Phonetics & Phonology (by Anntina Fyvonnequehz)

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Title:Phonetics & Phonology
(By Anntina Fyvonnequehz-Open University Malaysia)


1.0 Introduction3
2.0 Vowel sounds3-4
3.0 Sound - equals difficulties4-5
4.0 Language Teaching6
5.1 Phonemic awareness7
5.2 Phonology Awareness8
5.0 Conclusion9


Phonetics and phonology are the two fields dedicated to the study of human speech sounds and human speech structures. While phonetics deals with the physical production of these sounds, phonology deals with the study of sound patterns and their meanings both within and across languages. Many linguists have thought of phonology and phonetics as separate, largely autonomous, disciplines with distinct goals and distinct methodologies (Ohala 1991) Some even doubt whether phonetics is part of linguistics at all (Ohala, Sommerstein 1997) In certain aspect phonetics and phonology deal with many of the same things since they both have to do with speech sounds of human language.( Devenport & Hannahs 1998) So for this paper I will try my best to show that phonetics is one of crucial areas of study for phonology. Without phonetics, I would maintain, (and allied empirical disciplines such as psycholinguistics and sociolinguistics) phonology runs the risk of being a sterile, purely descriptive and taxonomic, discipline; with phonetics it can achieve a high level of explanation and prediction (Ohala 1991) in vowel sounds, different sounds, and intonation and language teaching.

2.0Vowel sounds

Most speakers of English do not know the number of vowel sounds the language has. If we ask them, for sure the answer is five vowel sounds that is a e i o u which in actual fact representing the spelling of the vowel of English. Most kind of English have between 16 and 20 different vowel sounds but most English speakers are unaware of despite constantly using them (Devenport & Hannahs. 1998). The vowels of English vary with the regional origins of the speaker and also the sociolinguistic factors such as class and age. These make it difficult to describe the ‘vowel of the English’ as many English speakers do not have the same ones. Imagine a young learner confusion when he learns to pronounce the word ‘book’ with a longer, higher vowel [u:] from a Northern England speaker; [bu:k] and heard the same word spoken by a younger Southern English speaker with a high –mid back unround vowel[ɤ]and also a number of North American varieties too where most best seller movies are produced. As most of these movies were watched by our young learner, they will get confuse with the many varieties of sound of the vowel sound.

Similarly different types of English may well have different numbers of vowels in their inventories: RP is usually considered to have 19 or 21 distinct vowels sounds, but many varieties of Scottish English have only 10 – 14 ((Devenport & Hannahs)Scottish English usually does not distinguish between ‘pool’ and ‘pull’, both having [u] So with phonetics transcription, the learner can clear his confusion that there are varieties of vowels sounds spoken by different English speakers and are able to refer to the RP (Received Pronunciation) for accepted sound of the words.

3.0Sound: Equal Difficulties
As we all know, English is a mixture of consistency and inconsistency. So the consistency of the English warrant that phonetics is worth studying to further enhance the phonology of the language. Many of the irregularities and inconsistencies of English orthography offer the same degree of difficulty to all speakers of English, no matter what accent they speak it with. For example, the reader faced with the written words river and diver gets no clue from the spelling to know that one is pronounced with short /ɪ/, the other with long /aɪ/. We are all equally helped to some extent by the fact that we have a word /ˈrɪvə/ in our vocabulary and no */ˈraɪvə/, and a /ˈdaɪvə/ but no...
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