An Introduction to the Phonetics of American English

An Introduction to the Phonetics of American English

An Introduction to the Phonetics of American English

An Introduction to the Phonetics of American English

Excerpt

This book deals with the pronunciation of English in the United States, and is designed primarily for elementary courses in phonetics. It should also be useful in courses dealing with the improvement or correction of voice and speech. Chapters 21 to 23 should be useful in an advanced course in linguistic geography.

Two principles underlie the presentation of the subject matter. One is that the distinctive sound unit, or phoneme, as discussed in Chapter 1, is basic to our understanding of speech. English, like any other language; rests on basic phonemic patterns, but not all varieties of English use exactly the same pattern.

On the other hand, the phoneme is not the whole story. In the actual production of speech the phoneme may be thought of as an abstraction or as a target. No two individuals pronounce the same words in exactly the same way, and no individual says the same word twice in exactly the same way. The individual units in the sequence of actual sounds are known as allophones. The allophones represent the phonemes, but include nondistinctive as well as distinctive features in their makeup. If the speaker speaks intelligibly, his allophonic variations will be interpreted by the listener in terms of whatever phonemic pattern the speaker and the listener both understand.

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