human speech sounds and sound structures. The difference betweenphonetics and phonology is that phonetics deals with the p...
pronunciations, words in which multiple variations can exist versus thosein which variations are considered incorrect, and...
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Human speech sounds and sound structures

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Human speech sounds and sound structures

  1. 1. human speech sounds and sound structures. The difference betweenphonetics and phonology is that phonetics deals with the physicalproduction of these sounds while phonology is the study of sound patternsand their meanings both within and across languages. If they still soundlike more or less the same thing, read on. We’ll discuss each oneindividually and then compare them side by side, which should clearthings up.PhoneticsPhonetics is strictly about audible sounds and the things that happen inyour mouth, throat, nasal and sinus cavities, and lungs to make thosesounds. It has nothing to do with meaning. It’s only a description. Forexample, in order to produce the word “bed,” you start out with your lipstogether. Then, air from your lungs is forced over your vocal chords, whichbegin to vibrate and make noise. The air then escapes through your lipsas they part suddenly, which results in a B sound. Next, keeping your lipsopen, the middle of your tongue comes up so that the sides meet yourback teeth while the tip of your tongue stays down. All the while, air fromyour lungs is rushing out, and your vocal chords are vibrating. There’syour E sound. Finally, the tip of your tongue comes up to the hard palatejust behind your teeth. This stops the flow of air and results in a D soundas long as those vocal chords are still going. As literate, adult speakersofthe English language, we don’t need a physical description of everythingrequired to make those three sounds. We simply understand what to do inorder to make them. Similarly, phoneticists simply understand that whenthey see /kat/, it’s a description of how most Americans pronounce theword “cat.” It has nothing to do with a furry house pet. In fact, iftherewere a word in any other language pronounced the same way, thephonetic spelling would be the same regardless of meaning. Again, it’s notabout meaning. It’s strictly physical.PhonologyPhonology, on the other hand, is both physical and meaningful. It exploresthe differences between sounds that change the meaning of an utterance.For example, the word “bet” is very similar to the word “bed” in termsofthe physical manifestation of sounds. The only difference is that at theend of “bet,” the vocal chords stop vibrating so that sound is a resultonlyof the placement of the tongue behind the teeth and the flow of air.However, the meanings of the two words are not related in the least. Whata vast difference a muscle makes! This is the biggest distinction betweenphonetics and phonology, although phonologists analyze a lot more thanjust the obvious differences. They also examine variations on single letter
  2. 2. pronunciations, words in which multiple variations can exist versus thosein which variations are considered incorrect, and the phonological“grammar” of languages. If you are a native speaker of English, youpronounce the letter P three different ways. It’s true. You may notrealizeit, but you do, and if you were to hear the wrong pronunciation, you mightnot be able to put your finger on the problem, but you would think itsounded really weird. Say the word “pop-up.” The first P has more airbehind it than the others, the second is very similar to the first, but it

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