What is phonology?
Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages. It is the study of the sound systems of languages. It is distinguished from phonetics, which is the study of the production, perception, and physical properties of speech sounds; phonology attempts to account for how they are combined, organized, and convey meaning in particular languages. Only a fraction of the sounds humans can articulate is found in any particular language. For example, English lacks the click sounds common to many languages of S Africa, while the sound th often poses problems for people learning English. Also, a possible combination of sounds vary widely from language to language–the combination kt at the beginning of a word, for example, would be impossible in some languages but is unexceptional in Greek. In phonology, speech sounds are analyzed into phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can change the meaning of a word. A phoneme may have several allophones, related sounds that are distinct but do not change the meaning of a word when they are interchanged. In English, l at the beginning of a word and l after a vowel are pronounced differently, so that the l in lit and the l in gold are allophones of the phoneme l; in other languages the difference between the two sounds could change the meaning of a word and so would be considered different phonemes.
The phonological system of a language includesan inventory of sounds and their features, and rules which specify how sounds interact with each other. Phonology is just one of several aspects of language. It is related to other aspects such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.
· Here is an illustration that shows the place of phonology in an interacting hierarchy of levels in linguistics:
Different models of phonology contribute to our knowledge of phonological representations and processes:
· In classical phonemics, phonemes and their possible combinations are central.
· In standard generative phonology, distinctive features are central. A stream of speech is portrayed as linear sequence of discrete sound-segments. Each segment is composed of simultaneously occurring features.
· In non-linear models of phonology, a stream of speech is represented as multidimensional, not simply as a linear sequence of sound segments. These non-linear models grew out of generative phonology:
o autosegmental phonology
o metrical phonology
o lexical phonology
What is phonetics?
(fōnĕt´ĭks, f—), It is the study of the sounds of languages from three basic points of view. Phonetics studies speech sounds according to their production in the vocal organs (articulatory phonetics), their physical properties (acoustic phonetics), or their effect on the ear (auditory phonetics). All phonetics are interrelated, since human articulatory and auditory mechanisms correspond to each other and are mediated by wavelength, pitch, and the other physical properties of sound. Systems of phonetic writing are aimed at the accurate transcription of any sequence of speech sounds; the best known is the International Phonetic Alphabet. Narrow transcription specifies as many features of a sound as can be symbolized, while broad transcription specifies only as many features of a sound as are necessary to distinguish it from other sounds. Each language uses a limited number of the humanly possible sounds grouped into phonemes, and the hearer-speaker is trained from childhood to classify them into these groups, rejecting as nonsignificant all sorts of features actually phonetically present. So the English speaker does not notice that he always makes a puff of air when he pronounces the p of pin and never makes the puff with the p of spin; for him they are the same sound. Yet in some languages (as in Sanskrit) just the presence or absence of that puff in both words would indicate a phonemic difference, and two words might differ in meaning because of the puff. In English the two sounds are considered variations of a single sound, the phoneme p, and as such are allophones. In the other situation, aspirated p (p with a puff) and unaspirated p are not allophones but separate phonemes. Phonemes include all significant differences of sound, including features of voicing, place and manner of articulation, accent, and secondary features of nasalization, glottalization, labialization, and the like. Whereas phonetics refers to the study of the production, perception, and physical nature of speech sounds, phonology refers to the study of how such sounds are combined in particular languages and of how they are used to convey meaning. Systematic sound change through time is treated by comparative and historical linguistics.
Comparison: Phonology and phonetics
Is the basis for phonological analysis.
Is the basis for further work in morphology, syntax, discourse, and orthography design.
Analyzes the production of all human speech sounds, regardless of language.
Analyzes the sound patterns of a particular language by
· determining which phonetic sounds are significant, and
· explaining how these sounds are interpreted by the native speaker.