Phonetics and Phonology. Report of Theoretical phonetics

The importance of English phonetics and phonology. Phonetics as an independent branch of linguistics. Phonetics as a science. The history of phonetics. Connection with other sciences. Development of phonology. Differences between phonetics and phonology.

Рубрика Иностранные языки и языкознание
Вид курсовая работа
Язык английский
Дата добавления 11.01.2014
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Размещено на

Ministry of education and science, youth and sport of Ukraine

Dragomanov National Pedagogical University

Institute of foreign philology

English philology department

Phonetics and Phonology

Report of Theoretical phonetics

Essay performed by

Oksana Chernukha

Group 401 en

Scientific supervisor:

Nikolaenko V.V.

Kyiv 2012


“Phonetics - the science that studies the sound matter of the language, its semantic functions and the lines of development.

Phonology - the science that deals with phonemes and their sequences. It is functional phonetics since it investigates the functional side of phonemes, accent, syllable, and intonation” [3; 261].

These sciences are very important for learning language. Very often they are mixed, but we have to differentiate them. To know English well we should learn not only grammar and vocabulary but we should know right pronunciation of the sounds.

The aim of my work is to show the importance of English phonetics and phonology.

Also I have put such tasks, as:

1. to study history, development of phonetics and phonology;

2. to indicate different branches of phonetics;

3. to look on connection phonetics with other sciences;

4. to find out differences between phonetics and phonology.

These items are actual and important even nowadays. Phonetics and phonology are worth studying for several reasons. One is that as all study of language, the study of phonology gives us insight into how the human mind works. Two more reasons are that the study of the phonetics of a foreign language gives us a much better ability both to hear and to correct mistakes that we make, and also to teach pronunciation of the foreign language to others.

The history of phonetics

Ancient objects, drawings, and written documents show that voice and speech always fascinated men. Written documents and evidences from ancient civilizations point to an awareness of speech, its origin and abnormalities a long time ago. In India more than 2000 years ago there flourished a science of phonetics more advanced than any that has since been known until very recent times [3; 8].

But phonetics was treated as a branch of grammar; still up to the 2th half of the XIXth c. it presented the investigations of the sound matter of different grammatical structures.

“In the second part of the XIXth c. phonetics began developing in all European countries due to the names of I. A. Baudouin de Courtenay, L. V. Scherba, E. Sapir, D. Jones, L. Bloomfield, R. Lackobson” [2; 3].

In the 1886 International Phonetic Association (IPA) was founded. IPA started publications of a special phonetic magazine "Le Mattre Phonetique". It stated phonetic symbols for sounds of many existing languages.

Phonetics as a science

Whereas syntax is about sentence formation, and semantics about sentence interpretation, phonetics and phonology cover the field of sentence utterance. Phonetics is concerned with how sounds are produced, transmitted and perceived [1; 3].

So what does mean phonetics as a science? According to phonetician Sokolova phonetics is concerned with the human noises by which the thought is actualised or given audible shape: the nature of these noises, their combinations, and sound system of the language, that is segmental phonemes, word stress, syllabic structure and intonation [5].

“Phonetics is basic branch of linguistics; neither linguistic theory nor linguistic practice can do without phonetics. That is why phonetics claims to be equal importance with grammar and lexicology” [5; 7].

It studies the sound matter, its aspects and functions.

At present phonetics is treated in two principal ways:

a) the narrow point of view: the phonetic system of any language, which includes a definite number of phonemes, a system of accent, the syllabic structure, intonation and its components;

b) the broad point of view: as a branch of linguistics dealing with a process of sound formation, the interaction of speech sounds, the formation of accents, the tones and their functions. [2; 3]

Practical significance of phonetics is connected with teaching foreign languages.

Theoretical significance of phonetics is connected with the further development of the problem or the synchronic study and description of the phonetic system of a national language, the comparative analysis and description of different languages and the study of the correspondences between them, the diachronic description of successive changes in the phonetic system of a language or different languages [3; 14].

Phonetics gave rise to the development of a number of new directions of the phonetic research:

1. General Phonetics.

2. Special Phonetics.

3. Historical Phonetics.

4. Comparative Phonetics.

5. Descriptive Phonetics.

6. Phonology.

7. Phonostylistics.

General Phonetics studies the sound matter of all existing languages, irrespective of the differences between them and deals mainly with acoustics, articulation and physiology of speech and aspects of phonology.

Special phonetics is the branch of linguistics, which deals with the sound matter of one particular language. It can be both synchronical and diachronical.

If the sounds matter is studied diachronically that means all its features are studied in the process of the language development, and it is concern of Historical Phonetics, which stands on the borderline between Phonetics and the History of Language.

Comparative Phonetics implies comparing the sound matter of two or more languages at a certain period of their development.

When the sound matter of a given language is studied synchronically it means that the phonetic aspects of this or that language are studied at a certain period of time and may present interest for Comparative Phonetics, Descriptive Phonetics, Phonology and Phonostylistics.

Phonology sets out to discover segmental and super-segmental features that have a differential value in the language and distinguishes the system of phonemes.

Phonostylistics studies various pronunciation styles and analyses the ways different human beings express themselves. It stands on the borderline between Phonetics and Stylistics [2; 4].

Sokolova says that phonetics is itself divided into major components: segmental phonetics, which is concerned with individual sounds and suprasegmental phonetics whose domain is the lager units of connected speech: syllables, words, phrases and texts [5].

Branches of phonetics

english phonology phonetics science

Of course, phonetics has its branches. According to Leonteva phonetics has the following branches: 1) articulatory (physiological) and perceptive (auditory), 2) acoustic, 3) functional (linguistic).

Articulatory and perceptive investigation of speech sounds is done on the basis of a good knowledge of the voice and sound producing mechanisms, their structure, work and perceptive (auditory) effects, that is--physiology and psychology.

Acoustic properties of sounds, that is, quantity, or length, tamber, intensity, pitch, temporal factor are investigated by the acoustic and auditory branch of phonetics.

The phonological or functional properties of phonemes, syllables, accent and intonation are investigated by means of special linguistic methods, which help to interpret them as socially significant elements [3; 13-14].

But according to Sokolova there are three branches of phonetics each corresponding to a different stage in the communication process. Each of these branches uses quite special sets of methods.

The branch of phonetics that studies the way in which the air is set in motion, the movement of the speech organs and the coordination of these movements in the production of single sounds and trains of sounds is called articulatory phonetics.

Acoustic phonetics studies the way in which the air vibrates between the speaker's mouth and the listener's ear.

The branch of phonetics investigating the hearing process is known as auditory phonetics. Its interests lie more in the sensation of hearing, which is brain activity between the ear and the brain [5; 9].

Connection with other sciences

Phonetics as a branch of Linguistics has a great number of links both with the other branches of Linguistics and other branches of science.

Phonetics formulates the rules of pronunciation for separate sounds and sound combinations. The rules of reading are based on the relation of sounds to orthography. Through the system of rules of reading phonetics is connected with grammar and helps to pronounce correctly singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense forms and past participles of English regular verbs. Phonetics is also connected with grammar through its intonation component.

For example, it connected with grammar (morphology) in cases: to sink - sank - sunk; grammar (syntax): When I eat, I scream, I love it; When I eat ice-cream, I love it; while pronouncing complex and compound sentences.

Phonetics is also connected with lexicology while treating homophones (e.g., sight :: site :: cite or flower :: flour, hair :: hare); homographs (e.g., bow; row; lead); homoforms (e.g., knows :: nose, made :: maid) . It is only due to the-presence of stress, or accent, in the right place, that we can distinguish certain nouns from verbs.

Phonetics is also connected with stylistics; first of all through intonation and its components: speech melody, utterance stress, rhythm, pausation and voice tamber which serve to express emotions, to distinguish between different attitudes on the part of the author and speaker.

Phonetics is also connected with stylistics through repetition of words, phrases and sounds. Repetition of this kind serves the basis of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration.

The study of phonetic phenomena from the stylistic point of view is phonostylistics. It is connected with a number of linguistic and non-linguistic disciplines, such as: paralinguistics, psychology, psy-cholinguistics, sociology, sociolinguistics, dialectology, literary criticism, aesthetics, information theory, etc. [3; 10-15].

Phonetics is also closely connected with word building (e.g., import - to import, black board - black-board; with Biology while analysing physiology of speech; with Mathematics while analysing the linguistic data; with Medicine while dealing with the voice-producing mechanism and the manner of noise production; with Methods of teaching while teaching people a foreign language; with Politics while creating new alphabets; with Geography while studying language contacts and language unions.

Phonology. Development of phonology

Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. It has traditionally focused largely on study of the systems of phonemes in particular languages, but it may also cover any linguistic analysis either at a level beneath the word or at all levels of language where sound is considered to be structured for conveying linguistic meaning.

The history of phonology may be traced back to the Ashtadhyayi, the Sanskrit grammar composed by Pa?ini in the 4th century BC. In particular the Shiva Sutras, an auxiliary text to the Ashtadhyayi, introduces what can be considered a list of the phonemes of the Sanskrit language, with a notational system for them that is used throughout the main text, which deals with matters of morphology, syntax and semantics.

The Polish scholar Jan Baudouin de Courtenay (together with his former student Mikolaj Kruszewski) introduced the concept of the phoneme in 1876, and his work, though often unacknowledged, is considered to be the starting point of modern phonology. He introduced in his work functional and social aspect of phonetic phenomena [5].

Phonology grew up due to the pains of linguistics of the Prague Phonological School headed by N. Trubestkoy, R. Trnka, R. Jacobson.

Nikolai Trubetskoy, whose Principles of Phonology, published posthumously in 1939, is among the most important works in the field from this period. Directly influenced by Baudouin de Courtenay, Trubetskoy is considered the founder of morphophonology, although this concept had also been recognized by de Courtenay. He also developed the concept of the archiphoneme. “Trubetskoy declared phonology to be a linguistic science limiting articulatory and acoustics phonetics to anatomy, physiology and acoustics only” [5; 12].

In 1968 Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle published The Sound Pattern of English, the basis for Generative Phonology. In this view, phonological representations are sequences of segments made up of distinctive features. These features were an expansion of earlier work by Roman Jakobson, Gunnar Fant, and Morris Halle.

Natural Phonology was a theory based on the publications of its proponent David Stampe in 1969 and (more explicitly) in 1979. In this view, phonology is based on a set of universal phonological processes which interact with one another; which ones are active and which are suppressed are language-specific.

In 1976 John Goldsmith introduced autosegmental phonology. Government Phonology, which originated in the early 1980s as an attempt to unify theoretical notions of syntactic and phonological structures, is based on the notion that all languages necessarily follow a small set of principles and vary according to their selection of certain binary parameters. That is, all languages' phonological structures are essentially the same, but there is restricted variation that accounts for differences in surface realizations [6].

Soviet linguists consider phonology a branch of phonetics that investigates its most important social aspect.

Differences between phonetics and phonology

It is important to understand differences between phonetics and phonology.
As we mentioned above phonetics and phonology are two branches of linguistics that deal primarily with the structure of human language sounds.

But phonetics focuses on the physical manifestations of speech sounds and on theories of speech production and perception. Most phonetic work falls into the sub-field of articulatory phonetics. From the physical point of view phonetics is strictly about audible sounds and the things that happen in your mouth, throat, nasal and sinus cavities, and lungs to make those sounds.

Phonology is concerned with the systems of rules (or constraints) that determine how the sounds of a language combine and influence one another. Phonology cares about the entire sound system for a given language. The goal is to formulate a model/theory which explains not only the sound patterns found in a particular language, but the patterns found in all languages.

Examples of questions which are interesting to phonologists are: How do sounds change due to the sounds around them? How do sounds combine in a particular language? [8].

So phonology is concerned with how sounds function in relation to each other in a language. In other words, phonetics is about sounds of language, phonology about sound systems of language. Phonetics is a descriptive tool necessary to the study of the phonological aspects of a language [7].

This is the biggest distinction between phonetics and phonology, although phonologists analyze a lot more than just the obvious differences. They also examine variations on single letter pronunciations, words in which multiple variations can exist versus those in which variations are considered incorrect.

There are also some differences between phonetics and phonology:

· 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.

· Phonetics is strictly physical while phonology also pays attention to the function or meaning of a sound.

· Phonetics only asks, “Does this sound go here or not?” Phonology asks, “Does the meaning change if I put this sound here instead of that one?”

· Phonetics makes a pretty general description of sounds and can be used to describe sounds in any language. Phonology makes very detailed descriptions of sounds, so each language has its own unique set of symbols (because no two languages use all of the exact same sounds) [9].

We can say that phonetics belongs to descriptive linguistics, and phonology to theoretical linguistics.


To sum up we can say that phonetics is concerned with how sounds are produced, transmitted and perceived. Phonology is concerned with how sounds function in relation to each other in a language. So phonetics is about sounds of language, phonology about sound systems of language.

It was very important to find out differences between phonetics and phonology. We can say that phonetics focuses on the physical manifestations of speech sounds and on theories of speech production and perception. And phonology is concerned with the systems of rules (or constraints) that determine how the sounds of a language combine and influence one another. Phonology cares about the entire sound system for a given language. The goal is to formulate a model/theory which explains not only the sound patterns found in a particular language, but the patterns found in all languages.

We also observed the development of studies and fields of learning.

In the report we could learn that phonetics plays an important part in various applications of linguistics. A study of phonetics has educational value for almost everyone, realizing the importance of language in human communication.

A knowledge of the structure of sound systems, and of the articulatory and acoustic properties of the production of speech is indispensable in the teaching of foreign languages.


1. Phonetics and phonology. Reader for First Year English Linguistics Claire-A. Forel , Genoveva Puskбs University of Geneva 2005 - 64 p.

2. Левицький А. Е., Гаращук Л. А. Поглиблений курс теоретичноъ фонетики англыйськоъ мови. - Вынниця: ПП Фолыант, 2005. - 71 с.

3. Леонтьева С.Ф. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка: Учебник для студентов веч. и заоч. отд. педвузов. --2-е изд., испр. и доп.-- М.: Высшая школа, 1988 - 271с.

4. Паращук В.Ю. Теоретична фонетика англійської мови: Навчальний посібник для студентів факультетів іноземних мов. - Вінниця, НОВА КНИГА, 2009. - 232с.

5. Соколова М. А., Гинтовт К. П., Тихонова И. С., Тихонова Р. М., Теоритическая фонетика английского языка: Учебник для студентов высших учебню зав. - 3-е изд., стереотип. - М.: Туманит. Изд. Центр ВЛАДОС, 2003. - 288 с.



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