Phonetics: the Study of the Human Sound System

Phonetics: the Study of the Human Sound System

Linguistics – focus on various forms language can take and various ways in which language is used

Universal properties: Discreteness, Duality, Modularity, Constituency, Productivity, Variability, Arbitrariness

Phonetics: the study of the human sound system:

- Articulatory phonetics (process of articulation: production of one sound is different from the production of another sound)

- Acoustic phonetics (physical properties)

- Auditory phonetics (how sounds are perceived).

Phonology is the study of abstract categories that organize the sound system of a language, the sound inventeory of a language, function and mental organization of the sound inventory.

There is no one-to-one correspondence of sound and letter (one sound-many spellings or one spelling-many sounds). GHOTI = FISH (enouGH+wOmen+naTIon)

International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) – conventionalized way of writing sounds, based roughly on Latin spelling system, modeled on European sounds

Articulators: active (the one’s that you can move- tongue, lips) and passive (can’t change – upper teeth)

Place of articulation: bilabial (cu buzele) b; alveolar (limba pe cerul gurii) d

Describing sounds: place of articulation, manner of articulation, voicing

Sound differing in one crucial aspect: a) b bark d dark (place); b) b and w win (manner); z zoo and s Sue; b and p pin (voicing)

Places of articulation:

- Bilabial: p b m

- Alveolar: t d n l s z

- Labio dental: between only lower lips and upper teeth v f

- Dental: between the teeth th

- Palatal: point between alveolar ridge and hard palate (sshh si jjj sau tschh tjjj)

- Velar: between soft palate and back of tongue (g k)

- Glottal: articulators only vocal fold,

Manner of articulation: b plosives; w approximant

- Plosives (closure than release) p b k g t d

- Fricatives (continuous airflow, but not unobstructed) f v th s z schh jjj hhh

- Affricates (combination of plosive and fricative) tschh djjj

- Aproximants no complete closure w j

- Nasals m n


- Height of tongue (high mid low)

- Position in mouth (front i central back u )

- Position of lips: rounded, unrounded

- Length: long short

Phonemes are defined as the smallest meaning-distinguishing units in a language. Banc sinking vs singing.

Onomatopoeia: hamham wauwau

Ferdinand de Saussure: founding father, code de linguistic genese, 4 important concepts:

1) Synchronic vs. diachronic (snapshot of thin time vs. throughout the history)

2) Syntagmatic vs. paradigmatic (syntax vs. Itmes that can replace eachother)

3) Langue vs. parole

4) Signifier vs. signified (signified: poza cu un scaun. Poza cu un copac. Signifier c-h-a-i-r, t-r-e-e)

Sociolinguistics – is the field that studies the relation between language and society, between the uses of language and the social structures in which the users of language live. (study of blue-print of language, purpose of language- communicate). Language creates relationships (depinde cum te adresezi)

Language may vary in correlation with: SPEAKING:

- Settings (physical, mental)

- Participants (speaker, addressee)

- Ends (purpose of the interaction, why?)

- Act sequences (activities carried out)

- Keys (mood, emotional feel)

- Instrumentailities (mode, medium)

- Genres (type of interaction)

- Variation according to region = regiolect

- Variation according to ethnicity = ethnolect

- Variation according to social backround = sociolect

- Variation according to sub-culture = jargon

- Paricular way of speaking selected for and adatapted to a particular communicative purpose = style

- The collective of an individual’s ways of speaking = idiolect.

Accent refers to the pronunciation aspects of a linguistic variety. Dialect or language? Mutual intelligibility and linguistic distance!

Gramaticality can be either Prescriptive (telling people how they should talk) or Descriptive (linguistics do this) trying to find out HOW people talk. Deciding whether ungrammatical or just how people talk!

Standard – minimum vs. arbitrary. A standard language is a socially favored variety of language. Language as a symbolic capital in a social marketplace. How does a language variety become standard? Well, there are Socio-political aspects (selection, acceptance) and linguistic aspects (elaboration, codification)

 Basic concepts of linguistic variation: variety, accent, language, dialect, standard.

 Variation between groups of speakers = dialects

 Variation within one speaker = style, style shifting

8 major 'focal areas' of regional diversity in England ((Garrett et al. 2009, Trudgill 1999):

• London and The ‘Home Counties’

• The Southwest

• Birmingham/ The Midlands

• Liverpool

• Manchester

• Leeds/ Yorkshire/ ‘northern’

• The north-east

• Eastern England

Scottigh gaelic – lots of hhh chhh – NU INTELEG NIMIC many fricatives!

City of London – cockney – dialect spoken by lower classes (Example Eliza in My Fair Lady): lots of vowel shifting going on, dropping of the ,,h”

History of English (Change is inevitable)

Language change is gradual, almost imperceptible, usually the result of 2 or more forms rivaling and one giving way for the other, historical continuum, universal fact, constantly going on.

Temporal levels- synchronic – study of the state of a language at a given time and diachronic – study of the development of language over time

Data for living language(introspection, elicitation, observation)data for historical linguistcs more restricted.

Genealogy metaphor – mother daughter sister language – because of geo distance and isolation, social factors and political development, contact with other languages.

Models of linguistic Differentiation (family tree or Wave).

Cognates: similarity NOT due to borrowing but to genetic relatedness; frequent in basic vocab (one, un, unu, two do deux, three tri trios )

Methodological principles: Phonetic plausibility and Majority Principle(PATER PITAR FADAR )

Grimm’s Law – an unconditioned sound change affecting all the stop consonants of Germanic, a chain reaction.

Verner’s Law- a subsequent change to the voiced fricative

Written evidence: Data: no spoken evidence before late 19th, written evidence since ca 700 A.D.

Archaeology: extra linguistic history

Metalinguistic evidence = direct description of contemporary speakers – rare Sanskrit

 EVIDENCE: written texts, comparative reconstruction, internal reconstruction, metalinguistic material, extra linguistic evidence


- OLD ENGLISH ca. 450-1100

- MIDDLE ENGLISH ca. 1100-1500

- MODERN ENGLISH (MdE) : Early Modern English EMdE 1500-1650; Late Modern English LMdE 1650-1800; Present Day English PDE ca 1800-

4th century: collapse of Roman empire on the continent => tropps withdrawn from England: raids => severe destructions => pact with Germanic tribes => turned on their British hosts => some British moved into Wales, Cornwall and Brittany; some were killed; large number stayed and was assimilated

Anglo Saxons: traditionally Angles, Saxons, Jutes = culturally and linguistically related German tribes of IndoEuropean origin from the great north german plain; settled in different parts of England; useful alliances/small kingdoms. Anglo Saxon “Heptarchy” – Northumbria, Mercia, East Anglia, Essex, Wessex, Sussex, Kent.

End of 9th century : arrival of the Vikings: series of raids which led to destruction of centers of Christianity, violences. Victory over Danish king – Treaty of Wedmore in 886.

OE Language:

- spelling based on Latin Alphabet (Christianization). Special characters were introduced for sounds Latin did not have.

- Morphological typology OE synthetic system: makes use of morphs that carry more than one unit of lexical or grammatical information BUT on its way to become an analytic system. Some influences disappearing, others falling together in form other features: less fixed word order, high degree of compounding.


- After Norman Conquest – first years there was opposition but then influences such as education French and Latin. ;ater on tension England and France (hundred years war). Tension: English is preferred and then gradually reestablished. Education and literature in English now! Geoffrey Chaucer – Author and translater: The Canterbury Tales, Troilus and Criseyde…


- Separation of the English church from Rome (1532). Translation of the Bible into Engolish. 17th century guidelines for English usage, dictionaries, grammars. All of a sudden people start worrying what is good English – fixation on spelling.

- The Great Vowel Shift: long vowels in the southern ME dialects – moving upwards in quality and diphtongization=> long and short vowels. Biit devine bait sau meet devine miit.

- Shakespeare- Hamlet ,,thou” – informal

- Pronunciation between New Yorkers – pattern of R- articulation but it’s aleatory which one they pronounce

- Labov Experiment department store.. he asked where sth was excepting the answer 4th floor as to see how people pronounce. Tendency to hypercorrect : target ,,r is good”

- 2nd famous study –Labov found there was a distinction between islanders and main landers – people use language eto show their affiliation. EX: Smith Island, Maryland : team instead of time, sth. Peculiar with the ,,au” sound, dropping of the ,,n”. => glide –fronting of the AU in Smith Island dialect. Different for male and female. They started merginf.

- 2 strands of movement (seem parallel)

- Main dialect Areas: Canada, Norther New England, The North, Greater New York City, The Midland, The South, North Central, The West

Kachru 3 circle model of World English:

- Inner Circle with English as a Native Language: USA UK Canada Australia New Zeeland

- Outer Circle with English as a Second Language: Bangladesh, Ghana, India, Kenya, Malayasia, Nigeria, Pakistan, Philippines, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Zambia

- The Expanding Circle – English as a Foreign Language: China, Egypt, Indonesia, Israel, Japan, Korea, Nepal, Saudi Arabia, Taiwan , USSR, Zimbabwe.

- English is a tool, it has been adapted to the needs (remember teacher example with Cola in Gr)

- Yule: bilingual – a term used to describe a ntive speaker of 2 language or a country with 2 offical languages, in contrast to monolingual

- Bidialectal – being capable of speaking 2 dialecs

- Code switching = diff. between 2 linguistic systems german – Turkish

- Style shifting = people use it according to the context they are in or want to create

- People try to adapt to eachother: Convergence – you are trying to get closer to each other’ Divergence: Speakers adapt to each other by getting further away.

- Diglossia = a relatively stable language situation in which 2 clearly separate varieties are used for clearly diff. functions (like Switzerland: 2 linguistic systems writing standard german.) Russia upper class talking French.

- Language contact situations: simplified contact language where people need to communicate but don’t’ share a language (like pidgeon creole – usually for trade purpose) or Typical situation where people speak diff languages and choose English as the lingua franca. (ELF)

- Language as a “symbolic capital” in a “social marketpleace” meaning some languages have more currency.

- Accents: the neutral ones sounds more competend. (Southern female score is better)

- Language – Attitude: a psychological tendency that is expressed by evaluating a particular entity with some degree of favor or disfavor. The disposition to react favorably or unfavorably to class of objects.

- The McGurk Effect: perception coloured by our b eliefs

Speech Act Theory

Theory developed by John Austin that deals with how humans use language to perform different actions.

Pragmatics = the study of meaning in context/interaction.

- Through making a statement you induce acts.

- Locutionary act = what we say (Ex: it’s cold in here)

- Illocutionary Force = what we mean (it’s not warm, close window, let’s leave)

- Perlocutionary Effect (what effect, what happens) = closes window, turns up the heat

John Searle’s classification of speech acts:

- Representatives: express some form of statement you believe is true (assert, claim)

- Directives: get the hearer to do sth. (to ask, order, permit)

- Comissives: commit speaker to a future action (to promise, swear)

- Expressives: express the speaker’s feelings ab. Sth

- Declaratives: bring about a change of status of an object by saying sth (to fire, baptize)

- Preparatory/felicity conditions = the context associated with the action – if no perlocutionary effect takes place than it is not a felicity condition

- Misinterpretations: ex: art gallery leaving the bag. They are negotiating illocutionary force. Speech act: directive (not so much an offer, more a command)

- People are trying to align their intentions and facts. IT’s possible to achieve an overlap that seems to work but not 100% (like me and Rosca)

Grice’s Cooperative Principle:

- Maxim of Quantity: Make your contribution as informative as required

- Maxim of Quality: don’t say what you believe to be false

- Maxim of Relation: be relevant

- Maxim of Manner be clear, brief

 Maxim of Relevance

Implicature = an additional meaning conveyed by a speaker under the assumption of the cooperative principle (assuming what the other person says will have relevance to what is being said)

We are not decoding but INFERENCING. Contextualization relating to the context. Contextualization cue – sending out cues, exemplu ma’sa profei la magazine.

Conversational Styles (Deborah Tannen) :

- High involvement style (quick turns, overlaps)

- High considerateness style (one at a time)

- Complementary schismogenesis = more persistent form involvement and more pauses from considerateness

Levels of discourse organization (Schiffrin 1987): exchange structure, act structure, idea structure, participation framework, information state

Participation framework (Goffman 1981): speaker roles: principal – author (speech writer) – animator (like the Queen)- figure


Language and the mind:

- Psycholinguistics (psychology – ability to communicate)

- Neurolinguistics (biology of the brain)

- Cognitive linguistics (modeling the architecture of language)

Brain vs. Mind

Empirical methods in research on language and the mind:

- Observations in natural settings (Language behavior& development, Malfunctions) ex: Acquisition with small chidren

- Experiments (Lexical decision tasks, Association tests, Brain scans)

- Speech disorders (brain damage) – Aphasia


- Tip-of-the-tongue phenomenon: missing word sextant – saying instead sectant, sectet sexton (obviously there is a phonological storage taking place)

- Slips of the tongue:

a) Assemblage errors (Spoonerisms – Spooner famous for producing these) You have tasted the whole worm – You have wasted the whole term.

b) Selection errors (the word exists but you pick the wrong one) turn left- right at the corner

Single word errors (Malaproprims, Freudian slips assumes it says sth. About the human psyche). I don’t expose (expect/suppose) anyone will eat that.


- Slips of the ear (interpretation is different): understood: Gladly the cross-eyed bear. Said: gladly the cross I’d bear.

- Association Text Experiment: colours; Another Experiment – to judge whether word exists or not

Language disorders:

- Aphasia – an impairment of language function due to localized brain damage that leads to difficulty in understanding or producing language (Yule)

- Broca’s aphasia – difficulty making sense of the sentences if they do not correspond to reality. Sentences are interpreted on the basis of world knowledge alone.

Brain imaging methods: CT scans, PET, MRI, fMRI

- Research and Publication Bias when comparing women – man

Sign language:

- Also has a grammar, left hemisphere plays a major role in processing (such as for normal language). A person whose right side is paralyzed is more likely to suffer from brain damage.

- Is 3D: movement, gesture, placement, location. Has variation (different in every culture etc.)

- Arbitrariness (it is not pantomime!)

- Deaf culture – community – extinguishing a minority culture