By Fasold R., Connor-Linton J.
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Extra info for An Introduction to Language and Linguistics
Think of ‘voiced’, for example, not just as an adjective that describes a sound but as one parameter (a choice, a building block, a specific vocal tract configuration) that, in combination with other parameters, creates the sound. The phonetic symbol representing a given sound isn’t the sound itself, but a ‘cover symbol’ for the set of choices. This also means that the speech sounds of a language are related to each other in important ways; some sets of sounds differ only by changing a single parameter, while others differ in the settings of several parameters.
The major European languages and their relatives are exceptional in not having tone. 6 Syllable structure for the word print t How many syllables are in the word Appalachicola? Massachusetts? Antidisestablishmentarianism? ) English speakers have little trouble counting the number of syllables in a word, but linguists have a harder time defining what a syllable is. ” Most of the syllables we encounter in English, in words like pin, print, or even sprints, fit this definition. However, it’s perfectly possible to have a syllable without a vowel.
Why is [prInt] a good syllable when [rpItn] is not? The best answer (though not perfect) lies in the concept of sonority. Sonority can be defined as relative openness of the vocal tract, which corresponds directly to the relative loudness of a sound. The most sonorous sounds are the low vowels; the mouth is wide open, and the sound flows freely out. The least sonorous sounds are the voiceless stops; the mouth is completely shut, and no sound is made at all. Other sounds range between these two extremes.