Linguistics Notes 1

Consonants, Vowels, and IPA

Phonetics vs Phonology,

Phonetics studies physical and physiological aspects of sound where as Phonology studies sounds as an element of language ommiting any irrelevant to the linguistics.

IPA - International Phonetic Alphabet

IPA is an alphatic system for international phonetic notation, we use IPA because there are just simply so many different sounds we needed to invent a new alphabet to handle it. I’d like to put a picture here and try and explain it better, but really, it’s just too much. The course provides an IPA chart here which really requires an understanding of what sound is what symbol which I don’t have yet so here’s an interactive version.

Dinstinguishing consonats from vowels,

Sounds formed from a finite set with different ‘inventories’ of consonants and vowels are called features and accross the languages of the world there are inventory sizes of ± 20 to 200. Vowels don’t impede the airstream through your mouth like consonants do i.e. sticking your tounge to your teeth and in general every Syllable has a vowel but not neccesarilly a consonant. Consonants tend to be more important to a word meaning, in Semitic languages they tend to only write consonants and drop the vowels, vowels are more for say grammar and expressing finer structutre.

For example,

Cnsnnts tnd t b mr imprtnt t wrd mnng, n smtc lnggs thy tnd t nly wrt cnsnnts nd drp th vwls, vwls r mr fr sy grmmr nd xprssng fnr strcttr.

Interstingly /m/ and /t/ are thought to be the only two consonants that all (or almost all) languages have, probably due to their ease of use and for vowels most languages tend to have /a/, /i/, and /u/.

There are three dimesnions that cause consonants to differ from eachother:

1) The three places of articulation - where do we produce the sound?

2) The Manner of articulation - what do we do to the airstream?

3) Voicing - Using the voice box to produce a sound. With certain sounds the voice box will stay still and vibrate, this is voicing, un-voiced is when the voice box oves position.


Some other concepts covered are:

Phonological activity is feature change, e.g. sound A turning into sound B over time. We see this in OIr Ocus to MIr Agus.

Symmetry of consonants - “ the even distribution of phonemes throughout the articulatory possibilities of a given language” [1]

Path of acquisition - how children learn or acquire language skills, in English children often learn /p/ and /t/ early on, showing they know voiceless, plosive, labial, and coronal.

Speech error is, for example when we accidently interchange sounds or features, such as saying Blake Fruid. We tend to swap voiced with unvoiced or nasal with non-nasal features, e.g. spaghetti to skabetti, a unvoiced /p/ becomes a voiced /k/ and vice versa with /gh/ and /b/.