Unit 2 Phonology
2.1 The phonic medium of language.
• Do linguists study all the sounds? No
They just study sounds which are meaningful in human communication constitute the phonic
medium of language
2.2.1 What is phonetics?
Phonetics is the study of the phonic medium of language; it is concerned with all the sounds that
occur in the world’s languages. Phonetics looks at speech sounds from three distinct but related points of view:
1. From the speaker’s point of view: how a speaker uses his speech organs to articulate the sounds, which results in articulatory
2. From the hearer’s point of view: how the sounds are perceived by the hearer, which results in auditory phonetics.
3. From the way sounds travel:
how sounds travel by looking at the sound waves, the physical means by which sounds are
transmitted through the air from one person to another, which results in acoustic phonetics.
• Of the three branches of phonetics, articulatory phonetics has the (longest) history.
By studying sound waves with the help of spectrographs, acoustic phoneticians find that the same
sounds we claim to have heard are in most cases only phonetically similar, but rarely phonetically
2.2.2 Organs of speech
articulatory apparatus : pharyngeal cavity (Throat), The oral cavity (mouth), Nasal cavity
Lung is the origin of sound.
• Air stream
• Vibration of the vocal cords results in a quality of speech sounds called “voicing”.
When the vocal cords are drawn wide apart, letting air go through without causing vibration, the
sounds produced in such a condition are voiceless.
The oral cavity
3.teeth ridge (alveolus)
4. Hard palate 5.soft palate(velum) 6.uvula 7.tip of tongue 8. Blade of tongue 9. Back of
tongue 10.vocal cords 11.pharyngeal cavity 12. Nasal cavity
The nasal cavity
The nasal cavity is connected with the oral cavity. The soft part of the roof of the mouth, the
velum, can be drawn back to close the passage so that all air exiting from the lungs can only go
through the mouth. The sounds produced in this condition are not nasalized
If the passage is left open to allow air to exit through the nose, the sounds produced are nasalized
2.2.3 Broad and Narrow Transcription
A broad transcription is one that only takes account of the sound differences that are
important to distinguish words from each other in a language.
A broad transcription is the transcription with letter-symbols only.
? 2.1 The phonic medium of language
? 2.2 Phonetics
? 2.2.1 What is phonetics
? 2.2.2 Organs of speech
? 2.2.3 Broad and narrow transcriptions
Q: How many English speech sounds?
2.2.4 Classifications of English speech sounds
? The sound segments are grouped into CONSONANTS and VOWELS.
? Consonants are produced by constructing or obstructing the vocal tract at some place to
divert, impede, or completely shut off the flow of air in the oral cavity.
? One important feature of vowels , e.g. in producing a vowel the air stream coming from
the lungs meets with (no obstruction) in the throat, or the nose, or the mouth.
? Any segments must be either a vowel or consonants.
? English consonants can be classified in three ways:
? 1. Manner of articulation
? 2. Place of articulation
? 3. State of vocal cords
1. Manners of Articulation
? There are several basic ways in which articulation can be accomplished:
? The articulators may close off the oral tract for an instant or a relatively long period;
? They may narrow the space considerably;
? Or they may simply modify the shape of the tract by approaching each other.
? ?STOP (or PLOSIVE):
? (complete) closure of the articulators involved so that the air stream cannot
escape through the mouth.
? The closing phase, in which the articulators come together.
? The holding phase, during which air is compressed behind the closure.
? The release phase, during which the articulators forming the obstruction come rapidly
apart and the air is suddenly released.
? Technically this phase is called “plosion”, thus the name ”plosive”. [p, b, t, d, k, g]
? the air stream is( partially) obstructed through a narrow passage and turbulent airflow is
produced. [f,v, , ,s,z, , ,h]
? When the obstruction, (complete) at first, is released slowly with the friction resulting
from partial obstruction [, , /, , ]
? When the airflow is obstructed but allowed to escape through the passage between part
or parts of the tongue and the roof of the mouth [l], [r]
? When the nasal passage is opened by lowering the soft palate at the back of the mouth
and air is allowed to pass through it [m], [n], [, , ]
? Also called “semi-vowels” [w, , j]
2. Place of Articulation
? 1. BILL ABIAL:
? made with the two lips. In English it includes: [p,b,m,w], as in pet, bet, and met.
? 2. LABIODENTAL:
? made with the lower lip and up front teeth. [f,v], as in fire and vest
? 3. DENTAI:
? made with the tongue tip or blade and upper teeth. [ , ,] as in thanks and that.
? 4. ALVEOLAR:
? made with the tongue tip or blade and the upper teeth-ridge ridge.
? 5. PALATAL:
? made with the front of the tongue and the hard palate.
? [j,,,,,,,,,,,] as in yes and yet etc. ? 6. VELAR:
? made with the back of the tongue and the soft palate.
? [k,g,,,] as in cat and get.
? 7. Glottal:
? with the two pieces of the vocal cords pushed towards each other.
? a glottal fricative [h]: as in hat and hold
188.8.131.52 Classification of Vowels ? vowels are normally described with reference to four criteria:
? Position of the tongue
? Openness of the mouth
? Shape of the lips
? The length of the vowels
1. Position of the tongue
? Vowels may be distinguished as Front, central, and back according to which part of the
tongue is held highest.
2. Openness of the mouth
? Close vowels
? Semi-close vowels
? Semi-open vowels
? Open vowels
3. Shape of the lips
? All the front vowels and the central vowels are unrounded
? All the back vowels are (with the exception of [a:]), rounded
4. The length of the vowels
? Long and short vowels
? Tense and lax vowels
? Monophthongs and diphthongs
? If a single movement of the tongue is involved, the glides are called DIPNHTHONGS. A
double movement produces TRIPHTHONGS.
? Diphthong glides in English can be heard in such words as way [wei] tide [taid], how
[hau], toy [t i, and toe [tou].
? Diphthongal glides are found in words like wire [war ] and tower [tau ].
? Common features of English sounds:
? 1. syllabic: 音节性 ? a sound plays a role in the structure of a syllable
? vowels and consonants are combined to form words.
? 2. consonantal: 辅音性 ? speech sounds may be classified into 3 groups:
? Vowels, pure consonants and glides, glottal
? 3. sonorant: 响音性 ? vowels, nasals, liquids, glides,
2.3.1 phonology and phonetics
? Phonetics is interested in all the speech sounds used in all human languages;
? How they are produced;
? How they differ from each other ;
? What features they possess;
? How they can be classified , etc.
? Phonology aims to discover:
? how speech sounds in a language form patterns and ;
? how these sounds are used to convey meaning in linguistic communication.
2.3.2 Phone, phoneme, and allophone
? A phone is a (phonetic) unit or segment, is placed within square bracket, [ p ]
? A phoneme is a (phonological) unit. It is an abstract unit. It represents a class of real
sounds, is placed in slash, /p/ .
The different phones which can represent a phoneme in different phonetic environments are called
? /p/ phoneme
h /P/ allophone / P/ allophone / P-/ allophone
pit speak stop
2.3.3 Phonemic contrast, complementary distribution, and minimal pair
? Phonetically similar sounds might be related in two ways.
? They might form a contrast if they are two distinctive phonemes, or they do not form a
contrast in meaning if they are allophones of the same phoneme.
? E.g. read lead
? reef leaf
? leaf build ? 1. /r/ and /l/ can occur in the same environments and they distinguish meaning; therefore
they are in Phonemic contrast . ? 2. if two sounds are two allophones of the same phoneme, they occur in different
environments. They are in complementary distribution.
? if we have A, we don’t have B. ? If we don’t have B, we have A.
2.3.4 Some rules in phonology 184.108.40.206 Sequential rules ? There are rules that govern the combination of sounds in a particular language
? 1. [l] [r]
? 2. three consonants
3. affricates and sibilants : [s] [z] 220.127.116.11 Assimilation rule
? The assimilation rule assimilates one sound to another by “copying” a feature of a
sequential phoneme, thus making the two phones similar.
? Word-final /s,z/ become palato-alveolar before palato-alveolar fricatives and the palatal
18.104.22.168 Deletion rule
2.3.5 Suprasegmental features
? We need sth beyond segments in reality that’s suprasegments.
? It consists of 3 things: stress, intonation and tone.
? 1. stress:
? is used on the level of syllables.
? A syllable is considered a vowel accompanied one or more consonants
? Stress is the character that a syllable is given a higher pitch made louder and longer.
? A. Higher pitch
? B. louder pitch
? C. longer pitch
? 1) Distinguish parts of speech
? 2) Change the meaning
? 3) In a sentence it shows different parts of emphasis
? refers to the change of the pitch of a sentence. It serves to distinguish among sentences,
refers to the change of the pitch of a word which can distinguish meanings.
e.g. All the children didn’t sleep
All the children didn’t sleep (All the children failed to sleep.)
All the children didn’t sleep. (Not all the children failed to sleep.)
All the children didn’t ˋsleep. (重音落在sleep上，且使用降调)
ˇAll the children didn’t sleep.（重音落在all上，且使用降升调）
句。在大学英语精读课第三册"Why I Teach"一课中有这样一段话： Certainly, I don't teach because teaching is easy for me. Teaching is the most difficult of the
various ways I have attempted to earn my living: mechanic, carpenter, writer.
在这一例句中，"I don't teach because teaching is easy for me."在形式上允许两种语义的解释
1）I don't teach because teaching is easy for me.
(Teaching is easy for me, so I don't teach.)
2) I don't teach because teaching is easy for me.
( I teach, but it isn't because teaching is easy for me.)
1）I don't ˇteach because teaching is easy for `me.
2) I don't teach because teaching is easy for ˇme
ˋNo ( a matter-of-fact statement)
ˇNo(doubtful but encouraging )
ˆNo (indignant; emphatic prohibition and scolding)
AˋFrench / teacher teaches French.
A /French ˋteacher is French.
Aˋtoy /factory produces toys.
A /toy ˋfactory is a model of a factory used as a toy.
I can’t care less.
I can care less.