Phonetics can be defined, briefly, as the study
of the sounds of human language, or of individual human languages.
This discipline has flourished in the second half of the 20th
century, especially as a result of the many new analysis tools
that have become available with recent computer techniques.
Phonetics is intimately linked with phonology, of which it can be considered to be a branch (by one definition of 'phonology').
Phonetics, or phonetic science(s), can be subdivided into a number
of branches; here are some of them:
- articulatory phonetics - how individual speech sounds are produced in the human vocal apparatus
- acoustics - the physical aspects of the sounds of language, for instance a description of the sound frequencies making up different vowel qualities
- segmental phonetics - the characteristics of the speech sounds
- prosody - the "musical"
aspects of language(s), e.g. intonation, rhythm, stress
- auditory and perceptual aspects of phonetics
- clinical phonetics - descriptions of individual deviations from the 'normal' sound production of a linguistic society, due to physical or mental disturbances, and methods for diagnosing and correcting these
- forensic phonetics - the use of phonetic methods in connection with criminal investigations
- practical phonetics; teaching of phonetics
- phonetic transcription - the use of a system of graphical symbols representing the sounds of a language (which may or may not be identical in shape to the letters of some 'ordinary' alphabet), as a tool for describing the pronunciation of words (etc.) in a language - for example as a practical aid in teaching the language to foreign learners. For a graphemic system to be considered a phonetic transcription, there should be a one-to-one correspondence between the graphemic elements and the elements at some level of phonetic description; the level of phonetic description can be very 'deep', giving a description of a very detailed kind (narrow transcriptions) or 'higher', giving descriptions with less phonetic detail, including broader classes of phenomena within the limits of each symbol (more or less broad transcriptions)
- phonetics in technological applications: phonetics plays an important role in many computer applications based on human language
- Speech synthesis - the automatic generation of human-like speech by computers
- Speech recognition - the automatic recognition of natural human speech by computers
- Speaker verification - the use of computers to automatically determine whether a voice really belongs to a particular person
- the phonetics of individual languages and dialects
... This page is under construction please bear over with unfinished descriptions and any inaccuracies ...
Last updated January 4, 1999.
Go to Kjell Gustafson's Main page
Go to Speech, Music and Hearing's homepage