What is phonetics?
Phonetics studies the sound system of the language, that is segmental units (phonemes, allophones), suprasegmental units (word stress, syllabic structure, rhythmic organization, intonation). Phonetics is closely connected with general linguistics but has its own subject matter (Investigation).
Thus phonetics is divided into two major components: segmental phonetics, which is concerned with individual sounds (i.e. "segments" of speech), their behaviour; and suprasegmental phonetics whose domain is the larger units of connected speech: syllables, words, phrases and texts.
All speech sounds have 4 aspects (mechanisms):
- Articulatory – it is the way when the sound-producing mechanism is investigated, that is the way the speech sounds are pronounced
- Acoustic – speech sound is a physical phenomenon. It exists in the form of sound waves which are pronounced by vibrations of the vocal cords. Thus each sound is characterized by frequency, certain duration. All these items represent acoustic aspect.
- Auditory – sound perception aspect. The listener hears the sound, percepts its acoustic features and the hearing mechanism selects from the acoustic information only what is linguistically important.
- Functional – every language unit performs a certain function in actual speech. Functional aspect deals with these functions.