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Importance of Phonology Report (Assessment)

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Describe the phonological change that takes place in (1) below. Explain why in (2) the phonological change does not apply, although the same environment exists.

1. /kɪtaabɪk/ = [kɪtaabɪts] your book (fem)’
2. /kɪtaabɪk/ = [kɪtaabɪk] your book (mas)’

‘Your book’ is feminine in the first example, while it is masculine in the second example. In the English language, words are not categorized as masculine or feminine. However, the above examples show some differences. In 1, the phonological script ends with an ‘its,’ while in 2 it ends with ‘ik.’ The phonological change does not occur in 2 because it is a masculine word.

Answer the following

What is the importance of phonology?

Phonology can be described as the study of sound patterns of human languages. One of the benefits of studying phonetics is that it shows the difference between languages through the different sounds that the languages in question have. There are languages that share some sounds, but the difference comes in the sounds that they do not share (Dohlus, 2008).

It is also important to note that phonology also helps in learning and understanding a language more. The more one gets to understand the different sounds that are used in a specific language, the more they get to understand the pronunciation of that language and how this affects other languages. This is a very important tool in forensic linguistics. The use of phonetics in a crime scene can inform the criminal investigators where the criminal was coming from (Avery, Dresher & Rice, 2008).

Phonology is also important because it helps in other professions like singing. Singing requires the incorporation of different sounds of a language. In some songs, there is a corporation of sounds from two or more languages. Understanding the sound patterns of these languages is very important in coming up with a melody and a tune.

Is there a relationship between phonology and other subfields of linguistics?

There is a relationship between phonology and other subfields of linguistics. The main subfields of linguistics are theoretical linguistics, forensic linguistics, and applied linguistics. Forensic linguistics is by far the branch of linguistics that is closely related to phonology. One way how phonology is useful for forensic linguistics is by giving criminal investigators an idea of where the criminal is coming from. This is possible if the criminal was recorded saying something. The pattern of his language affects the pronunciation of any language. In a case where the criminal was heard or recorded saying something, his pronunciation will show his language pattern and tell the culture or place the criminal comes from.

Phonology is also associated with applied linguistics. Applied linguistics include language development and second language acquisition. It is due to phonetics that people from South America pronounce English words differently from people in America. It is also very possible to find people from the same country pronouncing similar words differently due to the exact place they come from. For example, black Americans pronounce some words differently from whites.

What is the relationship between vocal tract length and sound quality?

Sound quality is normally affected by various factors like vocal track length. Vocal tract length is the length of the place where the sound is produced. It might involve several things. Sound quality is affected by the length of the vocal tract in many ways. One such way is that the shorter the vocal tract, the worse the sound quality. This mainly happens if one is trying to speak in a high voice.

What are the main parameters used to characterize vowels?

A vowel in the English language is a sound that is pronounced when the vocal tract is open. There are five vowels in the English language. They include ‘a, e, i, o, and u’. There are various ways vowels of the human languages can be characterized. Three of the main parameters of characterizing vowels are height, backness, and roundedness (Gussmann, 2002).

The height, as the term suggests, is the vertical size of the tongue compared with the roof of the mouth or the jaw. There are several types of vowels in this category. They include high vowels and low vowels. In the IPA, the high vowels are also called the close vowel, while the low vowels are called the open vowels. The close vowels have the tongue placed on the top of the mouth. For example, the sound ‘u’ puts the tongue high up in the mouth and closes the jaw. This is why the high vowels are also called the close vowels, as the jaw is normally closed when saying them.

The backness of the vowel is the way the tongue is positioned in terms of where the point of the tongue is placed. There are different types of vowels using this category. They include the front vowel, central vowel, and back vowel. Front vowels have the tongue pointing to the front of the mouth. An example of this vowel is ‘i’. This is, however, not always the case. According to the IPA, the difference in backness comes using the frequency of the second format.

Roundedness is the third important parameter that is used to categorize vowels. This refers to the shape of the lips when the vowel is pronounced. Vowels can be rounded or unrounded. Rounded vowels are said with the lips making a round shape.

How are nasal consonants weaker than other oral consonants? Give examples.

Nasal consonants have been described as the weaker consonants of them all because all nasal consonants are acoustic in nature. Nasal consonants allow the air to escape through the nose and not the mouth. There are two types of nasal consonants: the voiced consonants and the voiceless consonants.

The acoustic nature of the nasal consonants makes them weaker because of three things. The first is that the nasal resonance ensures that the consonants are weak. Nasal resonance has less power than oral resonance, making the consonants weak. The second reason why these consonants are weak is that they completely close the oral tract, leading to damping. This, in turn, leads to the loss of power, making the consonants weak (Maddieson, 2008). For example, the sound ‘m’ is a nasal consonant. The vibrations are felt in the mouth and the head when pronounced. However, the sound ‘h’ is an open consonant, and it releases the sound through the mouth. This makes it sound more powerful than the nasal consonant.

Why is there a need for the IPA?

IPA is very important due to a number of reasons. The first reason is that IPA represents all the sounds that can be found in any language of the world. It is true that languages do not have all the sounds that are in the IPA. However, there is no sound in human language that is not represented in the IPA charts. This makes it easier to learn and understand the sounds of all other human languages.

IPA is also very important and useful as it shows how the sounds are supposed to be pronounced. The IPA chart shows the manner and the place of articulation, making it easier for anyone to tell how the sounds are said in the different languages that use them (Hayes, 2009).

Describe the place and manner of articulation for the following sounds

  1. /n/ – the place of articulation is dental, while the manner of articulation is nasal.
  2. /q/ – the place of articulation is uvular, while the manner of articulation is plosive.
  3. / dʒ / – the place of articulation is alveolar, while the manner of articulation is a lateral fricative.
  4. / x / – the place of articulation is the velar, while the manner of articulation is fricative.
  5. / ɾ / – the place of articulation is alveolar, while the manner of articulation is a flap.
  6. / ʃ / – the place of articulation is the postalveolar, while the manner of articulation is fricative.


Avery, P., Dresher, B. E., & Rice K. (2008). Contrast in phonology: theory, perception, acquisition. Berlin, Germany: Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Dohlus, K. (2008). The role of phonology and phonetics in loanword adaptation. Berlin, Germany: Deutsche Nationalbibliothek.

Gussmann, E. (2002). Phonology: analysis and theory. Cambridge, UK: University of Cambridge Press.

Hayes, B. (2009). Introductory phonology. Maiden, MA: Blackwell Publishing.

Maddieson, I. (2008). The World Atlas of Language Structures Online. Web.

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