Thursday, May 20, 2021

What is Phonology?

Phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and systematic patterning of sounds in human language.

The term phonology is used in two ways. On the one hand, it refers to a description of the sounds of a particular language and the rules governing the distribution of those sounds.

Thus we can talk about the phonology of English, German, or any other language.

On the other hand, it refers to that part of the general theory of human language that is concerned with the universal properties of natural sound systems (i.e., properties reflected in many, if not all, human languages).

Phonology is not specifically concerned with aspects of speech production or perception which are purely the result of the physical properties of the system.

For instance it is often said that the articulation of the ‘k’ sounds in the words car and key differ from each other slightly.

In the ‘k’ of the key the tongue is brought slightly towards the front of the mouth in comparison with the ‘k’ of car.

The reason for this, of course is that the ‘ey’ vowel of key drags the tongue forward slightly, because that vowel is produced with the tongue slightly further forward in the mouth that the ‘a’ vowel of car.

This kind of phenomenon is of great interest to those speech scientist who study the precise way in which human speech sounds are produced and their influence on each other during speaking.
What is Phonology?

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