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Phonology as a linguistic branch of phonetics. Basic methods of phonological analysis


Literature recommended




1. Phonology as a linguistic branch of phonetics. Basic methods of phonological analysis.

2. Phonetic systems. The hierarchy of discrete and non-discrete phonologicalunits.

3. From the history of phoneme theory. Schools of phonology.

4. Phoneme and its functions.

5. Feature theory. The system of phonological oppositions.

6. The system of English phonemes. Problems of phonemic analysis of vowels and consonants.

6.1. The system of consonant phonemes. Problem of affricates.

6.2. The system of vowel phonemes. Problems of diphthongs and vowel length.

7. Modifications of consonants and vowels in speech continuum.

8. Articulation basis of English.

8.1. Articulatory classification of English consonants.

8.2. Articulatory classification of English vowels.

1. Леонтьева С.Ф. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка. – М.: Высш. школа, 1980. – с. 144-161.

2. Соколова М.А., Гинтовт К.П. и др. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка. – М.: Гуманит. Изд. Центр ВЛАДОС, 1996. – с. 39-111.

3. Соколова М.А., Гинтовт К.П. и др. Теоретическая фонетика английского языка. - М.: Высш. школа, 1991. – с. 43-49.

4. Трубецкой Н.С. Основы фонологии. – М.: Наука, 1960.

5. Hjelmslev L. Prolegomena to a theory of language. – Madison: The Un-ty of Wisconsin, 1963.

6. Jakobson R., Halle M. Fundamentals of language. – The Hague, 1956.

7. Jones D. The phoneme: its nature and use. – Cambridge: Cambridge Un-ty Press, 1967.

8. Roach P. English phonetics and phonology. – Cambridge: Cambridge Un-ty Press, 1988.

9. Vassilyev V.A. English phonetics. A theoretical course. – M.: Higher School Publishing House, 1970. – p. 134-181.

A language is a number of things together. It is a collection of meaningful elements called morphemes; the technical name for this collection is the lexicon. And a language is a collection of rules for putting morphemes together to form words and for putting words together to form sentences. The rules for forming words are the morphologyof the language, and the rules for forming sentences make up the syntax. Lexicon, morphology, and syntax are not abstractions; they are knowledge, which speakers of the language possess, a knowledge that is largely unconscious for native speakers who acquired the language in the earliest years of life.

Phonology may also be thought of a collection of phonemes and a collection of rules for putting these units together to express the meanings of morphemes, words, and sentences. Phonology is no more an abstraction than lexicon, morphology, and syntax; it is knowledge, largely unconscious, which speakers have and which enables them to communicate, to express meanings which other speakers of the language will understand.

The native speaker of the language is aware of phonemes; the trained phonetician recognizes the variation of these – that each phoneme is pronounced differently in different contexts – as allophones. Phonological analysis is the grouping of segments into phonemes. The linguist observes that in English an aspirated [t] occurs in certain positions, word-initially for one, and an unaspirated [t] occurs in other positions, as for example after /s/. The two are not in contrast; they are similar, sharing most of their articulatory features.

The linguist decides that they are allophones of a single phoneme. On the other hand, the linguist establishes that /k/ and /g/, /b/ and /m/, / Š / and / H / are separate phonemes in English. The development of phonological analysis – and the creation of such terms as phoneme, allophone, minimal pair– was the work of linguists who belong to the discipline of structural linguistics. Structural phonology – sometimes called autonomous phonology or classical phonology – followed procedures which regarded language as an object for empirical investigation, with scrupulous avoidance of mentalistic terms and careful separation of phonological investigation from considerations of a grammatical or lexical nature.

The aim of the phonological analysis is, firstly, to determine which differences of sounds are phonemic and which are non-phonemic and, secondly, to find the inventory of phonemes of the language.

Phonology has its own methods of investigation. Semantic method is applied for phonological analysis of both unknown languages and languages already described. The method is based on a phonemic rule that phonemes can distinguish words and morphemes when opposed to one another. It consists in systematic substitution of one sound for another in order to find out in which cases where the phonetic context remains the same such replacing leads to a change of meaning. This procedure is called the commutation test. It consists in finding minimal pairs of words and their grammatical forms. For example:

pen [pen] Ben [ben]

gain [g‡n] cane [k‡n]

ten [ten] den[den]

Minimal pairs are useful for establishing the phonemes of the language. Thus, a phoneme can only perform its distinctive function if it is opposed to another phoneme in the same position. Such an opposition is called phonological. Let us consider the classification of phonological oppositions worked out by N.S. Trubetskoy. It is based on the number of distinctive articulatory features underlying the opposition.

1. If the opposition is based on a single difference in the articulation of two speech sounds, it is a single phonological opposition, e.g. [p] – [t], as in [pen]-[ten]; bilabial vs. forelingual, all the other features are the same.

2. If the sounds in distinctive opposition have two differences in their articulation, the opposition is double one, or a sum of two single oppositions, e.g. [p] – [d], as in [pen] – [den], 1) bilabial vs. forelingual 2) voiceless – fortis vs. voiced – lenis.

3. If there are three articulatory differences, the opposition is triple one, or a sum of three single oppositions, e.g. [p] – [ð], as in [p‡] – [ ð‡]: 1) bilabial vs. forelingual, 2) occlusive vs. constrictive, 3) voiceless – fortis vs. voiced – lenis.

American descriptivists, whose most zealous representative is, perhaps, Zellig Harris, declare the distributional method to be the only scientific one. At the same time they declare the semantic method unscientific because they consider recourse to meaning external to linguistics. Descriptivists consider the phonemic analysis in terms of distribution. They consider it possible to discover the phonemes of a language by the rigid application of a distributional method. It means to group all the sounds pronounced by native speakers into phoneme according to the laws of phonemic and allophonic distribution:

1. Allophones of different phonemes occur in the same phonetic context. In this case their distribution is contrastive.

2. Allophones of the same phoneme(s) never occur in the same phonetic context. In this case their distribution is complementary.

There is, however, a third possibility, namely, that the sounds both occur in a language but the speakers are inconsistent in the way they use them, for example, калоши – галоши, and ['‡∫• – '‡™•]. In such cases we must take them as free variants of a single phoneme. We can explain the case on the basis of sociolinguistics. Thus, there are three types of distribution: contrastive, complementary and free variation.


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