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Difference between Phonetics and Phonology

Key Difference: Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized in individual languages. On the
other hand, Phonetics is the study of actual process of sound making. Both are important areas of
study of linguistics.

Phonetics and Phonology are two subfields of Linguistics

dealing with speech sounds. Both of them seem to be overlapping in recent years, and therefore create
some confusion regarding their meanings.

Phonetics has been derived from the Greek word phone meaning sound/voice. It is one of the important
branches of linguistics which deals with the study of speech sounds. It covers the domain of speech
production and its transmission. It also covers the reception aspect of speech. The sounds made by us
when we talk are studied through different branches of Phonetics like Acoustic Phonetics, Auditory
Phonetics and Articulatory Phonetics.

Phonology is another branch of linguistics which focuses on the organization of sounds by studying
speech patterns. The key words for describing Phonology are distribution and patterning related to
speech. It is aimed to determine the sound patterns of all the languages. Phonologists may look into
questions like – why there is difference in the plurals of cat and dog; the former ends with an s sound,
whereas the later ends with the z sound.

Phonetics deals with physical description of sounds, whereas phonology is all about description of sound
interrelation and function. A simple way to understand both is to consider Phonetics as the physics of
sound and Phonology as the psychology of sound.

Phonetics looks into the speech sounds of a language in a generalized and idealized manner. On the
other hand, Phonology looks into the functional aspect of speech sounds in that language. Phonetics and
Phonology are closely related to each other, and therefore it is often recommended not to divide them
on the basis of strict rules or points.
Comparison between Phonetics and Phonology:

Phonetics Phonology

Phonology is another branch of linguistics Imag

Phonetics can be considered as a
branch of linguistics as it deals with the which focuses on the organization of sounds
study of the sounds of human speech. It by studying speech patterns. The key words
Definition tesy:
also considers the function production for describing Phonology are distribution and
patterning related to speech. slide
and auditory qualities of human

Physics of sound Psychology of sound

Theories of speech production and Rules or constraints to find out about the
perception combinations of sounds of a language.

 Acoustic phonetics – related to

the study of physical attributes
of sound produced by the vocal  Segmental Phonology – based on the
tract segmentation of language into
 Auditory phonetics deals with individual speech sounds derived
understanding that how hum from phonetics.
ear perceives sound and how  Suprasegmental Phonology – deals
the brain recognizes different with attribute (like rhythm, stress,
speech units. etc.)s of pronunciation which cannot
 Articulatory phonetics deals be segmented
with studying the making of
single sounds by the vocal tract