Phonetics Explained

Phonetics (from the Greek, Modern (1453-): [[wikt:φωνή|φωνή]], phōnē, "sound, voice") is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign.[1] It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs (phones): their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory perception, and neurophysiological status. Phonology, on the other hand, is concerned with the abstract, grammatical characterization of systems of sounds or signs.

The field of phonetics is a multiple layered subject of linguistics that focuses on speech. In the case of oral languages there are three basic areas of study:

These areas are inter-connected through the common mechanism of sound, such as wavelength (pitch), amplitude, and harmonics.

History

Phonetics was studied as early as 500 BC in ancient India, with account of the place and manner of articulation of consonants in his 5th century BC treatise on Sanskrit. The major Indic alphabets today order their consonants according to classification. The Ancient Greeks are credited as the first to base a writing system on a phonetic alphabet. Modern phonetics began with Alexander Melville Bell, whose Visible Speech (1867) introduced a system of precise notation for writing down speech sounds.[2]

Phonetic transcription

The International Phonetic Alphabet(IPA) is used as the basis for the phonetic transcription of speech. It is based on the Latin alphabet and is able to transcribe most features of speech such as consonants, vowels, and suprasegmental features. Every documented phoneme available within the known languages in the world is assigned its own corresponding symbol.

The difference between phonetics and phonology

Phonology concerns itself with systems of phonemes, abstract cognitive units of speech sound or sign which distinguish the words of a language. Phonetics, on the other hand, concerns itself with the production, transmission, and perception of the physical phenomena which are abstracted in the mind to constitute these speech sounds or signs.

Using an Edison phonograph, Ludimar Hermann investigated the spectral properties of vowels and consonants. It was in these papers that the term formant was first introduced. Hermann also played back vowel recordings made with the Edison phonograph at different speeds in order to test Willis' and Wheatstone's theories of vowel production.

Relation to phonology

In contrast to phonetics, phonology is the study of how sounds and gestures pattern in and across languages, relating such concerns with other levels and aspects of language. Phonetics deals with the articulatory and acoustic properties of speech sounds, how they are produced, and how they are perceived. As part of this investigation, phoneticians may concern themselves with the physical properties of meaningful sound contrasts or the social meaning encoded in the speech signal (e.g. gender, sexuality, ethnicity, etc.). However, a substantial portion of research in phonetics is not concerned with the meaningful elements in the speech signal.

While it is widely agreed that phonology is grounded in phonetics, phonology is a distinct branch of linguistics, concerned with sounds and gestures as abstract units (e.g., features, phonemes, mora, syllables, etc.) and their conditioned variation (via, e.g., allophonic rules, constraints, or derivational rules).[3] Phonology relates to phonetics via the set of distinctive features, which map the abstract representations of speech units to articulatory gestures, acoustic signals, and/or perceptual representations.[4] [5] [6]

Subfields

Phonetics as a research discipline has three main branches:

Transcription

See main article: Phonetic transcription. Phonetic transcription is a system for transcribing sounds that occur in spoken language or sign language. The most widely known system of phonetic transcription, the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), uses a one-to-one mapping between phones and written symbols.[7] [8] The standardized nature of the IPA enables its users to transcribe accurately and consistently the phones of different languages, dialects, and idiolects.[7] [9] [10] The IPA is a useful tool not only for the study of phonetics, but also for language teaching, professional acting, and speech pathology.[9] .....

Applications

Application of phonetics include:

the use of phonetics (the science of speech) for forensic (legal) purposes.

the analysis and transcription of recorded speech by a computer system.

See also

References

External links

Notes and References

  1. O'Grady (2005) p.15
  2. http://www.acsu.buffalo.edu/~duchan/new_history/hist19c/subpages/mbell.html Alexander Melville Bell 1819-1905
  3. Kingston, John. 2007. The Phonetics-Phonology Interface, in The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology (ed. Paul DeLacy), Cambridge University Press.
  4. Halle, Morris. 1983. On Distinctive Features and their articulatory implementation, Natural Language and Linguistic Theory, p. 91 - 105
  5. Jakobson, Roman, Gunnar Fant, and Morris Halle. 1976. Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive Features and their Correlates, MIT Press.
  6. Hall, T. Allen. 2001. Phonological representations and phonetic implementation of distinctive features, Mouton de Gruyter.
  7. O'Grady (2005) p.17
  8. International Phonetic Association (1999) Handbook of the International Phonetic Association. Cambridge University Press.
  9. Ladefoged, Peter (1975) A Course in Phonetics. Orlando: Harcourt Brace. 5th ed. Boston: Thomson/Wadsworth 2006.
  10. Ladefoged, Peter & Ian Maddieson (1996) The Sounds of the World’s Languages. Oxford: Blackwell.