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Phonology


Phonology is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. It has traditionally focused largely on study of the systems of phonemes in particular languages (and therefore used to be also called phonemics, or phonematics), but it may also cover any linguistic analysis either at a level beneath the word (including syllable, onset and rime, articulatory gestures, articulatory features, mora, etc.) or at all levels of language where sound is considered to be structured for conveying linguistic meaning. Phonology also includes the study of equivalent organizational systems in sign languages. Phonetics deals with the production of speech sounds by humans, often without prior knowledge of the language being spoken. Phonology is about patterns of sounds, especially different patterns of sounds in different languages, or within each language, different patterns of sounds in different positions in words etc. The aim of phonology is to discover the principles that govern the way sounds are organized in languages and to explain the variations that occur. We begin by analyzing an individual language to determine which sound units are used and which patterns they form--the language's sound system. We then compare the properties of different sound systems, and work out hypotheses about the rules underlying the use of sounds in particular groups of languages. Phonology studies the way in which a language's speakers systematically use a selection of these sounds in order to express meaning.

One way to understand the subject matter of phonology is to contrast it with other fields within linguistics. A very brief explanation is that phonology is the study of sound structures in language, which is different from the study of sentence structures (syntax), word structures (morphology), or how languages change over time (historical linguistics). But this is insufficient. An important feature of the structure of a sentence is how it is pronounced--its sound structure. The pronunciation of a given word is also a fundamental part of the structure of a word and certainly the principles of pronunciation in a language are subject to change over time. So phonology has a relation to numerous domains of linguistics. An important part of traditional, pre-generative schools of phonology is studying which sounds can be grouped into distinctive units within a language; these units are known as phonemes. Part of the phonological study of a language therefore involves looking at data (phonetic transcriptions of the speech of native speakers) and trying to deduce what the underlying phonemes are and what the sound inventory of the language is. The presence or absence of minimal pairs, as mentioned above, is a frequently used criterion for deciding whether two sounds should be assigned to the same phoneme. However other considerations often need to be taken into account as well. Different linguists therefore take different approaches to the problem of assigning sounds to phonemes. For example, they differ in the extent to which they require allophones to be phonetically similar. There are also differing ideas as to whether this grouping of sounds is purely a tool for linguistic analysis, or reflects an actual process in the way the human brain processes a language.

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Associations of Phonology
• Association for Laboratory Phonology
• Linguistic Society of America
• Linguistics Association of Great Britain
• International Linguistic Association
• International Quantitative Linguistics Association
• Australian Linguistic Society
• International Systemic-Functional Linguistics Association
• Center for Applied Linguistics
• Association of Applied Linguistics
• European Network of Amerindian Linguistics
• Greek Applied Linguistics Association
• International Association of Applied Linguistics

Conferences on Phonology
• Computation & Learnability: Implications for Phonology from 18-Apr-2015 - 18-Apr-2015 at Paris, France.
• Ferrara International Phonology Meeting from 09-Oct-2014 - 10-Oct-2014 at Ferrara, Italy.
• International Conference Phonetics and Phonology of the Baltic Languages from 30-Oct-2014 - 31-Oct-2014 at Vilnius, Lithuania.
• 12th Old World Conference in Phonology from 27-Jan-2015 - 30-Jan-2015 at Barcelona / Bellaterra, Spain.
• CUNY Phonology Forum: Conference on Multilingual Phonology from 15-Jan-2015 - 16-Jan-2015 at New York, NY, USA.
• Phonetics and Phonology in Europe 2015 from 29-Jun-2015 - 30-Jun-2015 at Cambridge, United Kingdom.

This page will be updated regularly.

This page was last updated on 10th Oct, 2014

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