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PHONETICS

1. PHONETICS AND PHONOLOGY Phonetics is an empirical science which studies human 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 does not form part of linguistics. Vowels are made up of formants (a number of different frequencies), the most dominant of which combine to produce their distinctive qualities. Only the first two formants are essential for the identification of a vowel. Phonetics is divided into three main branches: (i) ARTICULATORY PHONETICS, which studies the nature and limits of the human ability to produce speech sounds and describes the way these sounds are delivered; ACOUSTIC PHONETICS; which studies the physical properties of speech sound (e.g. pitch, frequency and amplitude) during transmission from speaker to hearer (from mouth to ear); AUDITORY PHONETICS; which is concerned with hearing and the perception of speech, or our response to speech sounds as received through the ear and brain.

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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. The sounds which are used vary from language to language, and within each language these sounds resolve themselves into families and form a system of contrasts. Phonemes are the basic units of phonology, and have a semantic value in that they serve to distinguish words in English. The similar but non-contrastive sounds are called allophones (e.g. clear l and dark l). When allophones do not occupy the same position in words, we say they are in complementary distribution. The opposite of complementary distribution is free variation. Words which are distinguished by one phoneme are called minimal pairs. Phonology is also concerned with phonotactics; which are statements of permissible strings of phonemes. Phonotactics deals not only with the way

consonants combine but also with the position consonants and vowels may occupy in the syllable or word. Phonetics deals with the rules which govern the use of allophones. The basic notions in phonology are unit, realization and distribution. In phonology the unit is the phoneme, the realizations are the allophones, which are the actual exponents of this abstract class labeled phoneme, and the allophones have a particular distribution. Phonetics and phonology complement one another and there is considerable overlap. 2. THE ORGANS OF SPEECH There are three stages in the production of speech sounds: Initiation Use of an air-stream mechanism, usually pulmonic, to initiate the production of speech sound. Phonation Use of the larynx, aid by an airstream, to produce sound that will be modified by the remaining speech organs above it. Articulation Use of the organs in the supralaryngeal or suppraglotal vocal tract or cavities. These cavities act as resonants for the sound generated by the larynx.

Most speech sounds are produced on a (pulmonic) egressive air steam, that is, while we are breathing out, but it is also possible to speak on an ingressive air stream, which we do sometimes when we are sobbing, gasping for breath, expressing sympathy or showing pain. The types of non-pulmonic sounds known as clicks and implosives are also made by drawing air in, rather than exhaling. The tongue makes contact with the roof of the mouth at two places, one being the velum, and a vacuum is created. When air is allowed in to fill the vacuum, a sound which we call a click is created. Ejectives are the complete opposite of implosives. Made on a glottalic egressive airstream, the larynx is raised to compress the air trapped in the mouth and pharynx between the closed glottis and the oral place of articulation before it is released. The larynx is the hard casing around the vocal folds/cords. It protects the folds from damage and, as it is a kind of valve in between the lungs and mouth, it plays an essential role in speech production, eating and breathing. The vocal cords are two bands of elastic tissue lying horizontally across the larynx from back to front. They are joined at the front. At the back, the folds are connected to the arytenoid cartilages, which may be made to move

apart, thus opening the folds in a triangular shape. The opening between the folds is known as the glottis. Wide open and no vibration we produce unvoiced sounds Close together and vibrating we produce voiced sounds (vowels are voiced)

Frequency Speed of vibration of the vocal folds. It is measured in Hertz (Hz). Intensity power transmitted along a sound wave. It is measured in decibels (dB) Mode of vibration Normal voice (modal voice) an average amount of air is escaping from the lungs; this is the mode we use the most of the time when we are speaking. Creaky voice (glottal fry) is produced when we are speaking under our breath, or to avoid disturbing people in the vicinity of our conversation, or in order to keep a conversation private. It is also used by ventriloquists. Breathy voice Opposite of creaky voice. We use strong breath force and expel the air rapidly from the lungs, in no more than two seconds. Library voice (whisper or murmur) The vocal folds vibrate but there is a considerable opening through which quite a lot of air scapes at the end of the folds beside the arytenoid cartilage.

Amplitude of vibration The wider the folds move apart in the open phase, the louder the sound will be. When the vocal cords are tightly shut so that the air from the lungs builds up behind them, a glottal stop is produced.