Basic concepts in phonetics


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This is simply an introduction to some of the main concepts we are going to be using quite frequently throughout the course. Become acquainted with them and try to get the gist of each concept in its own context.

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Basic concepts in phonetics

  1. 1. Basic Concepts in Phonetics<br />By William Orellana<br />
  2. 2. What is phonetics?<br />Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds: their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory perception, and neurophysiological status.<br />
  3. 3. Branches<br />Phonetics is divided into three branches:<br />Articulatory phonetics<br />The study of how speech sounds are produced by the human vocal apparatus.<br />Acoustic phonetics<br />The study of the sound waves made by the human vocal organs for communication.<br />Auditory phonetics<br />The study of how speech sounds are perceived by the ear, auditory nerve, and brain.<br />
  4. 4. What is Phonology?<br />Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages.<br />Discussion<br />The phonological system of a language includes<br />• an inventory of sounds and their features, and<br />• rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.<br />Phonology is just one of several aspects of language. It is related to other aspects such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.<br />Here is an illustration that shows the place of phonology in an interacting hierarchy of levels in linguistics:<br />
  5. 5. What is the difference between phonology and phonetics?<br />Phonetics and phonology are the two fields dedicated to the study of human speech sounds and sound structures. The difference between phonetics and phonology is that phonetics deals with the physical production of these sounds while phonology is the study of sound patterns and their meanings both within and across languages.<br />
  6. 6. Comparison: Phonology and phonetics<br />
  7. 7. What is a phoneme?<br />Definition<br /> A phoneme is the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a language.<br />Discussion<br />Phonologists have differing views of the phoneme. Following are the two major views considered here:<br />In the American structuralist tradition, a phoneme is defined according to its allophones and environments.<br />In the generative tradition, a phoneme is defined as a set of distinctive features.<br />
  8. 8. What is an allophone?<br />Definition<br />An allophone is a phonetic variant of a phoneme in a particular language.<br />Examples (English)<br />[p] and [pH] are allophones of the phoneme /p/.<br />[t] and [tH] are allophones of the phoneme /t/.<br />Examples (Spanish)<br />[b] and [B] are allophones of the phoneme /b/.<br />[d] and [D] are allophones of the phoneme /d/.<br />
  9. 9. Here is a chart that compares phones and phonemes:<br />
  10. 10. Examples (English): Minimal pair<br />Here are examples of the phonemes /r/ and /l/ occurring in a minimal pair:<br />• rip<br />• lip<br />The phones [r] and [l] contrast in identical environments and are considered to be separate phonemes. The phonemes /r/ and /l/ serve to distinguish the word rip from the word lip.<br />
  11. 11. What is a grapheme?<br /> Linguistics one of a set of orthographic symbols (letters or combinations of letters) in a given language that serve to distinguish one word from another and usually correspond to or represent phonemes, e.g. <br />the f in fun, the ph in phantom, and the gh in laugh<br />[from Greek graphēma a letter]<br />
  12. 12. Examples (English): Distinctive features<br />Here are examples of the English phonemes /p/ and /i/ specified as sets of distinctive features:<br /> /p/ /i/<br />-syllabic +consonantal -sonorant +anterior -coronal -voice -continuant -nasal+syllabic -consonantal +sonorant +high -low -back -round +ATR –nasal<br />Refer to the English most distinctive features chart provided by the teacher.<br />
  13. 13. Sources<br />Burquest and Payne, 1993<br /><br /><br />