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Phonetics: The Sounds of Speech

Phonetics is like the science of speech sounds. It deals with the physical production and acoustic properties of sounds in language. Just as scientists study the properties of matter, phoneticians study the properties of speech sounds to understand how they are made and perceived.

Key Concepts:

  1. Articulatory Phonetics:

  2. Articulatory phonetics is like studying the mechanics of speech. It focuses on how speech sounds are produced by the articulators (organs of the vocal tract). Different sounds are made by moving the tongue, lips, vocal cords, and other parts of the mouth.

    Examples of Articulatory Features:
    • Place of Articulation: Where in the mouth the sound is produced (e.g., lips, tongue, teeth).
    • Manner of Articulation: How the airflow is modified to create the sound (e.g., stop, fricative, nasal).
    • Voicing: Whether the vocal cords vibrate while producing the sound (e.g., voiced or voiceless).
  3. Acoustic Phonetics:

  4. Acoustic phonetics is like the study of sound waves. It examines the physical properties of speech sounds and how they travel through the air. By analyzing sound waves, phoneticians can measure pitch, intensity, and duration of sounds.

    Examples of Acoustic Properties:
    • Pitch: How high or low a sound is perceived.
    • Intensity: The loudness or softness of a sound.
    • Duration: The length of time a sound lasts.
  5. Auditory Phonetics:

  6. Auditory phonetics is like understanding how we perceive sounds. It explores how the human ear processes and interprets speech sounds, allowing us to understand and distinguish different sounds in speech.

    When we hear the words “pat” and “bat,” we can tell the difference in the initial sounds /p/ and /b/ due to auditory phonetics.
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