Table of Contents
I take it you already know
Of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Others may stumble but not you
On hiccough, thorough, Lough, and through.
T.S . Watt (1954)
Human beings can express and exchange ideas, thoughts, feelings, emotions, knowledge, opinions, decisions, and what not through the power of language. The use of language makes us unique.
Can you define language? Why not? Language is a communication system based on words, and the network of words gives birth to sentences.
What is Linguistics?
Linguistics is the scientific study of the principles and underlying systems uncovering language used by human beings. Linguistics, in other words, is the scientific study of language. It follows the methodology of science to find the facts underlying the human language system. Linguistics involves various branches such as phonetics, phonology, morphology, syntax, and semantics.
Now, what is Phonetics? Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that involves the study of the articulation, transmission, and reception of speech sounds. Whereas Phonology deals with the characteristics study of sound and their shifts. Phonetics involves the study of the production of speech sounds. It also studies the physical aspects and perception of sounds, which are also called phonemes.
Phonetics generally deals with the linguistic analysis of speech sounds. The branch of Phonetics can be further classified into Articulatory Phonetics, Acoustic Phonetics, and Auditory Phonetics.
Articulatory Phonetics deals with the production of speech sounds. Articulatory Phonetics also studies how speech sounds are articulated. Acoustic Phonetics is the branch that studies the transmission of speech sounds and Auditory Phonetics deals with the reception and perception of speech sounds in English. It is concerned with how the sounds are perceived by the ear.
The speech segments have been developed over time and acquired a new form known as the International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA. The IPA chart can help you to know about the sounds of English words.
The characteristics of speech sounds can be analyzed through the study of Phonetics.
The three mechanisms involved in speech sound production are the Air Stream Mechanism, the Phonation Process, and the Oro-nasal process.
The creation of the airflow in the human vocal tract and the energy required for the production of speech sounds are managed by the Airstream mechanism. The air stream mechanism involves pulmonic air stream, glottalic air stream, and velaric air stream. The effect of the series of vocal cord states is called the Phonation process. Whereas the changes that happen to air in the oral, nasal, and pharyngeal cavities are called oro- nasal process.
The learners should be familiar with the organs of speech. The organs of speech involve the larynx, trachea, alveolar ridge, vocal cords, pharynx, glottis, hard palate, and soft palate.
Classification of Speech Sounds
Speech sounds can be broadly classified into vowels and consonants.
Vowels are voiced sounds. During the utterance of vowel sounds, the air escapes through the mouth freely and continuously without any audible frictional noise. Vowel sounds are produced with the free flow of the air. Try pronouncing the words “He and She”. The last sounds in “she” and “he” are examples of vowel sounds. Vowels are articulated with a stricture of open approximation.
Examples of vowel sounds
/u:/ sound in the pool, cool, boo
/i/sound in bead, key, me
/i:/ sound in eat, seat, beat, Leal
Vowels can be again classified into Front vowels, Central Vowels and Back Vowels.
Words with front vowel sounds
bead, beef, key, me
Bid, myth, women
Bed, dead, said
Words with central Vowel sounds
Above, oven, support
Butt, blood, tough
Words with back vowel sounds
book could put
Born, raw, caught, fall
Cot, hot, swan
In addition to single vowel sounds, in English, we have a combination of two vowel sounds. Diphthongs are sounds produced when two vowel sounds appear together. Therefore it is also called the vowel glide. When Diphthongs are produced, the vocal organs move from one position to another as in /a/ to /I/ produces /ai/in words like “bye” or “hi”.
Examples of words with Diphthong sounds are as follows
Write, bright, kite
Bough, doubt, cow
Boat, home, throw
Boy, royal, noise
Maid, paid, mate, cake
Boy, coin, boil.
Consonant sounds include both voiced and voiceless sounds. Consonants sounds are produced by employing an obstruction in the mouth or by narrowing the air passage. Consonants can be classified based on the places of articulation as labial, dental, alveolar, post-alveolar, palatal, velar, glottal, uvular, pharyngeal, and retroflex.
Example for consonants
/p/ in pig, apple, pine, pick
/b/in beat, bag, bomb, basket
/m/ in a mat, man, mango
/w/ in the warrant, war, watch, wait
/f/ in fan, fashion, fall
/v/ in van, vein, velum
‘the sound in thick, thin, think
“dha” sound in father, rhythm
/t/ in tap, top, tip
/d/ in dog, dawn, dip
/l/ in lip, love, lone
/n/ in new, news, note, no
/s/ in soap, sand, seat
/z/ in zip, zoo, zone
/r/ in receive, red, react
“sh” sound in shy, shower
/j/ in yellow, yolk
/k/ in kite, king
/g/ in garden, girl
/h/ in howl, hard, head
/t/ in tear, top
/v/ in van, voice.
Acoustic Phonetics usually involves the sound waves, frequency of sound, period, amplitude, pitch, loudness, etc
There is a difference in each speech sound. The variation can be identified from the pronunciation of a group or individual speaker. The differences occur mainly because of the proper use of the language. Phonetics is a unit of linguistics that investigates how humans deliver and sense sounds or sign languages. Linguists who specialize in researching the material properties of discourse are phoneticians. Based on the research, the field of phonetics is divided into three sub-disciplines which involve the study of how humans plan and execute movements to produce speech.
Learn more about the nuances of language with English Padikkam with Inverted Coconut. This course will help you with pronunciation and grammar and enhance your language skills. The mastery of the English language can be enriched by learning through proper channels.