Лекция №1 phonetics as a branch of linguistics



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DlyaPodgotovkeKteoreticheskoyPhonetike

ЛЕКЦИЯ № 1
PHONETICS AS A BRANCH OF LINGUISTICS
Phonetics studies the sound system of the language, word stress, syllabic structure and intonation, and their functions in relation to the meaning. It is primarily concerned with the expression level, though the content level is also taken into consideration. Phonetics is important in the study of language because no kind of linguistic study can be made without constant consideration of the material on the expression level. That is why phonetics claims to be of equal importance with grammar, lexicology and stylistics.
Phonetics has two main divisions: phonology – the study of the sound patterns of languages, of how a spoken language functions as a “code” (it studies the functional aspect), and phonetics – the study of the substance, that carries the code (it studies the material form of the language).
Two courses of phonetics are studied at the faculties of foreign languages in this country. Practical or normative phonetics studies the substance, the material form of phonetic phenomena in relation to meaning. Theoretical phonetics is mainly concerned with the functioning of phonetic units in the language.
Phonetics is itself divided into two major components: segmental phonetics, which is concerned with individual sounds (i.e. “segments” of speech) and suprasegmental phonetics whose domain is the larger units of connected speech: syllables, words, phrases and texts.
Human speech is the result of a highly complicated series of events: the formation of the concept in the brain of the speaker – psychological stage; the transmission of the message along the nervous system to the speech organs under the control of the human brain – physiological stage; the production of sound waves by the movements of the speech apparatus – physical or acoustic stage; the reception of the sound waves by the listener’s hearing physiological apparatus, the transmission of the spoken message through the nervous system to the brain and the linguistic interpretation of the information by the listener.
There are three branches of phonetics.
Articulatory phonetics studies the way in which the air is set in motion, the movements of the speech organs and the coordination of these movements in the production of single sounds and trains of sounds. Articulatory phonetics borders with anatomy and physiology.
Acoustic phonetics studies the way in which the air vibrates between the speaker’s mouth and the listener’s ear. Acoustic phonetics comes close to studying physics.
The branch of phonetics investigating the hearing process is known as auditory phonetics.
Phonetic studies can be done with the help of the human senses alone and with the use of various devices. Instrumental methods deriving from physiology and physics were introduced into phonetics to complement subjective sensory impression. The use of instruments provides finer and more detailed analysis. This type of investigation together with sensory analysis is widely used in experimental phonetics.
The branch of phonetics that studies the linguistic function of consonant and vowel sounds, syllabic structure, word accent and prosodic features, such as pitch, stress and tempo is called phonology.
In linguistics, function usually means discriminatory function, that is, the role of the language elements in the distinguishing of one sequence of sounds from another of different meaning. The other function of phonetic units is their role in the formation of syllables, words, phrases and even texts. Phonology is a branch of phonetics that investigates its most important social aspect.



1. There are different types of phonetics. Theoretical phonetics studies sounds of the language at a particular period of time.

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2. Practical or normative phonetics studies the substance, the material form of phonetic phenomena in relation to meaning.

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3. Human speech is the result of a highly complicated series of events. During the acoustic stage the message formed within the brain is transmitted along the nervous system to the speech organs.

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4. Physiological /Articulatory phonetics studies the way in which the air vibrates between the speaker’s mouth and the listener’s ear.

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5. Auditory phonetics investigates the hearing process.

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Language is not an isolated phenomenon; it is a part of society. That is why it is important to underline the relationship between phonetics and social sciences. Various interdisciplinary subjects have appeared, such as sociolinguistics (and sociophonetics correspondingly), psycholinguistics, mathematical linguistics and others. Sociophonetics studies the ways in which pronunciation interacts with society. Psycholinguistics covers the psychological implications of an extremely broad area, from acoustic phonetics to language pathology.


The connection of phonetics with linguistic sciences (grammar, lexicology and stylistics) is exercised via orthography which in its turn is closely connected with phonetics. Phonetics formulates the rules of pronunciation of separate sounds and sound combinations. The rules of reading are based on the relation of sounds to the orthography. a) Grammar. Through the system of rules of reading phonetics helps to pronounce correctly endings of plural forms of nouns, the 3d person singular in Present Simple, Possessive Case; endings of the past tense forms and past participles of English regular verbs.
Consonant and vowel interchange helps to differentiate singular and plural forms of nouns: calf-calves; house-houses; bath-baths; man-men; basis-bases, the tense forms of irregular verbs: sing-sang-sung.
b) Lexicology. Different parts of speech can be formed with the help of vowel and consonant interchange: breath-breathe. Due to the presence of stress or accent in the right place we can distinguish certain nouns from verbs: abstract-to abstract.
Homographs can be differentiated only due to pronunciation: wind (ветер)-wind (виток). Due to the position of word accent we can distinguish between homonymous words, word groups and free collocations: blackbird (дрозд)-black bird (черная птица).
Stylistics. The connection of phonetics with stylistics can be traced through intonation and its components: speech melody, word accent, rhythm, pausation and voice timber. Very often the writer helps the reader to interpret his ideas through special words and remarks: angrily, gently, a pause.
Phonetics is connected with stylistics through repetition of words, phrases and sounds. The theory of sound symbolism is based on the assumption that separate sounds due to their articulatory and acoustic properties may awake certain ideas, perceptions, feelings, images. For example [fl] associates with quick movement: fly, flee, flood; [sk] associates with scraping sounds: scream, scratch.
In poetry one cannot help feeling that the arrangement of sounds carries a definite aesthetic function. Such notions as harmony, euphony, rhythm and other sound phenomena undoubtedly are not indifferent to the general effect produced by a verbal chain.
Onomatopoeia is a combination of speech sounds which aims at imitating sounds produced in nature (wind, sea, thunder, etc.), by things (machines or tools, etc.), by people (sighing, laughter, patter of feet, etc.), by animals.
Repetition of words, phrases and sounds serves the bases of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration. Regular recurrence of accented elements, or rhythm, may be used as a special device both in poetry and in prose.
Alliteration – the repetition of identical or similar sounds helps to impart a melodic effect to the utterance and to express certain emotions. The essence of this device lies in the repetition of similar sounds, in particular consonant sounds, in close succession, particularly at the beginning of successive words.
Euphony – harmonious combination of sounds that create a pleasing effect to the ear.
Rhyme is the repetition of identical or similar terminal sound combinations of words. Rhyming words are generally placed at the regular distance from each other. In verse they are usually placed at the end f the corresponding lines.
The system of phonetic notations is generally termed as “transcription”. Transcription is a set of symbols representing speech sounds. The symbolization of sounds differs according to whether the aim is to indicate the phoneme or to reflect the modifications of its allophones as well. The broad or phonemic transcription provides special symbols for all the phonemes of a language. The narrow or allophonic transcription suggests special symbols for particular allophonic features. The broad transcription is mainly used for practical expedience; the narrow type serves the purposes of research work.
The difference among present-day broad transcriptions of British English is mainly due to the varying significance which is attached to vowel quality and quantity.
Two kinds of broad transcription are used for practical purposes in this country.
The first type was introduced by D. Jones. He aimed at reducing the number of symbols to a minimum. He postulated that long and short vowels differ in quality as well as in quantity and did not introduce special symbols to differentiate the quality of these vowels.
The other type of broad transcription, first used by V.A. Vassilyev, provides special symbols for all vowel phonemes.
The narrow or phonetic transcription provides special symbols for allophonic modifications of phonemes. The symbol [h], for instance, indicates aspirated articulation: [kheıt].



6. Onomatopoeia is a combination of speech sounds which aims at imitating sounds produced in nature

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7. Regular recurrence of accented elements, or rhythm, may be used as a special device only in poetry.

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8. Euphony – harmonious combination of sounds that doesn’t create a pleasing effect to the ear.

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9. Phonemic transcription provides symbols for all the phonemes of a language.

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10. The narrow transcription provides special symbols for allophonic modifications of phonemes.

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Two separate terms are used in phonetics: a “phoneme” is used to mean “sound” in its contrastive sense, and an “allophone” is used for sounds which are variants of a phoneme: they usually occur in different positions in the word (i.e. in different environments) and hence cannot contrast with each other, nor be used to make meaningful distinctions.


The definitions of the phoneme vary greatly. The materialistic view of the phоneme was originated by L.V. Shcherba. According to him the phoneme may be viewed as a functional, material and abstract unit. The phoneme is a minimal abstract linguistic unit realized in speech in the form of speech sounds opposable to other phonemes of the same language to distinguish the meaning of morphemes and words. Most linguists have looked upon the phoneme as one of the basic language units. But not all of them have described it in the same way. Views of the phoneme seem to fall into four main classes.
a) The “mentalistic” or “psychological” view regards the phoneme as an ideal “mental image” or a target at which the speaker aims. He deviates from this ideal sound partly because an identical repetition of a sound is next to impossible and partly because of the influence of neighbouring sounds. Allophones of the phoneme are seen as varying materializations of it. This view was originated by the founder of the phoneme theory, the Russian linguist I.A. Baudauin de Courtenay.
b) “Functional” view regards the phoneme as the minimal sound unit by which meanings may be differentiated. Meaning differentiation is taken to be a defining characteristic of phonemes. The functional approach extracts non-distinctive features from the phonemes thus divorcing the phoneme from actually pronounced speech sounds. This view is shared by many foreign linguists: N. Trubetskoy, L. Bloomfield, R. Jakobson, M. Halle. The functional view of the phoneme gave rise to a branch of linguistics called “phonology” which is concerned with relationships between contrasting sounds in a language. Its special interest lies in establishing the system of distinctive features of the language concerned. Phonetics is limited in this case with the precise description of acoustic and physiological aspects of physical sounds without any concern to their linguistic function.
c) “Abstract” view of the phoneme regards phonemes as essentially independent of the acoustic and physiological properties associated with them, i.e. of speech sounds. This view of the phoneme was pioneered by L. Hjelmslev. The above-mentioned views of the phoneme can be qualified as idealistic since all of them regard the phoneme as an abstract conception existing in the mind but not in the reality, that is in human speech.
d) The “physical” view regards the phoneme as a “family” of related sounds satisfying the following conditions: a) members of the “family” must show phonetic similarity to one another, i.e. be related in character; b) no member of the “family” may occur in the same phonetic context as any other. The “physical” conception is supported by D. Jones, B. Bloch and G. Trager. This approach views the phoneme as a group of articulatorily similar sounds without any regard to its functional and abstract aspects.
The conception of the phoneme first put forward by L.V. Shcherba may be regarded as the most suitable for the purpose of teaching. The three aspects of the phoneme.
a) The phoneme is a functional unit. It fulfills a discriminatory function, that is distinguishes one morpheme from another, one word from another or also one utterance from another, e.g. sleeper – sleepy, bath – path; He was heard badly — He was hurt badly.
b) The phoneme is material, real and objective. It is realized in speech in the form of speech sounds, its allophones. The allophones of the same phoneme are not identical in their articulatory content though there remains some phonetic similarity between them. Allophones of the same phoneme never occur in similar phonetic contexts, and thus they cannot differentiate meanings.
с) The phoneme is an abstract language unit. That is why we can look upon the phoneme as a dialectical unity of the material and abstract aspects.



11. Allophone is used for sounds which are variants of a phoneme: they usually occur in different positions in the word and cannot contrast with each other, nor be used to make meaningful distinctions.



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12. “Abstract” view regards the phoneme as the minimal sound unit by which meanings may be differentiated.

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13. The “psychological” view regards the phoneme as an ideal “mental image” or a target at which the speaker aims.

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14. As a functional unit the phoneme fulfills a discriminatory function, that is distinguishes one morpheme from another, one word from another or also one utterance from another

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15. Native speakers abstract themselves from the difference between the allophones of the same phoneme in cases it has no functional value.

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