Teach English in Caohui Zhen - Chongqing

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Phonetics and phonologyPhonetics and phonology are two branches of linguistics dealing with the sounds and structure of human language. Phonetics focuses specifically on the physical manifestations of speech and the body?s production of sounds and on theories of speech production and perception. Phonology is the scientific study of language systems, the rules and constraints that determine how sounds of a language combine and influence one another. The goal of phonology is to formulate a theory, which explains the sound patterns found in all languages. It deals with areas such as stress, rhythm and intonation, all of which are useful in helping us understand language. These two branches of linguistics are often intertwined and quite interesting to study. Phonetic work falls into the sub-field of articulatory phonetics. This sub-field includes the study of the human vocal tract and how we use the tongue and mouth to make the sounds of language, and more recently, the physical properties of sound-wave forms, pitch and intensity through the use of spectrograms. Probably one of the most important and influential products of phonetic studies is the International Phonetic Alphabet, which gives a written legend of the sounds we can make in language. Such an alphabet is very useful for helping language learners better understand the sounds they use to speak, and even makes things more clear for native language users. In phonology we study individual sound in connected speech, and stressed sounds in whole utterances, often difficult for native speakers of a language to hear. As I mentioned earlier this includes the areas of intonation and stress. Intonation is generally considered to be the variation in volume and pitch sentence. Stress deals with were one puts emphasis when saying individual words. The distinction between the two is that intonation deals usually with whole phrases where as stress deals with individual words. This distinction however can become blurred with one-word sentences such as ?Yes?. Intonation helps to establish the meaning of a sentence. Our intonation when saying a phrase, can give the context we speak, and our emotions. It clarifies whether or not we are questioning, agreeing, disagreeing or confirming a statement. Intonation will also express sadness, happiness, disbelief, and uncertainty. If we take for example, the English sentence ?We are going out? said with a rising intonation it would become clear that we are asking a question. In writing this is shown with the use of the question mark. With a rise/fall intonation on the other hand the sentence becomes a statement, ending in a period in writing. In the simple one word expression ?Hello? one can express various feelings through intonation. Say for instance that we are answering the phone with the expression ?Hello? said with a rising tone. This would indicate that we are waiting for a response. If we use the same expression, this time with a descending tone, we would be suggesting that we are finished speaking and generally that we are not happy, perhaps frustrated. The way stress is used can also say a lot about the meaning of the expression. Take the example of the sentence He wasn?t trying to run away. If emphasis were put on the word ?He?, the speaker would want to put emphasis on the subject on the sentence. They want to say they are talking specifically of that person, and no one else. If the speaker puts the emphasis on the word ?wasn?t?, they mean to make clear that he was not trying to run away, maybe the person they are speaking to is under the impression that he was trying, the speaker is making it extra clear so that they do not make the mistake of suggesting ?he? was trying. If the emphasis is put on the word ?run?, it would seem that the speaker wants to make clear that the subject of the sentence wasn?t actually running, maybe they were not trying as hard to get away. Both phonetics and phonology are used to better understand human language. They have various facets, and it can be very interesting to study them. I enjoyed studying them to write this paper and I think the more you understand about language, the more fun it is to learn and speak languages. References http://www.lcs.pomona.edu/page15/page1/page1.html ITTT Unit 13: Teaching Pronunciation & Phonology