Bottom Content goes here.
Wikipedia content requires these links.....
Wikipedia content is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License.
Phonology is a subfield of grammar (see also linguistics). Whereas phonetics
is about the nature of sounds (or phones) per se, phonology describes the
way sounds function within a given language. For example, /p/ and /b/ in
English: due to minimal pairs such as "pin" and "bin", it is clear that /p/
and /b/ are distinctive units of sound in English, i.e. phonemes.
Note that the principles of phonological theory have also been applied to
the analysis of signed languages, with gestures and their relationships as
the object of study.
Fields and subfields within
o lexical semantics
Phonemes and spelling
In some languages the phonemes are directly linked to spelling, i.e. a
phoneme is represented by a graphical symbol or a combination of them, a
letter or a letter combination. However in English different phonemes can be
spelled the same way ("good" and "food" have different vowel sounds), so one
should use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) to denote phonemes. To
indicate that one means names instead of phones the phoneme or sequence of
phonemes is enclosed with '/'s (without the quotes or pluralization.
Doing a phoneme inventory
Much of the phonological study of a language involves looking at data
(phonetic transcriptions of the speech of native speakers) and trying to
deduce what the underlying phonemes are and what the sound inventory of the
Even though a language may make distinctions between a small number of
phonemes, speakers actually produce many more phonetic sounds. Thus, the
definition of a phoneme in a particular language is a set of phonetic sounds
that all associated with the same phonemic sound in the brain.
Looking for minimal pairs forms part of the research to study the phoneme
inventory of a language. However with this method it is often not possible
to detect all phonemes so other approaches are used as well. A minimal pair
is a pair of words, both from the same language, that differ by only a
single phoneme, and that are recognized by speakers as being two different words.
When there is a minimal pair, then those two sounds constitute separate
phonemes, otherwise they are called allophones of the same underlying
phoneme. For instance, voiceless stops (p,t,k) can be aspirated. In English,
word initial voiceless stops are aspirated, whereas non word-initial
voiceless stops aren't aspirated (This can be seen by putting your fingers
right in front of your lips and notice the difference in breathiness as you
say 'pin' and 'spin'). There is no English word 'pin' that starts with an
unaspirated p, therefore in English, aspirated [ph] (the h means aspirated)
and unaspirated [p] are allophones of an underlying phoneme /p/. This is not
true of all languages however - both Cantonese and Thai make the distinction
between [p] and [ph], so in those languages, /p/ and /ph/ are separate phonemes.
Another example... in English, the glides, /l/ and /r/ are two separate
phonemes (minimal pair 'lead', 'read'); however, in many Asian languages the
two glides are allophones, and the general rule is that [r] comes before a
vowel, and [l] doesn't (e.g. Seoul, Korea). A native speaker of Korean will
tell you that the [l] in Seoul and the [r] in Korea are in fact the same
letter. What happens is that a native Korean speaker's brain uses the
underlying phoneme /l/, and depending on the phonetic context (before a
vowel or not) this phoneme gets expressed as either the [r] sound or the [l]
sound. Another Korean speaker will hear both sounds as the underlying
phoneme and think of them as the same sound. This is how different languages
can have varying numbers of sounds in their inventory, even though there are
a constant number of distinct phonetic sounds that humans can make.
Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle presented in The sound pattern of English a
view of phonology where a phonological representation (surface form) is a
sequence of units which have characteristic features. The features are from
a universally fixed set and have the values + or -. The phonological
representation reflects the underlying representation which is a
concatenation of morphemes. Phonological rules govern how the underlying
representation is transformed to the surface representation.
Change of a phoneme inventory over time
The particular sounds that a language decides to make distinctions between
can change over time as new children learn the language. At one point, [f]
and [v] were allophones in English, and these changed later into separate
phonemes. This is one of the main factors of historical change of languages
as described in historical linguistics (another being fast change resulting
from influence by another language, e.g. French influence on English after 1066).
Other languages features studied in phonology
Stress and tone are also part of phonology. In some languages, stress is
non-phonological, e.g. in Finnish or in Germanic languages (to check. In
contrast, most modern-day Germanic languages such as German or English,
stress is indeed phonologically distinctive, although there are only few
minimal pairs, e.g. /'august/ 'August (the name)' versus /au'gust/ 'August
(the month)' in German, or /con'verse/ 'converse (to hold a conversation)'
and /'converse/ 'converse (the opposite of something)' in English.
Development of the field
In 1976 John Goldsmith introduced autosegmental phonology. The phonological
phenomena are no longer seen as one linear sequence of segments called
phonemes ore feature combinations but rather as some parallel sequences of
features which reside on multiple tiers.
John McCarthy, Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky developed Optimality Theory,
where languages choose a pronunciation of a word that best satisfies a list
of constraints which is ordered by importance: it is better to not satisfy a
less important constraint than a more important one. This is where most
current research in phonology is done.