Acoustic aspect of speech sounds

Speech sounds have a number of physical properties. The first of them is frequency (the number of vibrations per sec). The vocal cords vibrate along the whole of their length, producing fundamental frequency, and all the tones. When the vibrations produced by the vocal cords are regular they produce musical tone. When they are irregular – noise is produced. When tone prevails over noise, sonorants are produced. When noise prevails over tone, voiced cons-s are produced.

Perception of the pitch of a speech sound depends upon the frequency of vibration of the vocal cords. The higher the pitch of vibrations, the higher the pitch level. A male voice may have an average pitch level of about 100 and 150 cycles per sec, and a female – 240 cycles per sec.

The frequency of sound depend on certain physical properties of the vibrator, such as length, tension.

The second physical property of sound is intensity. The greater the amplitude of vibration, the greater the intensity of a sound; the greater the pressure on the ear drums, the lauder the sound.Any sound has duration, it is its length of time during which the same vibratory motion are maintained.




Intonation is a complex unity of non-segmental features of speech: 1. melody, pitch of the voice; 2. sentence stress; 3. temporal characteristics (duration, tempo, pausation); 4. rhythm; 5. tamber. Intonation organizes a sentence, determines com­municative types of sentences and clauses, divides sentences into intona­tion groups, gives prominence to words and phrases, expresses contrasts and attitudes. The two main functions of intonation are: communicative and expressive.

There are two main approaches to the problem of intonation in Great Britain. One is known as a contour analysis and the other may be called grammatical.

The first is represented by a large group of phoneticians: H. Sweet, D. Jones, L. Armstrong, and others. According to this approach the smallest unit to which linguistic meaning can be attached is a sense-group. Their theory is based that intonation consists of basic functional "blocks".

Thе grammatical approach to the study of intonation was worked out by M. Halliday. The main unit of intonation is a clause. Intonation is a complex of three systemic variables: tonality, tonicity and tone, which are connected with grammatical categories. Tonality marks the begin­ning and the end of a tone-group. Tonicity marks the focal point of each tone-group. Tones can be primary and secondary. They convey the attitude of the speaker. Halli­day's theory is based on the syntactical function of intonation.

The tone unit is one of the most important of intonation theory. The interval between the highest and the lowest pitch syllable is called the range of a sence group. The higher the pitch, the wider the range. The change of pitch within the last stressed syllable of the tone group is called a nuclear tone. It may occur not only in the nucleus, but extend to the tail terminal tone.

Sweet distinguishes 8 tones: level, high rising, low rising, high falling, low falling, compound rising, compound falling, rising – falling- rising. Palmer has 4 basic tones, 2 additional and describes coordinatory tonal sequences and subordinating tonal sequences. Vasiliev gives 10 tone units. He distinguishes moving and level tones. Moving tones can simple, complex, compound. Level tones can be pitched at high, mid and low level.

The tonetic units, that constitute the total tone pattern are the following: unstressed and half stressed syllables preceding the 1st stressed syllable constitute the prehead of the intonation group; stressed and unstressed syllables up to the last stressed syllable constitute the head, body or scale of the intonation group; the last stressed syllable, within which fall or rise in the intonation group is accomplished, is called the nucleus; the syll marked with the nuclear tone may take a level stress; the syll – s (or one syll), that follow the nucleus, constitute the tail.

The most important part of the intonation group is the nucleus, which carries nuclear stress. Acc to the changes in the voice pitch preheads can be following: rising, mid and low. Scales can be: descending, ascending and level.

If one of the words in the descending scale is made specially prominent, a vertical row is placed before word made specially prominent in the text - accidental rise. This type of scale is called upbroken descending scale.

The falling tones convey completion and finality, they are categoric in character. The rising tones are incomplete and non – categoric. Of all level tones mid level is used most frequently. The level tones may express hesitation and uncertainty.



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