Wednesday, 10 October 2012

Phonetics for Professional Students

English Phonetics for Professional Students

In order to speak correct English, one should have some idea of English Phonetics. By being careful in one’s speech habits simple mistakes in speaking can be avoided.  English pronunciation has its own importance in our day-to-day life.

Why Pronunciation?

English is an international language which is the most widely spoken of all the languages. It is important for a foreign learner of English to learn the pronunciation of English because English is certain in its uncertainty.

What is correct pronunciation?

Interestingly, there is no such thing as a ‘correct pronunciation’ because there is no one right way of speaking. The pronunciation of English varies from one country to another and there are marked pronunciation features associated with English spoken in important English speaking countries like the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia. Even within the United Kingdom, there are variations between England, Scotland, Wales, and Northern Ireland.
Correct pronunciation is the pronunciation used by the great majority of the educated people throughout the world. 

Differences in Pronunciation:
No two people pronounce exactly alike. Do you know why?

  1. Because of their locality
  2. Early influence
  3. Social circumstances
  4. Individual peculiarity
  5. Influence of Mother Tongue
  6. Silent letters
  7. Lack of English speaking atmosphere
  8. Duality of English spelling and pronunciation

What is RP?

One particular accent, called Received Pronunciation (RP) has come to be accepted as the standard in the United Kingdom. It is the pronunciation used by the educated native speakers of South East England.  It is understood i8n almost all the countries of the world.

What is “Phonetics”?

Phonetics is a branch of linguistic science that deals with pronunciation.

What is ‘Phoneme’?

Vowels and consonants are called ‘phonemes’. ‘A phoneme is the smallest element in a language which is recognized by a native speaker as making a difference to meaning. It has no meaning by itself. It is a meaningless sound unit.

Classification of English Sounds:

As we all know there are twenty-six alphabets in English. However, the language has 44 speech sounds. This means that there is no ‘one to one correspondence’ between letters and sounds in English as it is in many Indian languages. This is the reason why many Indians find it difficult to learn English pronunciation.

Speech sound can be broadly classified into consonants and vowels. In English, 26 letters of Alphabet represent 44 sounds (phonemes). Of these 44 phonemes, 24 are consonant sounds and 20 are vowel sounds. Out of these 20 vowel sounds, 12 are pure vowels and the remaining 8 are dipthongs.

What is ‘IPA’?

International Phonetic Association coined special symbols for every sound. These are called phonetic alphabet, so 44 sounds have 44 phonetic symbols. A given symbol represents one and only one sound; and a given sound is always represented by the same symbol.

What is a Consonant?

A consonant sound may be defined as a speech sound that is produced with stoppage of air. For example, to say the word ‘paper’ our lips try to stop air from passing through while producing the sound ‘p’. Thus, the voice or breath in consonants is partially hindered by the tongue, teeth, lips, or other organs of articulation.

What is a Vowel?
Unlike a consonant sound, a vowel sound is unobstructed in articulation by the tongue, teeth, or lips. During the articulation of a vowel sound, the active articulators is raised towards the passive articulator in such a way that there is a sufficient gap between the two for air to escape through the mouth without friction. For example, when speaking the word ‘art’, air escaped freely and continuously without any friction while pronouncing the first sound ‘AH’.

What is a Diphthong?
A diphthong is a combination of two short vowels.


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