Thursday, 2 October 2014



A.    Problem Background
English phonology is the sound system (phonology) of the English language, or the study of that system. Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages.[1] Like many languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect. In general, however, the regional dialects of English share a largely similar (though not identical) phonological system.
Our phonological knowledge is not something we can necessarily access and talk about in detail: we often have intuitions about language without knowing where they come from, or exactly how to express them. But the knowledge is certainly there. However, English speakers are not consciously aware of those rules, and are highly unlikely to tell a linguist asking about those words that the absence of *fnil reflects the unacceptability of word-initial consonant sequences, or clusters, with [fn-] in English: the more likely answer is that snil ‘sounds all right’ (and if you’re lucky, your informant will produce similar words like sniff or snip to back up her argument), but that *fnil ‘just sounds wrong’. It is the job of the phonologist to express generalisations of this sort in precise terms: after all, just because knowledge is not conscious, this does not mean it is unreal, unimportant or not worth understanding.[2]

B.     Problem Formulation
1.      What is the definition of phonology?
2.      What  are suprasegmental features?


1.      Definition of  Phonology
Phonology is the branch of linguistics concerned with the study of speech sounds with reference to their distribution and patterning. Adjective: phonological. A linguist who specializes in phonology is known as a phonologist. Etymologically, Phonology from the Greek, means "sound, voice".
The aim of phonology is to discover the principles that govern the way sounds are organized in languages and to explain the variations that occur. We begin by analyzing an individual language to determine which sound units are used and which patterns they form--the language's sound system. We then compare the properties of different sound systems, and work out hypotheses about the rules underlying the use of sounds in particular groups of languages. Ultimately, phonologists want to make statements that apply to all languages.
Whereas phonetics is the study of all possible speech sounds, phonology studies the way in which a language's speakers systematically use a selection of these sounds in order to express meaning. There is a further way of drawing the distinction. No two speakers have anatomically identical vocal tracts, and thus no one produces sounds in exactly the same way as anyone else. Yet when using our language we are able to discount much of this variation, and focus on only those sounds, or properties of sound, that are important for the communication of meaning. We think of our fellow speakers as using the 'same' sounds, even though acoustically they are not. Phonology is the study of how we find order within the apparent chaos of speech sounds.[3] When we talk about the 'sound system' of English, we are referring to the number of phonemes which are used in a language and to how they are organized.[4]
Phonology is not only about phonemes and allophones. Phonology also concerns itself with the principles governing the phoneme systems--that is, with what sounds languages 'like' to have, which sets of sounds are most common (and why) and which are rare (and also why). It turns out that there are prototype-based explanations for why the phoneme system of the languages of the world have the sounds that they do, with physiological/acoustic/perceptual explanations for the preference for some sounds over others.[5]
The phonological system of a language includes
·         an inventory of sounds and their features, and
·         rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.
Phonology is just one of several aspects of language. It is related to other aspects such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.
Here is an illustration that shows the place of phonology in an interacting hierarchy of levels in linguistics:
2.      Models of phonology
·         In classical phonemics, phonemes and their possible combinations are central.
·         In standard generative phonology, distinctive features are central. A stream of speech is portrayed as linear sequence of discrete sound-segments. Each segment is composed of simultaneously occurring features.
·         In non-linear models of phonology, a stream of speech is represented as multidimensional, not simply as a linear sequence of sound segments. These non-linear models grew out of generative phonology:
v  autosegmental phonology
v  metrical phonology
v  lexical phonology

Suprasegmental features are faetures of fundamental frequency, intensity and duration, according to a common defenition. Although this restriction is tradisional, it is not without problem. First, there is a problem with defenition, Leshite (1970) defines suprasegmental as features of ‘pitch, stress and quantity. The other problem with a restricting is there are other phenomena that might otherwise be covered by the definion intonation purpose here.[6]
Suprasegmental phonology is concerned with other aspects of phonology, such as tone, stress and intonation. In some periods, suprasegmental phonology has been rather ignored compared to segmental phonology. This is presumably because, in most fields of scientific inquiry with the exception of physics, a linear world view has held sway, and also because the orthography of languages such as English encourages one to see the sound system as being a simple linear sequence of segments.[7] Suprasegmental or prosodic phonology involves phenomena such as stress (intensity) and tone (pitch). An accentual pattern involves the deployment of suprasegmentals within a word (for example, the stress differences between the noun insert--with stress on the first syllable--and the verb insert--with stress on the second syllable--), whereas an intonational pattern involves suprasegmentals within the framework of a sentence (for example, all the words in Mary worries Martin are accentually stressed on the first syllable, but the stress in Martin is intonationally most prominent). Because the sentence characteristically constitutes the framework for intonation, and because sentences are fundamentally syntactic constructs, intonation is one phonological phenomenon whose domain goes beyond morphology.[8]
Suprasegmental, also called Prosodic Feature,  in phonetics, a speech feature such as stress, tone, or word juncture that accompanies or is added over consonants and vowels; these features are not limited to single sounds but often extend over syllables, words, or phrases. In Spanish the stress accent is often used to distinguish between otherwise identical words: término means “term,” termíno means “I terminate,” and terminó means “he terminated.” In Mandarin Chinese, tone is a distinctive suprasegmental: shih pronounced on a high, level note means “to lose”; on a slight rising note means “ten”; on a falling note means “city, market”; and on a falling–rising note means “history.” English “beer dripped” and “beard ripped” are distinguished by word juncture. Suprasegmentals are so called in contrast to consonants and vowels, which are treated as serially ordered segments of the spoken utterance.[9]

English phonology is the sound system (phonology) of the English language, or the study of that system. Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages. Suprasegmental, also called Prosodic Feature,  in phonetics, is a speech feature such as stress, tone, or word juncture that accompanies or is added over consonants and vowels; these features are not limited to single sounds but often extend over syllables, words, or phrases.

[2] April McMahon, An Intriduction to English Phonology, (Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press, 2002), p. 2
[3] David Crystal, How Language Works. Overlook Press, 2005.
[4] David Crystal, The Cambridge Encylopedia of the English Language, 2nd edition. Cambridge University Press, 2003.
[5] Geoffrey S. Nathan, Phonology: A Cognitive Grammar Introduction. John Benjamins, 2008.
[6] D. Robert Ladd, International Phonology Second Edition, ( United States of America: Cambridge University Press,  2008), p. 4-5


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