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Read aloud the minimal pairs below. Single out the phonemes which are contrasted

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jug—bug led—laid lay—He

judge—budge men—main say—sigh

birch—-bird singe—sinned

keen—coin try—Troy bays—buys lied—Lloyd

burn—bone fork—folk fawn—phone fur—foe girl—goal

read—reared lead—leered day—deer pays—peers pace—pierce

pen—pain edge—age

law—low saw—so gnaw—no pause—pose

pearl—pole pursed—post curt—coat perch—poach cursed—coast

red—rared very—vary bed—bared pier—pair dearie—dairy

bay—by days—dies

roars—rose awed—ode called—cold torn—tone

barred—bowed Karl—cowl part—pout art—out no—now

do—doer pear—poor my—mire write—riot bowered—b owed

2. Read these words. Pay attention to the allophonic difference of one and the same phoneme.


aspirated: take, tall, tone

unaspirated: steak, stall, stone

no audible release: outpost, halfpin, football, white chalk

nasal release: cotton, button, eaten, utmost

lateral release: cattle, atlas, at last

partly devoiced: do, dog, day

voiced: leader, order, murder

voiceless: bid, mad, road

no audible release: good dog, bed time, good cheese

nasal release: admit, road map, red map

lateral release: middle, headless, badly, good luck


aspirated: come, car, coal unaspirated: baker, talking, equal, secret

no audible release: locked, deck chair, blackboard, dark night, black Imagic, begged

lateral release: glow, bugle, struggle voiceless: dog, leg, vague partly devoiced: go, geese, girt, glass voiced; figure, eager, ago, begin


3, Read these words. Pay attention to the positional allophones of the /1/ pho-


like—lip live—Uly

pull—-mill fool—hall

less—leak doll—girl let—list coal—twelve

4. Read these words. Pay attention to the pronunciation of the de voiced allo­phones of the /1, w, r/ phonemes after /p, t, k/.

cleft twice

cleg tweed

ply quiet

please quaver

clerk queer

try tree






plight—blight class—glass clad—glad clean—glean clue—glue

5. Read these words. Mind the distributional character of the /h/ phoneme.
Pay attention to the allophones in the syllable initial prevocalic position,
each of them should be considered as a "strong, voiceless onset of the vowel,
which follows it." г

|he, hit, help, happy, half, hop, horn, hut, hook, who, her, habit­ual, hay, high, how, hoist, hoe, hear, hare, houri

6. Read these words. Pay attention to the complementary nature of soft and
hard English allophones and to the independent soft and hard Russian pho­

/p/ pea —paw /b/ bee —bark /t/ tea —talk /d/ deep—dope

/k/ key —car /g/ geese —goose /t(7 cheese—chosej /dg/ jet —jar

Щ far —fee /v/ veel —vote /9/ theme—thumb /5/ thee —those;

/r/ read—rode

/s/ see—saw

/аз/ jupe—Joe /h/ he—home /1/ lee—law

/z/ zeal—zone /j/ yes—young /Jf/ she—shoe /w/ we—wet /m/ me—met /n/ knee—net

/п/ пол /п7 пёк /б/ бак /67 бязь /т/ ток /т7 тёк

1 Gimson А, С,


/к7 Кяхта /с/
/г/ год 1/
/г7 гяур /з/
/Ц/ цепь /з7
N час /ш/
/Ф/ фунт /ш'
Op. cit__ Р. 1S6.






/м/ мак /м7 мять /н/ нос /н7 нёс /л/ лад /л7 лёд

/д/ да /ф1/ Фёкла /ж/ жар /и/ яр /д1/ дядя /в/ воз /ж'/ жжёщь /р/ рад] /к/ как /в7 вёз /х/ холм /р7 ряд

Control Tasks

1. Give examples to prove that the following features of the English conso­nants and vowels are distinctive,

orality—nasality 'plosiveness—constrictiveness labial-

voicelessness—voicedness ' ity

tenseness—laxness frontness—backness

*2. Give examples of combinatory allophones of the /r/ phoneme.

*3. What positional aflophones occur as a result of palatalization in the Rus­sian language?

*4. Give examples for 'different types of distribution: (a) complementary, (fa) contrast!ve, (c) free variation.

5. Give examples of: (a) single opposition, (b) double opposition, (c) multiple

6. Give theoretical and practical proofs to explain constitutive, recognitive
and distinctive functions of phonemes.

7. Match the words below to obtain minimal pairs.

catch, pip, cheap, sap, he, jail, lap, pair, say, sink, rip, fail, lass, Sam, mink, cap, tear, she, lay, heap, match


Sounds can function as units of language only if they differ from one another. Mutually distinctive speech sounds are called phonemes. As has been pointed out the main method of establishing phonemes of a given language is the commutation test or discovery of minimal pairs through which the establishment of the phonemic status of each sound is accomplished.

When in a contrastive pair one consonan ;pnoneme is opposed to any other consonant phoneme in at least one position, this pair is called minimal,1 For example, in the minimal pair pen Ben the phoneme /p/ is opposed to the phoneme /b/ due to the presence and absence of voice; it is the only distinctive feature of this minimal pair. All the other features of the pair pen Ben are irrelevant. If there are more than one distinctive feature in a pair, it is called sub-min­imal. For example, the pair treasure pressure is sub-minimal be­cause the opposition is due to: (1) the presence and absence of voice in the /g — J/ phonemes, (2) forelingual articulation of the /t/ pho­neme and bilabial articulation of the /p/ phoneme. All the other fea-

1 "Minimal pairs are useful, when found, but not necessarily to be expect­ed, and not essential to the work of analysis." 'ßteason H, A. Op. cit.— P. 280.)

tures are distinctively irrelevant. Minimal pairs occur in identical, sub-minimal in similar environments.

It should be borne in mind that distinctively irrelevant features can be of two types: incidental, which may or may not be present in a phoneme, and such, without which the phoneme can't exist at all. For example, the presence or absence of voice in the word final conso­nants /с, з/ in the Russian рос роз is a 'genuinely incidental or redundant feature, whereas the forelingual articulation of /t/ and the bilabial articulation of /p/ are relevant differentiatory features. Pal­atalization is phonemically irrelevant, incidental in English and rel­evant in Russian, etc.

The phonological analysis of the system of English consonant pho­nemes helps to establish 24 phonemes:

/p, b, t, d, k, g, f, v, 9, 3, s, z, J\ 5. h, tj, 65, m, n, n, wt r, j, 1, a1/

Classificatory principles suggested by Soviet phoneticians provide the basis for the establishment of the following distinctive opposi­tions in the system of consonants of the English language.

I. Work of the Vocal Cords and the Force of Exhalation

Voicelessfort is vst voicedlenis

/p—b/ pen—Ben /t—d/ ten—den /k—g/ coat—goat

Voiceless — voiced opposition is simultaneously based on for-tis — lenis distinction. It is not so in the Russian language where the voiceless — voiced opposition is based only on the presence or absence of voice. If we compare the English /p, t, k, b, d, g/ and the Russian In, т, к, б, д, г/, we may state that: in the initial position the English /b, d, g/ are weakly voiced, the Russian /б, д, г/ are fully voiced:

book — бук goose — гусь deem — Дима

In English /p, t, k/ in the initial position are aspirated fort is, in Russian /п, т, к/ are unaspirated, therefore in English the /p — b, t — d, k — g/ oppositions are based on breath-force distinction, where­as in Russian, the pairs /n — б, т — д, к — г/ differ due to voice — absence of voice distinction (but not in the final position).

in English

(plead—bleed tip —dip come—gum peach—beach tea —Dee cot —got pat —bat tear—dear cane—gain

1 /a/ is a "facultative phoneme". Some authors prove its phonemic status
by minimal pairs: witch which, wine whine, wear____ where.

in Russian

пой—бой тал—дал кот—год пей—бей тол—дол кит—гид

2. Active Organ of Speech and the Place of Articulation

This principle of consonant classification provides the basts for the following distinctive oppositions:

(1) Labial vs. lingual

pain — cane bun — ton fame — tame

In these pairs the labial bilabial /p/ is opposed to the lingual back-Hngual velar /k/; the labial bilabial /b/ is opposed to the lingual fore-lingual apical HI; the labial labio-dental /f/ is opposed to the lin­gual forelingual apical /t/.

(2) Lingual vs. pharyngat (glottal)

Tim — him this — hiss foam — home care — hair

In these pairs the lingual forelingual apical /t/ is opposed to the pharyngal /hi; the lingual forelingual apical interdental is opposed to the pharyngal /h/; the labial labio-dental /f/ is opposed to the phar­yngal /h/; the lingual backlingual velar Ikl is opposed to the phar­yngal /h/.

Within the group of labial, bilabial may be opposed to labio­dental.

wear — fair mice — vice

In these pairs the bilabial /w/ is opposed to the labio-dental HI; the bilabial /m/ is opposed to the labio-dental /v/.

Within the group of forelingual, apical may be opposed to cacumi­nal.

dim — rim

In this pair the apical forelingual alveolar /d/ is opposed to the cacuminal forelingual alveolar /r/.

Within the group of lingual, forelingual can be opposed to medio-lingual.

tongue — young jet — yet

In these pairs the forelingual (apical alveolar) /t/ is opposed to the mediolingual (palatal) 1)1]

the forelingual (apical palato-alveolar) l&$l is opposed to the me­diolingual (palatal) /j/.

3. Manner of the Production of Noise

This principle of consonant classification provides the basis for the following distinctive oppositions: (1) Occlusive (stops) vs. constictive

pine—fine Bern—fern dare —share bat —that bore—thaw bee — thee care—there mine—t hine ca me—lame

In these pairs the occlusive /p, b, d, k, ml are opposed to the con­strictive /f, J1, S, 9, 1/. (2) Constrictive vs. occlusive-constrictive (affricates)

fare — chair fail — jail work — jerk

In these pairs the constrictive /f, w/ are opposed to the occlusive-constrictive (affricates) /tf, dg/.

"Within the groups of occlusives, or stops, and constrictives, noise consonants may be opposed to sonorants.

(a) occlusive: noise vs. nasal somrants

pine—mine boat — moat tale—nail dead—need kick—king

In these pairs the occlusive noise /p, b, t, d, k/ are opposed to the nasal sonorants /m, n, rj/.

(b) constrictive: noise vs. sonorants

same — lame vain — lane then — when

In these pairs the constrictive noise consonants /s, v, ö/ are op­posed to the constrictive sonor ants /1, w/.

Unicentral constrictive consonants may be opposed to bicentral consrictive consonants.

(c) constrictive unicentral vs. constrictive bicentral

same — shame thine — wine

In these pairs the constrictive unicentral /s, 5/ are opposed to the constrictive bicentral Ц, w/.

Constrictive consonants with a flat narrowing can be opposed to constrictive consonants with a round narrowing.

(d) flat narrowing vs. round narrowing

fame — same vat — sat

In these pairs the constrictive consonants with a flat narrowing /f, v/ are opposed to the constrictive consonants with a round narrow­ing /si.

In all these oppositions only examples with the initially opposed consonant phonemes are given. It does not mean that the pairs of me­dially and finally opposed consonants, that prove their phonemic sta­tus, may not be found.

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