4. Articulatory and physiological aspect of speech sounds
5. Branches of phonetics
6. Connection of phonetics with other sciences
Phonetics deals with speech sounds. It studies the sound matter, its aspects and functions. The phonetic system of English consists of the following four components: speech sounds, the syllabic structure of words, word stress and intonation (prosody). These four components constitute what is called the pronunciation of English.
Units of the language are divided into segmental and supersegmental. The segmental feature deals with speech sounds. Sounds of speech are segments interconnected with minimal distinctive units - phonemes. Supersegmental units of speech: tone, stress and intonation are interconnected with longer units of speech: syllables, words and intonation groups.
The difference between the sounds serves to distinguish between words and morphemes, this difference doesn't depend upon the position of the sounds within the word. These sounds are called the phonemes. In words bit -pit [b] and [p] are phonemes, because difference between them helps to distinguish between the words. The same can be said of phoneme [e] in set and [æ] in sat; [ɪ] (lid) and [i:] (lead); [m] (might) and [n] (night). In these and similar cases we deal with phonological oppositions.
When the difference between two sounds depends on phonetic environment, then these sounds are not different ones, but they are variants of one and the same phoneme. These sounds are known as allophones. [l] in light is more palatalized than in [l] in fell, [ɪ] in bit is shorter than [ɪ] in bid.
Phonetically the number of sounds that we actually pronounce and hear is much greater then the number of letters. One and the same letter may be used to represent two or more different phonemes ("s" stands for [s] in sale, set, bus and [z] in busy, resemble).
Now let's consider the system of phonetic notation which is generally termed as "transcription". Transcription is a set of symbols representing speech sounds. Writing transcription symbols one should use the form of print rather than handwriting, should not use capital letters; shouldn’t confuse orthography and phonemic representation.
Slant brackets are used to mark off phonemic transcription, square brackets are used for allophones ("nasalized" vowel [aɪ] in /maɪs/, retroflex (when the tip of the tongue is turned back so, that the closer is relatively far back on the palate) [t] in
/traɪ/). Syllabic consonants are indicated by [,] placed beneath the symbol (written /rɪtņ/). Primary stress is indicated by [' ] before the stressed syllable, secondary stress is shown by [,] before the syllable (examination /ɪɡˌzæmɪˈneɪʃn/).
A teacher of English must be able to pronounce isolated sounds and know how to treat them in different phonetic contexts. If you wish to understand and be understood in English you are to make a clear distinction between consonant and especially vowel sounds. But preoccupation with clarity of articulation bears little relationship to the special problem of natural speech. A learner of English must also form a new habit of syllabic formation, weakening of unstressed vowels in connection with particular speech rhythm and intonation patterns and the like. While teaching phonetics we must bear in mind two types of mistakes usually made by non-native speakers: phonetic and phonological. The so-called phonological mistakes affect the meaning (Are you fond of walking here? - Are you fond of working here?). Phonological mistakes in intonation can be most commonly traced in the substitution of one nuclear tone by another, in the wrong position of the nuclear tone etc.
Isn't she un ͵well? (general question) vs Isn't she un ˋwell (exclamation) It's ˋTom's fault, vs It's →Tom's ˋfault.
In the case of phonetic mistakes the meaning is not affected (the vowel [i:] must be shorter before a voiceless consonant, and you will make a phonetic mistake if you pronounce [i:] too long. Mistakes can also be qualified as phonetic when an English sound is completely or partially substituted by a similar Russian sound.
Human speech is the result of a series of events. The formation of the concept takes place at a linguistic level, that is in the brain of the speaker; this stage may be called psychological. The message formed within the brain is transmitted along the nervous system to the speech organs. This second stage may be called physiological. The movements of the speech apparatus disturb the air stream thus producing sound waves. Consequently the third stage may be called physical or acoustic. Further, any communication requires a listener, as well as the speaker. So the last stages are the reception of the sound waves by the listener's hearing physiological apparatus, the transmission of the spoken message through the nervous system to the brain and the linguistic interpretation of the information conveyed.