northern, Scottish and Northern Irish on the British Isles,
• Northern, Northern Midland, Southern Midland, Southern, Western in the
In Britain, speakers from the North and the West of England (Celtic areas) are often identified as having a northern regional accent. Among these areas the Scottish accent is more easily identified, next to it comes the Irish accent, while the Welsh educated accent is confused either with the Scottish or the Southern type.
In the United States, geographically, the situation is quite the reverse: it is the South and South Midland which stand out for their marked difference from the standard pronunciation. Southern accent features are negatively assessed social markers. Another area which is identified by Americans for its accent is the East, with a prejudice against New York accent and a certain respect for Boston.
Less educated people use numerous local accents, which can be either urban (characteristic of a city like Liverpool or New York) or rural (spoken in the countryside, like South Wales or the Appalachians).
16. British and American accent types: comparison and contrast
The main defining feature of British-oriented accents is the absence of post-vocalic [r], which makes them all non-rhotic compared to North-America-oriented accents, which are predominantly rhotic.
- BBC English General American [r] is vocalized,
e.g. here [hıə], pure [pjuə]
- Vowels before [r] are «r-coloured» (retroflexed),
e.g. here [hır], pure [pjur]
- The short vowel [ɔ] is replaced by the vowel [ɑ:]
e.g. dog [dɔg], stop [stɔp] e.g. dog [dɑ:g], stop [stɑ:p]
e.g. long [lɔη], sorry [sɔrı]
- The short vowel [ɔ] can also be replaced by the long [o:],
e.g. long [lo:η], sorry [so:rı]
- [ɑ:] and [o:] are differentiated
- [a:] and [o:] are not differentiated. This feature is called cot/caught merger and is most spread in the West (70 % of the lexicon) Historically long and short vowels are differentiated (the length ratio is 1.5:1) No distinction between (the length ratio is 1.2:1)
- [ж] is open
The GA [ж] vowel is closer than the RP [ж],
e.g. Merry Mary married [merı merı merıd]
- In many words in which RP has [ɑ:], in GA there is [ж],
e.g. dance [dжns], ask [жsk], pass [pжs].
1. The differences in stress are lexically determined, and, therefore, are hard to generalize:
RP a'ddress, 'adult, prin'cess, 'detail, maga'zine, week'end;
GA 'address, a'dult, 'princess, de'tail, 'magazine, 'weekend.
2. The American [r] is retroflex (pronounced with the tip of the tongue curled back) and is used in all the positions where there is an r in spelling.
3. The American [t] in the intervocalic position is realized as a flap: the tip of the tongue beats against the teeth ridge just once (better, letter)
4. The American [t] is nearly omitted after [n]. The preceding vowel is nasalized (twenty).
5. The American [t] is replaced by glottal stop before [m, n, 1, r, j, w]: That man, that one.
6. The American [j] is commonly weakened or omitted: news [nu:z], Tuesday ['tu:zdi]
7. The American  is "dark", i.e. non-palatalized, in all positions.
8. There are words, which are pronounced differently in GA: tomato [tə'meıtou], either [i:рə], schedule ['skedu:l], vase [veız].
9. Tertiary stress in American English: dictionary , ceremony.
10. French borrowings are assimilated in RP and have one primary stress on the initial syllable. In GA they are still stressed as in French, on the final syllable, or have two stresses, one primary on the last syllable and one secondary on the first: ballet, cafe, garage.
American rhythm is due to a great amount of secondary (or/and tertiary) stresses, compared with RP, which, together with a narrowed pitch range, produce the effect of smoothly flowing, monotonous, slurred speech: the proportion of accented vs unaccented syllables is 1 : 1, while in British English it is estimated at 1 : 2. RP speech is described as clipped, pointed, contrastive in the length of accented and unaccented syllables.
Compared to RP, the intonation group in GA starts at a lower level (like in Russian) and flows within a narrower pitch range. Then it ends with a rise-fall. The final element is very prominent acoustically, and that is where the most important information point is normally located (in 80 % of cases).
RP 'What are you 'going to 'do about it?
GA 'What're you 'gonna "do about it?
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