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  Home > TEFL Clinic > Teaching Knowledge > Glossary

Phonology


Connected speech: Spoken language in which the words join to form a connected stream of sounds.

Consonant: Any letter of the English alphabet except the vowels a, e, i, o u and sometimes y. See vowel.

Contraction: A shorter form of a word or words, e.g. you have = youve; it is = its.

Diphthong: A vowel combination usually involving a quick but smooth movement from one vowel to another, e.g. / a�� / as in my.

Feature (e.g. of connected speech): A feature of something is an interesting or important part or characteristic of it.

Intonation: The way the level of a speakers voice changes, often to show how they feel about something, e.g. if they are angry or

pleased. Intonation can be rising or falling or both.

Linking: The way different sounds can link into each other in connected speech, e.g. its a good day – / ��ts����ʌde�� /

Main stress: see stress.

Minimal pair: Two words which are different from each other only by one meaningful sound, and by their meaning, e.g. hear, fear.

Phoneme: The smallest sound unit which can make a difference to meaning e.g. /p/ in pan, /b/ in ban. Phonemes have their own symbols (phonemic symbols), each of which represents one sound. Words can be presented in phonemic script (usually International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA), e.g. /d��kt��/ – doctor. Phonemic transcription is used in dictionaries to aid pronunciation.

Rhyme: 1. Words that sound the same, e.g. hat, cat; 2) A song or poem with words that sound the same at the end of each line e.g.

I believe I can fly.

I believe I can touch the sky.

Rhythm: A regular pattern of stress and syllable length.

Schwa: see stress.

Sentence stress: see stress.

Stress: Sentence stress is where different words in a sentence are stressed. In English these are usually the information-carrying words. In the sentence It was a lovely evening, and the temperature was perfect, the main stress, when spoken, is probably on the word perfect. Stress can therefore be used to show meaning,

to emphasise a particular point or feeling.

 

Strong/weak forms: If the word is unstressed, the weak form of vowels may be used, e.g. I can (/ k��n /) speak Italian, French, English and Spanish. The sound /��/ is called the schwa.  If a word is important, then the strong form is used, and the pronunciation changes, e.g. I can (/kaen/) speak a little Spanish in an emergency. Word stress is the pronunciation of a syllable with more force than the surrounding syllables which are said to be unstressed, e.g. umbrella. Sometimes, a word may have two stresses, in which case one syllable takes the main stress. In the word independent, for example ‘pen takes the main stress.

Strong forms: see stress.

Syllable: A part of a word that usually contains a single vowel sound, e.g. pen = one syllable; teacher = two syllables teach/er; umbrella = three syllables um/bre/lla.

Unvoiced sound: see voiced/unvoiced sound.

Voiced sound/unvoiced sound: A voiced sound is a way of pronouncing sounds with vibration (voiced) or without vibration (unvoiced) in the throat. In English, vowels are usually voiced. Many sounds differ only because they are either voiced, e.g. /b/ or unvoiced, e.g. /p/.

Vowel: One of the sounds shown by the letters a, e, i, o u and sometimes y. See consonant.

Weak forms: see stress.

Word stress: see stress.


 







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