How to Study Phonological Analysis Better Than Anyone Else

The Phonological Analysis of an utterance into segmental and suprasegmental features is also known as phonemic. There are many theories of phonological analysis In Linguistics. Some of these major or theories are discussed below:

Structure and System

One approach is in terms of what are called structure and system. The phonological units (Phonemes or sounds) of a language are merged together with the multiple systems and the structure of these units in larger. The units that form a system can be changed by other units to produce different utterances, and the final result is, the relations between the different units present in an utterance constitute a structure. For instance, the English word sack /sack/ has one syllable, which is made up of a sequence of three phonemes /s/, /ac/, and /k/.

The phoneme /s/ can be replaced by other phonemes /b/, /p/, /t/, /d, /h/, /l/ to give us different words bat, brat,pat tuc,cap,dum,hat.. All these items that can be changed by another at a particular place in a structure are in paradigmatic relationship and form a system.

The units of phonological analysis have a hierarchy, so that a unit of higher rank consists of a sequence of one or more occurrences of the next lower rank. For example, in English one or more phonemes make up a syllable; one or more syllables make up a foot (which is the unit of rhythm): one “or more tongue group make up a sentence.

These phonological units are given below:

Phoneme: k/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /i/, /e/, etc.

Syllable: map, cap, table, picture, market, telephone.

Foot: The cur/few tolls/the knell/of part/ing day/. A slanting bar/ represents a foot boundary).

Tone-group: // If the ‘bride a , gees // the ‘marriage is in’ January.//

Represents tone group boundary; ‘represents rising tone; and, ‘falling tone, accent (strong or stressed syllable.)

Sentence: For example, the sentence given above has two tone groups

Prosodic analysis

Prosodic analysis is another aspect of phonology. It I is concerned with phonological features ‘that extend beyond a phonemic unit in a structure’. Features like “aspiration, nasalization, labialization, retro flexion, are often relate to sequences of phonemic unit. We can also study supra-segmental features as forms in part of prosodic analysis.

Some examples are being presented.

Aspiration: The English word clay /klei/ has an aspirated/ k/, but the aspiration affects the following also and pronounce it to (lo). It is also  /h/ prosody.

Nasalization: The English word sing /siu/ has incidental nasalization of the vowel /i/ under the influence of the nasal consonants before and after it. Nasalization can therefore be expressed as prosody in this kind of syllable.

Lip-rounding: The English word quiet /kwait/ has lip-rounding for /k/ also under the influence of the following /w/. This is an example of /w/ prosody.


The English word key /ki:/ has a palatal instead of a velar under the influence of the following/i:/. This can be described as /j/ prosody

Accent: Accent on a particular syllable in a-f word can be taken as prosody. For example, accent in English are normally recognized in first slayable as pa-kistan, ex/plore, re/ject.

Sentence:  stress, rhythm and intonation: are also prosodic features.

Phonemics Another approach to phonology is based on phonemic. Most phonological theories are based on phonemics’

Some linguists restrict the use of the term ‘phoneme’ to segments of human sounds only, and analyze what are called suprasegmental or prosodic features separately. The most recognized speech suprasegmental features are: (Tone (syllables and feet), other linguists expand the use the term phoneme’ for to cover all distinctive sound features including levels of stress, levels of pitch and

Interesting Theories you never knew about Phonological Analysis

Distinctive Features Theory 

In the phoneme theory, the phoneme (segment) is the smallest unit of phonology, but in the Distinct Features Theory the phonetic feature is the smallest unit of phonology. Segment theory is linguistically inconvenient. There are no rules in any language which can be applied to all the sounds. There are fixed number of features or components which form a basic stockpile from, where every language adopts linguistic phonetic features and combines them in different ways. It is these features which keep a segment distinct or separate from others.

That is why they are called the distinct features,In distinct features theory (as different from the notation transcription), the phonetic transcription is simplified and systematized by regarding each sound as set of components, exactly parallel to semantic component. As proposed by Roman Jacobson, Morris Halle, Chomsky, etc., acoustics and /or articulator variables can be reduced to a small number of parameters or phonetic features (twenty-seven with multi-values). A distinctive features component, for example for the Sounds /t/ and /k/as in the English word take according to this

In English, for example, the following phonetic features are distinct.

State of Glottis: voiceless/voiced.

Position of Soft Palate: oral/nasal.      ‘

Place of Articulation: (a) bilabial/alveolar

Manner of Articulation: (a) plosive/ fricative/ nasal; (b) nasal/ lateral; (c) affricate/fricative.

Part of Tongue front/back

Height of Tongue: Close/ between half-close and half-open/ between half-open and open/ open.

Lip-position: unrounded/ rounded.

Stressed/ unstressed.

Reduced vowel/ unreduced vowel.

Tonic/ non-tonic.

Tone: falling/ rising; low fall/ high fall/ low rise/ high’ rise? Fall rise; or primary/ secondary/ fall-rise.

In more recent work on generative phonology, particularly by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle, these features have been extensively modified, and placed into categories such as Major class feature as sonorant [making a deep impression] vs. non-sonorant; vocalic vs. non-vocalic.

Cavity features relating to the shape of the oral cavity and the point of articulation with such features as coronal vs. non-coronal, anterior vs. non-anterior.

Manner of Articulation features such as continuant verses non-continuant manners.

Source Features as voiced vs. voiceless; strident. Mellow.

Prosodic features as tone, frequency, stress in words, rhythm. Etc.

Generative Phonology Analysis theory.

Modern science of speech really began with the concept of the ‘phoneme’ (as developed by Trubetzkoy and others of the Prague School in 1930’s. The first significant modifications come in 1952 by the distinctive theory school of thought, which ultimate rejected many previous concept of linguistic phonology. Classical’ phonology was concerned with the analysis of the continuum of speech into distinctive segments, whereas the aim of Generative Phonology is to set up a series of universal rules for relating the output of the syntactic component of a generative grammar to its phonetics realization., The aim of generative phonology is to formulate rules to express, ’’the relationship between the output of a set of syntactic rules and the sounds of actual utterances.”

In the application of the generative rules two levels of representation are recognized: a systematic ‘phonetic Representation’ and a ‘phonological representation’. An earlier term for the latter was ‘systematic phonemic’ but this was later rejected because of the meaning of ‘phonemic’ in many structural theories. Generative grammar rejects the concept of a phonemic level and the concept of linguistic phoneme. On the phonetic level the phones are many distinctive features and phonological rules relate these phones directly to lexical level.

by Abdullah Sam
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