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The connection of phonetics with other branches of linguistics.

Phonetics is an essential part of the language because it gives language a definite form the vocabulary and grammar of a language can function only when lexical and grammatical phenomena are expressed phonetically. So phonetics is closely connected with other branches of linguistics such as grammar, lexicology and stylistics.


a) Grammar and phonetics.

Phonetics is connected with grammar through sound alternation and intonation.

Sound alternation may be defined as a regularly occurring replacement of one sound inside a morpheme by another sound, by a group of sounds, by zero sound. The sounds which can replace one another in certain definite cases form an alternation series. Sound alternations are of two different kinds: phonetic alternations and historical alternations. Phonetic alternations are the result of the phonetic laws which function in the modern stage of a particular language. They are caused by assimilation, accommodation and reduction in speech. Historical alternations are not affected by the phonetic position or context, they are the result of phonetic laws that functioned at another period in the development of the language.

Phonetic alternations, as a rule, have no definite grammatical functions, they accompany some grammatical phenomena. In the English language, for example, they helps to pronounce correctly singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense forms and past participle forms of regular verbs, definite and indefinite articles.

Ex. [s] is pronounced after voiceless consonants (books);

[z] is pronounced after voiced consonants and vowel (bags, boys);

[iz] is pronounced after sibilants, (which helps to differentiate singular and plural forms in some words of Latin origin crisis [is] crises [iz]).

Ex. [d] is pronounced after voiced consonants and vowels (played);

[t] is pronounced after voiceless consonants (looked);

[id] after [t], [d] (wanted).

Ex. [ði] before vowels (the apple)

[ðə] before consonants (the pen)

[æ], [æn], [ə], [ən] a pan, an apple

Historical alternations, on the contrary, always have definite grammatical functions. In the English language, for example, historical alternations are connected with the conjugation of irregular verbs and help to distinguish singular and plural of some nouns:

Ex. sing sang sung; send sent - sent

man [mæn] men [men], foot [fu:t] feet [fi:t].

The role of intonation in grammar is also great. Sometimes intonation alone can serve to single out the communicative centre of the utterance.

Ex. 'This is Mr. 'Browns study. 'Did John 'phone you yesterday?

'This is Mr. Browns study. 'Did John phone you yesterday?

'This is Mr. Browns study. Did John phone you yesterday?

This is Mr. Browns study.

This is Mr. Browns study.

The rising nuclear tone may serve as the only indicator of an interrogation in the general questions with direct word order.

Ex. Tom saw it. (a statement) Tom saw it? (a question)

The grammatical structure and consequently the meaning of a sentence, pronounced with different intonation patterns may be different.

Ex. He brought his friend |a 'doctor and a gentleman.

He brought his friend a doctor |and a gentleman.

He brought his friend |a doctor |and a gentleman.


b) Lexicology and phonetics.

Phonetics is connected with lexicology through pronunciation, sound alternation, word-stress and onomatopoeia.

One word may differ from another in one sound only.

Ex. big [i], bag [æ], bog [o], beg [e], bug [Λ].

Homographs can be differentiated only due to pronunciation, because they are identical in spelling.

Ex. bow [bəu] bow [bau];

row [rəu] row [rau];

wind [wind] wind [waind].

Historical alternation can help to differentiate parts of speech, such as:

nouns and verbs (ex. life live [f] [v] + [ai] [i], advice advise [s] [z]);

adjectives and nouns (ex. hot heat [o] [i:]);

verbs and adjectives (ex. moderate moderate [ei] [i].

It also helps to distinguish causative verbs from other verbs (ex. rise raise [ai] [ei]) as well as etymologically related words (ex. shade shadow [ei] [æ]).

Due to the position of stress one can distinguish certain nouns from verbs.

Ex. 'object ob'ject;

'export exp'ort;

'present pre'sent.

Due to the position of word accent one can distinguish between homonymous words and word groups.

Ex. 'blackbird 'black 'bird;

'dancing-girl 'dancing 'girl.

Onomatopoeia or a combination of sounds which imitate sounds produced in nature (wind, sea, thunder etc.), by things (machines, tools etc.), by people (sighing, laughter, patter of feet, etc.) and by animals is a means of word formation.

Ex. crash, clang, bang, slap, clap, dab, ping-pong, buzz, cuckoo, roar, rustle, crow, splash.


c) Stylistics and phonetics.

Phonetics is connected with stylistics through intonation and its components: speech melody, word stress, rhythm, pausation and voice tambre, which serve to express emotions, to distinguish between different attitudes on the part of the author and speaker. Very often the writer helps the reader to interpret his ideas through special words and remarks such as: a pause, a short pause, angrily, gently, hopefully, with irritation, in a fury, miserable, reprovingly, surprised, at once, with curiosity etc.

Ex. You are what? shouted Nigel in a fury, turning pale with emotion.

Where am I to sit? repeated John with irritation.

Can you finish them? we inquired hopefully.

To make a word or a sentence specially prominent or logically accented, the author uses graphical expressive means such as italic.

Ex. I am also in the process of tearing down the wallpaper in the kitchen. It came with the house. Doris never liked it.

The question is whether you like it. Youre the one who lives there now.

First Ill tell you what we didnt find.

Then tell us what you did find.

Phonetics is also connected with stylistics through repetition of sounds, words, and phrases which serves the basis of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration.

Rhythm, or regular recurrence of stressed and unstressed elements, may be used as a special device not only in poetry, but in prose as well.

Ex. I was brought up by two old aunts. Ive never been anywhere. Ive never done anything. Ive been married for six years. I have no children (W.S. Maugham, The Happy Man).

Alliteration, or repetition of identical or similar sounds, helps to convey a melodic effect to the utterance and to express certain emotions.

Ex. There are twelve months in all the year,

As I hear many men say,

But the merriest month in all the year

Is the merry month of May.

In the given above lines of the ballade the repetition of the sonorant [m] helps to produce the effect of merriment. The repetition of the words year, say, May produces the effect of rhyme.

Ex. Deep into the darkness peering, long I stood there wondering, fearing.

Doubting, dreaming dreams no mortals ever dared to dream before.

Here in the lines quoted from Poes poem The Raven the repetition of the sound [d] prompts the feeling of anxiety, fear, horror, anguish or all these feelings simultaneously.

Onomatopoeia is not only the word-building means but also a stylistic device which can be proved by the lines taken from Shakespeares verse Winter

Ex. Then nightly sings the staring owl,


To-whit, to-who a merry note

Thus, phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics but not a separated one.



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INTRODUCTION TO THE THEORETICAL PHONETICS OF THE ENGLISH LANGUAGE | Branches of phonetics and their interconnection.

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