Most phones are formed as air exits through the oral tract, while the nasal tract is blocked off by the tip of the velum touching the pharynx wall. Such sounds are called oral. If, however, the tip of the velum is lowered, blocking the oral tract, air goes out through the nasal tract, causing a resonance known as nasality. In what follows, let us keep in mind that we are talking about phones, not letters.
This kind of phone has the fundamental characteristic of vowels, of being articulated without any obstruction to the passage of air Table 2. Now to get a feel for how vowels vary, repeat the experiment, alternating the vowels of words like see, ah, low, do: eeee-aaaah-ooooh-oooo. You will notice that the specific quality, or timbre, of this long vocalic sound is modulated by factors like the position of the tongue, or the shape of the lips. According to the relative height of the tongue, vowels are classified as high, mid, or low. Depending on the degree of horizontal fronting or backing of the tongue, they are classified as front, central, or back.
These terms refer to the position of articulation of a given vowel in relation to the other vowels, rather than to any precise location inside the oral tract Ladefoged Back vowels Table 2. Unlike a vowel, however, a glide cannot be the center of a syllable, nor can it be pronounced in isolation 2.
Rather, a glide is always articulated next to a vowel, either before it onglide or after it offglide. Since the tongue can only move so far without encountering an obstacle such as the palate, for example , the possible duration of a glide is minimal. In forming an offglide, the tongue moves away from the position of a vowel. Conversely, the back glide [w] is formed as the tongue moves towards or away from the position of articulation of the vowel [u] near the velum.
See section 2. See Table 2. Consonants, on the contrary, are always formed when there is an obstacle blocking, wholly or partially, the passage of air Table 2. Three criteria are used for classifying consonants. One is voicing: if the vocal cords vibrate see the examples in section 2. Stop occlusive : The vocal tract is momentarily stopped, shutting off the flow of air, and then reopened, letting air burst out, hence the alternate name of 2.
Consonants other than stops involve a partial obstacle. Glottal: The articulation is made in the glottis by a movement of the vocal cords. In this case we refer to them as phonemeso. The basic property of phonemes is that they signal differences in meaning.
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It is conventional to transcribe phonemes between slashes to differentiate them from phonetic transcriptions. Phones with similar articulation may correspond to separate phonemes in one language and variants of the same phoneme in another. The symbols for the phonemes of Portuguese and their allophones are shown in Tables 2. A phonological process is either categorical or variable.
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Both these cases of feature change or addition illustrate assimilationo , a process whereby a phoneme becomes more like a neighboring phoneme. For Portuguese nasal vowels, there are two basic options. This process of phonetic nasalization by assimilation varies not only regionally but also from one speaker to another.
An unstressed vowel may be either final or non-final, and in the latter case it may be pre-stressed or post-stressed. In EP unstressed vowels tend to be shortened, compressed, or eliminated altogether, which imparts an overall consonantal character to pronunciation. The vowels [i] and [u] also occur in final unstressed position, which means that EP has a four-way contrast, compared with the threeway contrast of BP, as shown below. Since these differences are purely phonetic and entail no meaningful contrasts, they need not concern us further.
In some accents, such as Mineiro, [i], [u] are common in such words: 2. English vowels tend to be longer in open syllables than in syllables closed by a consonant. In the latter case the vowel tends to be shorter if the consonant is voiceless than if it is voiced. These differences can be noticed by comparing vowel length in triplets like tea, steed, steep. In BP, stressed vowels tend to be slightly longer than unstressed ones in monitored pronunciation; in casual pronunciation vowel length can vary considerably, depending on factors such as speech style or emphasis. In some accents, such as Mineiro, stressed vowels can be rather drawled out.
Variation in vowel length is a major difference between BP and EP, which, as pointed out earlier, shortens or even eliminates unstressed vowels, thus creating a series of consonants strung together. Another difference is that EP phones tend to be articulated with the tongue a bit retracted and raised, conditioning a somewhat velarized resonance Cruz-Ferreira that is lacking in BP.
Other differences relate to area of articulation.
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Unstressed English vowels tend to undergo lenitiono , a phonological process involving a softening of articulatory effort. The basic allophones of these phonemes are respectively the stops [p t k b d g]. English voiceless stops in syllable-initial position are released with a slight puff of air, called aspiration, which may be shown in transcription as a raised h [ph th kh ].
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Thus absence of aspiration in Portuguese seemingly explains why Englishspeaking learners experience some difficulty distinguishing between Pg [p t k] and [b d g]. In EP, though not in BP, a slight degree of velarization is noticeable. In BP this velarized pronunciation used to be 46 2 Sounds considered standard until the middle of the twentieth century, and can be heard in recordings from the s and s.
As mentioned above, it is not unusual for two or more allophones to occur in the speech of the same speaker. Every syllable has a nucleus N , which in Portuguese must be a vowel or a diphthong. Portuguese syllable types may be represented as in Table 2. The onset may have a single consonant C or a cluster of two specific consonants, C1 C2. As shown in Table 2.
Phonetically, however, such a sequence is simply a nasal vowel. Phonotactic divergences between BP and EP account for minor differences in syllable structure. In EP consonant clusters other than those shown in Table 2. A word-final consonant forms a new syllable by linking with the initial vowel of the following word. The occurrence of two vowels over a word boundary may have different results Bisol , We will consider only a few cases. Identical unstressed vowels may be pronounced in separate syllables or fused into a single syllable: 50 2 Sounds Table 2.
Stress, mentioned at the beginning of this chapter, is the phonetic correlate of shifts in articulatory and respiratory intensity, caused by increased muscular activity during the production of a given syllable relative to neighboring syllables.
Monosyllables uttered in isolation cannot be said to have stress. There are also cases of stress on the fourth syllable from the last. In BP, this includes words with a consonant sequence such as pt or tn, which, as noted earlier 2. Such secondary stress is variable and more likely to occur when emphasis is intended. Pitch is the auditory correlate of the frequency of vibration of the vocal cords, and physiologically, it relates to the degree of tension of the cords as they vibrate. In Portuguese as in English, pitch variation plays a distinctive role at sentence level, combining with stress to create melodic contours, referred to as intonation, which signal whether an utterance is a statement, a question, or a command.
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Unfortunately, of all the aspects of prosody, it is the least amenable to verbal description, and full control of intonation in a foreign language can only be acquired by carefully listening to and imitating appropriate models. A few generalizations, however, can be made.
Pitch variations in Portuguese have traditionally been described in terms of three levels, labeled low 1 , mid 2 , and high 3 Staub , Rameh , Ellison and Gomes de Matos , Azevedo a. An extra high 4 level is associated with emphasis. In English tempo patterns involve the alternation of stressed and unstressed syllables. Other languages use different units, such as short vs. Languages used to be classified as having either syllable-timed rhythm like Italian or Spanish or stress-timed rhythm like English or Dutch.
Some phoneticians, however, have pointed out that language comparison fails to support such a dichotomy. Nooteboom and Ladefoged suggested that whether a language has variable or fixed stress is more important as far as characterizing rhythm is concerned. The traditional view of syllable-timed rhythm has to do with a relatively even distribution of stressed and unstressed syllables of approximately the same duration.