• Le 12 juin 2019
    De 10:00 à 12:00
    Campus Tertre
    Bâtiment Censive, Salle du LLING, C228

  • 12 juin 2019, 10h

Most descriptions of English (including British English) distinguish at least two sets of vowels: lax vowels (usually short monophthongs that occur only preconsonantally) and tense vowels (diphthongs and/or long monophthongs, the distribution of which is freer).  The size of the vowel inventory of BrE is on a par with the size of the consonant inventory.  This is odd: most languages have way more consonants than vowels.
I will first show how the vowel inventory of BrE can be split in three groups based on the distribution of vowels word finally and prevocalically: short monophthongs (checked vowels), long monophthongs (R vowels), and diphthongs (free vowels).  I will argue in passing that there is no separate set of vowels for unstressed syllables.  There is plenty of evidence to support the claim that diphthongs are combinations of a checked vowel and a glide, while there is very little in favour of their being not.  A similar claim may also be tempted about R vowels, leaving us with a minimal inventory of six checked vowels in BrE: [i e a o u] and [ə].