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ACCENTUATION.docx

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ACCENTUATION Now, we are going to talk about one suprasegmental feature, accentuation. (The study of phonological features which apply to groups larger than the single segment, such as the syllable or the word) When we speak we give more emphasis to some parts of an utterance than to others. We make syllables stand out (to be prominent/important/or easily note) with respect to its neighboring syllables, and some words stand out with respect to the r
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  ACCENTUATION   Now, we are going to talk about one suprasegmental feature, accentuation. ( The study of phonological features which apply to groups larger than the single segment, such as the syllable or the word  )   When we speak we give more emphasis to some parts of an utterance than to others. We make syllables stand out (to be prominent/important/or easily note) with respect to its neighboring syllables, and some words stand out with respect to the rest of the word in a longer utterance. Distribution of pr ominence depends upon the speaker’s appreciation of how much information he shares with his listener. Words are made prominent they carry information.   Let’s examine the elements which in English are significant for the speaker and for the listener in prod ucing the communicated effect of prominence. These elements which are stress, pitch, quality and quantity, have not equal validity speaker and listener alike, and they may cause a syllable to be more prominent that the others.   Stress:   From the articulatory point of view (that is to say from the way in which sounds are produced) it is caused by greater muscular energy and breath force. Auditorily (how speech sounds are perceived by the listener), stress is perceived as loudness, and can be defined as the property of a sound which enabled us, using only our ears, to place it on a scale going from loud to soft. So the speaker feels this feature as extra energy, and the listener hears it as extra loudness. There are several degrees of articulatory energy in producing, for example, a polysyllabic word ( consisting of several, especially four or more, syllables, as a word  ), for e.g in the word “examination”,the syllables may be articulated with following descending order of energy / na / xa/ i/ mi/ tion/. However, the English speaker will normally distinguish only stressed and unstressed (strong and weak) syllables, while the listener will notice loud and weak syllables.   Pitch:   We should know that the tenser the vocal cords, the faster they vibrate, and the higher the note that is produced. But we cannot actually feel our vocal folds vibrating faster or slower. What we hear is a higher or lower note. So articulatory, pitch depends mainly on the tension and the rate of vibration of the vocal cords. Auditorily, it is the quality of a sound, in terms of which it can be placed on a scale running from high to low, or acute or grave. It is only possible for changes of pitch to occur on some syllables in an utterance.   Quality:   Articulatory, quality depends on the shape of the resonators. Auditorily, quality is that feature in terms of which two sounds are perceived as dissimiliar (not the same, different). For e.g the difference between /s/ and /ʃ/ or /i/ and /e/. In a sequence of phonemes, vowels are normally more prominent than consonants: among the vowels, prominence increases as the vowel becomes more open; among the consonants, those which are vowel-like, for e.g /m-n-r-l/, stand out from the reminder, while fricatives have a higher prominence than plosives.   In addition to the prominence of sounds, certain English phonemes are particularly associated with unaccented situations. So /ə/ d does not occur in accented syllables; and /i - u/ though both may receive full accentual prominence, have a high frequency of occurrence in unaccented syllables. The other English vowels may also occur in syllables which don’t receive the primary acce nt, but  they are usually associated with some degree of secondary accent (especially /ae - o/ and the long vowels and diphthongs). For example:    never / / nephew / /      contain / / canteen / /   Quantity:   Articulatory, quantity of a sound is the length of time during which it is held on continuously. Auditorily, it is that property of a sound that enabled us to place it on a scale going from long to short.   So, what kind of syllables are associated with prominence in the light of these four elements? In the case of stress, those syllables containing a loud sound, in the case of pitch, those which can act as pitch movement initiators (that is to say a syllable on which pitch contrast begins); in the case of quality, those containing a strong vowel; as to quantity those containing a long vowel and or consonant. And those words containing weak vowels, or syllabic consonants, and short sounds are considered to lack prominence and consequently, they cannot act as pitch movement initiators.   In speech, it is pitch that is the most commonly used. For example, in the case of today and wonderful, the prominent syllables may be accompanied by a falling, or rising pitch. Let us consider the word cigarette. This has two prominent syllables, but they are prominent in two different ways. In the first syllable the chief element causing prominence is stress, while in the third syllable the main factor is change of pitch. Notice that the non- prominent syllable contain the short weak vowel /ə/.   Finally, syllables may receive some prominence due to the quality and or quantity of the vowel sound in them, without any extra muscular energy or pitch movement, e.g, the last syllable in “attitude” may be said to have inherent prominence, produced rather than by the inherent quality and quantity of the strong vowel /u :/ than by a voluntary action on the part of the speaker. (The resonators are cavities where there airstream that is coming from the lungs is blocked completely or partially by the active articulators giving them to the airstream special qualities in the release, these are acoustic qualities. The resonators can be: nasal cavity, oral cavity, pharyngeal cavity.)  
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