Studium anglistiky na KAA UPOL

(4) Prosodic Features

- vowels and consonants = segments

- together form the syllables

- features imposed on the syllables = suprasegmentals, or, prosodic features

- suprasegmentals infl. patterns extending over larger chunks of utterance than the single segment

(a) variations in stress

- grammatical function (distinguish btw a noun x a verb)

- contrastive emphasis (‘I want a red pen, not a black one.’)

(b) variations in pitch

- pitch pattern in a sentence = intonation

- pitch pattern of a syllable or word causing the change of meaning in tone languages (Chinese) = tone

- grammatical function (‘This is my father.’ [the highest pitch on the 1st syllable of ‘father’]; ‘Is this your father?’ [the highest pitch on the 2nd syllable])

(c) variations in length

(d) v. in loudness

- combinations of pitch, length and loudness produce accent

- oth. suprasegmentals: rhythm, tempo, voice quality

Word Accent

- the word = a commutable entity with a separate linguistic identity, composed of one or more phonemes

- the word as a pattern formed by the qualitative and quantitative elements of its phonemes

- polysyllabic words: the word pattern determined also by the relationship of its parts

- varying prominence of the individual word parts gives rise to different word patterns

- the syllable of a word standing out from the remainder = the accented syllable

- accentual pattern of English words

(a) fixed = the main accent always falls on a particular syllable of any given word

(b) free = the main accent not tied to any particular situation in the word (x Czech: the main accent falls on first syllables)


- degrees of prominence of a syllable

(a) primary accent = the last major pitch change in a word/utterance

(b) secondary accent = a non-final pitch change in a word/utterance

(c) minor prominence = full vowel with no pitch change

(d) non-prominence = reduced vowel with no pitch change /ɪ, ʊ, ə/

- achieving the prominence

(a) pitch change

- the most prominent factor

- primary accent = the final pitch accent, the most prominent one

- secondary accent = a pitch accent on an earlier syllable, less prominent

- shift of accent in ‘'insult (n.) x in'sult (v.); 'import (n.) x im'port (v.); 'billow x be'low” x no shift of accent in ‘report, delay, select”

(b) loudness

- accented syllables louder than unaccented ones

(c) quantity and quality

- unaccented syllables: some more prominent than others due to the quality and quantity of the vowels at their centre

- long vowels and diphthongs more prominent than short vowels

- full vowels = vowels with minor prominence

- reduced vowels = non-prominent short vowels in unaccented syllables /ɪ, ʊ, ə/

The Process of Elision

= a process of gradation, a loss of phonemes or obscuration of vowels in weakly accented syllables

(a) established in the language for some time

(b) current only recently in colloquial speech

- vowels: initially (‘state, scholar, sample’), medially (‘forecastle’ /'fəʊksl/, ‘Salisbury’ /'sɔ:lzbrɪ/, ‘marriage’), finally (‘name, loved, cousin’)

- consonants: initial clusters /wr, kn, gn/ (‘write, know, gnaw’), medial /t/ + /n/ or /l/ (‘fasten, often, castle’), final /mb, mn/ (‘lamb, hymn’)


- intonational phrases = divisions of an utterance, signalled by pitch changes; their boundaries generally correspond syntactically with syntactic phrase/clause boundaries

- nucleus = the syllable with the final pitch accent, the starting point of one of the pitch patterns

- nuclear tone = a pitch pattern beginning at the primary accent and ending at the end of the intonational phrase

- types of nuclear tone:

(a) falling nuclear tones = start from the highest pitch of the speaking voice and fall to the lowest pitch (= high fall), or from the mid pitch to the lowest pitch (= low fall)

(b) rising nuclear tones = end at a high point (= high rise), or at a mid point (= low rise)

(c) falling-rising nuclear tones = fall-rise

(d) rising-falling nuclear tones = rise-fall

(e) level nuclear tones = mostly commonly a mid level

- the nucleus falls on the most prominent syllable, hence the most prominent word in an intonational phrase => the nucleus marks the end of the new information

- falling intonation: declaratives, yes/no-interrogatives, tag-interrogatives when expecting agreement, imperatives when abrupt, exclamatives

- rising intonation: wh-interrogatives, tag-interrogatives when leaving open the possibility of disagreement, imperatives when polite

Základní údaje

  • Předmět

  • Semestr

    Zimní semestr 2002/03.
  • Vyučující

    Šárka Šimáčková.
  • Status

    Povinný seminář a přednáška.


Cruttenden, Alan, ed. Gimson's Pronunciation of English. London: Edward Arnold, 1998.

Ladefoged, Peter. A Course in Phonetics. Fort Worth: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich College Publishers, 1993.


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