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FACULTY OF EDUCATION AND LANGUAGES

SEPTEMBER 2011

HBET 1203

ENGLISH PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY

NO. MATRIKULASI NO. KAD PENGNEALAN NO. TELEFON E-MEL PUSAT PEMBELAJARAN

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800814075067002 80814075067 012-4531075 zoulleirdeena@gmail.com Pahang Learning Centre Kuantan.

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

Introduction

When we read or study about English pronunciation, there are two words that we will surely stumble upon and put in our mind and the two words are phonetics and phonology. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, phonetics is the system of speech sounds of a language or group of languages; and phonology is the science of speech sounds including the history and theory of sound changes in a language or in two or more related languages. Both terms come from the Greek word meaning sound and each relies on each other in the sense that phonological awareness and analyses have to be based on phonetic facts. One cannot exist without the other and the teacher must know and remember that when they are teaching students a foreign language, especially English. Phonetics and Phonology are the basis of the English language. The complexity of the English language makes it a fundamental first in the teaching of it to any student who wishes to learn English and improve their English skills. If this basis is not taught and understood by the student, the chances of their success in learning the language will decrease. Phonetics is primarily used to describe the way sounds are written and how written words are perceived as sounds and phonology is the study of the sound of a language or of all speech sounds. If you look at the definition, you can see how there's overlap within the two subjects definition and to make it simpler, lets take it this way that is phonetics is a way of standardizing the pronunciation of words from any language so that, theoretically, anyone reading any word in any language can at least pronounce it properly. In the other hand, phonology is big, bigger than phonetics. It's the study of the sound of a language or of all speech sounds. Well, phonology is so big, that it usually needs to be taken in bite-sized portions in order to be approached at all. One of the bigger pieces that people take out of the phonology in order to cut up even further is one called "phonetics". Now lets us view the subject matter of this essay; can phonology be studied without phonetics? Without getting in depth of each subject, we can already identify and find out the answer for the subject matter, just by reading the definition and obviously its impossible to study or to master phonology without the knowledge of phonetics. Why?

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

As already stated earlier, phonetics is one of the part in phonology study. Lets us get in depth and make clear about this matter in the next chapter.

Chapter 1

Phonetics and phonology are related, dependent fields for studying aspects of language. Phonetics is the study of sound in speech while phonology is the study of sound patterns to create meaning and also focuses on how speech is physically created and received, including study of the human vocal and auditory tracts, acoustics, and neurology. Phonetics deals with the articulatory and acoustic properties of speech sounds, how they are produced, and how they are perceived. 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. It has nothing to do with meaning. Its only a description. Phonetics are not commonly taught to native speakers of English, let alone learners of English as a second language. However if the learner is serious with their English and wish to progress to an advanced level, learning phonetics, in particular the International Phonetic Alphabet, would be of immense benefit. English spelling is often contradictory, devoid of relation to the pronunciation of a word, and lacking in clear patterns. Patterns that do exist are numerous, with a large number of exceptions, and all of this makes it very difficult for the learner of English as a second language to master pronunciation. The International Phonetic Alphabet puts all of the individual sounds of all of the languages across the world into one alphabet. Although complex to learn, once mastered, learners of English would have the ability to teach themselves pronunciation from a dictionary, and should notice improved pronunciation of individual words. Most characters are based on the Roman alphabet, and most dictionaries use the IPA to explain pronunciation. For example, in order to produce the word bed, we start out with our lips together. Then, air from our lungs is forced over our vocal chords, which begin to vibrate and make noise. The air then escapes through our lips as they part suddenly, which results in a B sound. Next, keeping our lips open, the middle of our tongue comes up so that the sides meet the back teeth while the tip of 2

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

tongue stays down. All the while, air from the lungs is rushing out, and our vocal chords are vibrating. Theres our E sound. Finally, the tip of your tongue comes up to the hard palate just behind your teeth. This stops the flow of air and results in a D sound as long as those vocal chords are still going. As literate, adult speakers of the English language, we dont need a physical description of everything required to make those three sounds. We simply understand what to do in order to make them. Similarly, phoneticists simply understand that when they see /kt/, its a description of how most Americans pronounce the word cat. It has nothing to do with a furry house pet. In fact, if there were a word in any other language pronounced the same way, the phonetic spelling would be the same regardless of meaning. Again, its not about meaning. Its strictly physical. Phonology, on the other hand, is both physical and meaningful. It explores the differences between sounds that change the meaning of an utterance. For example, the word bet is very similar to the word bed in terms of the physical manifestation of sounds. The only difference is that at the end of bet, the vocal chords stop vibrating so that sound is a result only of 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. 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, and the phonological grammar of languages. If we are a native speaker of English, we pronounce the letter P different ways. We may not realize it, but we surely will be able to hear the wrong pronunciation. Say the word popup. The first P has more air behind it than the others, the second is very similar to the first, but it doesnt have much air in it, and the last one is barely pronounced at all. The word just sort of ends there when your lips close. Now, say it again, but put a lot of air in the final P. Thats because the aspirated P sound is not grammatically correct at the end of an English word. Similarly, Spanish words do not begin with an s sound followed by a consonant, which makes it very difficult for Spanish-speakers who are learning English to say words like schwa, spoke and start. That is what phonology is all about.

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

Phonology relies on phonetic information for its practice, focuses on how patterns in both speech and non-verbal communication create meaning, and how such patterns are interpreted. Phonology includes comparative linguistic studies of how cognates, sounds, and meaning are transmitted among and between human communities and languages. 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 such as features, phonemes, mora and syllable and their conditioned variation in allophonic rules, constraints or derivational rules. Phonology relates to phonetics via the set of distinctive features, which map the abstract representations of speech units to articulatory gestures, acoustic signals, and perceptual representations. These distinctive features allow us to define natural classes of sounds. The features we define should be adequate to define some natural class of sounds. A natural class is composed of sounds that share a certain feature or group of features. Clearly, different sounds should not share all of the same features. So, if the proposed set of distinctive features in human language is adequate, every sound should have a unique set of features. In the phonetics lessons, it was discussed that different sounds are classified by the features associated with their specific articulations. For example, consonants are classfied in terms of their place of articulation, manner of articulation, and voicing. Each sound was represented by a unique combination of these features.

Conclusion Although these explanations are long winded and complicated, the teaching of phonetics to learners of English does not have to be. With clear diagrams of the inside of the mouth and demonstrations, practical study of phonetics does not have to be complicated. Also, as consonants are formed in voiced and voiceless pairs, if only the voiced sounds were taught first, then it should be fairly simple to come back and simply alter the voicing to double the sounds the students can recognize and produce. Like learning any other alphabet, it would be best to do it over a period of time, like learners of English as their native language currently do. So it would take dedication and a clear plan, as well as a

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

teacher with a firm understanding of phonetics to be able to teach phonetics and the International Phonetic Alphabet successfully. If the student was serious in their study of English it would be extremely beneficial and worth the effort for them in the long run. We can clearly identify that phonetics is concerned with how sounds are produced, transmitted and perceived as we look at the production of sounds while 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 to the study of the phonological aspects of a language and for that, the necessary tool that is the phonetics, is a must when we someone is studying phonology because when we are studying phonology, either we realise it or not, we are practicing the phonetics at the same time. Many have thought of phonology and phonetics as separate, largely autonomous, disciplines with distinct goals and distinct methodologies. Some linguists even seem to doubt whether phonetics is properly part of linguistics at all (Sommerstein 1977:1). The commonly encountered expression the interface between phonology and phonetics implies that the two domains are largely separate and interact only at specific, proscribed points (Ohala 1990a). Hereby, I would maintain that without phonetics knowledge, phonology runs the risk of being a sterile, purely descriptive and taxonomic, discipline; and with phonetics it can achieve a high level of explanation and prediction as well as finding applications in areas such as language teaching, communication disorders, and speech technology (Ohala 1991). Phonetics is one of the disciplines that helps to provide answers to phonologys questions about why speech sounds behave as they do. Moreover, in its growth over the past couple of centuries it has developed a respectable level of scientific rigor in creating and testing models of various aspects of the speech mechanism. Phonology can benefit from phonetics methods, data, and theories (Ohala 1991). Its impossible to study phonology without the knowledge in phonetics and in my humble opinion, its similar to someone who plays music without any knowledge in the music notes. Once the notes are mastered, the musician can play any kind of music or song as the notes are already there as guide.

HBET1203 PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 800814075067

References Jaeger, J. J. 1978. Speech aerodynamics and phonological universals, Proc., Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society 4, 311-329. Klingenheben, A. 1927. Stimmtonverlust bein Geminaten, In Festschrift Meinhof. Hamburg: Kommissionsverlag von L. Friederichsen & Co. 134-145. Ohala, J. J. 1983. The origin of sound patterns in vocal tract constraints, In: P. F. MacNeilage (ed.), The production of speech. New York: Springer-Verlag. 189 - 216. Ohala, J. J. 1985. Linguistics and automatic speech processing, In: R. De Mori & C. Y. Suen (eds.), New systems and architectures for automatic speech recognition and synthesis. Berlin: Springer-Verlag. 447 - 475. Ohala, J. J. 1991. The integration of phonetics and phonology, Proceedings of the XIIth International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Aix-en-Provence, 19-24 Aug 1991. Vol. 1, 1-16. Ohala, J. J. 1992. What's cognitive, what's not, in sound change, In G. Kellermann & M. D. Morrissey (eds.), Diachrony within synchrony: Language history and cognition. Frankfurt/M: Peter Lang Verlag. 309-355. Ohala, J. J. 1995. Phonetic explanations for sound patterns: implications for grammars of competence, K. Elenius & P. Branderud (eds.), Proc. 13th Int. Congr. Phonetic Sciences, Stockholm, 13-19 August 1995. Vol. 2. 52-59.