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To browse Academia. Skip to main content. By using our site, you agree to our collection of information through the use of cookies. To learn more, view our Privacy Policy. Log In Sign Up. English Phonetics and Phonology 4th edition Peter Roach.

It presents the basic theoretical material needed to understand phonetics, phonology and the pronunciation of English in the form of a unit course. Each unit ends with notes on issues that deserve further study and recommendations for further reading, as well as notes for teachers and written exercises. In addition, there are audio exercises for every chapter of the course on the two accompanying CDs.

The new edition adds to this a website with additional written and spoken exercises, as well as a wealth of other material offering a wider perspective on the subject. Subject to statutory exception and to the provisions of relevant collective licensing agreements, no reproduction of any part may take place without the written permission of Cambridge University Press. First published Fourth edition Printed in Italy by G.

Includes bibliographical references and index. ISBN pbk. English language - Phonetics. English language - Phonology. English language - Study and teaching - Foreign speakers. R88 '. Answers to written exercises My debt to them, which in some cases dates back more than twenty-five years, remains, and I have put copies of the Prefaces to the first three editions on the new website of the book so that those acknowledgements are not lost and forgotten.

In this new edition, I would like firstly to thank Professor Nobuo Yuzawa of the Takasaki City University of Economics for his wise suggestions and his meticulous and expert scrutiny of the text, which have been invaluable to me. Any errors that remain are entirely my fault. As in all previous editions, I want to thank my wife Helen for all her help and support. An important purpose of the course is to explain how English is pronounced in the accent normally chosen as the standard for people learning the English spoken in England.

If this was the only thing the course did, a more suitable title would have been "English Pronunciation". However, at the comparatively advanced level at which this course is aimed, it is usual to present this information in the context of a general theory about speech sounds and how they are used in language; this theoretical context is called phonetics and phonology.

Why is it necessary to learn this theoretical background? A similar question arises in connection with grammar: at lower levels of study one is concerned simply with setting out how to form grammatical sentences, but people who are going to work with the language at an advanced level as teachers or researchers need the deeper understanding provided by the study of grammatical theory and related areas of linguistics.

The theoretical material in the present course is necessary for anyone who needs to understand the principles regulating the use of sounds in spoken English.

It is designed to be studied from beginning to end, with the relevant exercises being worked on for each chapter, and it is therefore quite different from a reference book. Most readers are expected to be either studying English at a university, or to be practising English language teachers. You may be working under the supervision of a teacher, or working through the course individually; you may be a native speaker of a language that is not English, or a native English-speaker.

Answers to the exercises are given on pages Only some of the exercises are suitable for native speakers of English. The exercises for Chapter 9 are mainly aimed at helping you to become familiar with the way the written and audio exercises work. You can find it at www. Everything on the website is additional material - there is nothing that is essential to using the book itself, so if you don't have access to the Internet you should not suffer a disadvantage.

In any language we can identify a small number of regularly used sounds vowels and consonants that we call phonemes; for example, the vowels in the words 'pin' and 'pen' are different phonemes, and so are the consonants at the beginning of the words 'pet' and 'bet'.

Because of the notoriously confusing nature of English spelling, it is particularly important to learn to think of English pronunciation in terms of phonemes rather than letters of the alphabet; one must be aware, for example, that the word 'enough' begins with the same vowel phoneme as that at the beginning of 'inept' and ends with the same consonant as 'stuff'.

The symbols are always printed in blue type in this book to distinguish them from letters of the alphabet. A list of the symbols is given on pp. Chapters 7 and 7 deal with vowels and Chapter 7 with some consonants. After the phonemes of English have been introduced, the rest of the course goes on to look at larger units of speech such as the syllable and at aspects of speech such as stress which could be roughly described as the relative strength of a syllable and intonation the use of the pitch of the voice to convey meaning.

As an example of stress, consider the difference between the pronunciation of'contract' as a noun 'they signed a contract' and 'contract' as a verb 'it started to contract'. In the former the stress is on the first syllable, while in the latter it is on the second syllable.

A possible example of intonation would be the different pitch movements on the word 'well' said as an exclamation and as a question: in the first case the pitch will usually fall from high to low, while in the second it will rise from low to high.

You will have to learn a number of technical terms in studying the course: you will find that when they are introduced in order to be defined or explained, they are printed in bold type. Another convention to remember is that when words used as examples are given in spelling form, they are enclosed in single quotation marks - see for example 'pin', 'pen', etc. Double quotation marks are used where quotation marks would normally be used - that is, for quoting something that someone has said or might say.

Words are sometimes printed in italics to mark them as specially important in a particular context. The word accent is often confused with dialect. We use the word dialect to refer to a variety of a language which is different from others not just in pronunciation but also in such matters as vocabulary, grammar and word order. Differences of accent, on the other hand, are pronunciation differences only. The accent that we concentrate on and use as our model is the one that is most often recommended for foreign learners studying British English.

It has for a long time been identified by the name Received Pronunciation usually abbreviated to its initials, RP , but this name is old-fashioned and misleading: the use of the word "received" to mean "accepted" or "approved" is nowadays very rare, and the word if used in that sense seems to imply that other accents would not be acceptable or approved of. Since it is most familiar as the accent used by most announcers and newsreaders on BBC and British independent television broadcasting channels, a preferable name is BBC pronunciation.

This should not be taken to mean that the BBC itself imposes an "official" accent - individual broadcasters all have their own personal characteristics, and an increasing number of broadcasters with Scottish, Welsh and Irish accents are employed. However, the accent described here is typical of broadcasters with an English accent, and there is a useful degree of consistency in the broadcast speech of these speakers.

The pronunciation of English in North America is different from most accents found in Britain. There are exceptions to this - you can find accents in parts of Britain that sound American, and accents in North America that sound English. But the pronunciation that you are likely to hear from most Americans does sound noticeably different from BBC pronunciation.

In talking about accents of English, the foreigner should be careful about the difference between England and Britain; there are many different accents in England, but the range becomes very much wider if the accents of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland Scotland and Wales are included in Britain, and together with Northern Ireland form the United Kingdom are taken into account.

Within the accents of England, the distinction that is most frequently made by the majority of English people is between northern and southern. This is a very rough division, and there can be endless argument over where the boundaries lie, but most people on hearing a pronunciation typical of someone from Lancashire, Yorkshire or other counties further north would identify it as "Northern".

This course deals almost entirely with BBC pronunciation. There is no implication that other accents are inferior or less pleasant- sounding; the reason is simply that BBC is the accent that has usually been chosen by British teachers to teach to foreign learners, it is the accent that has been most fully described, and it has been used as the basis for textbooks and pronunciation dictionaries. A term which is widely found nowadays is Estuary English, and many people have been given the impression that this is a new or newly-discovered accent of English.

In reality there is no such accent, and the term should be used with care. The idea originates from the sociolinguistic observation that some people in public life who would previously have been expected to speak with a BBC or RP accent now find it acceptable to speak with some characteristics of the accents of the London area the estuary referred to is the Thames estuary , such as glottal stops, which would in earlier times have caused comment or disapproval. If you are a native speaker of English and your accent is different from BBC you should try, as you work through the course, to note what your main differences are for purposes of comparison.

I am certainly not suggesting that you should try to change your pronunciation. If you are a learner of English you are recommended to concentrate on BBC pronunciation initially, though as you work through the course and become familiar with this you will probably find it an interesting exercise to listen analytically to other accents of English, to see if you can identify the ways in which they differ from BBC and even to learn to pronounce some different accents yourself.

Notes on problems and further reading The recommendation to use the name BBC pronunciation rather than RP is not universally accepted. Roach et al, Where I quote other writers who have used the term RP in discussion of standard accents, I have left the term unchanged.

Other writers have suggested the name GB General British as a term preferable to RP: I do not feel this is satisfactory, since the accent being described belongs to England, and citizens of other parts of Britain are understandably reluctant to accept that this accent is the standard for countries such as Scotland and Wales.

The BBC has an excellent Pronunciation Research Unit to advise broadcasters on the pronunciation of difficult words and names, but most people are not aware that it has no power to make broadcasters use particular pronunciations: BBC broadcasters only use it on a voluntary basis. I feel that if we had a completely free choice of model accent for British English it would be possible to find more suitable ones: Scottish and Irish accents, for example, have a more straightforward relationship between spelling and sounds than does the BBC accent; they have simpler vowel systems, and would therefore be easier for most foreign learners to acquire.

However, it seems that the majority of English teachers would be reluctant to learn to speak in the classroom with a non-English accent, so this is not a practical possibility. For introductory reading on the choice of English accent, see Brown ; Abercrombie ; Cruttenden Chapter 2 ; Collins and Mees ; Roach , We will return to the subject of accents of English in Chapter Much of what has been written on the subject of "Estuary English" has been in minor or ephemeral publications.

However, I would recommend looking at Collins and Mees , , ; Cruttenden A problem area that has received a lot of attention is the choice of symbols for representing English phonemes. In the past, many different conventions have been proposed and students have often been confused by finding that the symbols used in one book are different from the ones they have learned in another. The symbols used in this book are in most respects those devised by A. Gimson for his Introduction to the Pronunciation of English, the latest version of which is the revision by Cruttenden Cruttenden, These symbols are now used in almost all modern works on English pronunciation published in Britain, and can therefore be looked on as a de facto standard.

Although good arguments can be made for some alternative symbols, the advantages of having a common set of symbols for pronunciation teaching materials and pronunciation entries in dictionaries are so great that it would be very regrettable to go back to the confusing diversity of earlier years.

The subject of symbolisation is returned to in Section 8. Notes for teachers Pronunciation teaching has not always been popular with teachers and language-teaching theorists, and in the s and s it was fashionable to treat it as a rather outdated activity.

A good example of this attitude is to be found in Brown and Yule The criticism was misguided, I believe, and it is encouraging to see that in recent years there has been a significant growth of interest in pronunciation teaching and many new publications on the subject. No pronunciation course that I know has ever said that learners must try to speak with a perfect RP accent. To claim this mixes up models with goals: the model chosen is BBC RP , but the goal is normally to develop the learner's pronunciation sufficiently to permit effective communication with native speakers.

Pronunciation exercises can be difficult, of course, but if we eliminate everything difficult from language teaching and learning, we may end up doing very little beyond getting students to play simple communication games.

It is, incidentally, quite incorrect to suggest that the classic works on pronunciation and phonetics teaching concentrated on mechanically perfecting vowels and consonants: Jones , first published , for example, writes " 'Good' speech may be defined as a way of speaking which is clearly intelligible to all ordinary people.

A person may speak with sounds very different from those of his hearers and yet be clearly intelligible to all of them, as for instance when a Scotsman or an American addresses an English audience with clear articulation. Their speech cannot be described as other than 'good'" pp.


English Phonetics and Phonology Fourth Edition : A practical course

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Peter Roach (phonetician)

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Roach, Peter: English Phonetics and Phonology 4th Edition (2009)




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