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Phonetics and Phonology

• Phonetics:
The study of speech sounds
(the physical aspects of speech

• Phonology:
The study of sound patterns of
Involves three aspects:
• How our speech sounds are
produced (articulatory phonetics)
• How these sounds are transmitted
(acoustic phonetics)
• How the sounds are perceived
(auditory phonetics)
Articulatory Phonetics
• Relatively easy to observe

It involves:
• Speech organs & Speech sounds
• Sounds description and their properties
• Phonemic principles: minimal pairs,
• Alternations (variation/alternant in words):
‘receive ~ reception’
• Features: distinctive features,
• Phonological Rules:
assimilation/dissimilation, deletion,
• Syllable structure: ‘explicit’
• Suprasegmentals: intonation, stress
Speech organs and speech mechanism
• Speech sound is produced when air is set or
manipulated in motion
The production of a speech sound may be
divided into four separate but interrelated
• the initiation process
• the phonation process
• the oro-nasal process
• the articulation process
The Initiation Process

• The basic source of power

(source of airflow): the pushing
air out of the lungs for speech
(via trachea).

• In English, all speech sounds

require pulmonic egressive air
stream for their production.
The Phonation Process
• The air stream then passes through the
larynx through the operation of the vocal
folds (vocal cords) or vocal bands
• The gap between the vocal folds is called
Positions of altering the shape of glottis:
• closed glottis
• narrow glottis
• open glottis
closed glottis
closed glottis
• The speech sound resulting from
this closure of the glottis is
called glottal stop
• In many accents of English, the
glottal stop can replace [ t ] in the
words football, bottle, bit, and [ d ]
in the word did.
narrow glottis
narrow glottis
• When the vocal cords are apart, only a
narrow gap is left for the air stream to
pass through.
• The passage of air makes the vocal
folds (vocal cords) vibrate. Sounds
produced when the vocal cords are
vibrating are said to be voiced.
• All vowel sounds are voiced, as are
consonant sounds like [b],[d],[g],
[m],[l],[v], [z],[n], etc.
open glottis
open glottis
• The vocal folds are spread and do not
• The glottis is sufficiently wide open so as to
allow the air stream to pass through
without obstruction.
• This is the state that the glottis assumes in
normal breathing as well as in the
production of voiceless sounds.
• Voiceless sounds are, for example, [st]
sequence in stone, [k] in kill, etc.
The Oro-nasal Process
• In normal breathing, the air stream will usually
pass through the nasal cavity.
• In many speech sounds, the nasal cavity is
blocked off in the back of the throat and the
air stream is directed into the oral cavity. This
is done by the velum.
• The velum can be manipulated.
Two linguistically significant positions :
• raised velum
• lowered velum
raised velum
• Raised and pressed against the back
of pharynx, the velum prevents the
entry of air into the nasal cavity.
• Speech sounds produced with a
raised velum are called oral sounds.
• Examples: English vowels as well as
sounds such as [v], [f], [l], etc.
lowered velum
• When the velum is not raised against the
back of the pharynx, the air stream has
access to the nasal cavity.
• If at the same time the oral cavity is
blocked somewhere further forward in the
mouth – the entire air stream passes
through the nose - the result will be a
nasal sound.
• Examples: [m] , [n]
The Articulation Process

• Most of the differentiation of the

various speech sounds of a
language takes place in the mouth.
• The mobility of the lips and the
tongue, the size and shape of the
oral cavity as well as of the exit
passage of the air stream can be
greatly modified.
Vocal organs
• The air passages above the larynx are
known as the vocal tract.
The air passages that make up the vocal
tract may be divided into:
1. Oral tract (within the mouth and pharynx):
> Upper surface
> Lower surface
2. Nasal tract (within the nose)

The parts that can be used to form sounds

are called articulators.
Oral tract

• Upper surface:
Lip, teeth, alveolar ridge, hard palate,
soft palate (velum), uvula, pharynx wall

• Lower surface:
Lip, tongue (tip, blade, front, center,
back, root), epiglottis
Manners of Articulation

• Stop
• Fricative
• Approximant
• Lateral (approximant)

• Trill (Roll)
• Tap / Flap