1. Phonology 

Definition - is a branch of linguistics concerned with the systematic organization of sounds in languages. It has traditionally focused largely on the 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.

Therefore when we talk about how phonemes function in language, and relationships among the different phonemes - when in other words, we study the abstract side of the sounds of language - we are studying a related but different subject that we call phonology.
Only by studying both the phonetics and the phonology of English is it possible to acquire a full understanding of the use of sounds in English speech. 


2. The phoneme

A. Importance and meaning of phonemewhen we speak, we produce a continuous stream of sounds. In studying speech we divide this stream into small pieces that we call segments. The word "man" is pronounced with a first segment m, a second segment ae and a third segment n. It is not always easy to decide on the number of segments. As we said we can divide speech up into segments, and we can find great variety in the way these segments are made. But just as there is an abstract alphabet at the basis of our speech. These units are called phonemes, and the complete set of these units is called the phonemic system of the language. The phonemes themselves are abstract, but there are many slightly different ways in which we may make a mark on a piece of paper to represent a particular (abstract) letter of the alphabet. 

B. Definition - a phoneme /ˈfoʊniːm/ is one of the units of sound that distinguish one word from another in a particular language. The difference in meaning between the English words kill and kiss is a result of the exchange of the phoneme /l/ for the phoneme /s/. Two words that differ in meaning through a contrast of a single phoneme form a minimal pair.
In linguistics, phonemes (established by the use of minimal pairs, such as kill vs kiss or pat vs bat) are written between slashes like this: /p/, whereas when it is desired to show the more exact pronunciation of any sound, linguists use square brackets, for example [pʰ] (indicating an aspirated p).

Within linguistics there are differing views as to exactly what phonemes are and how a given language should be analyzed in phonemic (or phonematic) terms. However, a phoneme is generally regarded as an abstraction of a set of speech sounds (phones) which are perceived as equivalent to each other in a given language. For example, in English, the "k" sounds in the words kit and skill are not identical (as described below), but they are distributional variants of a single phoneme /k/. Different speech sounds that are realizations of the same phoneme are known as allophones. Allophonic variation may be conditioned, in which case a certain phoneme is realized as a certain allophone in particular phonological environments, or it may be free in which case it may vary randomly. In this way, phonemes are often considered to constitute an abstract underlying representation for segments of words, while speech sounds make up the corresponding phonetic realization, or surface form.

C. Allophone

Definition of allophone - a different realisations of phonemes. 

A simplified procedure for determining whether two sounds represent the same or different phonemes

Phoneme and allophonea phoneme is a sound or a group of different sounds perceived to have the same function by speakers of the language or dialect in question. An example is the English phoneme /k/, which occurs in words such as catkitscatskit. Although most native speakers do not notice this, in most English dialects the "c/k" sounds in these words are not identical: in cat and kit (U.S. and  skill) the sound is aspirated, while in scat and skit it is unaspirated. The words therefore contain different speech sounds, or phones, transcribed [kʰ] for the aspirated form, [k] for the unaspirated one. These different sounds are nonetheless considered to belong to the same phoneme, because if a speaker used one instead of the other, the meaning of the word would not change: using the aspirated form [kʰ] in skill might sound odd, but the word would still be recognized. By contrast, some other sounds would cause a change in meaning if substituted: for example, substitution of the sound [t] would produce the different word still, and that sound must therefore be considered to represent a different phoneme (the phoneme/t/).
The above shows that in English, [k] and [kʰ] are allophones of a single phoneme /k/. In some languages, however, [kʰ] and [k] are perceived by native speakers as different sounds, and substituting one for the other can change the meaning of a word; this means that in those languages, the two sounds represent different phonemes. 

Symbols and transcription 

Phonemic symbols - basically the symbols are for one of two purposes: either they are symbols for phonemes (phonemic or phoneme symbols) or they are phonetic symbols.

Phonetic transcription - is a detailed transcription. It aims at describing the extremely large number of idiosyncratic or contextual variations in pronunciations that occur in normal speech. It also attempts to describe the individual variations that occur between speakers of a language or dialect. 

Phonemic transcription - one of the traditional exercises in pronunciation teaching by phonetic methods is that of phonemic transcription, where every speech sound must be identified as one of the phonemes and written with the appropriate symbol. 
The goal of a phonemic transcription is to record the phonemes that a speaker uses rather than the actual spoken variants of those phonemes that are produced when a speaker utters a word

The phonemic system described for RP contains 44 phonemes. We can display the complete set of these phonemes by the usual classificatory methods used by most phoneticians: the vowels and diphtongs can be located in the vowel quadrilateral, as was done, and the consonants can be placed in a chart or table according to place of articulation, manner of articulation and voicing. 
Obviously, human beings can make many more sounds than these, and phoneticians use a much larger set of symbols when they are trying to represent sounds more accurately. The best-known set of symbols is that of the International Phonetic Association.

When linguists are developing a phonemic description of a language or dialect they most often select the most common or widely distributed allophone of each phoneme as the typical allophone of each phoneme and use its phonetic symbols to represent the phoneme as a whole.
When a symbol is used to represent an actual sound (allophone) it has an entirely different meaning to the same symbol when used to represent a phoneme. For this reason we always enclose transcriptions in /.../ when we are indicating phonemes and in [...] when we are indicating the actually produced sounds.

3. Segmental and suprasegmental phonology 

A. Segmental phonology - is the phonology of vowels and consonants.

B. Suprasegmental (prosodic) phonology - involves phenomena such as stress (intensity) and tone (pitch). An accentual pattern involves the deployment of suprasegmentals within a word (for example, the stress differences between the noun insert with stress on the first syllable and the verb insert - with stress on the second syllable), whereas an intonational pattern involves suprasegmentals within the framework of a sentence (for example, all the words in Mary worries Martin are accentually stressed on the first syllable, but the stress in Martin is intonationally most prominent). Because the sentence characteristically constitutes the framework for intonation, and because sentences are fundamentally syntactic constructs, intonation is one phonological phenomenon whose domain goes beyond morphology.

Many significant sound contrasts are not the result of differences between phonemes. For example, stress is important: when the word "import" is pronounced with the first syllable sounding stronger than the second, English speakers hear it as a noun, whereas when the second syllable is stronger the word is heard as a verb. Intonation is also important: if the word "right" is said with the pitch of the voice rising, it is likely to be heard as a question or as an invitation to a speaker to continue, while falling pitch is more likely to be heard as confirmation or agreement. These examples show sound contrasts that extend over several segments (phonemes), and such contrasts are called suprasegmental. There are many other aspects of suprasegmental phonology.

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