Phonetics definition and examples history branches functions

In this article, we will elaborate the true concept of Phonetics definition and examples. phonetics is sometimes called the root or essence of the discipline, Linguistics. every student of Linguistic must realize the importance of Phonetics and build its linguistic knowledge over it.


 consists of the study of the sounds that are produced in a language, and that varies from one language to another. Phonetics is the branch of linguistics that deals with speech sounds and their production, combination, description, and representation by written symbols. Adjective: phonetic


When studying Phonetics in the English Language, we don’t work with letters, but with elements called phonemes, which can be associated with each letter. It is clear that each letter can have several phonemes, for example, apple, where the “a” is pronounced as “apel”; and April, which is pronounced “eipril”

Linguistics contributes to phonetics its phonological understanding of the distinctive patterns that make up the coded conventional aspects of speech that differentiate individual words and other units of spoken language. Phonetics contributes to linguistics its phonetic understanding of the production and perception of speech. detailed speech artifacts that embody those significant phonological patterns. Each contribution complements the other

History of phonetics in the English Language Phonetics definition and examples

The first studies of phonetics were carried out more than 2000 years ago and were carried out by those who studied Sanskrit such as the grammarian Panini who dealt with phonetic articulation to establish the unalterable pronunciation of holy books in ceremonies and rites. The first phonetician in the modern world was the Danish J. Matthias, author of the treatise De Litteris (1586). The English mathematician John Wallis, who was a teacher of deaf-mutes, was the first to classify vowels according to their point of articulation (1653). The German CF Hellwag invented the vowel triangle in 1781. Ten years later the Austrian physicist Wolfgang von Kempelen invented the machine that produced sounds. Phonetics definition and examples

The German physician Hermann Helmholtz, who wrote Sensations of Tone (1863), inaugurated the study of acoustic phonetics; the French abbot Jean Pierre Rousselot was the first investigator of experimental phonetics and wrote Principes de phonétique experimental which were published between 1897-1908. Also, in the 19th century, phonetics began to be studied from another angle and the phoneme theory was outlined by Jan Baudouin de Courtenay and formulated by the founder of the Swiss structuralist school, Ferdinand de Saussure. In the school of descriptive and articulatory phonetics works the Spanish Tomás Navarro Tomás who writes Manual of Spanish pronunciation, his disciple Samuel Gili Gaya published in 1961 the Elements of general phonetics.

In the United States, the linguist Leonard Bloomfield and the anthropologist Edward Sapir contribute decisively to phonetic theory, while the creator of the Prague Circle, Roman Jakobson, developed the theory of the universal characteristics of all phonemic systems. The Spanish School of Phonetics has two lines of work: the structuralist one represented by Emilio Alarcos with his work Spanish Phonology published in 1969 and the acoustic one represented by Antonio Quilis, collaborator of the Danish phonetician Betil Malmberg, who publishes Phonetics and Phonology from Spanish in 1963

Branches of phonetics in the English Language

The main branches of phonetics are the following:

Acoustic phonetics

It consists of the study of speech from the physical point of view, that is, through the measurement and comparison of sound waves. To do this, it uses spectrograms and other measurement tools, which allow detailing the acoustic properties of each speech phone.

Articulatory phonetics

 His approach to speech is physiological, that is, it focuses on the human speech system and the way in which the different parts of the body involved in speech cooperate to make one sound or another. This is known as the mode of articulation. Phonetics definition and examples

Perceptual phonetic Phonetics definition and examples

Also called auditory phonetics, it undertakes the study of speech from the point of view of the receiver, that is, of the listener. In this sense, he is interested in the auditory apparatus and the methods of interpreting sound waves

Experimental phonetics

It is the study of speech. Traditionally, phonetics has relied on their ears and eyes, and their knowledge of their own vocal organs, to study pronunciation. However, they have been using more and more instruments of various kinds to supplement the information they get from their own sensations. Experimental phonetics, as the term is commonly used, include an investigation of speech by means of instruments. Instruments are here understood to be used to visualize some aspect of the speech event and possibly also to provide a basis for measurements. For example, a tape recording for the purpose of repeated listening does not fall within the scope of experimental phonetics, but if the tape recording is entered into a computer and used to produce acoustic analysis, the activity would be described as research. experimental.

 Functions of phonetics in the English Language

  • The study of the speech mode of the users of a language, in order to understand the dialectal or sociolectal differences that exist in a community of speakers of a specific language.
  • The registration of the forms of speech of the users of a language, to be able to study the way in which the language changes over time, as the use is imposed on the norm.
  • The study of the mechanisms of sound production in general, to help people who have linguistic difficulties or who require for one reason or another phonetic therapy or speech therapy.

Understanding the modes of articulation of the same language by different speech communities that use it, for technologies of speech recognition and artificial intelligence

Phonetics  examples Phonetics definition and examples

Phonetic Alphabet for English Pronunciation
p pill d dill h heal ʌ but
b bill n neal l leaf aj light
m mill s seal r reef ɔj boy
f feel z zeal j you ɪ bit
v veal chill w witch ɛ bet
θ thigh Jill i beet ʊ foot
ð thy ʍ which e bait ɔ awe
ʃ shill k kill u boot a bar
ʒ azure g gill o boat ə sofa
t till ŋ ring æ bat aw cow

The following poem illustrates this fact of English humorously (note the pronunciation of the bold words):

I take it you already know of tough and bough and cough and dough?
Some may stumble, but not you, on hiccoughthoroughslough, and through?
So now you are ready, perhaps, to learn of less familiar traps?
Beware of heard, a dreadful word, that looks like beard, but sounds like bird.
And dead, it’s said like bed, not bead; for goodness’ sake, don’t call it deed!
Watch out for meat and great and threat. (They rhyme with suite and straight and debt.)
moth is not a moth in mother, nor both in botherbroth in brother.
And here is not a match for there, nor dear and fear, for bear and pear.
And then there’s dose and rose and lose – just look them up – and goose and choose
And cork and work and card and ward and font and front and word and sword
And do and go, then thwart and cart, come, come! I’ve hardly made a start.
A dreadful language? Why man alive! I’ve learned to talk it when I was five.
And yet to write it, the more I tried, I hadn’t learned it at fifty-five. P

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