What is phonology?
Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages.
The phonological system of a language includes
; an inventory of sounds and their features, and
; rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.
Phonology is just one of several aspects of language. It is related
to other aspects such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, and
Here is an illustration that shows the place of phonology in an interacting hierarchy of levels in linguistics:
Comparison: Phonology and phonetics
Phonetics … Phonology …
Is the basis for Is the basis for further
phonological analysis. work in morphology,
syntax, discourse, and
Analyzes the production Analyzes the sound of all human speech patterns of a particular
sounds, regardless of language by
; determining which
; explaining how
these sounds are
interpreted by the
Models of phonology
Different models of phonology contribute to our knowledge of phonological representations and processes:
; In classical phonemics, phonemes and their possible
combinations are central.
; In standard generative phonology, distinctive features are
central. A stream of speech is portrayed as linear sequence
of discrete sound-segments. Each segment is composed of
simultaneously occurring features.
; In non-linear models of phonology, a stream of speech is represented as multidimensional, not simply as a linear
sequence of sound segments. These non-linear models grew out
of generative phonology:
o autosegmental phonology
o metrical phonology
o lexical phonology
American Heritage Dictionary:
1.The study of speech sounds in language or a language with reference to their distribution and patterning
and to tacit rules governing pronunciation.
2.The sound system of a language:the phonology of English.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia:
Study of sound patterns within languages. Diachronic (historical) phonology traces and analyzes changes in speech sounds and sound systems over time (e.g., the process by whichseaandsee, once
pronounced with different vowel sounds, have come to be pronounced alike). Synchronic (descriptive) phonology investigates sound patterns at a single stage in a language's development, to identify which ones can occur and in what position (in English, for example,ntandrkappear within or at the end of
words but not at the beginning).
Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms
phonology, the branch of linguistics concerned with the analysis of sound‐systems as they function in languages (rather than with physical sounds as such, as inphonetics). The term is sometimes also
applied to the sound‐system itself, in a given language: the ‘phonology of English’ is the system of distinctions and rules governing the speech of this language. The founding concept of phonology is that
phoneme. of the
phonology,study of the sound systems of languages. It is distinguished fromphonetics, which is the
study of the production, perception, and physical properties of speech sounds; phonology attempts to account for how they are combined, organized, and convey meaning in particular languages. Only a fraction of the sounds humans can articulate is found in any particular language. For example, English lacks the click sounds common to many languages of S Africa, while the soundthoften poses problems
for people learning English. Also, possible combinations of sounds vary widely from language to language-the combinationktat the beginning of a word, for example, would be impossible in some languages but is unexceptional in Greek. In phonology, speech sounds are analyzed into phonemes, the smallest units of sound that can change the meaning of a word. A phoneme may have several allophones, related sounds that are distinct but do not change the meaning of a word when they are interchanged. In English,lat the beginning of a word andlafter a vowel are pronounced differently, so that thelinlitand
thelingoldare allophones of the phonemel; in other languages the difference between the two sounds
could change the meaning of a word and so would be considered different phonemes.
Wikipedia on Answers.com:
Phonology is viewed as the subfield oflinguisticsthat deals with thesoundsystems oflanguages. It should
be carefully distinguished fromphonetics. Whereas phonetics concerns the physical production,
acoustic transmission andperceptionof the sounds of speech,phonology describes the way sounds
function within a given language or across languages to encode meaning. In other words, phonetics is a type ofdescriptive linguistics, whereas phonology is a type oftheoretical linguistics. Note that this
distinction was not always made in linguistics, particularly before the development of the modern concept ofphonemein the mid 20th century. Some subfields of modern phonology have a crossover with phonetics in the interface with descriptive disciplines such aspsycholinguisticsandspeech perception,
resulting in specific areas likearticulatory phonologyorlaboratory phonology.
American Heritage Dictionary:
1.The branch of linguistics that deals with the sounds of speech and their production, combination, description, and representation by written symbols.
2.The system of sounds of a particular language.
Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Study ofspeechsounds. It deals with theirarticulation(articulatory phonetics), their acoustic properties
(acoustic phonetics), and how they combine to make syllables, words, and sentences (linguistic phonetics). The first phoneticians were Indian scholars (c.300BC) who tried to preserve the
pronunciation of Sanskrit holy texts. The Classical Greeks are credited as the first to base awritingsystem on a phonetic alphabet. Modern phonetics began with Alexander Melville Bell (1819 –
1905), whoseVisible Speech(1867) introduced a system of precise notation for writing down speech sounds. In the 20th century linguists focused on developing a classification system that can permit comparison of all human speech sounds. Another concern of modern phonetics is the mental processes of speech perception.
McGraw-Hill Science & Technology Encyclopedia:
The science that deals with the production, transmission, and perception of spoken language. At each level, phonetics overlaps with some other sciences, such as anatomy, physiology, acoustics, psychology, and linguistics. In each case, phonetics focuses on phenomena relevant to the study of spoken language.
Oxford Dictionary of Literary Terms
phonetics, the science devoted to the physical analysis of the sounds of human speech, including their production, transmission, and perception. A pure science connected to acoustics and anatomy, phonetics is concerned with the accurate description of speech sounds as sounds, rather than with the way languages divide sounds up into meaningful units (this being thedomainofphonology). A person
practising the science of phonetics is aphonetician.
Oxford Dictionary of Philosophy
he study of the characteristics of human sounds, especially those used in speech. Although phonetics is probably the least interesting branch of linguistics to a philosopher, the discovery that individual significant sounds are not physically definable, but exist in context and in contrast with others, was a major impetus tostructuralismin many areas. The phoneme is the minimal unit in the sound system of a language.