By Donka Minkova
Phonological evolution is a tremendous element of the final background of the language; the subject material is either major by itself phrases and proper in curricular phrases. This booklet describes the segmental and prosodic adjustments within the heritage of English, offers analyses of those alterations either as phonological occasions and with regards to the evolution of interlocking facets of previous English and highlights the relevance of the subjects and doubtless generate extra curiosity via projecting old phonological switch onto Present-Day English and its forms. the advance of the English sound process is definitely one of the top studied a part of the background of the language, in spite of the fact that no updated, student-friendly survey exists: this ebook fills the distance.
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Extra info for A Historical Phonology of English
NASALS /m, n, ŋ/: the air is released through the nose, rather than the mouth: man, numb, hung. • APPROXIMANTS /w, r, l, j/: the air flows considerably more freely than for the other types of consonants: win, ray, low, yes. Additionally, the degree of closure of the vocal tract can be important: if the closure is incomplete, the sound is a continuant. This feature straddles the dividing line between obstruents and sonorants: stops and affricates are non-continuant, and so are the nasals [m, n, ŋ].
Using the voiced /w/ in wine and the voiceless / / in whine maintains the perceptual difference between two distinct lexical items, but it also requires some extra effort. If we merge the pronunciation of the two words, we create homophones, a perceptual complication arising concurrently with the elimination of the extra effort. The tension between these forces is always present in language; we will see how these general linguistic principles can be applied to the accounts of phonological change in English.
1 Syllable structure Phonological segments are not pronounced in isolation – they are organised into syllables. Native speakers have strong intuitions about the division of words into syllables. The way we define a syllable depends on whether we are interested in the production, the perception or the function of the syllable. The most elementary definition refers to production: a syllable is the smallest independently pronounceable unit of speech. In auditory terms, the syllable is a string of sounds of different prominence, where ‘prominence’ corresponds to the acoustically measurable sonority of the sounds.