Territorial varieties of English pronunciation — страница 6

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[ə] can be lowered considerably. Thus several words with [ə] are given a shade pronunciation by some advanced RP speakers: poor, sure [pə] [ə] – [pə, ə]. 3. Combinative changes. It is general knowledge that when sounds are in company they influence each other. These changes are called combinative. They take place only in certain phonetic contexts. In a diacritic study, however, there is no sharp boundary between isolative and combinative changes. 1) Changes in [j + u:], [1 + u:]. Words like suit, student, super, bulletin may be pronounced either [sju:t] or [sat], [stju:dant] or [stu:dnt], [sjuipa] or [su:pa]. The tendency is for middle-aged and younger speakers to omit the [j] after [s] before [u:]. Word-internally [j] tends to be retained as in assume

[asju; m]. There is also fluctuation after [1]: word-initially lute [lu:t] is normal, but it is possible to pronounce [ilju:n] in illusion, for example. These recent developments in combinative RP changes bear remarkable resemblance to American Standard pronunciation. 2) Change of [:] to [α] before [f, s]. Where orthographic «o» occurs before the voiceless fricatives [f, s, ] older speakers pronounce the vowel [o:]: loss [lots]. This pronunciation is currently dying out in RP and being replaced by [α]: [lαs]. Words like salt and ault still may be pronounced with [:]. 4. Changes in length. It is an accepted fact that English vowels vary in length according to the phonetic context – the consonant they are followed by (voiceless, voiced), syllabic border, the degree

of stress, the types of nuclear tone and so on. Actually nowadays there are changes in vowel length that are influenced by other factors. There is, for example, a strong tendency for the so-called short vowels to be lengthened, and it is interesting to note that this lengthening can be heard sporadically in many words in any position. The lengthening of [i] is often heard in big, his, is; of [u] in good; [] in come. It should also be mentioned that [i] is often lengthened in the final syllable, i.e. very, many: [veri], [meni;]. Short vowels [e, ae] are also very frequently lengthened in yes, bed, men, said, sad, bad, bag and so on. This tendency has considerably increased in the past few years. Changes in Consonant Quality 1. Voicing and Devoicing. As is well known, there is

no opposition of final RP consonants according to the work of the vocal cords. They are all partially devoiced, particularly stops. Such devoiced sounds are clearly heard after long vowels and diphthongs as in deed: [did]. How-ever, these partly devoiced consonants are never identical with their voiceless counterparts, because the latter are pronounced with strong breath-force. This tendency for devoicing now seems to be on the increase. As soon as the opposition of voiced – voiceless is neutralized in the final position, the fortis/lenis character of pronunciation has become the relevant feature of consonants. The voiced/voiceless distinction of the minimal pairs [sed] – [set], [dαg] – [dαk] may seem to be lost. Actually it does not take place. The weak consonants are

never replaced by their voiceless counterparts, they never become strong, the stops [b, d, g], though devoiced, never acquire aspiration. More than that. The interrelation of final consonants and the preceding stressed vowels is very close. The instrumental investigation of E. Kurjatnikova, showed that the duration of the vowel before the traditionally called voiced consonant is 1.5 times larger than that before the voiceless consonant. Cf.: He saw his cap. – He saw his cab. Describing the positional allophones of the English stops A. Gimson characterizes the initial lenis [b, d, g] as partially devoiced, final lenis [b, d, g] as voiceless. The sound [t] in the intervocalic position is made voiced, e.g. better [betə] – [bedə], letter [letə] – [ledə]. 2. Loss of [h]. In

rapid speech initial [h] is lost in form words and tends to die out from the language. Even most highly educated people subconsciously drop it completely. So instead of: He wants her to come [hi – wαnts h tə, km] one hears: [i wants 3 tə km]. It is evident, of course, that the loss of [h] in stressed syllables sounds wrong. 3. Initial «hw». Some conservative RP speakers pronounce words like why, when, which with an initial weak breath-like sound [h] – [M]. The general tendency is, however, to pronounce [w]. 4. Loss of final. The pronunciation of [in] for the termination [i] has been retained as an archaic form of the RP: sittin', lookin'. These occasional usages are not likely to become general. 5. Spread of «dark» [l]. This tendency is evidently influenced by