The ways of emphasizing the utterance

When a speaker just wants to convey a piece of information (to state some fact) the utterance sounds neutral and unemphatic. When a speaker desires to express his/her own attitude to what is being said, one of the following techniques may be used to emphasize the utterance:

1) widening or narrowing of the voice range:

e.g. It 'isnt e'xactly what I `wanted.

2) modifying the head of the intonation contour (making it scandent, sliding, ascending, level etc.)

3) using contrasting pre-heads and heads:

cf. I ˌdidnt ̗like it. ־I ˌdidnt ̗like it.

4) increasing the degree of prominence on all stressed words:

e.g. It `isnt e`xactly what I `wanted.

5) using the accidental rise of the voice pitch:

e.g. I ˌsaw that I was hnot ̗welcome.

6) omitting all the stresses except for the nuclear one:

e.g. What are you going to`do about it?

7) using High Fall, Rise-Fall or Fall-Rise on the important words:

e.g. You look ̂lovely, my dear!


Logical Stress

a means of emphasizing a meaningful unit of an utterance. Superimposed on the obligatory word stress, logical stress usually intensifies the phonetic features of a word, emphasizing information that is new or disputable for one of the interlocutors. For example, in the phrase Your sister came logical stress may emphasize any one of the three words. The same may be achieved graphically (italics, etc.), lexically (none other than, just now), or syntactically (by word order and emphatic constructions). Logical stress is one of the methods of actual division of a sentence

vowels and consonants. Languages vary a great deal with respect to how many vowel and consonant phonemes they have, but all languages seem to have more consonants than vowel phonemes.

Leonard Bloomfield defines vowels as modifications of voice-sound that involve no closure, friction, or contact of the tongue or lips while consonants are the other sounds. Many contemporary linguistic studies postulate that the main distinction between vowels and consonants is in the fact that while we utter a vowel the outgoing air stream does not meet any major obstacle or constriction in its way from the lungs out of the mouth, and the articulation of the sound allows spontaneous voicing, whereas the articulation of a consonant always involves some kind of blocking of the air stream.

The distinction between them is based mainly on auditory effect. Consonants are known to have a noise component or voice and noise combined, while vowels are sounds consisting of voice only. From the articulatory point of view, the difference is due to the work of speech organs. In case of vowels no obstruction is made. In case of consonants various obstructions are made. So consonants are characterized by the so-called close articulation, that is, by a complete, partial or intermittent blockage of the air-passage by an organ of speech. The closure is formed in such a way that the air-stream is blocked or hindered or otherwise gives rise to audible friction. As a result consonants are sounds which have noise as their indispensable and most defining characteristic.

In general, the major features that help to distinguish between these two classes of sounds may be presented as follows:

vowels consonants
- there is no obstruction to the air stream (→ they are sounds of pure musical tone and no noise component is heard) - the obstruction to the air stream is formed (→ the noise component is present)
- the air stream is weak - the air stream is stronger at the place of obstruction
- the tongue and the vocal cords are tense - the organs of articulation are tense at the place of obstruction

There are 20 vowels and 24 consonants in the English phonemic system. According to the theory of information consonants are more important in conveying the message than vowels. It is clear from the following example. When given two utterances [-u- ′-ɔ-i-] and [gd ′mn-ŋ], you may easily define that consonants are more responsible for word recognition.

This is a good reason to consider the English consonant phonemes first.


The exact number of phonemes in English typically ranges from 40 to 45, which is above average across all languages (but there are languages with only 10, or as many as 141 phonemes!). Phonemes may range from familiar sounds like [t], [s], or [m] to very unusual ones produced in extraordinary ways. The most common vowel system consists of the five vowels /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, /u/. The most common consonants are /p/, /t/, /k/, /m/, /n/.



Speech rhythm (as in music) is based on combinations of louder and weaker segments, strong beats occuring at regular intervals of time. It is the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables, of acceleration and slowing down, of relaxation and intensification. But speech rhythm is freer than that of music as the regularity of the beat in spoken utterances is only approximate.

These peculiarities of rhythmicality allow the linguists to distinguish two types of language timing: syllable-timingand stress-timing. Accordingly, the languages are divided intosyllable-timed( ) and stress-timed(c ).Syllable-timed languages (like French) have rhythmic patterns based on the syllable that has an equal duration, irrespective of its stressed/unstressed character. In stress-timed languages(of which English is illustrative) the time unit is the stressed syllable. Stress-timed languages are characterized by a certain regularity of stress pulses in the speech flow stressed syllables in them are much longer than the unstressed ones and they fall at regular intervals, whether they are separated by unstressed syllables or not. Among such languages we can find English, Russian, Arabic, Portuguese, Swedish, Dutch, Thai, German and many others. Stress-timing is sometimes called Morse-code rhythm.

In syllable-timed languages both stressed and unstressed syllables are of equal value they occur at regular time intervals (French, Greek, Italian, Spanish, Hindi, Indonesian, Czech, etc.). Syllable-timing appears to be much more widespread in the worlds languages. This type of rhythm was originally metaphorically referred to as metronomic ormachine-gun rhythm because each underlying rhythmical unit is of the same duration, similar to the transient bullet noise of a machine-gun.

Some scholars also distinguish mora-timed languages (e.g. Japanese), where morae are spoken at a roughly constant rate regardless of stress (so, the basic concept is the same). Certain consonants in such languages (for example, Japanese syllable-final n) may take up the same amount of time in a rhythm as syllables.

To put it simply, stress-timed languages are characterized by

- a tendency for stresses to occur at regular intervals;

- the reduction of unstressed syllables;

- the total duration of the utterance depending on the number and position of stressed syllables.

Syllable-timed languages, on the other hand, are characterized by the following features:

- every syllable tends to take roughly the same amount of time when pronounced;

- no strong stress pattern;

- no marked reduction of unstressed syllables;

- total duration of the utterance depending on the number of syllables (when spoken faster, a syllable-timed language uses a faster rhythm to carry more syllables).



The stability of articulation as the principle of vowel classification is not singled out by British and American phoneticians. It was proposed by the Russian scholars to specify the actual position of the speech organs during the articulation of a vowel. There are three possible varieties: a) the tongue position is stable; b) the tongue moves from one position to another; c) the change in the tongue position is fairly weak. So, according to this principle, the English vowels are subdivided into:

a) monophthongs, whose quality doesn't change over the duration of the vowel (sometimes they are called pure or stable vowels);

b) diphthongs, consisting of two clearly perceptible elements (the nucleus and the glide);
c) diphthongoids, an intermediate case between the first two.


Fig. 5.1 Subdivision of English vowels according to the stability of articulation

The most important characteristic of monophthongs is that they are comparatively short and acoustically stable.

Diphthongs consist of two elements joined together in a unique articulatory effort and consequently being part of the same syllabic unit. The first element, the nucleus, is strong and distinct and the second, the glide, is weak and indistinct.

According to the position of the more prominent element diphthongs are divided into falling (if the prominent element comes first) and rising (if the less prominent element comes first). All English diphthongs [eı] [aı] [ɔı] [au] [əu] [ıə] [εə] [uə] belong to the first category. Depending on the tongue movement the eight English diphthongs are grouped into two types centring,ending with a glide towards the schwa [ıə, εə, uə], and closing,ending with a glide towards a higher position in the mouth [eı, aı,oı, əu, au].

Some scholars insist that there may be revealed triphthongs vowel sounds that glide between three qualities, e.g. [eıə, aıə, oıə, ouə, auə]. But one should note that triphthongs are relatively rare cross-linguistically. The very existence of triphthongs in present-day English is a controversial problem. Thus in fire, employer, layer, mower, power the actual pronunciation of these vocalic sequences tends either to break them into the diphthong and the following simple vowel (schwa) e.g. buyer [baı-ə], or to reduce the diphthong to a vowel followed by schwa e.g. buyer [baə].

One should remember that the Russian sound system has no diphthongs, but it comprises several vowel + consonant combinations resembling the English diphthongs in some degree (cf. lay , my ; boy ; show oy).

2. Another principle of classification is the position of the tongue in the mouth cavity. It is characterized from the two aspects its 1) horizontal and 2) vertical movement.

Fig. 5.2 Subdivision of English vowels according to the horizontal position of the tongue

Front vowels are uttered with the front part of the tongue highest, for central vowels the central part of the tongue that is highest, and in back vowels the rear part of the tongue is involved in articulation. British phoneticians do not single out the classes of front-retracted and back-advanced vowels, but Russian scholars believe that adding these subgroups more adequately reflects the articulatory distinction between [i:] and [ı], [u:] and [u].

As far as the vertical movement of the tongue is concerned, Russian phoneticians also developed a more detailed classification which suggests 6 positions of the speech organ (vs. 3 positions according to foreign scholars). In high (close) vowels, such as [i] and [u], the tongue is positioned high in the mouth, whereas in low (open) vowels, such as [æ], the tongue is positioned low in the mouth.

The phonological relevance of the criterion under discussion can be easily discovered in the following oppositions: [pen pæn] pen pan; [kæp ka:p] cap carp; [pen pın] pen pin; [kæp kΛp] cap cup; [bın bi:n] bin been; [bΛn ba:n] bun barn, etc.


Fig. 5.3 Subdivision of English vowels according to the vertical movement of the tongue

3. Another principle of classification is lip rounding. Three lip positions are distinguished: spread, neutral and rounded. For the purpose of classification it is sufficient to distinguish between two lip positions: rounded and unrounded, or neutral. Any back vowel is produced with rounded lips, the degree of rounding is different and depends on the height of the raised part of the tongue; the higher it is raised the more rounded the lips are. So lip rounding is a phoneme constitutive indispensable feature, because no back vowel ran exist without it.


Fig. 5.4 Subdivision of English vowels according to the position of the lips

4. The next principle is checkness. This quality depends on the character of the articulatory transition from a vowel to a consonant. As a result all English short vowels are checked when stressed. The degree of checkness may vary and depends on the following consonant. Before fortis voiceless consonant it is more perceptible than before a lenis voiced consonant or sonorant. All long vowels are free. Lax (checked) vowels can only occur in closed syllables, whereas the tense (free) vowels can occur in any kind of syllable. Thus, the long vowel [i:] will vary considerably in length in words like sea seed seat. Tenseness characterizes the state of the organs of speech at the moment of a vowel production. Tenseness is used to describe the opposition of tense vowels as in leap, suit vs. lax vowels as in lip, soot. Tense and lax are often used interchangeably with long and short, respectively. Historically long vowels are tense while historically short vowels are lax.

This characteristic has no phonological value, but for Russian learners of English it is of primary importance as all Russian vowels are free and making English short vowels checked must be specially trained.

5.Vowel like any sound has physical duration time which is required for its production That is why another important articulatory characteristic of English vowels is their length or quantity. When sounds are used in connected speech they cannot help being influenced by one another. Duration is one of the characteristics of a vowel which is modified by and depends on its own length, the accent of the syllable in which it occurs, phonetic context, the position of the sound in a syllable, rhythmic structure, a tone group, a phrase, the tempo of the whole utterance, the type of pronunciation and the style of pronunciation.

The monophthongs are divided into two varieties according to their length: a) short vowels: [ı], [e], [æ], [ɔ], [u], [Λ], [ə]; b) long vowels: [i:], [a:], [ɜ:], [ɔ:], [u:].

In conclusion one more thing can be mentioned. There exit nasal or nasalized vowels in all languages, but again this distinction will be more important in languages like, say, French Polish and Portuguese, where it has a functional, contrastive, phonemic value, than in English.


monolingualism or unilingualism is the condition of being able to speak only a single language. In a different context "unilingualism" may refer to language policy which enforces an official or national language over others

bilingualism, ability to use two languages. Fluency in a second language requires skills in listening comprehension, speaking, reading, and writing, although in practice some of those skills are often considerably less developed than others. Few bilinguals are equally proficient in both languages. However, even when one language is dominant (see language acquisition language acquisition, the process of learning a native or a second language. The acquisition of native languages is studied primarily by developmental psychologists and psycholinguists.
..... Click the link for more information. ), performance in the other language may be superior in certain situationse.g., someone generally stronger in Russian than in English may find it easier to talk about baseball in English. Native speakers of two languages are sometimes called equilingual, or ambilingual, if their mastery of both languages is equal. Some bilinguals are persons who were reared by parents who each spoke a different language or who spoke a language different from the one used in school. In some countries, especially those with two or more official languages, schools encourage bilinguilism by requiring intensive study of a second language. Bilinguals sometimes exhibit code-switching, or switching from one language to the other in the middle of a conversation or even the same sentence; it may be triggered by the use of a word that is similar in both languages.


diglossia-Coexistence of two varieties of the same language in a speech community, with each variety being more or less standardized and occupying a distinct sociolinguistic niche. Typically, one variety is more formal or prestigious while the other is more suited to informal conversation or is taken as a mark of lower social status or less education. Classic diglossic situations can be found in Arabic-speaking communities, where Modern Standard Arabic coexists with dozens of regional Arabic dialects, and among speakers of Dravidian languages such as Tamil, where different words for basic concepts such as house or water are chosen depending on the speaker's caste or religion.


Code-switching is the concurrent use of more than one language, or language variety, in conversation. Multilinguals - people who speak more than one language - sometimes use elements of multiple languages in conversing with each other. Thus, code-switching is the syntactically and phonologically appropriate use of more than one linguistic variety.



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