About affricate sounds in English
Definition of an affricate, approaches to the Study. Transcription in the International Phonetic Alphabet by combination of two letters. Using the tie to show that it is part of the same consonant. The status of affricates as a problem in the English.
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1. Definition of an affricate
2. Approaches to the study of affricates
3. Articulation of affricates and vowel lengthening
4. The problem of affricates
Affricates are consonant sounds that begin by fully stopping the air from leaving the vocal tract, then releasing it through a constricted opening. English has two affricate sounds, ? and ?. There are two types of affricate in English: voiceless / ? / and voiced / ? /. In a sense the affricates are just a combination of a voiceless unaspirated alveolar plosive (/t/ or /d/) with a palato-alveolar fricative (/S/ or /Z/). But there are several reasons for considering these combinations as phonemes in their own right. The affricates are the only example of a stop plus fricative combination which can occur in syllable-initial position in English. We have an orthographic combination `ch' for one of the two affricates which contains different letters from either of the constituent phones, showing that we think of `ch' as a separate phoneme unit.
The spectrographic realization of the stop plus fricative combination is different from what one would expect if it were really two phonemes.
Some linguists like to consider other American English phoneme as affricates. Other languages have different affricates. For example, German and Italian z [ts] and Italian [dz] are typical affricates.
1. Definition of an affricate
Affricate, also called semiplosive, a consonant sound that begins as a stop (sound with complete obstruction of the breath stream) and concludes with a fricative (sound with incomplete closure and a sound of friction) . English has two affricate sounds: ? and ?. Affricates are transcribed in the International Phonetic Alphabet by a combination of two letters, one for the stop element and the other for the fricative element. In order to show that these are parts of a single consonant, a tie bar is generally used. The tie bar appears most commonly above the two letters, but may be placed under them if it fits better there, or simply because this is more legible.
2. Approaches to the study of affricates
From a phonetic point of view, affricates are complex sounds consisting of a plosive and a fricative part. Like normal plosives, an affricate starts with the obstruction of air in the oral cavity, but unlike plain plosives, the obstructed air is released through a narrow channel, yielding turbulent airflow [11, p. 271]. The phonological, underlying, representation of affricates, on the other hand, is highly debated. In the SPE framework (Chomsky and Halle 1968), affricates have been described as plosives with a delayed release, thus opposing them to plain plosives with an instantaneous release. From the mid of the 1970s until the mid of the 1990s, affricates were generally considered complex segments, specified as [-continuant] and [+continuant] at the same time, directly reflecting the plosive and the fricative parts.
During the last twenty years, several phonologists still have defended a complex phonological representation of affricates, while others have argued that this view makes false predictions, and have advocated a description of affricates as strident stops instead. Crucially, in recent years, Clements (1999) and especially Kehrein (2002) have taken this latter view even one step further, by denying the existence of a separate phonological class of affricates altogether, and by making them underlyingly identical to normal stops [2, p. 223]. As to date, different views exist side by side, and uncertainty remains. This situation is mainly brought about by the fact that most existing analyses are language-specific, which only yields a fragmentary picture of the cross-linguistic patterning of affricates. The number of existing typological studies of affricates is extremely limited, and the ones that exist come up with contradictory findings (e.g. Van de Weijer 1996, Kehrein 2002) .
3. Articulation of affricates and vowel lengthening
English has two postalveolar affricates -- voiceless /t?/ as in cheese, catch, and ligature, and /d?/ which is voiced as in judge, magic,and jam. A postalveolar (from post- after and alveola the ridge just behind the front upper teeth) affricate is a sound which is a combination of a lingua-alveolar stop /t/ or /d/ and a lingua-palatal fricative /?/ or /?/. Because a postalveolar afficate is a combination of two sounds with different points of articulation (in this case, the spot where the tip of the tongue contacts the top of the mouth), its point of articulation falls between that of its two component sounds. In a lingua-alveolar stop, the tongue interrupts the flow of air by pressing against the alveolar ridge -- the part of the roof of the mouth, just behind the upper front teeth [9, p. 86]. In a lingua-palatal fricative, the flow of air out of the body is constricted by very nearly touching the tongue to the hard palate -- the part of the roof of the mouth, just behind the alveolar ridge, creating a narrow opening through which the air passes. In a postalveolar affricate, the point of articulation for both the stop and fricative release occurs between these two positions, just behind the alveolar ridge but not quite on the hard palate [6, p. 402].
The ch sound is an unvoiced consonant (the vocal cords do not vibrate during its pronunciation) and the j sound is a voiced consonant (the vocal cords do vibrate during its pronunciation) [4, p. 265].
The vowel sound before an unvoiced consonant sound has a shorter duration than the vowel sound before its voiced counterpart. This change in vowel duration subtly helps listeners of English to determine which sound was spoken. Some dictionaries will use a colon-like symbol of stacked triangles (?) to note a vowel with increased duration [8, p. 34].
We can notice the in vowel duration in the following minimal pairs.
Vowel length comparison
Pic. 3.1 Vowel length comparison
4. The problem of affricates
In the English system of consonants there is a problem of affricates. That is their status and number. There are two debated questions:
1. are the English sounds [?] [?] monophonemic or biphonemic combinations?
2. if they are monophonemic then how many phonemes of this kind exist in the system of English consonants and can such combinations [tr] [dr] [ts] [dz] [tO] [d?] be considered as affricates?
To define it is not an easy matter. One thing is clear: that is all these sounds are complexes because articulatorily and acoustically we can distinguish two elements. The articulatory difference between [?] and [?] on the one hand and [t] [d] on the other hand is based on the speed of releasing the obstruction. When [?] and [?] are pronounced the obstruction is released slower than in case of [t] [d]. But it isn't the only difference between affricates and plosives. There is no synchrony in releasing the obstruction by the central part of the tongue and its sides.
The problem of affricates is a point of considerable controversy among phoneticians. According to Russian specialists in English phonetics, there are two affricates in English: [t?, d]. D. Jones points out there are six of them: [t?, ?], [ts, dz], and [tr, dr]. A.C. Gimson increases their number adding two more affricates: [tи, t?]. Russian phoneticians look at English affricates through the eyes of a phoneme theory, according to which a phoneme has three aspects: articulatory, acoustic and functional, the latter being the most significant one. As to British phoneticians, their primary concern is the articulatory-acoustic unity of these complexes [2, p. 271].
Before looking at these complexes from a functional point of view it is necessary to define their articulatory indivisibility.
According to N.S. Trubetzkoy's point of view a sound complex may be considered monophonemic if: a) its elements belong to the same syllable; b) it is produced by one articulatory effort; c) its duration should not exceed normal duration of elements. Let us apply these criteria to the sound complexes.
1. Syllabic indivisibility:
butcher [but? -?] lightship [lait-?ip]
mattress [m?tr-is] footrest [fut-rest]
curtsey [kз:-tsi] out-set [aut-set]
eighth [eitи] whitethorn [wait-иo:n]
In the words in the left column the sounds [t?], [tr], [ts], [tи] belong to one syllable and cannot be divided into two elements by a syllable dividing line [10, p. 219].
2. Articulatory indivisibility. Special instrumental analysis shows that all the sound complexes are homogeneous and produced by one articulatory effort.
3. Duration. With G.P. Torsuyev we could state that length of sounds depends on the position in the phonetic context, therefore it cannot serve a reliable basis in phonological analysis. He writes that the length of English [t?] in the words chair and match is different; [t?] in match is considerably longer than |t| in mat and may be even longer than [?] in mash. This does not prove, however, that [t?] is biphonemic [5, p. 89]. affricate phonetic consonant english
According to morphological criterion a sound complex is considered to be monophonemic if a morpheme boundary cannot pass within it because it is generally assumed that a phoneme is morphologically indivisible. If we consider [t?], [?] from this point of view we could be secure to grant them a monophonemic status, since they are indispensable. As to [ts], [dz] and [tи], [d?] complexes their last elements are separate morphemes [s], [z], [и], [?] so these elements are easily singled out by the native speaker in any kind of phonetic context. These complexes do not correspond to the phonological models of the English language and cannot exist in the system of phonemes. The case with [tr], [dr] complexes is still more difficult [2, p. 274].
By way of conclusion we could say that the two approaches have been adopted towards this phenomenon are as follows: the finding that there are eight affricates in English [t?], [?], [tr], [dr], [ts], [dz], [t?], [dи] is consistent with articulatory and acoustic point of view, because in this respect the entities are indivisible. This is the way the British phoneticians see the situation. On the other hand, Russian phoneticians are consistent in looking at the phenomenon from the morphological and the phonological point of view which allows them to define [t?], [?] as monophonemic units and [tr], [dr], [ts], [dz], [t?], [dи] as biphonemic complexes. However, this point of view reveals the possibility of ignoring the articulatory and acoustic indivisibility.
Affricates are consonants that begin as stops but release as a rather than directly into the following vowel. It's characterized by a complete obstruction of the outgoing airstream by the articulators, a build up of air pressure in the mouth, and finally releases as a fricative, a sound produced by forcing air through a constricted space, which produces turbulence when the air is forced trough a smaller opening. Depending on which parts of the vocal tract are used to constrict the airflow, that turbulence causes the sound produced to have a specific character. English has two affricates, spelled ch and j. The ch sound is an unvoiced consonant and the j sound is a voiced one. The vowel sound before an unvoiced consonant sound has a shorter duration than the vowel sound before its voiced counterpart.
There are some problems of phonological character in the English consonantal system. It is the problem of affricates - their phonological status and their number. There are two debated questions: are the English sounds [?] [?] monophonemic or biphonemic combinations and if they are monophonemic then how many phonemes of this kind exist in the system of English consonants and can such combinations [tr] [dr] [ts] [dz] [tO] [d?] be considered as affricates?
One thing is clear: these sounds are complexes because articulatory we can distinguish two elements. Considering phonemic duality of affricates, it is necessary to analyze the relation of affricates to other consonant phonemes to be able to define their status in the system. The problem of affricates is a debated problem among phoneticians. According to Russian phoneticians there are 2 affricates - [?] and [?]. An English phonetician D. Jones says there are six affricates: [?] [?] [tr] [dr] [ts] [dz]. An English phonetician A. Gimson increases their number to eight adding two more affricates: [tO] [d?]. To understand if they are affricates or not we must define their articulatory in divisibility.
By way of conclusion we could say that the two approaches have been adopted towards this phenomenon are as follows: the finding that there are eight affricates in English is consistent with articulatory and acoustic point of view. This is the way the British phoneticians see the situation. On the other hand, Russian phoneticians are consistent in looking at the phenomenon from the morphological and the phonological point of view. However, it reveals the possibility of ignoring the articulatory and acoustic indivisibility.
1. Berns J. Do affricates need to be eliminated from phonology? A typological approach / J. Berns. - Radboud University Nijmegen. - Режим доступу : http://www.home.uni-osnabrueck.de/tmeisenb/Berns.pdf
2. Chomsky N. The Sound Pattern of English / N. Chomsky. - New York : Harper and Row, 1968. - 464p.
3. Clements G. N. Affricates as Noncontoured Stops / G. N. Clements. - Prague : Karolinum Press, 1999. - 299p.
4. Clements G.N. The Internal Structure of Speech Sounds / G.N. Clements. - Ma. : Basil Blackwell, 1995. - 306p.
5. Encyclopedia Britannica. - Режим доступу : http://www.britannica.com/EBchecked/topic/7768/affricate
6. Hualde J. I. Affricates are not Contour Segments / J. I. Hualde, 1988. - 105p.
7. Kehrein W. Phonological Representation and Phonetic Phasing : Affricates and Laryngeals / W. Kehrein. - Tubingen : Niemeyer, 2002. - 466p.
8. Kim H. The Phonological Representation of Affricates / H. Kim. - N. Y., 1997. - 46p.
9. LaCharite D. The Internal Structure of Affricates : Unpublished PhD dissertation / D. LaCharite. - Ottawa, 1993. - 154p.
10. Ladefoged P. The Sounds of the World's Languages / P. Ladefoged. - Oxford : Blackwell Publishers, 1996. - 321p.
11. Paradis C. Phonetics and Phonology / C. Paradis. - San Diego: Academic Press, 1991. - 359p....
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