The subject-matter of Phonetics. Branches of Phonetics icon

The subject-matter of Phonetics. Branches of Phonetics



НазваниеThe subject-matter of Phonetics. Branches of Phonetics
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  1. The subject-matter of Phonetics. Branches of Phonetics.

Phonetics (“phone” – Greek sound) – science of a sound. It’s an independent branch of Linguistics, it studies sound, it’s aspects and functions. It studies a semantic description of the sound in speech of any language. The way the are produced and perceived and their acoustic properties. It studies the sounds system of the language that it is segmental phonemes, word stress, syllabic structure and intonation.

Phonetics=an independent branch of linguistics which studies and gives a semantic description of the sound structure of the language.

Structure: 1. speech sounds (production, perception, acoustic characteristics)

2. combinations of sounds (syllables, words, tone groups)

3. groups are characterized by: stress, rhythm, intonation

4. correlation b/n spoken and written language.

Branches of Ph:

1. articulatory/physiological – branch of Phonetics, which studies the way in which the air set emotion, the movement of speech organs, and coordination of these movements and the production of trains of speech.

2. acoustic – studies the way in which the air vibrates between the speaker’s mouth and listener’s ear.

3. functional/linguistic – studies linguistic properties of phonemes, syllable, accent and intonation.

4. auditory/perceptive (perception only) – which investigate hearing process.


  1. Types of Phonetics according to its specific fields of investigation.

  1. descriptive (synchronic) – synchronic description of the language.

  2. historical (diachronic) – the description of the language at its point in history.

  3. Comparative – compares the sounds of different languages of the world.

  4. Dialectology (accents, dialects) – describes phonetic data from different dialects of the 1 language.

  5. Normative – sets standards for the correct pronunciation of varies languages.

  6. Clinical/speech – correction of speech pathologies.

  7. voice training – for singes and actors.

  8. Telephonic – deals with problems peculiar to the telephonic transmission of the speech sound.

  9. speech recognition – communication between humans and machines.




  1. Phonology. The relationship between Phonetics and Phonology.

Phonetics – the study of the way humans make, transits and receive speech sounds. It studies sounds as articulatory and acoustic units. The unit – a speech sound. (physiological and acoustic levels of speech chain)


Phonology – the study of the sound system of the language. It studies only those contrasts in sounds, which make difference of meaning within the language. It investigates sounds as units, which serve communicative purposes. The unit – a phoneme. (linguistic level of speech chain). It a branch of phonetics that studies the linguistic function of consonant and vowel sounds, syllabic structure, word stress and prosodic features.


  1. ^ The difference between phonemes and allophones. Classification of allophones.

Phoneme – minimal abstract unit realized in speech in the form of speech sounds opposable to other phonemes.

- It’s a smallest unit of speech

- It distinguishes one word or word element from another.

- It’s an oppositional unit of speech.

There are a great number of sounds in actual speech, which are combined into a certain amount of types. These types are phonemes. Their realisations in actual speech are allophones.

e.g. take – aspiration; twice – rounded lips; button – partially through nose; cattle – laterally; Betty – partially voiced; eighth – dental; stone – no aspirtion.

^ Classification of allophones.

1.principal/typical. The allophones that do not undergo and distinguishable changes in the chain of speech.

2.subsidiary. The allophones that undergo predictable changes in the articulation under the influence of the neighbouring sounds in different phonetic situations.

2a. positional are used in certain positions traditionally (st-, sk-, sp-)

2b. combinatory. – appear in a process of speech and result from, the influence of one phoneme upon another. (let them [leӨәm])

Allophones can also be:

Relevant/distinctive – articulatory features which the invariants of the phoneme if the opposed sounds differ in one articulatory feature and this difference brings about changes in the meaning of the word the contrasting features are relevant) e.g. port-court (both – voiceless, aspirated, but they different in the place of articulation.

Irrelevant – do no serve to distinguish meaning. E.g. pan-ban (p – aspirated, b – non-aspirated).


  1. ^ The Phoneme as an oppositional unit of speech. Main trends in Phoneme theory.

The phoneme is an oppositional unit of sound. Phoneme => ideal, sound => material.

The phoneme is the least meaning-distinguishing speech unit. It can be discovered by the method of minimal pairs -> finding pairs of words, which differ only in one phoneme. (fan/van). [subminimal pair -> differ in more than one phoneme]. A minimal pair is discovered through a minimal set – a chain of words, which differ in one phoneme (fan/van/pan/ran/tan).

^ Views of the phoneme.

Mentalistic/psychological. The Phoneme – an ideal “mental image” or a target at which the speaker aims. Allophones – different materialisations of it. (I. A. Baudauin de Courtenay).

Functional. The Phoneme is the minimal sound unit by which meanings may be differentiated without much regard to actually pronounced sounds. Meaning differentiation is taken to be a defining characteristic of phoneme. This view gave rise to phonology. (N. Trubetskoy, L.Bloomfield, R.Jakobson, M.Halle).

Abstract. The Phoneme is essentially independent of the acoustic & physiological properties associated with them, that is of speech sounds. (L.Hjelmslev, H.J.Uldall, K.Togby).

[These views of phoneme => idealistic]

Physical. The Phoneme is a family of related sound, which

1. show phonetic similarity to one another;

2. can’t occur in one and the same phonetic context. (D.Jones, B.Bloch, G.Trager).

Materialistic. The most suitable for the purpose of teaching is conception by L.V.Shcherba: the Phoneme is a dialectical unity of functional, materialistic and abstract aspects.


  1. Common features of consonants as opposed to vowels.

Articulatory differences b/n vowels, cons and sonorants depend on 3 articulatory criteria:

  1. the presence/absence of an articulatory obstruction to the air stream in the larynx or in the supra-glottal cavities

  2. the concentrated or diffused character of muscular tension

  3. the force of exhalation

=> consonants= sounds in the production of which a) there is an articulatory obstruction to the air stream (complete, incomplete, the combination of the two /t∫, d3/, intermittent) b) muscular tension is concentrated in the place of obstruction c) the exhaling force is rather strong

vowels=sounds in the production of which a) there is no articulatory obstruction to the air stream b) muscular tension is diffused more of less evenly throughout the supra-glottal part of the speech apparatus c) the exhaling force is rather weak

sonorants= sounds intermediate b/n cons & vow bec they have features common to both. The obstruction is complete/incomplete but not narrow enough to produce noise. Muscular tension is concentrated in the place of obstruction, but the exhaling force is rather weak. /m,n,η,l,w,r,j/


  1. ^ Common features of vowel as opposed to conconants.

We have 6 vowel letters(a,e,i,o,u,y) and 20 vowel sounds (in Br.E.) 12 monothongs,8 dipthongs+5 tripthongs

Vowels=sounds articulated with no impediment to the airstream (the air passes freely through the vocal organs)+voice is created by the vibration of the vocal cords in the glottis+all vowels are produced by exhaling the air (egreesive airstream).

From the phonological point of view:vowels tend to occupy the middle position of the word,the middle of a syllable(contrary to consonants).All Eng.v. are oral(no nasal)=the soft palate is raised=the air passes freely through the mouth cavity.If v. are in a position close to nasals,the vowel “a” will be a nasalized allophone.


  1. Main principals of consonant classification. Classification of English consonants.

1.voicing (work of the vocal cords&force of exhalation): voiceless-fortis, voiced-lenis.

2.place of articulation (where the air is impeded):

-bilabial(2 lips) p-b

-labiodental(upper teeth-lower lip) f-v

-dental(teeth) ð,θ

-alveolar t-d,s,n,z,l

-retroflex(tip of the tongue curved&moved backwards) r

-palato-alveolar(middle tongue to the hard palate) тч,дж,ш,ж

-palatal(to the soft palate) j

-glottal h(pharyngal)

-velar(back of the tongue) k,g, ŋ

-labiovelar w

3.manner of articulation(kind of construction made by articulators):

-occlusive:plosives(pbtdkg)&sonorants-nasals

-constrictive:fricatives(fvszhðθшж)&semi-vowels(approximants) jwr+lateral l

-occlusive-constrictive (affricates) тч дж


^ 11. Syllabic structure if English words. Functional characteristics if syllables.

Human intercom-n is actualized in s-s. s-le is dif-t to define. S-le – one or more speech sound, forming an uninterrupted unit of utterance, which may be a word or a commonly recognized subdivision of a word. Can be a single word, a part of a word, a part of the grammatical form. Can be analized from the acoustic (by the force of the ut-ce or accent, pitch of the voice, sonority and length, intonograph & spectrograph), auditory (the smallest unit of perception), articulatory (results from the combined action of the power, vibrator, resonator and obstructor mechanisms) and func-l point of view. Also graphic representation. S-s in writing – syllabographs – are closely con-ed with the morphemic str-re of words.

Formed by a vowel, a v-l & a con-t, con-t & a sonorant. Types of s-s: unc-ed open, unc.closed, covered closed, covered open. The peak of the crest of the s-le is formed by a v-l or a son-t. The con-ts which precede the peak and follow it – slops.

Theories of s-le formation & s-le division: 1) the most ancient (as many s-s as there are v-ls – primitive & insufficient); 2) the expiratory th-ry (as many as there are expiration pulses, the borderline – the moment of the weakest ex-n, - inconsistent; 3) sonority th-ry (as many as there are the peaks of prominence or sonority – an inherent quality of all ind-l sounds; fails to explain the mec-m of s-le div-n: doesn’t state to which s-le the weak sound at the boundary of two s-s belongs. Otta Jespersen: the scale of son-ty of sounds – the scale of their inherent prominence. Sounds are grouped around the most son-ous ones, which form the peaks of son-ty in a syl-le. Two points of lower son-ty – the beg-g & the end of one s-le.

^ Functions of s-s:

1) constitutive - constitute words, phrases & s-ces through the comb-n of their prosodic features: loudness-stress, pitch-tone, duration-length & tempo. May be stressed, unstr-ed, high,mid, low, rising, falling, long, short. These pros-c features constitute the stress pattern of words, tonal& rhythmic str-re of an ut-ce, help to peform dist-ve variations on the s-le level. 2) distinctive & differentiatory f-n - word dis-ve f-n of a s-le. There are many comb-n dist-ed by means of the dif-ce in the place of the syl-c boundary. Close juncture – b-n sounds within one s-le, open – b-n two s-s, marked with+.

3) identificatory - is conditioned by the pron-n of the speaker. The listener understands if he perceives the correct s-c boundary – ‘syllabodisjuncture’ might rain – my train.

^ 12. Word stress in English.

S-s – special emphasis, given to syl-s in words. In speech the actual prom-ce of a s-le is not only the result of stress. S-s is variable – any syl-le of a polys-c word can carry the main stress. Signals: pitch of voice (level), sonority of sound (vowel quality: strong, weak; stressed syl-s have strong v-s – pot, Tom, office, odd, man, uns-ed – weak: potato, official, addition, woman), duration in time (length – syl-s are extra long when they are prominant) – together they make syl-s sound louder. Degrees of s-s: primary, secondary (partial), weak. S-s is the comb-n of factors.

S-s may be semantically contrasted (verb – noun: contrast, present). Modify of s-s: photogragh-photographer-photographic).

Rules:1) ‘front weight’ in nouns & adj-s (have s-s on the 1-st syl-le); 2) 2 & 3-syl-le words have a prefix (not stressed), majority are verbs; 3) w-s with suf-s (unstr-ed); 4) certain suf-s cause the syl-le to be st-ed: -ive, -ient, -iant, -ial, -ion, -ic, -ous, -ish, -ify, -ible; 5) –able – doesn’t change the stress; 6) in polys-c w-ds certain suf-s cause the s-s to be placed on the 4-th syl-le fr. the end - -ary, -ator, alimony, literacy, inventory; 7) in compound w-ds – singlestressed – reading-room, music-hall; but adj-es & verbs – 2-stressed – well-bred, give in.


^ 13. Pronunciation. Phonemic and phonetic transcription. The Phonemic Chart.

Transcription – system of phonetic notations, a set of symbols representing speech sounds.

It can be:

Broad /phonemic/ - gives the special symbol of the phonemes of the language.

Narrow [allophonic] – gives the special symbols for allophonic feature.


^ 14. The Reform Movement in the language teaching and the foundation of the IPA.

Methods in language teaching: grammatical-translation; direct; by 1850 the situation changed: focus on oral communication -> situational l-ge teaching; audiolingualism; communic.l-ge teaching (Alexander); silent way; community l-ge teaching; total physical response (for children); suggestopedia. So there was a great shift from gr.tr. to the oral communicative. Now – a collectical method.

Revolutioners, who denied gr-tr method: Marcel – invented the oral m-d, following the way how the children heard the language; Prendergast – to learn a language you need a context, suggested the idea of structural patterns; Gouin – anything you say must be facilitated by movements. They started looking for the ways of describing the language. Henry Sweet, Wilhelm Vietor, Paul Passy. International Phonetic Association (1886 in Paris by Paul Passy):

The tasks:

1.the study of the spoken language;

2.ph-c training in order to establish good pron-n habits;

3.the use of conversational texts & dialogues (not literary), introduction of idioms;

4. inductive approach to the learning grammar;

5. the use of direct method – teaching new meanings through establishing associations in the target language. The Association introduces International Phonetic Alphabet (1886).


^ 15. Approaches to the intonation study. Functions of intonation. Stylistic use of intonation.

The music of a l-ge. Is very imp-t, cause it may effect the meaning. How we say. The segments of spoken l-ge are v-s & c-s – produce syl-s, w-s, s-ces – the verbal aspect of speech. We articulate them, a voise effect, extending over more than 1 segment – suprasegmental analysis. I-n – a complex unity of non-seg-l or prosodic features of speech (do not exist in isolation). Term prosody (acoustic properties of the speech, the el-s of pr-dy are derived from the acoustic ch-s of speechis wider than in-n: just the changes in the pitch.


Approaches: 1) contour analysis (H.Sweet, D.Jones, Palmer, J.O’Conner; the smallest unit to which ling-c meaning can be attached is a tone-group (sense-group), based: in-n consists of basic functional blocks; traditional & widely used); 2) gram-l (Halliday; the main unit of I-n – clause; based on syntactical f-n of in-n; tied with gram.categories: tonality – marks the b-g & the end of a tone group; tonicity – marks the focal point of an in-n group; tones – may be primary or sec-ry; 3) functional (O’Conner, Alexander; based on discovering the links of the voice of the speeker – his attitude); 4) contextual (D.Brazil, Barbara Bradford; context.signif-ce of I-n, meanings are like surprise, irony are features of particular context, major components – prom-ce, tone, key (pitch levels)-high\low key inf-n, termination (result).


^ Functions of I-n: 1) emotional; 2) grammatical (iden-n of clauses, disj,q-ns); 3) inform-al (what is new, what is already known); 4) textual (paragraghs of I-n on radio; 5) psychological (to organize l-ge into unites – more easily perceived & memorized; 6) indexical (markers of a personal identity, belonging to dif-t occupations & social groups.

Stylistic use of int-n. Style – different manner of non-verbal expression. The choice of a speech style is situationally determined. Any act of verb.com-n is changed by certain int-nal peculiarities which depend on such extra-ling-c factors (effect the situation) as: 1) the purpose of com-n; 2) social setting of curc-s; 3) social identity of the speeker; 4) individual speech habits; 5) em-nal state of the speeker. An int-l style – a s-m of interrelated int-nal means, which is used in a certain social spere and serves the def-te aim of com-n.

Clas-n by Sh.Bally: 1) highly elevated style; 2) elaborate pron-n (тщательное); 3) slow coll.pron-n; 4) fluent coll.pron-n. Clas-n by Sokolova, Gintovt, Kanter: 1) inform-al – formal; radio, press; 2) scientific – accad.; 3) declamatory; 4) publicific; 5) conversational. Inform-n: intellectual, emotional, volitional.




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