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Phonetics and Other Disciplines

Phonetics is one of the basic branches of linguistics, naturally it is closely connected with the other linguistic disciplines.The connection of phonetics with grammar, lexicology and stylistics is exercised first of all via orthography, which in its turn is very closely connected with phonetics. Phonetics formulates the rules of pronunciation for separate sounds and sound combinations. The rules of reading are based on the relation of sounds to orthography and present certain difficulties in learning the English language, especially on the initial stage of studying.

Through the system of rules of reading phonetics is connected with grammar and helps to pronounce correctly singular and plural forms of nouns, the past tense forms and past participles of English regular verbs. One of the most important phonetic phenomena—sound interchange—is another manifestation of the connection of phonetics with grammar. Phonetics is also connected with grammar through its intonation component.

Phonetics is also connected with lexicology. It is only due to the presence of stress, or accent, in the right place, that we can distinguish certain nouns from verbs (formed by conversion). Homographs can be differentiated only due to pronunciation, because they are identical in spelling. Due to the position of word accent we can distinguish between homonymous words and word groups.

Phonetics is also connected with stylistics; first of all through intonation and its components: speech melody, utterance stress, rhythm, pausation and voice tamber which serve to express emotions, to distinguish between different attitudes on the part of the author and speaker. Very often the writer helps the reader to interpret his ideas through special words and remarks such as: a pause, a short pause, angrily, hopefully, gently, incredulously. Phonetics is also connected with stylistics through repetition of words, phrases and sounds. Repetition of this kind serves the basis of rhythm, rhyme and alliteration.

Special attention should be given to the relations of phonetics and social sciences. The functioning of phonetic units in society is studied by sociophonetics. It should be mentioned here that over the last few decades there appeared a number of distinct interdisciplinary subjects, such as sociolinguistics (and sociophonetics correspondingly), psycholinguistics, mathematicallinguistics and others. These, as their titles suggest, refer to aspects of language which can be studied from two points of view (sociology and linguistics, psychology and linguistics and so on), which requires awareness and development of concepts and the techniques derived from both disciplines.

Sociophonetics studies the ways in which pronunciation interacts with society. In other words, it is the study of the way in which phonetic structures change in response to different social functions.

One more example of interdisciplinary overlap is the relation of linguistics to psychology. Psycholinguistics in its early form covered the psychological implications from acoustic phonetics to language pathology. Here are some of the problems covered by psycholinguistics: the acquisition of language by children, the extent to which language meditates or structures thinking; extent to which language is influenced and itself influences such things as memory, attention, perception; the problems of speech production and speech perception; speech pathology.

Phonetics is also closely connected with a number of non-linguistic disciplines which study different aspects of speech production and speech perception: physiology, anatomy, physics (acoustics). In phonetic research they use mathematics, statistics, computer science. There is one more area phonetics is closely connected with. It is the study of non-verbal means of communication.

  1. 6. Speech sound as a physiological (articulatory) phenomenon

Speech sounds are produced by the human organs of speech, transmitted through the air, and received by the human ear; the information conveyed by the sounds and prosodic features is then sent to the human brain, where its meaning is interpreted. Therefore, speech may be analyzed from different perspectives.

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