• We must comprehend clearly that phonetics and phonology are rather different, though sometimes both are labeled only with the term “phonology”.• Phonetics is the study of speech sounds; whereas phonology is the study of sound patterns.• Each of the two studies will be described with its own subject matters of study.
PHONETICS Phonetics is concerned with describing the speech sounds that occur in the languages of the world. The study of speech sounds is further divided into the study of sound articulation, sound transmissions (sound waves), and sound perception. Articulatory Acoustic Auditory
The branch of phonetics that studies sound articulation (how individual speech sound is articulated) is called articulatory phonetics; The branch of phonetics that studies sound transmission (physical properties of sound transmission) is called acoustic phonetics; and The branch of phonetics that studies sound perception (how a listener perceives and understands a sound) is called auditory phonetics.
A. Articulatory Phonetics Articulatory Phonetics deals with how individual speech sound is produced or articulated. In this case, the air and human speech organ (vocal tracks) play very important roles in the production of each individual speech sound.
We will begin by describing how speech sounds are made: In nearly all speech sounds, the basic source of power is the respiratory system pushing air out of the lungs. Air from the lungs goes up the windpipe (trachea) and into the larynx, at which point it must pass between two small muscular folds called “vocal cords” (vocal folds). In other words, The air passages above the larynx are known as the “vocal cords”.
The Principal Parts of the Upper Surface of the Vocal Track (Speech Organs):
The Description of Parts of the Speech Organs: Alveolar ridge: A small protuberance just behind the upper teeth, that you can feel with the tip of the tongue. Hard Palate: The front part of the roof of the mouth which is formed by a bony structure. Velum (Soft Palate): The soft, movable part of the palate at the back of the mouth.
Nasal Cavity : The internal nose area. Oral Cavity : The area consists of the buccal cavity (between the lips and the cheeks) and mouth cavity. Glottis: The space between the vocal cords.• Vocal Cords: Composed of twin involdings mucous membrane stretched horizontally across the larynx. They vibrate modulating the flow of air being expelled from the lungs during phonation.
The shape of the speech organs (vocal track) is a very important factor in the production of speech. The parts of the speech organs (vocal track) that can be used to form sounds are called articulators. The articulators that form the lower surface of the vocal track often move toward those that form the upper surface.
Sounds could not occur without air. The air required for most sounds comes from the lungs and is known as egressive (‘going out’). However, certain sounds in languages can be made with air sucked in through the mouth, which is called ingressive (‘going in’). The ingressive sound is like ‘Tch! Tch!’. Most sounds of languages of the world are produced with an egressive airstream mechanism, that is by pushing air out from the lungs, then through the mouth or nose.
If the vocal cords are apart, as they normally are when breathing out, the air from the lungs will have a relatively free passage into the pharynx and the mouth. But if the vocal cords are adjusted, so that there is only a narrow passage between them, the airstream will cause them to vibrate. Sounds produced when the vocal cords are vibrating are said to be voiced, as opposed to those in which the vocal cords are apart, which are said to be voiceless.
In order to hear the difference between a voiced and a voiceless sound, try saying a long “v” sound, which we will symbolize as [vvvvv]. Now compare it with a long “f” sound [fffff], saying each of them alternately-[fffffvvvvvfffffvvvvv]. Both of those sounds are formed in the same way in the mouth. The difference between them is that [v] is voiced but [f] is voiceless.
You can feel the vocal cords vibrations in [v] if you put your fingertips against your larynx. You can also hear the buzzing of the vibrations in [v] more easily if you stop up your ears while contrasting [ffffffvvvvvv]. The difference between voiced and voiceless sounds is often important in distinguishing sounds. In each of the pairs of words “fan” and “van”, “fail” and “veil”, and so on.
In most languages, speech sounds which are produced by human speech organs are classified into vowel and consonant: Vowel sounds are normally further classified based on: the position of the tongue (high, mid, low) or the position of mandible (open, close), the part of the tongue (front, central, back), and the shape of the lips (rounded, unrounded). Consonant sounds are classified based on: The place of articulation (place in the mouth where the sound is produced or where there is the most contact or near contact of articulators), the manner of articulation (used to classify sounds by how they are produced), and voicing (voiced , voiceless).
B. Acoustic & Auditory Phonetics As mentioned earlier, acoustics phonetics studies sound transmission; whereas the auditory phonetics studies sound perception. The transmission of sounds and their perception by a listener are closely related.
The very first stage of a comprehension process is the perception of speech signals, that is the acoustic signals produced by a speaker. Sounds produced by a speaker can be the same or different in pitch (frequency) and loudness (intensity). These aspects of acoustic signals can be observed from sound waves with the help of (recorded with) such instruments as spectrographs or computer application (such as audacity, adobe audition, speech analyzer, etc.).
When the speech signals with such attributes as pitch and loudness reach a listener’s ear drum, the process of comprehension begins with the assistance of the listener’s knowledge of the speech sounds of a language and the knowledge of the grammar of the language.
In the previous discussion, we have known that Phonology is the study of sound patterns. In other words, we can describe phonology as the study of rules and organization of sound units in a language. In Phonology, we will discuss about phonemes (a group of sounds with distinctive characteristics), and it will be discussed in its own subject (Phonology).
What is the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)?In 1886, a group of phoneticians from France, German, Britain,and Denmark met to discuss the adoption of a universal systemof pronunciation.The IPA based on an alphabet written by British phonetician,Henry Sweet, represented the first successful effort for thepronunciation of speech sounds across most languagessystematically.
The IPA provides the user with a universally accepted symbol for each of the speech sounds. The IPA is phonetic, not phonemic in design. In other words, a particular symbol is used to represent the pronunciation of a speech sound, not to describe a change in meaning.
The IPA has been revised several times over the past century. The first published alphabet appears in 1888. Then expanded in 1900, revised in 1932 >> 1938 >> 1947 >> 1951 >> 1976 >> 1979 >> 1989 >> 1993 >> 1996. The most recent changes taking place in 2005. The International Phonetic Association, the agency governing the IPA, has a system of detailed principles applied to the formation and variation of the alphabet. In its present form, the IPA provides detailed information on vowels, consonants, other additional symbols, diacritics, and suprasegmentals.