Differences Between Phonetics and Phonology

1 January 2017

The difference between phonetics and phonology, by definition, is that phonetics is the field of language study concerned with the physical properties of sounds, and it has three subfields. Articulatory phonetics explores how the human vocal apparatus produces sounds. Acoustic phonetics studies the sound waves produced by the human vocal apparatus. Auditory phonetics examines how speech sounds are perceived by the human ear. Phonology, on the other hand, is concerned not with the physical properties of sounds, but rather with how they function in a particular language.

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Therefore, this paper discusses the main difference between phonetics and phonology. To begin with, the letter k is both aspirated and unaspirated in different languages as it has been noticed in the following example, it illustrates the difference between phonetics and phonology. In the English language, when the sound k, usually spelled c, occurs at the beginning of a word, as in the word cut, it is pronounced with aspiration, that is, a puff of breath (Durkim, 1995). However, when this sound occurs at the end of a word, as in tuck, there is no aspiration.

Phonetically, the aspirated k and unaspirated k are different sounds, but in English these different sounds never distinguish one word from another, and English speakers are usually unaware of the phonetic distinction until it is pointed out to them. Thus English makes no phonological distinction between the aspirated and unaspirated k. The Hindi language, on the other hand, uses this sound difference to distinguish words such as kal (time), which has an unaspirated k, and khal (skin), in which kh represents the aspirated k. Therefore, in Hindi the distinction between the aspirated and unaspirated k is both phonetic and phonological.

The other point is that phonetics is strictly about audible sounds and the things that happen in somebody’s mouth, throat, nasal and sinus cavities, and lungs to make those sounds. It has nothing to do with meaning. It is only a description. For example, in order to produce the word bed, you start out with your lips together. Then, air from one’s lungs is forced over the vocal chords, which begin to vibrate and make some kind of noise. The air then escapes through the lips as they part suddenly, which results in a /b/ sound.

Therefore, keeping one’s lips open, the middle of the tongue comes up so that the sides meet at the back teeth while the tip of the tongue stays down. All the while, air from the lungs rushes out, and the vocal chords vibrate. Then comes the /e/ sound. Finally, the tip of the tongue comes up to the hard palate just behind the teeth. This stops the flow of air and results in a /d/ sound as long as those vocal chords are still going. As literate, adult speakers of the English language, do not need a physical description of everything required to make those three sounds.

They simply understand what to do in order to make them. Similarly, according to Richards (1985:126), those who study phonetics simply understand that when they see /k? t/, it is a description of how most Americans pronounce the word cat. It has nothing to do with a furry house pet. In fact, if there were a word in any other language pronounced the same way, the phonetic spelling would be the same regardless of meaning. In addition, it is not about meaning. It is strictly physical. Phonology, on the other hand, is both physical and meaningful.

It explores the differences between sounds that change the meaning of an utterance. For example, the word bet is very similar to the word bed in terms of the physical manifestation of sounds. The only difference is that at the end of bet, the vocal chords stop vibrating so that sound is a result only of the placement of the tongue behind the teeth and the flow of air. However, the meanings of the two words are not related in the least. What a vast difference a muscle makes! This is the biggest distinction between phonetics and phonology, although phonologists analyse a lot more than just the obvious differences.

They also examine variations on single letter pronunciations, words in which multiple variations can exist versus those in which variations are considered incorrect, and the phonological grammar of languages. Phonology should be carefully distinguished from phonetics. As already alluded, phonetics concerns with the physical production, acoustic transmission and perception of the sounds of speech, phonology describes the way sounds function within a given language or across languages to encode meaning. In other words, phonetics is a type of descriptive linguistics whereas phonology is a type of theoretical linguistics.

It should be noted, however, that this distinction was not always made in linguistics, particularly before the development of the modern concept of phoneme in the mid 20th century. Some subfields of modern phonology have a crossover with phonetics in the interface with descriptive disciplines such as psycholinguistics and speech perception, resulting in specific areas like Articulatory phonology or laboratory phonology. In conclusion, phonetics deals with the production of speech sounds by humans, often without prior knowledge of the language being spoken.

Phonology is about patterns of sounds, especially different patterns of sounds in different languages, or within each language, different patterns of sounds in different positions in words, just to mention a few. Phonetics is strictly physical while phonology also pays attention to the function or meaning of a sound. Phonetics makes a pretty general description of sounds and can be used to describe sounds in any language. On the contrary, phonology makes very detailed descriptions of sounds, so each language has its own unique set of symbols that is why two languages cannot use all of the exact same sounds.

It should be noted, however, that these two terms are sometimes used interchangeably. It does seem that they reflect alternative ways in which relationships between phonetics and phonology have been considered in the past. Ideally, phonetics and phonology can complement each other on different levels of analysis, but the demarcation lines between them are often somewhat arbitrary. Therefore, one should be very careful when it comes to their distinctions. REFERENCES Durkim, D. B. (Ed. ) (1995). Language Issues: Readings for Teachers. Los Angeles: Longman Publishers. Firth. J. R. 1937). The Tongues of Men. Microsoft® Student 2009 [DVD]. Redmond, WA: Microsoft Corporation, 2008. Fromkin, V. & Rodman, R. (1983). An Introduction to Language. (3rd Ed. ). Chicago: Holt, Rinehart & Winston. Richards, J. C. (1985). Approaches & Methods in Language Teaching: A Description and Analysis. United States: Heinle & Heinle ————————————————- UNIVERSITY OF LIVINGSTONIA ————————————————- LAWS CAMPUS-FACULTY OF EDUCATION ————————————————-

DEPARTMENT OF LANGUAGES & LITERATURE STUDIES FROM: PENJANI M. K. GONDWE-BED/008/10 {STUDENT} TO: MR. R. SICHALI {LECTURER} SUBJECT: ENGLISH COURSE TITLE: INTRODUCTION TO THE AFRICAN NOVEL COURSE CODE: EENG 1201 YEAR OF STUDY: TWO SEMESTER: FOUR TASK: DISCUSS THE THEME OF COLONISATION IN ACHEBE’S THINGS FALL APART SUBMISSION DATE: 29TH MARCH, 2012 The Theme of Colonialism In Things Fall Apart-Chinua Achebe Things Fall Apart is a novel displaying the effects colonialism plays on a region. It was published and released at the time when Nigeria was acquiring their independence.

It serves as a reminder to the people of Nigeria of their heritage and of what once was. It is an accurate display of how society deals with change; the affect change has on individuals and the harm a resistance to inevitable change plays on a village. If only the falcon could have heard the falconer, maybe things would not have fallen apart. The story in the novel takes place in the Nigerian village of Umuofia in the late 1880s, before missionaries and other outsiders have arrived. The Ibo clan practices common tribal traditions: worship of gods, sacrifice, communal living, war, and magic.

Leadership is based on a man’s personal worth and his contribution to the good of the tribe. Okonkwo stands out as a great leader of the Ibo tribe. Tribesmen respect Okonkwo for his many achievements. Therefore, this paper attempts to discuss the theme of colonialism in Achebe’s Things Fall Apart. To begin with, it is not until part two that the reader is introduced to the European missionaries. The author concentrates the attention on the conflict between the people of Umuofia, Okonkwo’s village, and the Christian missionaries. The people of Mbanta do not fear the religion of the white men because it has yet to interfere with their lives.

What they don’t realize is that the idea of colonization is to quietly gain a foothold in the country and then move in and take over when the country has been destabilized enough to be ruled by outside forces. With religion acting as the foothold, it makes it easier for a foreign government to take over because most religions advocate peace and control a great part of people’s lives. The presence of this new and foreign religion begins to grow and eventually it makes it difficult for the tribe to maintain order in its own community.

What started out as something small and separated from the village and its rule has grown into a source of conflict. Christian disregard for the customs and religion of the tribe creates an atmosphere of lawlessness within the village. By ostracizing the Christians, the rulers of Mbanta are trying to regain some of their power to lead their people and protect their way of life. The missionaries succeed in taking over Umuofia and transforming the once Ibo tribe in a Christian one. As a result, Okonkwo is so distraught with the result of his village he ends up committing suicide.

Tribesmen of Umuofia, were mistrustful of European Christians, and took advantage of the education the missionaries provided without converting. Individuals who had no power under the current tribal order, however, soon converted, in the novel, the missionaries who come to Umuofia convert only the weaker tribesmen, or efulefu. Missionaries would convince these tribesmen that their tribe worshipped false gods and that its false gods did not have the ability to punish them if they chose to join the mission. When the mission and its converts accepted even the outcasts of the clan, the missionaries’ ranks grew.

Eventually, some of the more important tribesmen would convert. As the mission expanded, the clan divided, discontent simmered, and conflicts arose. Furthermore, Obierika and Okonkwo take note of how the white man came to their land peacefully and quietly at first but are now taking over by imposing their government and their rules onto Ibo society. The missionaries came and created division within the most basic element of Ibo society, their religion. From that point of separation, introducing a government to rule the divided people was easy because they could not stand together to protect their way of life.

The whites established their own type of government. When conflicts came up between villages the white government would intervene instead of allowing villagers to settle them themselves. In the novel, a white District Commissioner brings with him court messengers whose duty is to bring in people who break the white man’s law. The messengers, called ‘Ashy-Buttocks’ for the ash-coloured shorts they wear, are hated for their high-handed attitudes. These messengers and interpreters were often African Christian converts who looked down on tribesmen who still followed traditional customs.

If violence involved any white missionaries or bureaucrats, British soldiers would often slaughter whole villages instead of seeking and punishing guilty individuals. A good example is shown in chapter 8, when The District Commissioner tricked the tribal leaders of Okonkwo’s village (Okonkwo among them) to come to his headquarters and then he imprisoned them for burning the Christian church. He demands that a fine (ransom) of two hundred cowries be paid for their return, and then he entrusts their care to his corrupt court messengers.

The messengers not only beat the men and starve them, but also raise the price of the ransom so that they can receive a cut of the money for themselves. The British passed an ordinance in 1912 that legalized this practice, and during an uprising in 1915, British troops killed more than forty natives in retaliation for one dead and one wounded British soldier. The other point showing colonialism act in the novel is the division of Africa into at least fifty nation-states. Already the introduction of a foreign element, in this case, religion, begins to tear the structural fabric of the Ibo society.

This new religion introduces the separation of Okonkwo and his son in a society that is based on the strength of the family unit. Rather than being a part of a society determined by common language and livelihood, Africans lived according to political boundaries. The divisions often split ethnic groups, leading to tension and sometimes violence. The cohesiveness of the traditional society was gone. The whites did so because they were afraid that once tribes are united, would have been very difficult to maintain peace and bring about order in times of revolts.

The immediate subject of Chinua Achebe’s novels is the tragic consequence of the European encounter with African civilization. His novels deal with the social and psychological conflicts created by the invasion of the white man and his culture into the hitherto self contained world of African society, and the disarray of the African consciousness that has followed. In conclusion, the theme is the colonization of Africa by the British and the negative and violent changes this brought about in the lives of the African tribes.

Along with colonization was the arrival of the missionaries whose main aim was to spread the message of Christianity and to convert people to their religion. These missionaries eventually establish a strong foothold in the tribe which then allows a government as well as law court for administering justice to become part of the indoctrination of native peoples to Western ways. Colonization finally drives Okonkwo to take his own life because the oppression is too great for his divided tribe to overcome.

Okonkwo justifies himself to take a living under the rule of foreign men who don’t speak his language or know his customs. So, rather than bear the yoke of colonization, he hangs himself. Achebe does not gloss over the cruelty and superstition that prevails in the tribe, and even shows that it was this element that opened the way for the disintegration of the tribe and their ‘falling apart. ’ This theme is best shown in the rise and fall of Okonkwo, who represents the best and worst of his culture. Thus, Okonkwo himself becomes a symbol of the disintegration.

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