Sie sind auf Seite 1von 15

Why study phonetics and

Of particular importance for learners of
English as a Second Language (ESL)
because it has a practical application
English has a far larger repertory of
phonemes than languages like standard
English is not a phonographic language,
i.e. spelling generally does NOT give a
clear indication of pronunciation
Standard British English (RP) v.
Standard Spanish
English Spanish
Pure Vowels 12 5
Diphthongs 8
Consonants 24 20
English is not a phonographic
Many sounds have several different
spellings, e.g. / / :go, though, foe, slow,
boat; or /d/ George, Joe, badge, village

Many spellings have different sounds, e.g.
<ough>: though, cough, bough, through,
thought, lough and enough.
The problem of pronunciation
for learners of ESL
Learners cannot rely on the spelling of a
The problem is the opposite for native
speakers English schoolchildren spend
incredible amounts of time learning to read
and spell.
To learn to pronounce English correctly it is
of great help to learn to read phonemic
Even the predictable combinations in
English are different to those of other
<au> corresponds to either /:/ /:/ // //
auto, aunt, Austria, aubergine
<ai> usually corresponds to /e/, e.g. pain,
paid, almost never to / a / (exceptions:
Thailand, aisle)
<ch> usually, but not always, corresponds
to /t / at the start of a word, e.g. cheese
(exceptions:/k/ chemist, //chalet,
chanpagne, chic)
Is English spelling really so erratic?
83% of English words have predictable

However, the remaining 17% is comprised
of the most commonly used, everyday

Therefore the greatest difficulties are
faced by the learner at the start
Not enough vowel letters for vowel

English does not use accents, dieresis,

English spelling reflects many archaic
forms of pronunciation e.g. night in the
past, was pronounced with a fricative

English has always resisted spelling
reforms and academies to set standards

There have been different influences on the
English language (Latin, French,

English has borrowed extensively from other
languages and has tended to maintain
original spelling.

English spelling became fixed in the 16
c. with the arrival of printing.

What is the difference between
phonetics and phonology?
PHONOLOGY (Greek (phn),
voice, sound + (lgos), word, speech,
subject of discussion), is a subfield of
linguistics which studies the sound system
of a specific language (or languages).
Whereas phonetics is about the physical
production and perception of the sounds of
speech, phonology describes the way
sounds function within a given language or
across languages.

(from the Greek word , phone meaning 'sound,
voice') is the study of the sounds of human speech.
It is concerned with the actual properties of speech
sounds (phones), and their production, audition and
perception, as opposed to phonology, which is the
study of sound systems and abstract sound units
(such as phonemes and distinctive features).

Phonetics deals with the sounds themselves rather
than the contexts in which they are used in
Phonetics has three main branches:

articulatory phonetics, concerned with the positions
and movements of the lips, tongue, vocal tract and
folds and other speech organs in producing speech;
acoustic phonetics, concerned with the properties of
the sound waves and how they are received by the
inner ear; and
auditory phonetics, concerned with speech
perception, principally how the brain forms
perceptual representations of the input it receives.
There are over a hundred different phones
recognized as distinctive by the International
Phonetic Association (IPA) and transcribed in their
International Phonetic Alphabet.

Key concepts: the phoneme
The smallest speech sound that has linguistic

It can be distinguished from another group of
phones in terms of meaning and collocation.

The phoneme is an abstract term, specific to
a particular language.
Each phoneme may have different realisations
depending on the context in which it is found

e.g. /l/ may be noticed if the 'light' [l] of leaf [lif]
is contrasted with the 'dark' [] of feel [fi].

For a Chilean speaker, the sounds [ ] and [ t ] in
the word Chile are allophones. However these two
sounds / / and /t / are separate phonemes.

e.g. ship and chip

Key concepts: the allophone
The difference between a
phoneme and an allophone
If one allophone is exchanged with another,
the word, while perhaps sounding a bit
strange, is still comprehensible, its still the
same word.

If one phoneme is swapped with another,
e.g. seen is produced with a /b/, instead of a
/s/, the meaning of the word changes.
Phonemic v. Phonetic
transcription (Broad v. Narrow)
Slashes // are used to indicated phonemic
transcription (broad). This is specific to a
particular language, e.g. the English and
Spanish /t/ phonemes are quite different.

Square brackets [ ] are used for phonetic
(narrow) transcription. This gives detailed
information on the speech produced, e.g.
characteristics of an accent of a language, or
of the speech of a particular person.