LING 415/515: Phonetics
Instructor: G. Tucker Childs
This course is of value to all those interested in the sounds of human language and how sounds are used in speech communication. The course also provides an introduction to the application of phonetics to such areas as language acquisition, speech pathology, speech synthesis and speech recognition, as well as to how slight phonetic differences function on the social side of language, in such areas as dialectology, sociolinguistics, language variation, and language change. In addition, the course complements such core linguistics courses as phonology, discourse analysis, and even psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. The course deals also with the application of phonetics to language pedagogy, especially to the teaching of English as a second language.
Students are introduced to the scientific study of speech sounds, primarily as these sounds occur in English but also as they are found in other languages. Students will learn what it is that makes English phonetically special, and how English differs from other languages. They will be able to conduct such an analysis within the firm scientific tradition of descriptive phonetics, beginning (in English) with the great 19th century phonetician Daniel Jones (immortalized in My Fair Lady as "Henry Higgins") (Collins & Mees, 1999), and continuing with an unbroken laying on of hands to the participants in this phonetics course.
The course is grounded in practical skills, such as listening carefully to speech sounds and faithfully transcribing them. Students will be expected to demonstrate their proficiency in such skills. In addition, students will also learn to produce sounds not found in English. Such sounds include the "exotic" clicks of the Khoisan peoples of southern Africa and the bilabial trill ("Bronx cheer") of, e.g., the Kele (Cameroon). With only a little practice and some understanding of articulatory phonetics, students will be able to produce all possible sounds and will learn to appreciate the wonder of human speech.
Prerequisites: LING 390
Phonetics guidelines - Final grades are determined on the following basis:
Class participation. The mark for class participation depends first of all on regular attendance. More importantly it depends on being prepared and actively contributing to class discussion. Students will be regularly asked to contribute in class, for example, to demonstrate various sounds of the world's languages. Because many members of the class will be non-native speakers of English and because all members of the class have different linguistic backgrounds, not everyone will have the same facility producing previously unknown sounds. Common courtesy requires that we all support all members of the class in their in-class efforts.
There will also be in-class, small-group practice with listening and producing sounds. Students are strongly encouraged to work together on all aspects of the course. Graduate students in particular will be working together on their language descriptions.
Thus, class participation is a composite mark encompassing all of the following components:
- Class attendance
- Active involvement
- Respect for others
Quizzes and assignments. Assignments will come from the text; no late assignments will be accepted. Quizzes include such tasks as the following:
- Transcription from a written text
- Transcription of oral stimuli
- Short answer
Final project (graduate students only). The "Language description" for graduate students will be a project based on elicitation using a previously unknown language and no secondary sources. The exact nature of the project will be determined on the basis of future discussion and grad student interests. Evaluation will be based on the closeness of observation based on techniques and descriptors forming part of the course. A class presentation of the results (with recordings) is scheduled for the last day of class.
Final exam. The exam covers all of the course material and is fairly objective in its nature. It includes performance as well as listening (transcribing) components.
- Course content: Objective true-false, multiple choice, and short-answer questions
- Acoustic analysis: Interpret acoustic displays such as spectrograms and be prepared to make inferences as to the significance of the displays
- Perception: transcription from oral stimuli provided by instructor
- Production: Students will be expected to produce a set of sounds chosen at random from sounds of the world's languages
Plagiarism. With the accessibility of information on the Internet, plagiarism has become an increasingly widespread problem. Please see the University guidelines if you do not understand what plagiarism is. It is better to err on the side of over-attribution if you're unsure as to whether you should reference a source, so please state the source of ideas that are not your own. Feel free to ask me if you're uncertain. Students found to be plagiarizing will receive a failing mark in the course and will be reported to school authorities.
Textbooks: Ladefoged, Peter. (2005). A Course in Phonetics. 5th Edition, with CD. Wadsworth Publishing.
ISBN-10 = 1413006884; ISBN-13 = 978-1413006889
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