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Segmentals and supra-segmentals

 
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vjz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun Apr 27, 2003 7:23 pm    Post subject: Segmentals and supra-segmentals Reply with quote

I have to study for a public examination and one of the topics is the following:

Phonetics and phonology of English: concepts, analysis of segmentals and supra-segmentals.

I wonder if someone can explain what segmentals and supra-segmentals mean and suggest some helpful references.
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Sat May 03, 2003 6:11 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Simply put, segmentals are the individual speech sounds, or 'phomemes.' For example, the sound /s/ in the word "sound" is a segmental. Listeners distinguish one English sound from another according to the place and manner of articulation. Supra-segmentals are everything else that influences the way the sounds are processed for meaning. Things like pauses, stress patterns, intonation, etc. are supra-segmentals. If you're searching for info on supra-segmentals, a good key word is 'prosody.'

To illustrate how they are different yet work together, take the example of the sound in English, "sh." The meaning of this sound (note: despite the two letters it takes to write it, it is only one sound), even without any other sounds to help it out, is "be quiet." One can indicate urgency or anger by saying it quickly, with extra laryngeal muscle tension and a quick burst of air. Or one can indicate a need for stealth by saying it quietly, with a long, drawn out breath. So you have the basic meaning of the segment, be quiet, and you have the added meaning of the supra-segmentals.

You said you needed references. The first thing to do is get yourself a vowel chart that differentiates between vowels according to whether they are front or back, high or low. You also need a consonant chart that tells you place and manner of articulation. Once you have those, ask someone to explain it all to you. If no one is available, try a book. These are a few that helped me, but they are more for people trying to teach sounds and prosody to native speakers than for people trying to understand linguistic theory.

Speech Correction: An Introduction to Speech Pathology and Audiology
(The classic text by VanRiper and Emerick)

Articulation and Phonological Disorders
(By Bernthal and Bankson)

Articulatory and Phonological Impairments
(A newer text, by Bauman-Waengler)


Good luck!
-EH
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vjz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun May 04, 2003 7:50 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Thanks, EH. That was quite helpful. Now can you suggest references for pronunciation in ELT?
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EH



Joined: 17 Jan 2003
Posts: 174
Location: USA and/or Korea

PostPosted: Mon May 05, 2003 2:49 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

My pleasure.

But what do you mean by ELT? English Language Teaching? Something else? Sorry, I'm not up on all the abbreviations.

Are you trying to figure out how to pronounce sounds, or how to teach others to pronounce sounds? ...Or am I missing the point altogether?
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vjz



Joined: 18 Apr 2003
Posts: 6

PostPosted: Sun May 18, 2003 7:14 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

Both actually. I have to study about English phonology and also how to teach pronunciation to learners of English as a foreign language.
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