Unit 1. Phonetics vs. Phonology (2014)

Apunte Inglés
Universidad Universidad de Barcelona (UB)
Grado Lenguas y Literaturas Modernas - 1º curso
Asignatura Fonètica i Fonologia Angleses I
Año del apunte 2014
Páginas 3
Fecha de subida 26/03/2015
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Apuntes creados a partir de las clases de Joan Carles Mora y el libro de ayuda recomendado de Brian Mott.

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1. PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY 1.1. Introduction Phonetics…  is an empirical science which studies humans speech sounds.
 it tells us how sounds are produced, thus describing the articulatory and acoustic properties of sounds, and furnishes us with methods for their classification.
 it is concerned with the human sound-producing capacity in general and examines the whole range of possible speech sounds.
 it is divided into three main branches: a) Articulatory phonetics: Studies the nature and limits of the human ability to produce speech sounds and describes the way these sounds are delivered.
b) Acoustic phonetics: Studies the physical properties of speech sounds during transmission of speech sounds during transmission from speaker to hearer (from mouth to ear) c) Auditory phonetics: It is concerned with hearing and the perception of speed.
Unlike phonetics, phonology…  is a branch of linguistics  If phonetics provides descriptions of sounds and ways of classifying them, phonology is a kind of functional phonetics which employs this data to study the sound systems of languages.
 It applies linguistic criteria to the material provided by phonetics.
 Its concern is scientific theory, studying the linguistic functions of sounds.
Out of all speech sounds which it is possible to produce, individual languages make use of only a small number. Thus, they act rather like a sieve. The sounds vary from language to language and each language resolves themselves into “families” and form a system of contrasts, which are of interest to the phonologist, who uses the terms distinctive or contrastive or functional or information bearing to describe such oppositions.
The sounds are called phonemes: the basic units of phonology which have a semantic value to distinguish words.
It is important to distinguish these contrastive units, phonemes, which have a communicative value within a given language system from other sounds that are non-contrastive.
For example, English has two principal types of [l], which are “clear” and “dark”.
The “clear” [l] occurs before vowels (lake).
The “dark” [l] (symbol [ ]) appears after vowels (tall).
Now, if we substitute “dark” [l] for “clear” [l] in lake, you do not change the meaning of the word. Your pronunciation will sound a little odd because of the different distribution of the two varieties of [l] in English, but as there is no phonemic opposition between these two sounds, no semantic change occurs. These similar but non-contrastive sounds are called allophones.
In addition to the fact that not all the different sounds in a language are contrastive, it is equally important to note that different languages organize sounds differently and have different systems of contrast.
For example, in English the two kinds of [l] belong to the same phoneme but in Russian “clear” and “dark [l] are distinctive. So, if we substitute one for another, we may produce other words with different meanings.
Other example of allophones are provided by the [k]-sounds in the English words cool and keep, the [p]-sounds of English spot and pot, and the [s] and [z] in Spanish desear and desde. In all these pairs of words, variants of sounds are not perceived as different by the native speaker and, as far as s/he is concerned, they are the same sounds, just as slightly different shades of red are still reds, and a jacket with two buttons and a jacket with three buttons are still jackets.
In English, certain consonants are aspirated before stressed vowels.
The examples of phonemic opposition which are all consonantal, but languages also have different vowel contrasts. English, for example, has the phonemes /i:/ and / /. Many languages do not have such a contrast, and speakers of these languages find it difficult to hear and make the difference when learning English.
As we have seen, the non-distinctive realizational variants of phonemes (called allophones), tend to occur in specific phonetic context, so that we can say that the English /p/ phoneme has two principal allophones, one of which is aspirated and occurs before stressed vowels, and the other unaspirated occurring after [s]. As these allophones do not occupy the same positions in words, we say they are in complementary distribution. The opposite of complementary distribution is free variation.
Words like sheep and ship, chip and ship which are distinguished by one phoneme are called minimal pairs.
Phonology is concerned with semiotic value of sounds “semiologic phonetics” (Saussure)  “Phonology” (Albert Sechehaye), adopted in the early 1920’s.
1.2. Phonotactics Apart from describing the sound system of a language and determining its phoneme inventory, phonology is also concerned with phonotactics  studies the permissible strings of phonemes. It deals not only with the way consonants combine but also with the position consonants and vowels may occupy the syllable or word.
It’s the study of the distribution of sounds.
It tells us what kind of restriction you can have, the possible combinations we could have.
In English words, at the beginning of a word we only can have 3 consonants together (CCC), but one of them always it’s a s-. So, we could have a S + two consonants more. If there is no s, the maximum of consonants will be 2.
Few /fju:/ (2) - new /nju:/ (2) - flew /flu:/ (2) – crew /kru:/ - stew /stju:/ (there is s!!!) 1.3. The phonetics-phonology interface Phonology deals with the rules which govern the use of allophones.
For the phonetician the sounds are phenomena in the physical world.
For the phonologist, sounds are linguistic items whose essential interest is their function, behaviour and organization.
The basic notions in phonology are unit (phonema), realization (allphones), distribution (allophones have their own distribution).
If phonetics provides information on the physiological and acoustic properties of sounds, phonology investigates what properties have a functional, communicative value. So the business of phonology is observation and analysis.
1.4. Structuralism Saussure “the father of modern linguistics” Meillet “in the language everything depends on everything else” Saussure separated diachronic and synchronic linguistics. He also did a distinction between langue (all speakers are able to understand and produce speech) and parole (being speaker performance).
Saussure saw the language system as consisting of a conglomeration of signs, each invested with an arbitrary meaning. Each sign had a value determined by the value or meaning of all the other units in system.
The signs in a particular system are related to each other in two ways: either by combination (syntagmatic) or by similarity/contrast (paradigmatic).
20th structuralism studied and established the science. In 19th linguistics said what happened but not why. Saussure wanted to know what the effect on the entire system was.
1.5. Language universals Unmarked: linguistic unit or process is more natural than another (cool, barca) Marked: units or processes which are less expected (keep, barco) With the arrival of structuralism, and phonology developed as an independent science. It was said that phonetics is “the study of sound pertaining to the act of speech”, while phonology is “the study of sound pertaining to the system of language”.