Thursday, November 24, 2016

Guidelines for proper Pronunciation

Pronunciation of Suffixes or word endings:

The plural form in written English with an s has three distinct sounds:

            /s/     cups                                        
            /z/     cubs                            
            /iz/    horses, benches                    

Rule 1
When a word ends in a voiceless sound as in /p/, /t/, /k/, /f/ the s that follows is sounded as /s/:
            Tap     -           taps /s/
            Pet      -           pets /s/
            Book   -           books /s/
Rule 2
When a word ends in a voiced sound as in /b/, /d/, /g/ the s is sounded as /z/:
            Bag     -           bags /z/
            Tub     -           tubs /z/
            Kid     -           Kids /z/
Rule 3
The plural morpheme /s/ or any word ending in s is sounded as /iz/ with words ending in s, z, dz, tò. It is applicable to verbs too.
            Bus     -           buses /iz/
            Bench -           benches /iz/
            Bridge -           bridges /iz/
            Wish   -           wishes /iz/
/s/ sound represented by
            s          -           seek, case
            ss         -           essay, pass
            sc         -           science, scene
            c          -           cement, cease
/z/ is presented by
            s          -           please, cousin
            ss         -           scissors, dresses
            z          -           zeal, amaze
            zz        -           puzzle, dazzle
            x          -           exact, examination
Past tense form ending with the inflection ‘d’ has three distinct sounds:
            bag      -           bagged /d/             
            wash   -           washed /t/   
            add     -           added /id/               

Rule 1
If a verb ends in a voiced sound, its past tense has the /d/ sound at the end:
            bagged   /d/
            clubbed  /d/
            lived     /d/

Rule 2
If a verb ends in a voiceless sound, its past tense has the /t/ sound at the end:
washed   /t/
looked    /t/
stopped  /t/

Rule 3
If a verb ends in /t/ or /d/ its past tense has the /id/ sound at the end:
want   -           wanted /id/               state  -           stated /id/
add     -           added /id/                 wade -           waded /id/


Word stress is a very important feature of spoken English.  Words are made up of sounds. The words two /tu:/ and see /si:/ are made up of two sounds each. The words cat /kaet/ and back /baek/ are made up of three sounds each. The words sent /sent/ and build /bIld/ are made up of four sounds each. The common feature of all these words is that they are all monosyllabic words. 

SYLLABLE: Syllable is the smallest unit of word which can be pronounced at a time or without stopping in between, which contains an vowel sound.

If a word has more than one syllable, all the syllables are not equally prominent: one of the syllables is more prominent than the others.   For example, the word Doc-tor is made up of two syllables: Doc and tor but only the first syllable Doc is stressed as it is more prominent than tor. 
It implies that a syllable is made up of a vowel and optionally consonant(s).  

Consonant Clusters

A syllable must have a vowel, and zero, one, or more consonants before the vowel or after it. When a sequence of two or more consonants occurs either before or after a vowel in a single syllable, it is known as a ‘Consonant Cluster’. Consonant clusters occur initially and finally. Consonant clusters occurred initially are called initial consonant clusters, if it occurs finally they are called final consonant clusters.

Initial Consonant Clusters:
Two-Consonant Clusters
/pl-/ plan, plot, place                   /fl-/  flask, flew, flap
/pr-/ pray, prize, proud             /fr-/ free, fresh, fry
/kl-/ clean, club, climb                /sp-/ speak, spend, spy,
/bl-/ blue, blink, blot                   /sm-/ small, smile, smoke

Three-Consonant Clusters
/spl-/ splash, spleen, split
/spr-/ spring, sprout, spray
/str-/ strong, strike, stroll
/skr-/ screen, scrub, scratch
/skw-/ squash, square, squint

Final Consonant Clusters:
Two-Consonant Clusters
/-pt/ kept, wrapped, slept             /-gd/ mugged, begged
/-ks/ works, shocks, fox                 /-ft/ craft, coughed, laughed
/lk/ milk, silk, sulk                         /-bd/ rubbed, clubbed

Three-Consonant Clusters:
/-pts/ adopts, erupts                      /-lkt/ milked, sulked
/-kts/ facts, ducts                            /-lvd/ shelved
/-kst/ fixed, next                             /-lvz/ wolves
/-mpt/ tempt, prompt                    /-lks/ silks

Four-Consonant Clusters:
/-mpts/ prompts                 /-lfqs/ twelfths
/-mpst/ glimpsed               /-ksqs/ sixths
/-ksts/ texts
/-lpts/ sculpts           

Stress in English Words

Stress in English words is fixed, i.e., the stress always falls on a particular syllable in a given word.   For example, in the word miserable, the stress is on the first syllable, i.e., mis, whether the word is said in isolation or in connected speech.   But at the same time, stress in English words is free, i.e., it is not tied to any particular syllable in the chain of syllables constituting the word.   For example, English words can be stressed on the first syllable as in miserable, on the second syllable as in a’gree, on the third syllable as in under’stand and so on.  

The syllable that which receives highest degree of prominence in a word is said to have the primary accent / stress.   Any other prominent syllable which receives prominence next to primary accent / stress is said to have secondary accent.   Primary accent is marked with a vertical bar above and in front of the syllable to which it refers.   Secondary accent is marked with a vertical bar below and in front of the syllable.   For example, in the following words:


The primary stress is on the last syllable and the secondary stress is on the first syllable. When such words are used in connected speech, pitch movement can be initiated only on the syllables, which have primary stress. 


Here are a few rules of word stress.  These will help one locate stress in words.
Functional shift of stress:

There are a number of words of two syllables in which the accentual pattern depends on whether the word is used as a noun, an adjective or a verb.   When the word is used as a noun or an adjective, the stress is on the first syllable. When the word is used as a verb, the stress is on the second syllable.   Here are a few examples:
Noun / Adjective                             Verb
‘absent                                                ab’sent
‘object                                                 ob’ject
‘subject                                               sub’ject
‘project                                               pro’ject
‘Progress                                            pro’gress
‘Decrease                                           De’crease

Words with prefixes / suffixes: their stress patterns

Here we discuss words with prefixes / suffixes in terms of their stress patterns.

a)         Verbs of two syllables beginning with the prefix dis- are stressed on the last syllable.

dis’arm                                               dis’may
dis’band                                             dis’pel

b)        Verbs of two syllables
Verbs of two syllables ending in –ate, -ise/-ize, -ct are stressed on the last syllable.

nar’rate                                               cap’size
at’tract                                                chas’tise

c)         Words ending in ‘ion, -ic, -ical, -ically, -ially, -ian, -ious, -eous
i)    Words ending in –ion have the stress on the penultimate (i.e., the last but one) syllable.

appli’cation                                       civili’zation
compo’sition                                     ‘question

ii)  Words ending in –ic/-ical/ically, -ial/-ially, -ian have the stress on the syllable preceding the suffix.
apolo’getic                                        sympa’thetic
e’lectric                                              patri’otic

-ical                                                    -ically
apolo’getical                                     apolo’getically

-ial                                                      -ian    
me’morial                                          lib’rarian
of’ficial                                               mu’sician

iii) Words ending in –ious, -eous have the stress on the penultimate (i.e., the last but one) syllable 
-ious                                                   -eous 
‘anxious                                             ‘piteous
in’dustrious                                       cou’rageous

d)        Words ending in –ate, -ise,/-ize, -fy, -ity, -cracy, -crat, -graph, -graphy,
-meter, -logy
i)    Words of more than two syllables ending in –ate, -ise/-ize, -ify are stressed on the ante-penultimate syllable (i.e., third from the end). 

-ate                              -ise, ize                      -ify 
                        ‘complicate                ‘colonise                    ‘justify
                        ar’ticulate                  mo’nopolize              ‘classify

ii)        Words ending in –ity, -cracy, -crat, -graph, -graphy, -meter, -logy have the stress on the ante-penultimate syllable (i.e., third from the end).  
-ity                              -cracy                          -crat
             a’bility                       au’tocracy                  ‘autocrat        
elec’tricity                  de’mocracy                ‘democrat

iii)       Words ending in –graph, -graphy, -meter, -logy have the stress on the ante-penultimate syllable (i.e., third from the end).  
-graph                        -graphy                      -meter                   -logy
‘autograph                 pho’tography            ther’mometer      psy’chology
‘paragraph                 spec’trography         lac’tometer          bi’logy
iv)       Words ending in –ain, -aire, -eer, -enta, -ential, -ese, -esce, -escence, -escent, -esque, -ique, -it is, -ee, -ette, -ete, -ade have the stress on the suffix.
–ain                            -aire                           -eer                      -ental,
Ob’tain                       millio’naire               engi’neer              experi’mental
Main’tain                   question’naire           volun’teer            acci’dental
Ascer’tain                                                      marke’teer           pa’rental
Re’frain                                                          car’eer                  inci’dental

–ential                        -ese                            -esce                    -escence,
Exis’tential                bur’mese                    coa’lesce              effer’vescence
Provi’dential             chi’nese                      conva’lesce          ado’lescence

–ee                              -ette                           -ete                       -ade,
Pay’ee                        eti’quette                   de’lete                  barri’cade
Absen’tee                   ga’zette                      com’plete             de’grade

e)         Stress Shift
Stress shift is quite normal in derivatives.  Here are a few examples :

                        a’cademy                   aca’demic                  acade’mician
                        ‘photograph              pho’tographer           photo’graphic
                        ‘politics                      po’litical                    poli’tician

Here we have given you a few rules for marking stress in English.   We have also discussed functional shift of stress.   Please remember these rules of stress are very useful for you to be able to pronounce English words correctly.

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