THE SUBJECT MATTER OF PHONETICS
Questions to be discussed:
1. Phonetics as a branch of linguistics.
2. The links of phonetics with grammar.
3. The links of phonetics with lexicology.
4. The links of phonetics with stylistics.
5. The branches of phonetics.
Phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics like lexicology, grammar and stylistics. It studies the sound matter, its aspects and functions. Phonetics is connected with linguistic and non-linguistic sciences: acoustics, physiology, psychology, logic etc. Practical 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. It regards phonetic phenomena synchronically without any special attention paid to the historical development of the English language, but in terms of English language teaching.
Trough the system of rules of reading phonetics is connected with grammar and helps to pronounce correctly singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense forms and past participles of English regular verbs:
e.g. /d/ is pronounced after voiced consonants: beg – begged;
/t/ is pronounced after voiceless consonants: look – looked;
/ɪd/ is pronounced after /t/ and /d/: want p – wanted, intend – intended.
Some adjectives have a form with /ɪd/:
e.g. crooked [ˈkrʊkɪd], naked [ˈneɪkɪd], ragged [ˈrægɪd].
Another manifestation of connection of phonetics with grammar is sound interchange. It is one of the most important phonetic phenomena. This connection can be observed in the category of number:
– the interchange of /f-v/, /s-z/, /Ɵ-ð/ helps to differentiate singular and plural forms of nouns: calf – calves, leaf – leaves, house – houses;
– vowel interchange helps to distinguish singular and plural of such words as:
man – men, foot – feet, mouse – mice, crisis – crises;
– vowel interchange is connected with the tense forms of irregular verbs:
sing – sang – sung, write – wrote – written;
vowel interchange can also help to distinguish between:
a) nouns and verbs e.g. bath – bathe [bɑ:Ɵ] – [beɪð]
b) adjectives and nouns e.g. hot – heat [hɒt] – [hi:t]
c) verbs and adjectives e.g. moderate – moderate [ˈmɒdǝreɪt] – [ˈmɒdǝrɪt]
d) nouns and nouns e.g. shade – shadow [ʃeɪd] – [ˈʃædǝʊ]
e) nouns and adjectives e.g. type – typical [taɪp] – [ˈtɪpɪkl].
Consonants can interchange in different parts of speech, for example in nouns and verbs:
e.g. extent – to extend [t] –[d],
mouth – to mouse [Ɵ] – [ð],
relief – to relieve [f] – [v].
Phonetics is also connected with grammar through its intonation component. Sometimes it is intonation alone can serve to single out the logical predicate of the sentence:
e.g. ˈHe came home. (Not Mary or John).
He ˈcame home. (So you can see him now).
He came ˈhome. (But you said he was going to the party).
Pausation may also perform a differentiatory function. If we compare two similar sentences with different places of the pause, we will see that their meaning is different:
e.g. There was no love lost between them. (They loved each other).
There was no love ∣ lost between them. (They did not love each other).
Phonetics is also connected with lexicology. It is only due to the presence of stress in the right place that we can distinguish certain nouns from verbs:
e.g. abstract (реферат) – to abstract (добувати, здобувати),
object (предмет) – to object (заперечувати, не схвалювати),
transfer (перенос, переведення) – to transfer (переносити, переводити).
Homographs can be differentiated only due to pronunciation because they are identical in spelling:
e.g. bow [baʊ] лук– bow [bǝʊ] уклін,
row [raʊ] ряд– row [rǝʊ] шум,
tear [teǝ] розрив– tear [etɪǝ] сльоза,
wind [wɪnd] вітер– wind [waɪnd] виток.
Due to the position of word stress we can distinguish between homonymous words and word groups:
e.g. ˈblackboard (дрізд) – ˈblack ˌbird (чорний птах),
ˈblue-nose (сорт картоплі) – ˈblue ˌnose (синій ніс).
Phonetics is also connected with stylistics. First of all, trough intonation and its components: speech melody, utterance stress, rhythm, pausation, voice tamber. They serve to express emotions, to distinguish between different attitudes on the part of the author and the speaker. Very often the writer helps the reader to interpret his ideas through special words and remarks:
e.g. There was a short pause.
He said bitterly.
Betty touched him gently.
His tone was hostile.
Phonetics is also connected with stylistics trough repetition of words, phrases and sounds. Repetition of identical or similar sounds is called alliteration. It helps to impart a melodic effect to the utterance and to express certain emotions. Thus, the repetition of the sound /m/ in the lines of the ballad helps to produce the effect of merriment:
e.g. There are twelve months in all the year,
As I hear many men say,
But the merriest month in all the year
Is the merry month of May.
Onomatopoeia is one more stylistic device which can serve as an example of the connection between phonetics and stylistics. It is a combination of sounds that imitate sounds produced in nature:
e.g. chatter, clatter, babble; crash, bang; clink, ting, chink.
The study of phonetic phenomena from the stylistic point of view is termed phonostylistics. It is connected with a number of linguistic and non-linguistic disciplines, such as paralinguistics, psychology, psycholinguistics, sociolinguistics, dialectology, information theory etc.
There are three branches of phonetics each corresponding to a different stage in the communication process. Each of these branches uses quite special sets of methods.
The branch of phonetics that studies the way in which the air is et in motion, the movements of the speech organs and the coordination of these movements in the production of single sounds and trains of sounds is called articulatory phonetics.
Acoustic phonetics studies the way in which the air vibrates between the speaker’s mouth and the listener’s ear. Until recently articulatory phonetics has been the dominating branch, and most descriptive work has been done in articulatory terms for the purpose of teaching and because of special interest for research work and applied linguistics.
The branch of phonetics investigating the hearing process is known as auditory phonetics. Its interests lie more in the sensation of hearing, which is brain activity, than in the physiological working of the ear or the nervous activity between the ear and the brain. The means by which sounds are discriminated – quality, sensations of pitch, loudness, length, are relevant here. This branch of phonetics is of great interest to anyone who teaches or studies pronunciation.
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