Theories of syl formation and syl division.

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Theories of syl formation and syl division.

There are different points of view on syllable formation which are the following.

1. The most ancient theory states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are vowels. This theory is primitive and insufficient since it does not take into consideration consonants which also can form sylla­bles in some languages, neither does it explain the boundary of syllables.

2. The expiratory theory states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are expiration pulses. The borderline between the syllables is, according to this theory, the moment of the weakest expiration. This theory is inconsistent because it is quite possible to pronounce several syllables in one articulatory effort or expiration, e.g. seeing.

3. The sonority theory states that there are as many syllables in a word as there are peaks of prominence or sonority.

Speech sounds pronounced with uniform force, length and pitch, dif­fer in inherent prominence or sonority. For example, when the Russian vowels /а, о, э, у, и/ are pronounced on one and the same level, their acoustic intensity, or sonority is different: the strongest is /a/, then go /о, э, у, и/.

О. Jespersen established the scale of sonority of sounds, that is, the scale of their inherent prominence. According to this scale the most so­norous are back vowels (low, mid, high), then go semi-vowels and sonorants, then — voiced and voiceless consonants.

Sounds are grouped around the most sonorous ones, which form the peaks of sonority in a syllable. Two points of lower sonority constitute the beginning and the end of one syllable. Compare melt and metal, in the first word [e]is the most sonorous sound, the only peak of sonority, it is a one-syllable word. In the word metal there are two peaks of sonority /e/ and /1/, it is a two-syllable word.

The sonority theory helps to establish the number of syllables in a word, but fails to explain the mechanism of syllable division because it does not state to which syllable the weak sound at the boundary of two syllables belongs.

The "arc of loudness" is based on L.V. Shcherba's statement that the centre of a syllable is the syllable forming phoneme. Sounds which precede or follow it constitute a chain, or an arc, which is weak in the beginning and in the end and strong in the middle. If a syllable consists of a vowel, its strength increases in the begin­ning, reaches the maximum of loudness and then, gradually decreases.

Consonants within a sillable are char­acterized by different distribution of mus­cular tension. Shcherba distinguishes the following types of consonants; finally strong (initially weak), they occur at the beginning of the syl­lable; finally weak (initially strong), they occur at the end of a closed sylla­ble; double peaked (combination of two similar sounds): in their articula­tion the beginning and the end are energetic and the middle is weak. Acoustically they produce an impression of two consonants:

In terms of the "arc of loudness" theory there are as many syllables in a word as there are "arcs of loudness" and the point of syllable division corresponds to the moment, when the arc of loudness begins or ends, that is: initially weak consonants begin a syllable, finally weak end it. For exam­ple, the word mistake consists of two arcs of loudness in which /m/ and /t/ are finally strong consonants and /s/ and /k/ are finally weak, /s/ consti­tutes the end of "the arc of loudness", /t/ constitutes the beginning.

None of the theories mentioned above are reliable in the definition of the syllabic boundary.

1. In affixal words the syllabic boundary coincides with the morpho­logical boundary: dis-place, be-come, un-able, count-less.

2. In words with CVCV structure the syllabic boundary is after the accented vowel: farmer, city, table.

3. In words of CVC structure the syllabic boundary is after the intervocal consonant, which terminates accented syllable:

4. In words of CVS, VS structure the syllabic boundary is after the ntervocal sonorant: inner cinema enemy

5. Compared with the Russian СГ acoustic connection, English CVC cluster is close, Russian CP syllabic cluster is loose, compare: city lily money and си-то, ли-ли, Ма-ни.

6. English diphthongs are unisyllabic, they consist of one vowel pho­neme, English triphthongs are disyllabic, because they consist of two vowel phonemes: science flower


32. Articulatory transitions of vowel and cons phonemes.

In the process of speech, that is in the process of transition from the articulatory work of one sound to the articulatory work of the neighbour­ing one, sounds are modified. These modifications can be conditioned:

a) by the complementary distribution of phonemes, e. g. the fully back /u:/ becomes back-advanced under the influence of the preceding mediolingual sonorant /j/ in the words tune, nude. In the word keen /k/ is not so back as its principal variant, it is ad­vanced under (be influence of the fully front /i;/which follows it:

b) by the contextual variations in which phonemes may occur at the junction of words, e. g. the alveolar phoneme /n/ in the combination in the is assimilated to the dental variant under the influence of /ð/ which
follows it;

c) by the style of speech: official or rapid colloquial. E. g. hot muffins may turn into

Assimilation is a modification of a consonant under the influence of a neighbouring consonant. When a consonant is modified under the influence of an adjacent vow­el or vice versa this phenomenon is called adaptation or accommodation, e. g. tune, keen, lea, cool.

When one of the neighbouring sounds is not realized in rapid or care­less speech this process is called elision, e. g. a box of matches may be pronounced without [v].

Assimilation which occurs in everyday speech in the present-day pro­nunciation is called living. Assimilation which took place at an earlier stage in the history of the language is called historical.

Assimilation can be:

1progressive, when the first of the two sounds affected by assimila­tion makes the second sound similar to itself, e. g. in desks the sounds /k/ make the plural inflection s similar to the voiceless /k/.

2regressive, when the second of the two sounds affected by assimi­lation makes the first sound similar to itself, e. g. in the combination at the the alveolar /t/ becomes dental, assimilated to the interdental / ð / which follows it;

3double, when the two adjacent sounds influence each other, e.g. twice /t/ is rounded under the influence of /w/ and /w/ is partly devoiced under (he influence of the voiceless /t/.

When the two neighbouring sounds arc affected by assimilation, it may influence: 1) the work of the vocal cords; 2) the active organ of speech; 3) the manner of noise production; 4) both: the place of articula­tion and the manner of noise production.

l)Assimilation affecting the work of the vocal cords is observed when one of the two adjacent соседний consonants; becomes voiced under the influence of the neighbouring voiced consonant, or voiceless — under the influ­ence of the neighbouring voiceless consonant.

In the process of speech the sonorants /m, n, 1, r; j, w/ are partly devoiced before a vowel, preceded by the voiceless consonant phonemes /s, p, t, k/, e. g. plate, slowly, twice, ay. This assimilation is not observed in the most careful styles of speech.

2) The manner of noise production is affected by assimilation in cas­es of a) lateral plosion and b) loss of plosion or incomplete plosion. The lateral plosion takes place, when a plosive is followed by /1/. In this case the closure for the plosive is not released till the off-glide for the second [l]. Incomplete plosion takes place in the clusters a) of two similar plosives like /pp,pb, tt, td, kk, kg/, or b) of two plosives with different points of articulation like:/kt/,/dg/, /db/, /tb/. So there is only one explosion for the two plosives.

3) Assimilation affects the place of articulation and the manner of noise production when the plosive, alveolar /tl is followed by the post-alveolar /r/. For example, in the word trip alveolar 1t1 be­comes post-alveolar and has a fricative release.



The syllabile as a unit is difficult to define, though native speakers of a language are usually able to state how many syllables there are in a particular word.

According to J. Kenyon the syllable is one or more speech sound, forming a single uninterrupted unit of utterance. The syllable can be a single word:hair, a part of a word: table, a part of the grammatical form of a word:disable.

The syllable can be analysed from the acoustic and auditory, articulatory and functional points of view. Acoustically and auditorily the syllable is characterized by the force of utterance, or accent, pitch of the voice, sonority and length, that is by prosodic features.

Auditorily the syllabic is the smallest unit of perception. A syllable can be formed by a vowel: (V); by a vowel and a consonant: (VC); by a consonant and a sonorant (CS).

V — types of syllable called uncovered open, err

VC — types of syllable called uncovered closed, eat

CVC — types of syllable called covered closed,pit

CV — types of syllable called covered open,

G. P. Torsuyev suggests a differentiation of the following Russian types of syllabic structures:V type- fully open, CVC type-fully closed, CV type- initially covered, VC type- finally covered. The structure of English and Russian syl-s is similar.

The peak of the syl is formed by a vow or a sonorant. The cons which precede the peak and follow it are called slopes. The cons[h] never begins, [w] never terminates the syl. Syllable-forming sonorants in the combinations of the CS type are terminal /m, n, l/.

The combinability of syl forming sonorance is the following: [l] combines with all con-s exept [Ө,ð]. The sound [n] combines with all cons exept [m,h, n]. [m] combines only with [s,z,p, Ө,ð]

The distribution of consonants in the syllables of the CSC type is characterized by the following features: initial consonants may be repre­sented by the peak sonorants may be represented by /n, m, l/; final consonants are repre­sented by

The distribution of consonants in the syllables of the CSCC type is characterized by the following features: the initial consonant may be rep­resented by The peak of syllable is repre­sented by the sonorants [n,l], they are immediately followed by /t, d, s/; final consonants are represented by

The syllables of the CSVSCC type: entrants /'entrЭnts/, emigrants /'emigrЭnts/, minstrels /'minstrЭls/, hydrants /'haidrЭnts/ can be pro­nounced without (V)|— CSSCC type.

Russian terminal sonorants do not form syllables with consonants, which precede them.

Final clusters in English are much more complex than initial ones. They express different grammatical meanings: plurality, tense, number, e.g. texts, mixed, glimpsed.

The structure of the Russian syllable is characterized by more com­plex and numerous initial clusters, they represent grammatical prefixes, e.g. вскрикнуть, всплакнуть, взрыв, кстати.

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