FUNDAMENTAL CONCEPTS OF PHONOLOGY
If someone wants to have a grasp on Phonology, he must have to understand the fundamental concepts of phonology otherwise it will be fruitless activity.
- Basic concepts
- a) Phonetics
The phonetic is the study of physical sounds human speech It is the branch of linguistics that studies the production and perception of sounds of a specific language , with respect to its physical manifestations . Their main branches are experimental phonetics, articulatory phonetics, phonetics and phonetics acoustics.
- b) Phonology
The phonology is a subfield of linguistics. While phonetics studies the acoustic and physiological nature of sounds or allophones, phonology describes the way in that sounds work (in a language or in general language) on an abstract level or mental.
- c) Phoneme
Phoneme is the smallest unit of language. We can define it as each of sounds that within a language have distinctive value; that is, it has the capacity to distinguish between two words one
Actually, phonemes are not true sounds. Sounds are material realities (who studies phonetics). The phonemes are ABSTRACTIONS, that is they are the image Mental ideal that every speaker has of the fundamental sounds of their language. They are called minimum to those words that mean different things but only differ from each other in a sound. For example, “house” and “rate”.
- d) Allophone
In phonetics, each of the phones or sounds that in a given language are called allophone recognize as variants of a certain phoneme, without variations between them have distinctive value. Each allophone corresponds to a certain acoustic form (it they pronounce slightly differently), but in the rules of the language they are considered as having the same value. Normally, these variations of the same phoneme are produced by the action of surrounding sounds. A typical example of allophone in Spanish is the one that exists among the two pronunciations of / d / in the word “given.” If you look to pronounce naturally this word, the second “d” sounds a little softer, the air does not blow out, but little too little (frication is its technical name). In this way, we distinguish an occlusive allophone [d] of the fricative allophone [δ], but both are the same phoneme / d /.
Another clear case of allophone is the different embodiments of / n / in the following cases:
– The / n / of ” cream” is pronounced with the tongue in the alveoli.
– The / n / ” before” is pronounced with the tongue at the base of the teeth.
– The / n / ” dance” is pronounced with the tongue between the teeth.
– The / n / ” wide” is pronounced with the tongue on the palate.
– The / n / of ” anca” is pronounced with the tongue in the veil of the palate.
- e) Distinctive (or relevant) features
We have said that phonemes are the minimum units of the language, and this is true in the sense that they cannot break down into smaller units that are recognizable by ear. But, with electroacoustic techniques, as the spectrogram, you can check that in the production of each sound involved different factors and it Produces in different phases. Each of those factors and phases provide their own characteristics that allow us to differentiate a phoneme of another.
Distinctive feature is, therefore, each of the characteristics minimums that allow us to differentiate one phoneme from another. Every Phoneme is defined by a beam of distinctive features, for example:
– / p /: consonant, occlusive, bilabial, deaf
– / b /: consonant, occlusive, bilabial, sonic
Later, we will study the different distinctive features that
They intervene in the production of Spanish phonemes.
- f) Suprasegmental elements
The linguistic message, as we said when defining the linguistic sign, is linear. That is, their elements (phonemes) are produced one by one, as links in a chain. However, there are certain elements that overlap the linear segments (phonemes, words, sentences …) and that contribute to the correct interpretation of message. We call, then, suprasegmental elements to those sound characteristics that are superimpose the linear segments of the sounds and contribute to the correct expression and interpretation of the message The list of suprasegmental elements could be very wide, but we will focus on the three fundamentals, because they have the greatest influence on meaning: accent , pauses and intonation