Descriptively oriented approach to of English phonology and phenetics; dialect differences. Prerequisite: LING 450.
This course is an introduction to English phonology. Aspects of English phonetics and morphology will also be discussed as they pertain to the phonology of English. A major focus of the class is differences in the vowel systems of different varieties of English. In order to talk about vowels objectively, we will need to use the tools of speech analysis. This course therefore also provides a brief introduction to acoustic phonetics. The goal of the class is to enable students to understand variation in English, and to be able to distinguish real differences between systems of English vs. notational/transcriptional differences.
We begin with the segmental (consonant and vowel) phonology, including tense vs. lax vowels, schwa, syllabic sonorants, aspiration, flap and velar nasal. We will discuss the vowels of RP and of at least one variety of American English in detail. Other dialects of English will be discussed, depending on the availability of speakers, sound files and/or guest lecturers. Finally, we discuss word stress: regular stress placement in verbs, adjectives and nouns; irregular stress; morphologically determined stress; phonetic correlates of stress in English.
This is not a class in the history of English, but some aspects of synchronic variation are easier to understand in their historical contexts. Some sound changes and historical events involving English will be presented throughout the course.
Student learning goals
General method of instruction
Lecturing, discussion of readings, video clips, sound files
Class assignments and grading
Student grades will be based on the following: quizzes about assigned readings, homework (analysis of their own vowel system), in-class midterm, and a term project describing the phonology of a non-North American variety of English. (There will not be a final exam.)