Suprasegmental Phonetical Units
One of the Suprasegmental Phonetical Units is a syllable and the basic phonological element is a phoneme. During the connected speech the sounds show attendances to cluster (сцепляться) themselves and these smallest phonetic units are given the name of syllables. And the latest investigation showed that the chains of phonemes are kept in the form of the syllables in our memory. And the syllables are the units of our articulatory motoactivity. There are different points of view on syllable formation. And the most popular theory is the “Sonority” theory, which was put forward by Danish linguist Otto Jespersen. According to this theory each sound is characterized by a certain degree of sonority and Otto Jespersen established the Scale of Sonority of Sounds which starts from the open vowels, then come the mid-open and closed, semi-vowels, sonorants, voiced fricatives (щелевые), voiced plosives (взрывные), voices affricates (аффрикаты), voiceless fricatives, voiceless plosives, voiceless affricates. In any sequence the most sonorous sounds tend to form the centre of the syllable and the least sonorous – its marginal segments.
If we put the scale of sonority against the Y-axis and the sound that we question against the X-axis we should gain the picks of sonority of the syllable, which correspond to the centre of the syllable. Two points of the lower sonority correspond to the beginning and to the end of the syllable. Thus we have three picks of sonority in the word “mastership” and three syllables in it. The theory of sonority helps to understand the number of syllables in the word and helps to understand why, for example, in the word “bold” we have “l” syllable and [l] sound doesn't create a syllable but it’s a part of a lower sonority from mid-open [əu] to voiceless plosive consonant [t] and why in the word “bottle” we have two picks of sonority and the sound [l] creates the second syllable, so we have two-syllable word. And there is a direct connection between the degree of opening of the mouth cavity and the sonority of speech sound.
But this theory fails to explain the mechanism of syllable boundary or syllabification (слогоделение) because it doesn’t state which of two syllables the weak sound belongs to. In the German group of languages there is coordination between a vowel and a following consonant in contrast to Russian where we observe a strong parataxis (примыкание) of consonant to the following vowel. That’s why the Russian students often break the structure of an English closed syllable, pronouncing it as the opened Russian syllable.
Different languages are characterized by the different types of their syllabic structure. In English we observe four types of syllabic structure:
open CV [nəu]
closed (C)VC [nəut]
covered CV(C) [təun]
uncovered V(C) [ɒd]
And the closed type of syllable is fundamental for English while for Russian the opened type forms the basis of syllabic formation. In English language the problem of syllable boundary exists in two cases:
intervocalic clusters of consonants
The rule is that in the first case the syllabification is after the long stressed and after the diphthong because the diphthongs are traditionally referred to the group of the long vowels. If the syllabic vowel is short the syllabification is after intervocalic consonant because the short stressed vowel should remain checked (усечённой). The checked vowel is the short stressed vowel which is in the position before the voiceless consonant [mæp] and during the pronunciation this vowel is sharply broken by the consonant that follows. In the words like “pity” or “topic” the intervocalic consonant refers to the short vowel that is to the first syllable [piti]
The second problem is syllabification of intervocalic consonant clusters. In this case the syllabification is based on the Maximal Onset Principle (принцип максимального начала). And this principle is established on the full form of syllable which consists of the following parts:
onset (зачин) [ləun]
nucleus (ядро) [ləun]
coda (кода) [ləun]
The principle reads that it is necessary to relay the majority of clusters to the onset because the consonants are important for reproducing the information and they are better distinguished at the beginning of the syllables [ə|gri:], [ə|pru:v]
In affixal in compound words the syllabic boundary often coincides with the morphological boundary: [dɪs|pleɪs], [bɪ|kʌm]
On the other hand there are clusters that can never ne found in the word initial position and consequently should be broken by syllabic boundary: [əd|maɪə], [wɪn|dəu]
Also we can’t find in the onset: sound [ŋ] and clusters as [fs], [st], [mh], [bh], [dm], [dn], [tn], [nd]; we can’t find sound [w] in the coda.
It is all stated in the English Pronouncing Dictionary of Cambridge by Daniel Jones.
Another principle is the Maximal Stress Principle (делить согласные по ударному слогу) that is used in the Longman Pronouncing Dictionary, but it isn’t used anymore.
Next item of Suprasegmental Phonetical Units is stress. Stress can be defined as singling out some elements of speech chain against the others.
There is a terminological confusion in discussing of nature of stress: Russian linguists differ word and sentence stress. And sentence stress is singling out one or several words in a phrase against the others and English phoneticians identify the word stress as a stress and sentence stress as an accent.
The nature of word stress is dynamic which implies a greater force with which the syllable is pronounced. And the dynamic stress is perceived as loudness. And the term “accent” was introduced by Dwight Bolinger. He considered that the pitch prevails over the force features in English accent.
Now we consider that English stress just as the accent is the complex of force, tone and length factors which compensate each other. Stress can be characterized as fixed and free. In languages with the fixed type of stress the place of the stress is always the same. In English the word stress is free that it may fall on any syllable in a word. It’s not only free but also shifting (подвижный) (the place of the stress may shift from one to another) and it helps to differ parts of speech (“ˈinsult” and “to inˈsult”)
There are several degrees of word stress. Most English phoneticians term the strongest stress “primary” or “main”, the second – “secondary” and all the other degrees of stress as “weak”. American phoneticians distinguish more degrees of stress:
loud [ ´ ] (главное)
reduced-loud [ ^ ] (второстепенное)
medial or tertiary [ ` ] (среднее или третьестепенное)
weak [ ˘ ] (слабое)
The weak type is characterized by reduction of vowels. The tertiary type is usually associated with the American variant of English because it has the same degree of prominence (выделение) as the secondary stress but differs from the second by its arrangement in a word. Its disposition is after the main of primary stress while the secondary stress is before the primary one: [´serɪ`məʋnɪ], [‚kɒnfrʌn´teɪʃn], [´dɪkʃ(ə)n(ə)rɪ] and [´dɪkʃənerɪ] – American variant.
And there are some tendencies in disposition of word stress in English. They’re based on the typological processes that predominate in the language or in the historical language. There are four tendencies in English:
recessive. It results in placing the word stress on the initial syllable. It has two subtypes:
unrestricted recessive tendency (stress falls on the first syllable of aboriginal Germanic words)
restricted recessive tendency (stress falls on the second syllable because the first syllable is a prefix which has lost its meaning by present time, e.g. beˈhind, beˈfore, forˈget)
rhythmic. This tendency is based on the tendency of alteration of stressed syllable with unstressed syllable. And this tendency creates the stable speech rhythm. Historically it was originated from the bulk of English words marked with the stress either on the first or on the second syllable. In order to regulate this phenomenon rhythmic tendency determined the place of the stress on the next nearest syllable. And because of this tendency of the secondary stress appeared.
retentive. It consists in the retention of the primary stress of the parent word (производящее слово) on the derivative word (производимое или дериват). More commonly the primary stress of the parent word is retained on the derivate as the secondary stress with the alternative of rhythmic and retentive tendencies the rhythmic overcomes in order to avoid the sequence of stress syllables in the derivatives (ˈsimilar-‚simiˈlarity)
semantic. It takes into account the meaning of the morpheme which carries the most semantic meaning singled out by the stress (e.g. ex-president)
[ɒb’zɜ:v] -> [‚ɒbzɜ:r’veɪʃn] (побеждает вторая тенденция, так как по третьей тенденции было бы [‚ɒb’zɜ:rveɪʃn]