Лекция: Gliding consonants

Gliding consonants are consonants with no stop or friction and which consist of a glide (a quick, smooth movement) towards a following vowel. We distinguish three gliding consonants in English: /w, j, r/.




This consonant represents a rapid glide from the position of the vowel /J/ or /I/ to any other vowel. The lips are generally neutral or spread. Mind that there is no friction in the /j/-glide. /j/ is usually voiced. When it follows /p, t, k/ it loses its voicing and is made voiceless; this causes some friction to be heard. /j/ never occurs after vowels or in final position.

Phonetically, it is like a vowel, because its articulation is practically the same as that of a front close vowel such as /J/, but is very short. But phonologically /j/ is a consonant: it only occurs before vowels and it cannot form a syllable.



It is a quick glide from the position of the vowel /H/or /V/ to any other vowel. The lips are rounded. As well as the sound /j/, /w/ is voiced and it can be found only before vowels. It never stands after vowels or at the end of words. Mind that there is no friction when we pronounce this sound unless it is found after /p, t, k/ where /w/ loses its voicing and becomes slightly fricative.

Phonetically, /w/ is a vowel because it is similar to the vowel /H/, but it is considerably shorter. But phonologically it is still regarded as a consonant because it always stands before vowels and it is never syllabic.



This is the third of the gliding consonants, but it does not resemble one of the English vowels as /j/and /w/ do. The soft palate is raised so that no air can escape through the nasal cavity. The tongue has a curved /kE:vd/ shape: the tip points towards the hard palate at the back of the alveolar ridge (but does not touch it), the front of the tongue is low and the back is rather high. The tongue is not very close to the palate as to cause friction, unless this sound is found after /p, t, k/ where /r/ loses its voicing and we hear some friction. The lips are slightly rounded, especially when /r/ is at the beginning of words. When it stands between vowels the lips are not rounded.

/r/ only occurs before vowels, never before consonants. At the end of words /r/ is pronounced only if the immediately following word begins with a vowel (e.g. a teacher -/q 'tJCq/, but a teacher of English — /q 'tJCqr qv 'INglIS/). This is called the linking /r/. It is quite usual to hear /r/ between words when there is no letter ‘r’ in spelling (e.g. idea of it — /aI'dIqr qv It/). This is called the intrusive /r/. Many English speakers dislike it and it is better not to use it.


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