Introduction to Linguistics
  07.12.06 Phonology

7. 12. 2006 Phonology- encoding words


Phonology: encoding words with phonemes or graphemes

Phonetics: The world of speech sounds

  • different realisation of sounds in different situations ( the „p“ in „pin“ ins pronounced differently than the „p“ in „stop“ or „spin“, depending on the position in the word)

Words, stems, etc. are signs

conceptual world and the real world

  • eg. you have the conception of an Apple Pie in your mind, but the real one can look completely different

  • the same can be true for sounds

  • Conceptual world: Phonology - real world: Phonetics

  • phonemes:
    • internal structure: “configuations of distinctive phonetic features”
    • external structure (see syllables)
    • rendering: “contextual variants”, “allophones”
  • syllables:
    • function: “word distinguishing phoneme configurations”
    • internal structure: “configurations of sequential features (consonantal, vocalic; voiced, unvoiced; ...) and simultaneous features (tone, accent)
    • external structure (word)
    • rendering: a function of the rendering of phonemes




ein Bild


This graphic illustrates how a compound word is divided into several syllables.





  • phoneme: smallest word- distinguishing feature 


Find examples of 5 not-too-short words

  • transcribe them (don’t worry about accuracy - maybe check in a web dictionary
    •  mənɪpjuleɪt
    •  həƱmsɪk
    • aƱtdɔ:rs
    • dɪfɪkəlr
    • mɔdəst
  • divide them into syllablesEnglish syllables are quite long in contrast to other languages. On of the longest is probably "strange"  streɪndʒ.
    •  mə- nɪp- ju- leɪt
    •  həƱ- msɪk
    • aƱt- dɔ:rs
    • dɪ- fɪ- kəlt
    • mɔ- dəst


The English basic syllable structure is ( like in the word strange) CCCVVCCC.

You can also draw a transition network or a state diagramme where you can see all possible and impossible combinations of vowels and consonants.  

We defined phonemes as the smallest word- distinguishing segments with an internal structure consisting of configurations of distinctive phonetic features. In its external structure is is represented, like syllables, in words. It is reproduced in contextual variants.

To find out how articulatory phonetics works, we visited

where you can see how your speech organs move ( or not move) while producing special sounds.

To find the pronunciation of a word you do not know or you forgot, you can visit , where you find information about the pronunciation of a word and many more.


That English was not an easy language when it comes to spelling because of a mostly different pronunciation was something we all already knew... but that you could pronounce "ghoti" like "fish" was completely new to us. 

"gh" is pronounced /f/ in "tough", "o" is pronounced /i/ in "women", and "ti" is pronounced "sh" in "nation"... but well of course you cannot pronounce "ghoti" like "fish" because there are several "spelling- to- sound rules". 

To demonstrate how hard English pronounciation can be, he asked several students to read the following sentence:

 If the bread dough is tough, knead it roughly, even though when you’re through you’ll have had enough and will throw it at the ceiling.

 if ðə brɛd dəʊ: ɪz tʌf ni:d ɪt rʌfli: ivən ðəʊ wɛn juə ɵru: ju:l əv hæd ɪnʌf ənd wɪl ɵrəʊ ɪt æt ɵə si:lɪɳ

Phonetics - Realising sounds

ein Bild

In this graphic you see the different domains of Phonetics which are articulatory phonetics ( the production of speech sounds), acoustic phonetics ( the transmission of speech sounds) and auditory phonetics ( the recetion of speech sounds).

ein Bild 

( same source as graphic above)

This picture shows another way of representing the three domains of phonetics.

The Articulatory Domain

  • The IPA (A = Alphabet / Association)

  • The Source-Filter Model of Speech Production

The Acoustic Domain

  • The Speech Wave-Form

  • Basic Speech Signal Parameters

  • The Time Domain: the Speech Wave-Form

  • The Frequency Domain: simple & complex signals

Fourier Analysis: the Spectrum

Pitch extraction

  • Analog-to-Digital (A/D) Conversion

The Auditory Domain

  • Anatomy of the Ear

Articulatory Phonetics

The articulatory organs

  • Lungs

  • Vocal cords in the larynx (Adam’s Apple)


  • Uvula (with back of tongue)

  • Pharynx (with velum (nasals))

  • Velum (soft palate) (contact with tongue: velars)

  • Palate (hard palate) (with tongue)

  • Alveolar ridge (Upper teeth) (with tongue, with lower lip)

  • Upper lip (with lower lip, perhaps with tongue)

ein Bild( same course as above)

Forms of representation of pronunciation

For general pronunciation representation in the lexicon:

  • phonemic transcription

  • just enough phonetic detail to distinguish words

For detailed representation of speech pronunciation:

  • phonetic transcription based on

  • articulatory phonetics (about speech production)


  • make a list of 5 spelling rules
    • "ough" after "d", "th" : /əʊ:/
    • "ough" after "t", "r", "e" : / ʌf/
    • "ough" after "thr": /ru:/
    • "ead" after "br" : /ɛd/
    • "ead" after "kn": /i:d/
  • make a list of 5 spelling problems

    • "k" is not pronounced at the beginning of a word, for example "knead"

    • the same combination of letters is not always pronounced in the same way, depending on the letter in front of it ( for emaple "dough", "tough") 

    • "e" is not pronounced at the end of a word "have" 

    • "i" and "e" are sometimes pronounced in the same way "even" - "it" so you do not know which letter to use 

    • you sometimes do not know whether you have to write "ie" or "ei" - ceiling  

Some more spelling rules ( , 29.11.06)



      Basic Rules

Remember this poem to decide if a word should be spelled ie or ei.

            Put i before e

    Except after c

    Or when it sounds like a

    As in neighbor or neigh.

Examples for line 1:





Examples for line 2:





Examples for line 3:





Some Exceptions:






      Follow these steps to decide if a final consonant needs to be doubled when a suffix

    1. or verb ending is added.

      • If the word is one syllable or is stressed on the last syllable (Say the word out loud

      • to determine stress.)

      • And has a single final consonant

      • And that single final consonant is preceded by a single vowel

      • And the suffix begins with a vowel

      • Then double the final consonant.

      • Example: Control + able

      • The stress is on the last syllable – trol

      • There is a single final consonant - l

      • The final consonant has a vowel before it - o

      • The suffix, able, begins with a vowel
        Therefore, you double the l before adding the suffix.

      • Write controllable


      • Example: enter + ing

      • The stress is on the first syllable - en - not the last

      • Therefore, you do not double the final consonant.

      • Write entering.


      • How to handle a final e when adding a suffix or verb ending.

      • If the suffix or verb ending begins with a vowel, drop the final e.


amuse + ing = amusing


creative + ity = creativity


        If the suffix or verb ending begins with a consonant, keep the final e.


measure + ment = measurement


definite + ly = definitely


    How to add a suffix or verb ending when a word ends in y.

      • If the word has a consonant before the y, change the y to i.

            Example: mercy + less = merciless

      • If the word has a vowel before the y, keep the y.

            Example: employ + ed = employed

      How to make nouns plural.

      • Words that end in ss, sh, ch or x add es.

            Example: switch = switches


      • Words that have a consonant before a final y, change the y to

        i before adding es.

            Example: summary = summaries

      • Most nouns ending in f or fe add s. However, some change the f to

        v and add s or es. There is no rule to follow here.


belief = beliefs


half = halves

      • Most nouns ending in o add s. However, some add es.

        There is no rule to follow here.


studio = studios


cargo = cargoes

Learner's diary  

The first part of today's lecture was about Phonology, which is the encoding of words with either phonemes or graphemes.

We once again considered the sign model to include the act of encoding words into a larger context.

Sounds are represented by phonemes and syllables and therefore we defined what they actually are.

We talkes about the basic English syllable structure which is quite long in contrast to other languages.

We had a look at the interactive sagittal section where you can see how your mouth and tounge move while pronouncing different sounds.

Moreover we were introduced to articulatory phonetics, the phonetic cycle and the articulatory organs.  

I really liked this lecture, especially playing with the interactive saggital section, because it helped me to understand the IPA signs and will help me further in my other classes to transcribe English into IPA.  





English and German: tasks

Pronunciation: List...

  • the consonants of German which do not occur in English

    •  ø

    • œ

    • ç

  • the consonants of English which do not occur in German

    •  ð

    •  ɵ

  • the vowels of German which do not occur in English

    •  ɐ

  • the vowels of English which do not occur in German

    • əʊ

    • eɪ


Spelling: List...

  • the characters of German which do not occur in English

    • ö, Ö, ü, Ü, ä, Ä, ß

  • the characters of English which do not occur in German

    • there are no single character which do not occur in German, there are only combinations of letters that do not exist in German for example "ough"

  • 5 English graphemes containing more than one character

    • th ->  ɵ

    • th -> ð

    • sh -> ʃ

    • ng -> ɳ

    • ck -> k

  • 5 German graphemes containing more than one character

    • sch -> ʃ

    • ph -> f

    • ng -> ɳ

    • ck -> k

    • ch -> ç

    • ch -> x


  • 7.12.06

  • 7.12.06  

  • , 29.11.06

  • Homework

  • Articulatory phonetics tasks

    Take a look at the model on the Interactive Sagittal Section

    website and

    • practice with it to get used to the different combinatons of active and passive articulators

    • pronounce all the sounds you form with the website, observing the movements of your articulatory organs

    t the lips are spread, the tounge is pressed against the alveolar

    f the lower lip is pressed agains the upper teeth, tounge is not used

    v same position as f but voiced

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