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Uttalslära
Introduction to phonetics and
English phonology:
Sentence stress
British and American English
What is stress?
Stress (betoning) is when we use our
voice to pronounce a syllable or a
word with more emphasis.
English has two types of stress: word
stress and sentence stress.
Sentence stress
Sentence stress is when one word in a
sentence is pronounced with more force
than the other words:
Did he do that?
Did he do that?
Did he do that?
Did he do that?
Which words are stressed?
Rule of thumb: Content words (lexical
words) are stressed. Function words are
unstressed.
In other words: Nouns, adjectives,
adverbs, main verbs are stressed.
Pronouns, auxiliary verbs, prepositions,
conjunctions, articles are unstressed.
(This is a general rule.)
Which words are stressed?
When a content word doesn’t add new
information, it can be unstressed.
French is a difficult language. French
verbs are particularly difficult.
Which words are stressed?
When a function word adds new
information, it can be stressed – e.g. for
emphasis or contrast.
It is a beautiful picture.
Stress timing
Two types of languages: Syllable timed
(e.g. Finnish, French, Spanish) and
stress timed (e.g. Swedish, English).
In a stress timed language, the perceived
length of time between each stressed
word is roughly equal.
Stress timing
The beautiful mountain appeared
transfixed in the distance.
He can come on Sundays as long as he
doesn't have to do any homework in the
evening.
Stress timing
The beautiful mountain appeared
transfixed in the distance.
He can come on Sundays as long as he
doesn't have to do any homework in the
evening.
Stress timing
The beautiful mountain appeared
transfixed in the distance.
He can come on Sundays as long as he
doesn't have to do any homework in
the evening.
Stress timing
ARRIVING BANFORD STATION
SATURDAY NOON. PLEASE MEET.
LOVE JANE
I shall be arriving at Banford station on
Saturday at noon. Please can you meet
me? With love from Jane.
Sentence stress vs. strong
and weak forms
Many function words (e.g. some, and,
could, the, him) have strong and weak
forms. When the word is unstressed,
the weak form is used.
Note! All unstressed function words don’t
have strong and weak forms.
Strong and weak forms
In the weak form of the function word....
• the vowel is reduced
• initial /h/ is reduced or removed
• final consonant is reduced (especially in
and)
Varieties of English:
British and American English
“England and America are two countries
separated by a common language.”
George Bernard Shaw
“American English”
Has its roots in English as it was spoken
in Britain, Scotland and Ireland in the
18th century.
Pronunciation changes in North America
as well as in Britain/Scotland/Ireland
have resulted in the different
pronunciations we hear today.
“General American”
GA is an umbrella term used for
“standard” US English. Canadian
English have many phonological
similarities with GA, but is considered a
separate variety.
There are comparatively few regional
accents in US English.
Differences between
RP and GA
•  Vocabulary (e.g. pavement - sidewalk)
•  Semantics (e.g. first floor)
•  Spelling (e.g. colour - color)
•  Pronunciation
Different vowel sounds
RP /ʌ/
— GA /ɜ/
worry, courage, hurry
RP /ɒ/
— GA /ɑ:/ ; /ɔ:/
holiday, want, bomb ; gone, coffee
RP /ɑ:/ — GA /æ/
dance, laugh, bath
"Bother, father caught hot coffee in the car park."
Different consonant sounds
In GA, but not in RP
• /r/ is pronounced in all positions
• /l/ is more or less dark in all positions
• /t/ is voiced or a tap in some positions
• “wh” is often pronounced /hw/
Different word stress
In some words, primary stress is earlier in
GA than in RP
RP
GA
mi•grate
mi•grate
do•nate
do•nate
re•search
re•search
Different word stress
In some French loanwords, primary stress
is later in GA than in RP
RP
GA
ga•rage
ga•rage
ca•fé
ca•fé
de•bris
de•bris
bal•let
bal•let
Vowel reduction differences
In some words with suffixes, the vowel in the
suffix is less reduced in GA than in RP.
Examples:
melancholy
cemetary
category
ceremony
monastery
Different pronunciations
Many words have other pronunciation
differences.
RP
GA
ate
/et/
/eıt/
clerk
/klɑ:k/
/klɜ:rk/
vase
/vɑ:z/
/veıs/
shone
/ʃɒn/
/ʃoʊn/
progress /'prəәʊgres/
/'prɑ:grəәs/
RP versus GA
Text: “The North Wind and the Sun”
http://alt-usage-english.org/north_txt.html
Listen especially for vowel differences,
differences in the pronunciation of /r/, and
the RP pronunciation of shone.
GA
RP
and now for something completely
different...
Written exam, A1, HS1, Celtic studies
• Part of the A1/HS1/T1 language structure
exam
• 20 multiple choice questions (1 point each)
• Roughly proportioned according to the time
given to the subject areas in the lectures
• Example exam in the lang structure
compendium
Handouts
• IPA chart, vowels
• IPA chart, consonants
• Study guide to Introducing
Thanks for listening!