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harley_chapter - Heidi Harley, 2003 A Linguistic...

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© Heidi Harley, 2003 A Linguistic Introduction to English Words 23 Chapter 2 Sound and fury: English phonology / sawnd ´n fj±®ij / / INglIS f´nAl´dÉZij / In this chapter, we look at English sound patterns. We learn about the distinct sounds that make up words ( phonemes ), and the mechanisms in the vocal tract that are employed to produce them. We learn a system of writing that can be used to accurately reflect pronunciation, the International Phonetic Alphabet . We think about how sounds group into families, and consider one example of sound change from the prehistory of English. This groundwork will allow us, in future chapters, to understand the restrictions on phonological words in English, to look at other historical changes that altered the pronunciation of English words in the past, as well as to discuss differences between dialects of English spoken today. It will also enable us to analyze other kinds of processes in English words, when we look at prefixes and suffixes. 2.1 English spelling and English pronunciation The first thing we have to do, when considering the pronunciation of English words, is find a way to represent their pronunciation accurately in print (since you can't hear me talking). English spelling is notoriously bad at this: probably, at least once in your life as a literate English speaker, you have mispronounced a word in speech that you learned from a book. It happens to me pretty frequently. Just consider the following famous sets of words © Heidi Harley, 2003 A Linguistic Introduction to English Words 24 (11) a. their they're there b. cox cocks caulks c. Mary merry marry d. prints prince e. threw through f. who's whose Each set is pronounced the same way (at least in my dialect of English), but they are spelled differently: if you were an alien, or a child, looking at written English, you might reasonably surmise that they should sound different. And of course, there are similar problems in the other direction: the same spelling can be pronounced differently in different words: (12) a. lead [ a metal ] lead [ to precede ] b. dove [ a bird ] dove[ fell in a controlled way ] c. does [ an auxiliary verb ] does [ more than one female deer ] d. wound [ an injury ] wound [ wrapped around ] This fact about English orthography is very well known; everyone who has learned to write English knows it. Gerard Nolst Trenité, a Dutch teacher of English, wrote the following remarkable poem to illustrate this point. Try reading it aloud to yourself. All the rhymes are valid; if you hit a word you don't recognize, or that you don't believe rhymes, look it up in a good English dictionary. Exercise 1: Read this poem aloud. The Chaos Dearest creature in creation, Study English pronunciation. I will teach you in my verse Sounds like corpse, corps, horse, and worse.
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harley_chapter - Heidi Harley, 2003 A Linguistic...

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