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Analyzes vowel symbol's phonetic use, orthographics, variations, examples, history.... More...
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Paper Abstract:
Analyzes vowel symbol's phonetic use, orthographics, variations, examples, history.

Paper Introduction:
The phoneme /æ/ is also known as "ash." The lower-case symbol æ is the form used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to refer to "a not quite open, front unrounded vowel, higher than Cardinal 4 and lower than Cardinal 3" (McArthur & Weiner, 1992, p. 84). An example of its phonetic use is the common American pronunciation of the word cat, /kæt/. The orthographic ligature <æ>, or upper case <Æ>, was employed in Old English orthography to indicate a sound that fell somewhere between a and e, containing elements of both, while being distinct from either of those vowels. The scholarly name ash was given to this grapheme because the Old English word for ash tree (also æsc, or aesc) was a mnemonic name used for the character. This name was then adopted by linguistics scholars to refer to the phoneme /æ/. Though subsequent orthographic uses of <æ> did

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Linguistic change in present-day English. But, English is so irregular that phonemes are often representedby a variety of graphemes. In the period of Early Modern English, /æ/ was used again as a resultof the changes known as the Great Vowel Shift of the fifteenth century. As Colman (1983)has shown, the graphemes <æ> and were probably also used to representthe differences in [æ] and [[pic]], two allophones of the low short vowelphoneme /a/. Thus, though it lost its association with a particular grapheme, anddropped out of use for over 4 years, /æ/ continues to be adopted to awide variety of uses, is a major phoneme in all forms of English today, andcontinues to evolve in interesting ways. The use of the phoneme /æ/ varies a great deal between British-English and American-English, and each branch of the language featuresnumerous dialects that use this phoneme in different ways. RP is subject to other kinds of variations as well. Some believe that the shift consisted of a "pushchain" in which "pressure toward differentiation" produced the changes, andsome have suggested that when the "socially distinctive competence inFrench" subsided, the English educated classes may have "substituted a'refined' pronunciation of English" (Görlach, 1991, p. 4th ed. The tongue does not touch the palate, and it is not near enough toit to "cause turbulence resulting in audible friction" (Calvert, 1986, p.1 7). In "a perfectly regular system" of alphabetic representation,there would be one grapheme for each phoneme (Crystal, 1987, p. 8 ). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Gramley, S., & Pätzold, K. An example of this is the interrogative'Ye-es.' But the lengthening of /æ/ can be heard, in both British andAmerican English, in such words as man, bag, bad, and jam (Barber, 1964, p.5 ). Rev. S. In some cases, the/æ/ of Old English followed a path of transformation into long /e/, then tolong /i/, as in, OE Late OE Modern E dæd ded deed /i/ sæd sed seed /i/The alternate route was transformation into /[pic]/ in Middle English, asound much closer to a lengthened form of the vowel e in red, rather thanto the /i/ that seems indicated by the spelling ea (O'Neill, 1919, p. 81). In American-English, /æ/ is the lowestof five front vowels, but in British-English the phoneme /a/ is lower(Ward, 1952, p. London: Routledge.King, A. (1989). It is now generally agreed that "sound change is essentially regularand phonemes are the unit of sound change," though there are exceptions tothe rules (Chae, 1997, p. In M. 9 ). For example, /æ/demonstrates the tendency toward realizational differences, in which thephonemic system of RP is maintained, but realizations vary. 4th ed. Cambridge, England: W. But,because many languages now use alphabets that were not designed for them,or because "the writing system has not kept pace with changes inpronunciation," there can be a great deal of irregularity in thecorrespondence between graphemes and phonemes (Crystal, 1987, p. 7 -11 ), was intimately tied to the use of thegrapheme <æ> because spelling in OE was often phonemic. The scholarly name ash was given to this grapheme because the OldEnglish word for ash tree (also æsc, or aesc) was a mnemonic name used forthe character. 66-67). (1992). This, she adds, may bethe reason why "the voice is rarely so good in singing /æ/ as in the othervowels," and singers seldom use it (Ward, 1952, p. University, Alabama: University of Alabama Press.Calvert, D. (1919). Descriptive phonetics. C. 33). (1992). An example of itsphonetic use is the common American pronunciation of the word cat, /kæt/.The orthographic ligature <æ>, or upper case <Æ>, was employed in OldEnglish orthography to indicate a sound that fell somewhere between a ande, containing elements of both, while being distinct from either of thosevowels. C. London: Edward Arnold.Görlach, M. C. 84). English phonemes. On the other hand,a number of short vowels seem to be undergoing a lengthening process whichgoes beyond the limits of dialects. Old English ABCs. InGeneral American English, the word is pronounced as /bæ[pic]/. 13 -143). New York: Thieme.Chae, S. It is notsurprising, therefore, that a single grapheme represents a number ofsounds. Introduction to Early Modern English. 114). Thus, when they attended to the distinction between the allophones,they too were "given separate representation in Old English spelling, sincethis was available" in <æ> and (King, 1992, pp. The phoneme /æ/ is the short vowel that is most frequently lengthenedin contemporary English. If it can be shown that by changing asingle phoneme in a word, a new word, with an entirely different meaning,is formed, then the sound has the status of a phoneme, i.e., the smallestdistinctive phonetic unit. 1). In T. Ramsaran. & E. In addition,uses of /æ/ vary among the types of English found in Ireland, Canada, NewZealand, India, and Australia. Thus, "less frequent or irregular spellingsinclude -ai- as in plaid, -au- as in laugh, -i- as in meringue, and -a-e asin have" (Calvert, 1986, p. Nevalainen & I. A guide to the English language: Its history, development, and use. Phonemes are neither universal nor constant. 11 -145 ), however, the OE /æ/ was eithertransformed along one of two paths in which the sound was lengthened, oralong another path in which it was shortened so much that /æ/ was no longera part of the ME sound system (Gimson, 1989, p. Oxford: Oxford University Press.National Extension College Trust. The phoneme /æ/ was a part of the Old English sound system. Ash. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.McArthur, T., & Weiner, E. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.Gimson, A. 67). 5 ). 133) demonstration ofOld English phonemic spelling rests on such pairs as,(1) sa 'bucket/tub' [pic] sæ 'sea'(2) draf 'drove/herd/band' [pic] dræf 'expulsion' But, not all spelling in OE was strictly phonetic. The sides and back ofthe tongue can move away from the upper molars, and the tip of the tonguecan vibrate slightly behind the lower incisors (Calvert, 1986, p. These values had beenquite close together in most cases, and linguists have long speculated onthe causes of the shift. The phonetics of English. (1997). Edinburgh: T. It was at thistime that the phoneme/æ/ was again clearly distinguished from /[pic]/,above it, and /a/ below it (Gimson, 1989, p. The Old English scribes had more interest in representing vowelquality than quantity, "even though this was phonemic" (King, 1992, p.135). By thetime of Middle English (ca. 84). Such changes often come about when changes inintonation within a syllable "require a certain length of vowel to manifestthemselves" (Barber, 1964, p. Folia Linguistica Historica, 4, 265-285.Crystal, D. Internet address:'Neill, H. A Survey of Modern English. C. 2 2).Some languages, such as Spanish, have regular systems, but, at the otherextreme, English features a considerable degree of irregularity. (1994). The phoneme /æ/ is also known as "ash." The lower-case symbol æ isthe form used in the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to refer to "anot quite open, front unrounded vowel, higher than Cardinal 4 and lowerthan Cardinal 3" (McArthur & Weiner, 1992, p. 113). 9 ). (1991). This name was then adopted by linguistics scholars to referto the phoneme /æ/. 135-136). Thus, King's (1992, p. An example of this is the absence of the RP /æ/ - /a:/opposition in Scottish forms that "do not distinguish 'Sam' and psalm'"(Gimson, 1989, p. 113).Ward also notes that there appears to be a "certain amount of pharyngealcontraction" in the voicing of /æ/ (1952, p. King (1992), usingminimal pairs, has demonstrated the correspondence between the graphemes<æ> and and the phonemes /æ/ and /[pic]/. Inthis shift, the "allophonic space of articulation" between vowels waswidened considerably (Görlach, 1991, pp. C. 2 6). This lengthened /æ/ is frequently "equivalent in quantity to thelongest varieties" of, for example, /i:/ and /a:/ (Gimson, 1989, p. In the case of /æ/, sound change, in the OldEnglish period (ca. Changes in the use of /æ/ continue today. Jack.Ward, I. The minimal pair is the testof the phonemic status of a sound. Explanations for lexical exceptions of sound change. In pronouncingthese vowels the tip of the tongue is placed just behind, often touching,the mandibular incisors and the front of the tongue is raised up toward thepalate. (1986). An instance isthe RP opposition between the vowels of bat and bet, which is continued,but the realization is much more open, "so that the sound of /æ/ may comenear to that of one type of RP /[pic]/" (Gimson, 1989, p. Not every language usesevery phoneme, and the use of phonemes in a language changes over time.Nor do most modern alphabets represent each phoneme that is used in alanguage. 9 ). In American English, for example, the mostcommon variations in the use of /æ/ are its fairly widespread use as an"alternate pronunciation for /[pic]r/ in such words as chair, fare, rare,air, and bear," and, in New England's dialect, its replacement by /a/ inwords such as bath, man, and laugh (Calvert, 1986, p. (1992). On the one hand, there arenumerous instances in which various dialects and branches of English departfrom what is known as the Received Pronunciation (RP). (1987). The phonemecan also vary in terms of systemic differences, i.e., fewer or moreoppositions. An introduction to the pronunciation of English. Rissanen, O. The phoneme /æ/ is one of the group of front vowels. 1). 87). Thus, the OE 'cnawlæcan' became the ME 'knouleche,'and then the modern 'knowledge' (O'Neill, 1919, p. InEnglish today, 44 phonemes are used, "which can be combined to form some45 , English words" (National Extension, 1994, p. King notes that the two graphemes may have first beendeveloped as a means of distinguishing between the two phonemes, since theLatin alphabet, the ultimate source of the Old English alphabet, was highlyphonemic. Though subsequent orthographic uses of <æ> did notalways correspond to the phoneme /æ/, it is believed that the phoneme ash"was probably the sound represented by the Old English symbol" ash(McArthur & Weiner, 1992, p. But, there areonly 26 graphemes available to represent these phonemes. 2 2). Heffer. Old English [pic] ? 87). The front vowels are identified in order of height according to thedistance between tongue and palate. 2d ed. McArthur (Ed.), The Oxford companion to the English language (p. Internet address:, F. 84). In NewEngland's dialect, however, the word becomes /ba[pic]/, while AmericanSoutherners pronounce it, /bæj [pic]/ (Calvert, 1986, p. By far the most common spelling used for /æ/ is -a-, as in bat orrabbit. Taavitsainen (Eds.), History of Englishes: New methods and interpretations in historical linguistics (pp. The Cambridge encyclopedia of language. 31).Then, much later, it was changed into /i/ in Modern English (O'Neill, 1919,p. (1952). In terms of dialect differences, therange for /æ/ can be seen in American variations on the word bath. 33). In American-English /æ/ is produced with the velopharyngeal portclosed, while the mouth is opened wider than for the other front vowels.When the vowel is voiced, the middle-to-front part of the tongue is alsoraised farther back than for the other front vowels. (1983). OE ME Modern E hæ hea /[pic]/ heath /i/ dæl deal /[pic]/ deal /i/ In the Middle English period, /æ/ was shortened when it occurred inunstressed syllables. (1964). REFERENCESBarber, C. Ihalainen, T. 1 8)..This may be due to a lengthening of the distance that distinguishes /e/ and/æ/ in RP, and the added length serves to distinguish them even further.Thus the qualitative-quantitative relationship of /æ/-/e/ is refined sothat it is, increasingly, [æ:]-[æ]-[e], as in Barber's examples of jam etal.

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