LING-215 Sounds of Language
Fall for 2017-2018
No faculty information available
In this course, we’ll explore two fundamental questions about human language:
1. What do different languages sound like?
2. What does a speaker of a language know about what his or her own language sounds like?
These questions are the central questions of phonetics and phonology, the two sub-disciplines of linguistics which most relate to pronunciation.
Phonetics is primarily concerned with the physical properties of speech, and so with determining
• What parts of the mouth are involved in the production of different sounds?
• How must these parts be moved in order to produce a given speech sound?
• What are the acoustic properties of speech sounds?
We’ll be examining these questions in the first part of the course. You’ll gain an abstract knowledge of how different sounds are produced, but also practical skill in producing them yourself.
Phonology is primarily concerned with the mental processes by which speakers manipulate and organize speech sounds, and so addresses questions like
• Why are different languages based on different sets of sounds?
• What sound combinations are permitted in any given language?
o And why are some sound combinations more common than others?
• How and why does the pronunciation of a word change because of its context?
o Are why are some sound changes more common than others?
We’ll be examining these questions in the second part of the course. Here, you’ll gain a solid foundation in extracting the key mental generalizations that underlie the phonetic data of a language.
• Practical faculty in producing the sounds of the world’s languages, and an intellectual understanding of how they are produced
• Understanding of the acoustic properties of speech sounds, and ability to analyze speech sounds using (freely available) software
• Understanding of the unconscious knowledge that speakers possess of how their native languages are pronounced
• Ability to extract phonological generalizations from phonetic data
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