Definition, Nature and Scope of Linguistics

Linguistics is a growing and interesting area of study, having a direct hearing on fields as diverse as education, anthropology, sociology, language teaching, cognitive psychology and philosophy. What is linguistics? Fundamentally, it is concerned with the nature of language and communication.

Some of the definitions of linguistics are as under:
1.                  “Linguistics observes language in action as a means for determining how language has developed, how it functions today, and how it is currently evolving.” (G. Duffy)
2.                  “Linguistics is concerned with the nature of human language, how it is learned and what part it plays in the life of the individual and the community.” (S. Pit Corder)
3.                  “Linguistics tries to answer two basic questions:
a.      What is language?
b.      How does language work.” (Jean Aitchison)
4.                  “The scientific study of human language is called linguistics”. (Victoria A. Fromkin)
Linguistics is the scientific study of language. By this we mean language in general, not a particular language. If we were concerned with studying an individual language, we would say ‘I’m studying French… or English,’ or whichever language we happen to be studying. But linguistics does not study an individual language, it studies ‘language’ in general. That is, linguistics, according to Robins (1985):
is concerned with human language as a universal and recognizable part of the human behaviour and of the human faculties, perhaps one of the most essential to human life as we know it, and one of the most far-reaching of human capabilities in relation to the whole span of mankind’s achievements.
Does this not sound a little abstract? It is, because there is no way of studying ‘language’ without referring to and taking examples from particular languages. However, even while doing so, the emphasis of linguistics is different. Linguistics does not emphasise practical knowledge or mastery of a particular language. Linguists may know only one language, or may know several, or may even study a language they do not know at all. What they are trying to study are the ways in which language is organised to fulfil human needs, as a system of communication. There is a difference between a person who knows many languages (called a polyglot), and a linguist, who studies general principles of language organisation and language behaviour, often with reference to some actual language or languages. Any language can be taken up to illustrate the principles of language organisation, because all languages reveal something of the nature of language in general. (Of course, it may he of help to a linguist to know more languages so that differences and contrasts as well as similarities between the languages can also be studied in a better way.) We can say that linguistics is learning about language rather than learning a language. This distinction is often explained as the difference between learning how a car works and learning how to drive a car. When we learn how to drive a car, we learn a set of habits and do some practice—this is similar to learning how to speak a language. When we learn how the car works, we open up its mechanism, study it and investigate the relationship of its parts to one another. This is similar to what we do in a scientific study of language, or linguistics: we investigate the mechanism of language, its parts and how all these parts fit together to perform particular functions, and why they are arranged or organised in a certain manner. Just as while driving a car, we are using its various components, while speaking a language we are using the sounds, words, etc. of that language; behind these uses is the mechanism which enables us to do so. We study language because it is important for us to understand this mechanism.
Linguistics As A Science
Linguistics can he understood as a science in both general and specific terms. Generally, we use the term ‘science’ for any knowledge that is based on clear, systematic and rational understanding. Thus we often speak of the ‘science of politics’ or statecraft, or ‘the science of cooking’. However, we also use the term ‘science’ for the systematic study of phenomena enabling us to state some principles or theories regarding the phenomena; this study proceeds by examination of publicly verifiable data obtained through observation of phenomena, and experimentation; in other words, it is empirical and objective. Science must also provide explanation after adequate observation of data, which should be consistent, i.e. there should be no contradictions between different parts of the explanation or statement; and economical, i.e. a precise and non-redundant manner of statement is to be preferred.
Let us apply these criteria of science to linguistics. Linguistics studies language: language is a phenomenon which is both objective and variable. Like natural phenomena in the physical world, it has a concrete shape and occurrence. In the same way as a physicist or chemist takes materials and measures their weights, densities etc. to determine their nature, the linguist studies the components of language, e.g. observing the occurrence of speech-sounds, or the way in which words begin or end. Language, like other phenomena, is objective because it is observable with the senses, i.e., it can be heard with the ear, it can be seen when the vocal organs are in movement, or when reading words on a page.
Observation leads to processes of classification and definition. In science, each observable phenomenon is to be given a precise explanation. Its nature has to be described completely. Thus, for example, the chemist classifies elements into metals and non-metals; a biologist classifies living things into plants and animals. In the same way, linguistics observes the features of language, classifies these features as being sound features of particular types, or words belonging to particular classes on the basis of similarity or difference with other sounds and words.
But while linguistics shares some of characteristics of empirical science, it is also a social science because it studies language which is a form of social behaviour and exists in interaction between human beings in society. Language is also linked to human mental processes. For these reasons, it cannot be treated always as objective phenomena.
In empirical sciences, the methods of observation and experimentation are known as inductive procedures. This means that phenomena are observed and data is collected without any preconceived idea or theory, and after the data is studied, some theory is formulated. This has been the main tradition in the history of western science. But there is an opposing tradition the tradition of rationalism, which holds that the mind forms certain concepts or ideas beforehand in terms of which it interprets the data of observation and experience. According to this tradition, the deductive procedure is employed in which we have a preliminary hypothesis or theory in our minds which we then try to prove by applying it to the data. This procedure was considered to be unscientific according to the empirical scientists because they felt that pre-existent ideas can influence the kind of data we obtain i.e. we search only for those pieces of data that fit our theory and disregard others and therefore it is not an objective method. On the other hand, it has been observed by some thinkers (such as Popper) that no observation can be free of some theory; it cannot be totally neutral.
We can, however, reconcile these two procedures. There are aspects of language which we can observe quite easily and which offer concrete instances of objective and verifiable data. At the same time, we need to create hypothesis to explain this data, so we may create tentative or working hypothesis to explain this data, which we may accept, reject or modify as we proceed further. With such an open attitude, we may collect more data. This alternation of inductive and deductive procedures may help us to arrive at explanations which meet all the requirements of science, i.e. they are exhaustive, consistent and concise.
Thus, linguistics is both an empirical science and a social science. In fact, it is a human discipline since it is concerned with human language; so it is part of the study of humanities as well. This includes the study of literature, and appreciation of the beauty and music of poetry. In understanding language, humankind can understand itself. Moreover, since every branch of knowledge uses language, linguistics is central to all areas of knowledge. In regard to linguistics, the traditional distinctions of science, art and humanities are not relevant. As Lyons puts it, linguistics has natural links with a wide range of academic disciplines. To say that linguistics is a science is not to deny that, by virtue of its subject matter, it is closely related to such eminently human disciplines as philosophy and literary criticism.
Scope of Linguistics
Linguistics today is a subject of study, independent of other disciplines. Before the twentieth century, the study of language was not regarded as a separate area of study in its own right. It was considered to he a part of studying the history of language or the philosophy of language, and this was known not as linguistics but as philosophy. So ‘Linguistics’ is a modern name which defines a specific discipline, in which we study language not in relation to some other area such as history or philosophy, but language as itself, as a self enclosed and autonomous system, worthy of study in its own right. It was necessary at the beginning of the growth of modern linguistics to define this autonomy of the subject, otherwise it would not have been possible to study the language system with the depth and exhaustiveness which it requires. However, now we acknowledge that while linguistics is a distinct area of study, it is also linked to other disciplines and there are overlapping areas of concern.
The main concern of modern linguistics is to describe language, to study its nature and to establish a theory of language. That is, it aims at studying the components of the language system and to ultimately arrive at an explanatory statement on how the system works. In modern linguistics, the activity of describing the language system is the most important and so modern linguistics is generally known as descriptive. But linguistics has other concerns as well, which fall within its scope and these include historical and comparative study of language. These differ from the descriptive approach in their emphasis; otherwise, these approaches also involve description of language.
Levels of Linguistic Analysis
In studying language which is the subject-matter of linguistics, we mark or sub-divide the area in order to study it in an analytical and systematic way. Language has a hierarchical structure. This means that it is made up of units which are themselves made up of smaller units which are made of still smaller units till we have the smallest indivisible unit, i.e. a single distinguishable sound, called a phoneme. Or we can put it the other way round, and say that single sounds or phonemes combine together to make larger units of sounds, these combine into a larger meaningful unit called a morpheme; morphemes combine to form larger units of words, and words combine to form a large unit or sentence and several sentences combine or interconnect to make a unified piece of speech or writing, which we call a text or discourse. At each stage (or level), there are certain rules that operate which permit the occurrence and combination of smaller units. So we can say that rule of phonology determine the occurrence and combination of particular phoneme, rules of word-formation cover the behaviour of particular morphemes; rules of sentence-formation determine the combination and positioning of words in a sentence. Each level is a system in its own right. It is important to remember that, because of the existence of rules at each level, we can analyse each level independently of the other. This means that if we study one level, e.g. phonology or the sound-system, we need not necessarily study another level, say that of sentence-formation. We can study phonology on its own, and syntax on its own. Although these levels are linked in that one is lower in the hierarchy and another is higher in the hierarchy, and the higher level includes the lower, still each level is independent because it has its own rules of operation that can be described, analysed and understood.
We can represent these levels in the following manner, with each level of analysis corresponding to each level of the structure of the language:
Levels of Analysis                 Levels of Structure
Phonetics and Phonology     SOUND
                                          Letters (Graphology)
Morphology                           WORD FORMATION
Syntax                                    SENTENCE-FORMATION
Semantics                              MEANINGS
Discourse                               CONNECTED SENTENCES
A careful look at the above diagram will show that the levels of language structure are not completely separate from one another. In fact, there are important and vital linkages between the levels. In earlier studies, it was supposed that phonology, the level of sound structure, had no link whatsoever with semantics or the level of meaning structure. Now we know that links between these levels are far more complex than we had earlier accepted. With regard to discourse, we can see that it is made up of all the levels of language working together, while semantics incorporates analysis of meaning at the level of both words (word-meaning) and of sentence-meaning.
However, we can study these links only after we describe and analyse structure at each level separately. Thus Phonetics studies language at the level of sounds: How sounds are articulated by the human speech mechanism and received by the auditory mechanism, how sounds can be distinguished and characterised by the manner in which they are produced. Phonology studies the combination of sounds into organised units of speech, the formation of syllables and larger units. It describes the sound system of a particular language and the combination and distribution of sounds which occur in that language. Classification is made on the basis of the concept of the phoneme, i.e. a distinctive, contrasted sound unit, e.g. /m/, //, /p/. These distinct sounds enter into combination with others. The rules of combination are different for different languages.
Though phonology is considered to be the surface or superficial level of language (as it is concrete and not abstract like meaning), there are some aspects of it such as tone which contribute to the meaning of an utterance.
Morphology studies the patterns of formation of words by the combination of sounds into minimal distinctive units of meaning called morphemes. A morpheme cannot be broken up because if it is, it will no longer make sense, e.g. a morpheme ‘bat’ is made up of three sounds: /b/ /æ/ and /t/. This combination makes up the single morpheme ‘bat’ and if broken up, it will no longer carry the meaning of ‘bat’. Words can be made up of single morphemes such as ‘bat’ or combinations of morphemes, e.g. ‘bats’ is made up of two morphemes: ‘bat’ + ‘s’. Morphology deals with the rules of combination of morphemes to form words, as suffixes or prefixes are attached to single morphemes to form words. It studies the changes that take place in the structure of words, e.g. the morpheme ‘take’ changes to ‘took’ and ‘taken’––these changes signify a change in tense.
The level of morphology is linked to phonology on the one hand and to semantics on the other. It is clear in the above example of ‘take’ that the change to ‘took’ involves a change in one of the sounds in this morpheme. It also involves a change in meaning: ‘take’ means the action ‘take’ + time present and ‘took’ means the action ‘take’ + time past. So morphological changes often involve changes at the levels of both sound and meaning.
Syntax is the level at which we study how words combine to form phrases, phrases combine to form clauses and clauses join to make sentences. The study of syntax also involves the description of the rules of positioning of elements in the sentence such as the nouns/noun syntax phrases, verbs/verb phrases, adverbial phrases, etc. A sentence must be composed of these elements arranged in a particular order. Syntax also attempts to describe how these elements function in the sentence, i.e. what is their role in the sentence. For example, the word ‘boy’ is a noun. However, in each of the following sentences, it functions in different roles:
(a)  The boy likes cricket
(b)  The old man loved the boy.
In sentence (a), it functions as the subject of the sentence
In sentence (b), it functions as the object.
A sentence should be both grammatical and meaningful. For example, a sentence like ‘Colourless green ideas sleep furiously’ is grammatically correct but it is not meaningful. Thus, rules of syntax should be comprehensive enough to explain how sentences are constructed which are both grammatical and meaningful.
Semantics deals with the level of meaning in language. It attempts to analyse the structure of meaning in a language, e.g. how words similar or different are related; it attempts to show these inter-relationships through forming ‘categories’. Semantics tries to give an account of both word and sentence meaning, and attempts to analyse and define that which is considered to be abstract. It may be easy to define the meanings of words such as ‘tree’ but not so easy to define the meanings of words such as ‘love’ or similar abstract things. This is why semantics is one of the less clearly definable areas of language study.
An extension of the study of meaning or semantics is pragmatics. Pragmatics deals with the contextual aspects of meaning in particular situations. As distinct from the study of sentences, pragmatics considers utterances, i.e. those sentences which are actually uttered by speakers of a language.
Discourse is the study of chunks of language which are bigger than a single sentence. At this level, we analyse inter-sentential links that form a connected or cohesive text. Cohesion is the relation established in a sentence between it and the sentences preceding and following it, by the use of connectives such as ‘and’, ‘though’, ‘also’, ‘but’ etc. and by the manner in which reference is made to other parts of the text by devices such as repetition or by use of pronouns, definite articles, etc. By studying the elements of cohesion we can understand how a piece of connected language can have greater meaning that is more than the sum of the individual sentences it contains.
In addition to these levels of linguistic analysis, we also study Graphology which is the study of the writing system of a language and the conventions used in representing speech in writing, e.g. the formation of letters Lexicology studies the manner in which lexical items (words) are grouped together as in the compilation of dictionaries.
Linguists differ according to what they consider as included in the scope of linguistic studies. Some consider the proper area of linguistics to be confined to the levels of phonology, morphology and syntax. This can be called a Micro-linguistic perspective. However, some take a broader, or macro-linguistic view which includes the other levels of analysis mentioned above, as well as other aspects of language and its relationship with many areas of human activity.
Branches of Linguistics
The core of linguistic studies is the study of language structure at different levels as discussed above. In the growth of modern linguistics as an autonomous field of knowledge, it has been necessary to emphasize this aspect of linguistics, since no other field of study describes language structure systematically and completely.
However, there are many areas of human activity and knowledge in which language plays a part and linguistics is useful in these areas. The study of language in relation to the many areas of knowledge where it is relevant, has led to the growth of many branches of linguistics. Thus the scope of linguistics has grown to include these branches.
Like other sciences, linguistics has a ‘pure’ or ‘theoretical’ aspect which is concerned with the building of theories about language and with description and analysis of particular levels of language such as phonology and syntax without regard to any particular applications that these may have. It also has an ‘applied’ aspect which is concerned with the application of that knowledge in areas such as the learning and teaching of languages, or correction and improvement of speech disorders, or in helping us to appreciate the use of language in literature. Thus, ‘applied linguistics’ covers many of the branches of linguistics that explore the practical application of the theories, concepts and analyses provided by linguists. All the applications are first and foremost based on a thorough description of languages. As Pit Corder writes:
Whether it is speech therapy, psychiatry, literary criticism, translation,… what all these fields of application have in common is the necessity for descriptions of the various languages involved.
Various branches of linguistics have grown because language is intimately related both to the inner, world of man’s mind and to the outer world of society and social relationships. Each of these aspects has led to the study of psycho-linguistics and sociolinguistics respectively.
(a) Psycholinguistics
Since language is a mental phenomenon, it is mental processes which are articulated in language behaviour. Psycholinguistics studies these mental processes, processes of thought and concept formation and their articulation in language, which reveal a great deal about the structures of human psychology as well as of language. ‘Cognitive’ psychology is the area which explores how meanings are understood by the human brain, how syntax and memory are linked, how messages are ‘decoded’ and stored. Psycholinguistics also studies the influence of psychological factors such as intelligence, motivation, anxiety etc. on the kind of language that is understood and produced. For instance, in the case of errors made by a speaker, there may be psychological reasons which influence comprehension or production that are responsible for the occurrence of an error. Our perception of speech sounds or graphic symbols (in writing) is influenced by the state of our mind. One kind of mental disability, for example, results in the mistakes made by children in reading when they mistake one letter for another (Dyslexia). Psycholinguistics can offer some insights and corrective measures for this condition.
Psycholinguistics is concerned with the learning of language at various stages: the early acquisition of a first language by children and later stages in acquisition of first and other languages. Psycholinguists attempt to answer questions such as whether the human brain has an inborn language ability structured in such a way that certain grammatical and semantic patterns are embedded in it, which can explain how all human beings are capable of learning a language. This exploration may lead us to determining whether all the languages in the world have some ‘universal’ grammar that lies in the mind of every human being and is transformed in particular situations to produce different languages. Psycholinguistic studies in language acquisition are very useful in the area of language teaching because they help teachers to understand error production and individual differences among learners and thus devise appropriate syllabi and materials for them.
One specialized area within psycholinguistics is neurolinguistics that studies the physiological basis of language and language disorders such as aphasia, loss of memory, etc.
Another relation of language with mind is that of logic. It was held by some ancient philosophers that the human mind is rational and capable of thinking logi­cally and, therefore, language too is logically ordered and rational. Others held that, just as irrationality is present in the mind, irregularity or anomaly is present in human language. Since then there has been a debate about the nature of language and the relation between language and logic. One of the problems discussed by philosophers of language is whether language can be an adequate medium for philosophical inquiry. Since all our thoughts are known to us through language, we must examine the kind of language we use when we approach philosophical issues and analysis.
(b) Sociolinguistics
The branch of linguistics that deals with the exploration of the relation between language and society is known as sociolinguistics, and the sociology of language. Sociolinguistics is based on the fact that language is not a single homogeneous entity, but has different forms in different situations. The changes in language occur because of changes in social conditions, for example, social class, gender, regional and cultural groups. A particular social group may speak a different variety of a language from the rest of the community. This group becomes a speech community.
Variation in language may occur because the speakers belong to a different geographical region. Taking the example of English, we find that it is not a single language but exists in the form of several varieties. One kind of English is called R.P. (or Received Pronunciation). This kind of English is used in the south west of England and particularly associated with the universities of Oxford and Cambridge and the BBC. It is an educated and formal kind of English. But there are other varieties of English, such as the English that is spoken in the north of England, in Yorkshire and Lancashire; in Scotland (Scottish English); Wales (Welsh English), etc. A less educated variety of English is that spoken by working class people in London often called Cockney English. Then there are the varieties of English spoken by people of different countries around the world, e.g. American English,  and Australian English.
Sociolinguistics is the study of language variation and change––how varieties of language are formed when the speakers belong to a geographical region, social class, social situation and occupation, etc. Varieties of a language that are formed in various geographical regions involve a change in the pronunciation as well as vocabulary. Such changes result in the formation of a distinctly different variety of the language or a dialect. Sometimes these changes may be present within the same geographical region due to the social differences between different economic sections, e.g. working class and aristocracy. These changes result in class-dialects.
In sociolinguistic studies, we consider the linguistic features of these dialects, e.g. syntax variations such as ‘I’ve gotten it’ or ‘I ain’t seen nothing’ and lexical variations such as ‘lift’ (British English) to ‘elevator’ (American English). The study of the demarcation of dialect boundaries across a region and of specific features of each dialect is called dialectology. One dialect may be demarcated from another by listing a bundle of features which occur in a particular region. The point at which a certain feature (of pronunciation or vocabulary) ceases to be prevalent and gives way to another feature is a dialect boundary or ‘isogloss’. Dialects may acquire some importance and prestige and evolve into distinct languages. This usually happens when they are codified, e.g. in written and literary forms, and their grammar and lexicon is standardized. Usually this happens when the dialect is given political and social importance. That is why it is said ‘A language is a dialect with an army, and navy’. Sociolinguists chart the evolution of such changes.
Variation in language may also be due to the specific area of human activity in which language is used. Again taking the example of English, this language is used in different fields—of law, religion, science, sports etc. In each of these areas there is a specific vocabulary and manner of use of English, which defines the legal language, the scientific language etc. This variety of language according to its use, is called register. Sociolinguists examine the particular characteristics of different registers, i.e. legal register, scientific register, etc., to see how these differ. This kind of study is useful because it enables us to understand how language-use is tied to a social context. The notion of register is important in showing that language use in communication is not arbitrary or uncontrolled, but is governed by rules of situational and contextual appropriateness.
The sociology of language includes the study of attitudes to language held by social groups, for instance, they may consider some languages or dialects as more (or less) important. It includes the planning of language education, e.g. which languages should he the medium of instruction, which language should be taught as second language; and language policy, i.e. which languages are legally and constitutionally recognised and what status they are given. The sociology of language is thus linked with other aspects of our social world, the political, economic, educational, etc.
(c) Anthropological Linguistics
The evolution of language in human society and its role in the formation of culture; is another aspect of language society and culture, this is studied in anthropological linguistics. The structure of language has a social and cultural basis in the same way as other customs, conventions and codes such as those related to dress, food, etc. Each culture organises its world           its own way, giving names to objects, identifying areas of significance or value and suppressing other areas. Language becomes a way of embodying the world view and beliefs of a culture, and the things that culture holds sacred; for example, a culture in which family relationships occupy the most significant position will have many kinship terms in their language, with each relationship specified by a particular term. If you compare the kinship terms in English such as grandfather, grandmother, uncle, aunt, etc. with kinship terms in Urdu, you will find that there are many more such terms in Urdu specifying particular relationships such as a paternal / maternal grand-father.
Similarly, terms specifying colours, emotions, natural phenomena, and so on are differently organised in every culture, and reveal a great deal about that culture. The study of these specific cultural elements is called the ethnography of a culture. A specific way of communication in a culture is thus studied as the ethnography of communication.
Anthropological studies have explored the relation between language and culture. Language is invented to communicate and express a culture. It also happens that this language then begins to determine the way we think and see the world. Since this language is the means by which we understand and think about the world, we cannot go beyond it and understand the world in any other way. This is the view expressed by the linguist Whorf whose hypothesis is that we dissect nature along the lines laid by our native language. There is still a debate about this, but it is true that to some extent we are hound to see the world according to the terms specified by our own language. These aspects of language and culture are still being discussed by anthropological linguists, philosophers of language and ethnographers.
(d) Literary Stylistics
The study of variation in language and the use of language in communication has also led to new ways of studying literary texts and the nature of literary communication. If you consider again the notion of register discussed above, you may realise that register is in fact a kind of language that is considered appropriate for a particular subject matter, e.g. the style of a religious sermon, the style of sports commentary. Similarly we may use this notion to describe the style of a literary work. That is, we may describe its features at the levels of phonology, syntax, lexis, etc. to distinguish it from other texts and to appreciate how it achieves some unique effects through the use of language. This kind of study is called literary stylistics.
Literary writers use the system of language in their own way, i.e. they create a style. This is done by deliberate choice (e.g. out of a whole range of words available, they choose one which would be particularly effective), sometimes by deviation from or violation of the rules of grammar (e.g. ‘he danced his did’ in Cummings’ poem). Poets and even prose writers may invert the normal order of items in a sentence (e.g. ‘Home is the sailor…’) or create a pattern by repetition of some items (e.g. the sound /f/ in ‘the furrow followed free’). By these and other devices, they arc able to manipulate language so that it conveys some theme or meaning with great force and effectiveness.
In literary stylistics, we read the text closely with attention to the features of language used in it, identifying and listing the particular features under the heading of ‘lexis’, ‘grammar’, ‘phonology’ or ‘sound patterns’. When we have obtained a detailed account of all these features, we co-relate them or bring them together in an interpretation of the text. That is, we try to link ‘what is being said’ with ‘how it is being said,’ since it is through the latter that writers can fully express the many complex ideas and feelings that they want to convey. Stylistic analysis also helps in a better understanding of how metaphor, irony, paradox, ambiguity etc. operate in a literary text as these are all effects achieved through language and through the building up of a coherent linguistic structure.
Nature of Linguistics
Linguistics is not a difficult subject. There are several points which at times put the beginners into trouble. These troubles are nothing, but the terminology. The beginners have to do with the difference between the lay attitude towards language and the orientation of the specialist.
When the linguist distinguishes between language and writing, the beginner at the elementary stage confuses the two. He feels that the “spoken language” and the “written language” are nothing, but two different manifestations of something fundamentally the same.
He also thinks that writing is more important than speech, when the reverse is true. Man has been speaking for millions of years but writing is a recent invention. Even today there are a, large number of people who are illiterate. But there is perhaps no human community without language.
We know from our experience that a child learns to speak his language at an earlier stage than he learns to read and write. He gradually develops his vocabulary for saying things.
The relationship between writing and language is close. A child is to transfer the vocabulary fitted to writing. Spoken words can be heard, but not seen. When they are composed of letters, they can be seen, but not heard. The teacher helps the child to develop those abilities.
In teaching English much of the time is taken for the problem of “correctness.” The linguist is not particularly interested in such questions. In using language, he may be a purist or not, but his ‘special concern is analyzing language. As an analyst of language, he is bound to observe and record ‘incorrect’ forms as correct ones if the language with which he is working makes such distinction.
The bond between language and literature is very close. The literary artist works in the medium of language “just as the painter works in the medium of colours and the composer in that of sounds.” Therefore the study of the language must not be confused.
There is a false notion of the relationship between language or grammar and logic. According to this any usage which is not “logical” is wrong. For example “he don’t” is; illogical and “he does not” is logical. From this point of view grammar and logic are close.
So far as linguistic is concerned the “logical” approach to languages is quite narrow. We do not use language only to know the facts. We use it for lies as well as truth, for non-sense as well as for sense, for persuasion a well as for instruction, for entertainment as well as for business, for making war as well as for making love. “Language is as broad and deep as the whole fabric of human existence.” Therefore, our approach to language should be comparably Catholic.
The following are some important natures of linguistics:
(i)      Like human body, language is a complex system. A human body functions because of different organs like the heart, lungs, brain etc.
Similarly the language system functions because of words, structures, sound etc.
These are the most important parts of a language. We cannot express ourselves by the help of only one of the elements of language, i.e., sounds, words of structures. All these are inter-linked.
(ii)     In language learning speech is the fundamental thing. Reading and writing are secondary.
(iii)    Language works through symbols, which are the words. For example, the word “pen” is not a “pen,” it stands for a “pen.” Therefore the symbols used in a language must be known to both the speaker, the listener, the reader and the writer.
(iv)    Language is not an inherent biological function of man. It is acquired through learning.
(v)     Language is learnt through practice and habit formation. Rules and definition of grammar cannot help for the development of language of a child.
(vi)    According to Ben Jonson, “speech is the instrument of society.” A society cannot b thought of without language. Hence the important purpose of language is communication.
(vii)   Language does not remain in a vaccum. It exists in the speakers. It is related to the culture of a particular society.
(viii)  Language is flexible, changes from time to time go on in respect of speech sounds, grammatical features, vocabulary etc. Therefore, in language teaching, we should not be rigid.

Principles and Major Concepts of Linguistics

Before dealing with the details of phonetics, it is important that we consider some major concepts in linguistics. An idea of them helps us come to grips with more complex issues. One must get a sound footing in these concepts and have a clear understanding. Mostly they are described in pairs of terms denoting sets of distinctions, such as synchrony and diachrony; form and substance; description and prescription; competence and performance, and so on.

Synchrony and Diachrony
The distinction synchrony and diachrony refers to the difference in treating language from different points of view. When we take a synchronic point of view, we are looking at a language as we find it at a given period in time. The diachronic point of view, on the other hand, gives us the historical angle; we look at a language over a period of time along with changes that occurred in it. The principles that introduce this dichotomy enable us to obtain ‘particularly accurate information about a language in its current usage’ (Wilkins). The synchronic linguistics studies how a language works at a given time, regardless of its past history or future blueprint. This has also been called descriptive linguistics.
Though the historical character of a language cannot be ignored, its present form being the result of definite historical processes, changes and transformations, it is necessary for a complete understanding of it to concentrate on the units of its structure at the present moment. Some scholars donot see the two approaches apart : “It is a mistake to think of descriptive and historical linguistics as two separate compartments, each bit of information belonging exclusively in the one or in the other”.
However, on the whole the two areas are kept apart and one is studied to the exclusion of the other. Synchronic statements make no reference to the previous stages in the language.
Linguistic studies in the nineteenth century were historical in character; they originated as part of the general historical investigations into the origins and development of cultures and communities, especially West Asia, Egypt, etc. Such philological researches viewed language at different stages of its progress and attempted to understand relations among different languages. Language families were discovered and genetic affinities identified. Diachronic linguistics was a great discovery of the 19th century, ‘which developed so powerfully and fruitfully from the 1820s to the 1880s. This discovery enabled linguists to explain modern languages as a result of law-governed historical development. (Zhirmunsky)
On a closer look one realises that without a good synchronic (descriptive) work, valid historical (diachronic) postulations are not possible; in other words, a good historical linguist needs to be thorough descriptive scholar too. 
Figure 2 shows that diachronic axis (x-y) has been considered as moving and the synchronic axis (A-B) as static. It was the Swiss linguist Ferdinand de Sassure who first coined these terms and established the distinctions. As the Russian linguist V.M. Zhirmunsky observes, ‘In de Saussure’s conception, synchrony is language considered as a system of static oppositions resting on a single temporal plane, a static two dimensional cross-section”.
The discoveries and theories of the synchronic studies offer particularly accurate information about a language in its current usage. ‘The first of these principles distinguishes clearly between descriptions of the language in its contemporary form and descriptions of its historical development’ (Wilkins)
Form and Substance
This destinction refers to the system, on the one hand, that is devised, arid the actual data which is used or worked upon. The system explains the data, it is a theoretical construct. Phonemes /b/, /d/, /g/ exemplify this. The actual sounds produced in certain distinctive manner that differentiates each from the other comprise the substance. These are accounted for by the concept of phoneme.
Sounds produced by the human speech organs can be said to comprise the substance (phonic substance) or content. Its shaping into different functional configurations can be called forms or expressions. Thus the same substance is realized in different forms. Drink (content) is used as both noun and verb. Form can be analysed without taking into account the meaning. But semantics, a branch of linguistics, deals only with the content or the substance. Form can be studied from different angles : phonological, morphological, grammatical, syntactical, etc.
Saussure had used the terms ‘Significant’ for the external form of a linguistic element, and signific for the meaning or content aspect of it. This duality is an essential attribute of any human activity and highly relevant to linguistic study as well.
Competence and Performance
The famous American linguist Noam Chomsky first used these terms to specifically refer to a person’s intuitive knowledge of the rules and structure of his language as a native speaker (he called it competence), and his actual use of these (which he termed performance). Scholars of the earlier period were aware of this basic distinction but Chomsky precisely pointed out the inherent ability or knowledge in a native speaker of the structure of his language. It refers to the ability of the native speaker to ‘understand and produce utterances which he may never find the opportunity either to understand or to produce’. Competence is the tacit knowledge of the language, performance the use of the language in concrete situations. ‘Sentence’ is a concept that belongs to the theory of competence, while ‘utterance’ belongs to performance.
The native speaker of a language possesses an ‘internalised set of rules’ which is at the base of his ability to understand and speak. The actual utterances are only evidence of this competence. While reading a new book he comes across right from the start new expressions and sentences which he had never read before; but he doesnot find any difficulty in understanding them. Each sentence is a new construction but since he had mastered the rules of the language any number of new constructions is easily understood. As Ronald Wardaugh says, ‘The ability the reader has to understand novel sentences derives from his competence in English’. His competence also makes him reject the ungrammatical constructions, consider the sentence ‘flying planes can be dangerous’ as ambiguous, and utterances like I, well, have seen the captain, well, but it was raining, and ah, I had no raincoat, what a bad memory I have …,as indicating that the speaker has wandered off. Competence also makes him recognise an expression as command, request, politeness, rough order and so on.
Performance is what actually a speaker says. It is the substance, the actual manifestation of his competence. One can understand a speaker’s competence by studying his performance. In learning a new language also it is wiser to develop the basic competence rather than memorise pieces of sentences and phrases, as the latter activity is not a true language behaviour.
Chomsky characterised generative grammar of a language as an explicit description of the ‘ideal speaker-hearer’s intrinsic competence’.
The competence-performance distinction also helps us understand that there is no limit to the actual production of sentence, it is possible to produce an infinitely long sentence, but underlying the performance is the ability of the native speakers which is limited and can be described in terms of a set of principles.
Langue and Parole
The major contribution of Ferdinand de Saussure to linguistics can be summed up as providing the basic groundwork of fundamental concepts; his definition of the ‘linguistic sign’; his explanation of the distinction between concrete and abstract linguistic units; distinction between descriptive (synchronic) and historical (diachronic), study of language, and so on. He was under the influence of the new scientific temperament and followed the principles of Durkheim who said that ‘we have social facts that can be studied scientifically when we consider them from an aspect that is independent of their individual manifestations’. This attitude helped the shaping of the structuralist approach.
De Saussure put forward the concepts of La langue, La Parole and Le Language.
Le langage denotes a host of heterogenous traits that a speaker possesses, such as his ability to produce speech acquired through heredity, his inherent ability to speak and the external factors that trigger and stimulate speech. It encompasses such factors as physical, physiological and psychological. Most significantly, it belongs to both the individual and society. Speech occupies a less important place in Le Langage. The latter’ is, therefore, of greater interest to the anthropologist and the biologist.
La langue is more directly indicative of ability to produce speech, a kind of ‘institutionalized element’ of the community’s collective consciousness. Every member of the community shares it, and because of this they are in a position to understand each other. Through langue they share the common properties of speech. ‘If one took away what was idiosyncratic or innovational, langue would remain. Langue, by definition, is stable and systematic, society conveys the regularities of langue to the child so that he becomes able to function as a member of the speech community (Wilkins).
La langue is a collective pattern which exists as ‘a sum of impressions deposited in the brain of each individual.., like a dictionary of which identical copies have been distributed to each individual… it exists in each individual, yet it is common to all’.
La langue is a repository of signs which each speaker has received from the other speakers of the community. It is passive. It is a set of conventions received by us all, ready-made from the community.
La Parole : By contrast la parole is active and denotes the actual speech act of the individual. We can better understand it by considering each act of speaking as a unique event. It is unique because it reflects the unstable, changeable relationship between the language, the precise contextual elements triggering particular utterances, and personal factors. Thus each particular speech act is characterised by the personality, nature and several other external forces governing both the production and reception of a speech act. There is a great deal that is particular, individual, personal and idiosyncratic about la parole as opposed to la langue which emphasizes speech as the common act of behaviour, ‘given that there is a good deal that is idiosyncratic or not fully institutionalised, parole cannot be stable and systematic’ (Wilkins : 34). Parole gives the data from which statements about langue are made; parole is not collective but individual, momentary and heterogenous.
As Francis P. Dinneen points out “when we hear la parole of another community, we perceive the noises made, but not the social fact of language. We cannot connect the sounds produced and the social facts with which the other speech associates the sounds. When we hear la parole within our own community we perceive the sounds as associated with social facts, according to a set of rules. These rules, which can be called the convention, or grammar, of the language are habits that education has imposed on us. They have the property of being general throughout the community. That is why all the speakers can understand each other.
The main points of distinction between La Langue and La Parole can be summed up as follows.
La Langue
La Parole
It is stable and institutionalised.
It is mobile and personal.
It is passive.
It is active.
It is a social fact and general for the community.
It is individual and idiosyncratic.
It contains the negative limits on what a speaker must say.
It doesnot put any such limits.
It is sum of properties shared by all speakers of a community.
It contains infinite number of individual properties.
A scientific study can only be based on La langue
It is not amenable to scientific study.
It is an abstraction.
It is concrete manifestat-ion.
It is a collective instrument.
It is not a collective instrument.
It is a set of conventions and habits handed down to next generation readymade.
It is diverse and variegated.
It is language as a speaker is expected to use.
It is language in actual use.
It is not subject to social and individual pressure.
It is susceptible to social and other pressure.
It is fixed.
It is free.
It is a potential form of language.
It is an actualised form of language.
Syntagmatic and Paradigmatic
Ferdinand de Saussure saw the linguistic sign at once as static and dynamic or developing. The pairing of terms, synchrony-diachrony; form-substance; langue-parole as sets of contrasting relations amply demostrates this concept. The idea is to highlight and demonstrate two dominant properties of a linguistic sign, one linear and the other arbitrary. La langue is thus more stable and predictably organised than la parole which displays freedom and dynamism which is not rule-governed, therefore unpredictable.
Similarly, de Saussure put forward the concepts of syntagmatic and what he at that time called ‘associative relations’.
In Syntagmatic relations the syntagme is seen as any ‘combination of discrete successive units of which there arc at least two, with no limit on the possible number’. These segments range from the smallest construction units, i.e. phonemes, to phrases, and so on. The relations binding the successive units are called relation in praesentia. Thus the word read is a succession of phonemes /r/, /i:/, /d/; re-read a succession of bound morpheme and a free morphemes.
For Saussure sentence is the most obvious example of a syntagme. It is a combination of other linguistic units. They demonstrate chain relationship. The unit acquires its significance by its position of occurrence vis-a-vis other elements preceding and following it. We shall take an example.
She will come tomorrow. We see elements occurring in a linear order in this sentence : the pronoun + auxiliary + main verb + adverb. This ordering of the words cannot be charged. Syntagmatic relations function on the horizontal emphasizing the relational criteria a identifying or defining lingusitic categories or units. The concept of syntagmatic relations underlines the structural potential of any item, under examination.
The paradigmatic relationships are contrastive or choice relationships. Words that have something in common, are; associated in the memory, resulting in groups marked by diverse relations. For example, the English word learning will unconsciously call to mind a host of other words––study, knowledge, discipline, etc. All these words are re­lated in some way. This kind of relationship is called associative or para­digmatic relationship. Here the co-ordinations are outside discourse and are not supported by linearity. They are relations in absentia, and are vertical type relations. Their seat is in the brain; they are a part of the inner storehouse that makes up language of each speaker.” (Saussure)
We can visualize a word as the centre of a constellation around which spring other words. These relations are unpredictable. Associations that are called up in one person may not occur in the mind of another. Since it is psychological, it is also subject to individual vagaries and governed by the specific factors governing the individual’s speech behaviour, Paradigmatic relations are unpredictable, free, dynamic and idiosyncratic, comparable to la parole.
It was the Danish linguist Lois Hjelmslev who suggested the term ‘paradigmatic’ for de Saussure’s’ ‘assocative relations’.

The Nature of Language and Linguistics

Language is God’s special gift to mankind. Without language human civilization, as we now know it, would have remained an impossibility. Language is ubiquitous. It is present everywhere––in our thoughts and dreams, prayers and meditations, relations and communication. Besides being a means of communication, and storehouse of knowledge, it is an instrument of thinking as well as a source of delight (e.g. singing).

It transfers knowledge from one person to another and from one generation to another. Language is also the maker or unmaker of human relationships. It is the use of language that ‘Italics a life bitter or sweet. Without language man would have remained only a dumb animal. It is our ability to communicate through words that makes us different from animals. Because of its omnipresence, language is often taken for granted.

Definition of Language
Since linguistics is the study of language, it is imperative for linguist to know what language is. Language is a very complex human phenomenon; all attempts to define it have proved inadequate. In a nut-shell, language is an ‘organised noise’ used in actual social situations. That is why it has also been defined as ‘contextualised systematic sound‘.
In order to understand a term like life, one has to talk of the properties or characteristics of living beings (e.g. motion, reproduction, respiration, growth, power of self-healing, excretion, nutrition, mortality, etc. etc.). Similarly, the term language can be understood better in terms of its properties or characteristics. Some linguists, however, have been trying to define language in their own ways even though all these definitions have been far from satisfactory. Here are some of these definitions:
1. Language is a symbol system based on pure or arbitrary conventions… infinitely extendable and modifiable according to the changing needs and conditions of the speakers.
According to this definition, language is a symbol system. Every languages selects some symbols for its selected sounds. The English sound /k/ for example has the symbol k for it. These symbols form the alphabet of the language and join in different combinations to form meaningful words.
The system talked of here is purely arbitrary in the sense that there is no one to one correspondence between the structure of a word and the thing it stands for. The combination p.e.n., for example stands, in English, for an instrument used for writing. Why could it not be e.p.n. or n.e.p.? Well, it could also be e.p.n. or n.e.p. and there is nothing sacrosanct about the combination p.e.n. except that it has now become a convention—a convention that cannot be easily changed.
As stated here, language conventions are not easily changed, yet it is not impossible to do so. Language is infinitely modifiable and extendable. Words go on changing meanings and new words continue to be added to language with the changing needs of the community using it.
2. Language is a purely human and non-instinctive method of communicating ideas, emotions and desires by means of a system of voluntarily produced symbols.
There are two terms in this definition that call for discussion: human and non-instinctive. Language, as Sapir rightly said, is human. Only humans possess language and all normal humans uniformly possess it. Animals do have a communication system but it is not a developed system. That is why language is said to be species-specific and species-uniform.
Also, language does not pass from a parent to a child. In this sense it is non-instinctive. A child has to learn language and he/she learns the language of the society he/she is placed in.
3. Language is the institution whereby humans communicate and interact with each other by means of habitually used oral-auditory arbitrary symbols.
This definition rightly gives more prominence to the fact that language is primarily speech produced by oral-auditory symbols. A speaker produces some string of oral sounds that get conveyed through the air to the speaker who, through his hearing organs, receives the sound waves and conveys these to the brain that interprets these symbols to arrive at a meaning.
4.   A language is a set (finite or infinite) of sentences, each finite in length and constructed out of a finite set of elements.
(Noam Chomsky)
Chomsky meant to convey that each sentence has a structure. Human brain is competent enough to construct different sentences from out of the limited set of sounds/symbols belonging to a particular language. Human brain is so productive that a child can at any time produce a sentence that has never been said or heard earlier.
5.   A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols used for human communication.       
6.   A language is a system of arbitrary vocal symbols by means of which a social group cooperates.
(Bloch and Trager)
Both the definitions 5 and 6 above prominently point out that language is a system. Sounds join to form words according to a system. The letters k, n, i, t join to form a meaningful ‘word knit, whereas combinations like n-k-i-t, t.k.n.i. or i.n.k.t. do not form any meaningful or sensible combinations. Although initially the formation of words, as said earlier, is only arbitrary, convention makes them parts of a system. Words too join to form sentences according to some system. A sentence like: Cricket is a game of glorious uncertainties is acceptable but one cannot accept a string of words like: a game is of cricket uncertainties glorious. It is in this sense that language is said to be a system of systems.
7.   Language is undoubtedly a kind of means of communication among human beings. It consists primarily of vocal sounds. It is articulatory, systematic, symbolic and arbitrary.
Derbyshire, while accepting that language is the property of human beings and that it is primarily speech, brings out the point that it is an important means of communication amongst humans. Before the start of civilization, man might have used the language of signs but it must have had a very limited scope. Language is a fully developed means of communication with the civilized man who can convey and receive millions of messages across the universe. An entire civilization depends on language only. Think of a world without language—man would only continue to be a denizen of the forest and the caves. Language has changed the entire gamut of human relations and made it possible for human beings to grow into a human community on this planet.
Some More Definitions
8.       Language is a system of conventional spoken or written symbols by means of which human beings, as members of a social group and participants in its culture, communicate.
(Encyclopaedia Britannica)
9.   Languages are the principal systems of communication used by particular groups of human beings within the particular society (linguistic community) of which they are members.
Anthropologists regard language as a form of cultural behaviour, sociologists as an interaction between members of social, city, students of literature as an artistic medium, philosophers as a means of interpreting human experience, language teachers as a set of skills. Truly, language is such a complex phenomenon that to define it in terms of a single level as knowledge, behaviour, skill, habit, an event or an object, solve the problem of its definition. None of the above definitions are perfect. Each of them just hints at certain characteristics of language. Hence instead of defining language, it would he worthwhile to stand its Major characteristics.
Characteristics of Language
1) Language is a Means of Communication:
Language is a very important means of communication between humans. A can communicate his or her ideas, emotions, beliefs or feelings to B as they share a common code that makes up the language. No doubt, there are many other means of communication used by humans e.g. gestures, nods, winks, flags, smiles, horns, short-hand, Braille alphabet, mathematical symbols, Morse code, sirens, sketches, maps, acting, miming, dancing etc. But all these systems of communication are extremely limited or they too, in turn, depend upon language only. They are not so flexible, comprehensive, perfect and extensive as language is. Language is so important a form of communication between humans that it is difficult to think of a society without language. It gives shape to people’s thoughts and guides and controls their entire activity. It is a carrier of civilization and culture as human thoughts and philosophy are conveyed from one generation to the other through the medium of language. Language is ubiquitous in the sense that it is present everywhere in all activities. It is as important as the air we breathe and is the most valuable possession of man.
Animals too have their system of communication but their communication is limited to a very small number of messages, e.g. hunger, fear, and anger. In the case of humans, the situation is entirely different. Human beings can send an infinite number of messages to their fellow beings. It is through language that they store knowledge, transfer it to the next generation and yoke the present, past and the future together.
2) Language is Arbitrary:
Language is arbitrary in the sense that there is no inherent relation between the words of a language and their meanings or the ideas conveyed by them (except in the case of hieroglyphics where a picture of an object may represent the object). There is no reason why a female adult human being be called a woman in English, aurat in Urdu, Zen in Persian and Femine in French. Selection of these words in the languages mentioned here is purely arbitrary, an accident of history. It is just like christening a new born baby who may be christened John or James. But once a child is given some name in a purely arbitrary manner; this name gets associated with the child for his entire life and it becomes an important, established convention. The situation in the case of the language is a similar one. The choice of a word selected to mean a particular thing or idea is purely arbitrary but once a word is selected for a particular referent, it comes to stay as such.
It may be noted that had language not been arbitrary, there would have been only one language in the world.
3) Language is a System of Systems:
Language is not an amorphous, a disorganised or a chaotic combination of sounds. Any brick may be used anywhere in a building, but it is not so with sounds or graphic symbols standing for the sounds of a language. Sounds are arranged in certain fixed or established, systematic order to form meaningful units or words. Similarly, words are also arranged in a particular system to frame acceptable mean­ingful sentences. These systems operate at two levels: phonological and syntactical.
At the phonological level, for example, sounds of a language appear only in some fixed combinations. There is no word, for example, that starts with bz–, lr­– or zl– combination. There is no word that begins with a /ŋ/ sound or ends in a /h/ sound. Similarly words too combine to form sentences according to certain conventions (i.e. grammatical or structural rules) of the language. The sentence “The hunter shot the tiger with a gun” is acceptable but the sentence “the tiger shot a gun with hunter the” is not acceptable as the word order in the latter sentence does not conform to the established language conventions.
Language is thus called a system of systems as it operates at the two levels discussed above. This property of language is also termed duality by some linguists. This makes language a very complex phenomenon. Every human child has to master the conventions of the language he or she learns before being able to successfully communicate with other members of the social group in which he or she is placed.
4) Language is Primarily Vocal:
Language is primarily made up of vocal sounds only produced by a physiological articulatory mechanism in the human body. In the beginning, it must have appeared as vocal sounds only. Writing must have come much later, as an intelligent attempt to represent vocal sounds. Writing is only the graphic representation of the sounds of the language. There are a number of languages which continue to exist, even today, in the spoken form only. They do not have a written form. A child learns to speak first; writing comes much later. Also, during his life time, a man speaks much more than he writes. The total quantum of speech is much larger than the total quantum of written materials.
It is because of these reasons that some linguists say that speech is primary, writing is secondary. Writing did have one advantage over speech—it could be preserved in books or records. But, with the invention of magnetic tapes or audio-cassettes, it has lost that advantage too. The age-old proverb ‘pen is mightier than the sword’ does not hold much ground when one finds that the spoken words, at the beck and call of a really good orator, can do much more than a pen. Just think of Mark Antony’s speech in ‘Julius Caesar’ that inspired the whole mob into action and spurred them on to a mood of frenzy to burn and kill the enemies of Julius Caesar. A number of modern gadgets like the telephone, the tape recorder, the Dictaphone, etc. only go to prove the primacy of speech over writing.
5) Language is a Social Phenomenon:
Language is a set of conventional communicative signals used by humans for communication in a community. Language in this sense is a possession of a social group, comprising an indispensable set of rules which permits its members to relate to each other, to interact with each other, to co-operate with each other; it is a social institution. Language exists in society; it is a means of nourishing and developing culture and establishing human relations. It is as a member of society that a human being acquires a language. We are not born with an instinct to learn a particular language––English, Russian, Chinese or French. We learn a language as member of the society using that language, or because we want to understand that society, or to be understood by that speech-community. If a language is not used in any society, it dies out.
Language is thus a social event. It can fully be described only if we know all about the people who are involved in it, their personalities, their beliefs, attitudes, knowledge of the world, relationship to each other, their social status, what activity they are engaged in, what they are talking about, what has gone before linguistically and non-linguistically, what happens after, what they are and a host of other facts about them and the situation they are placed in.
6) Language is Non-instinctive, Conventional:
No language was created in a day out of a mutually agreed upon formula by a group of humans. Language is the outcome of evolution and convention. Each generation transmits this convention on to the next. Like all human institutions languages also change and die, grow and expand. Every language then is a convention in a community. It is non-instinctive because it is acquired by human beings. No body gets a language in heritage; he acquires it, and everybody has been provided with an innate ability to acquire language. Animals inherit their system of communication by heredity, humans do not.
7) Language is Systematic:
Although language is symbolic, yet its symbols are arranged in a particular system. All languages have their system of arrangements. Though symbols in each human language are finite, they can be arranged infinitely; that is to say, we can produce an infinite set of sentence by a finite set of symbols.
Every language is a system of systems. All languages have phonological and grammatical systems, and within a system there are several sub-systems. For example, within the grammatical system we have morphological and syntactic systems, and within these two sub-systems we have several other systems such as those of plural, of mood, of aspect, of tense, etc.
8) Language is unique, creative, complex and modifiable:
Language is a unique phenomenon of the earth. Other planets do not seem to have any language, although this fact may be invalidated if we happen to discover a talking generation on any other planet. But so far there is no evidence of the presence of language on the moon. Each language is unique in its own sense. By this we do not mean that lan­guages do not have any similarities or universals. Despite their common features and language, universals, each language has its peculiarities and distinct features.
Language has creativity and productivity. The structural elements of human language can be combined to produce new utterances, which neither the speaker nor his hearers may ever have made or heard before any, listener, yet which both sides understand without difficulty. Language changes according to the needs of society. Old English is different from modern English; so is old Urdu different form modern Urdu.
9) Duality:
The language that human beings use consists of two sub-systems – sound and meaning. A finite set of sound units can be grouped and re-gourd into units of meaning. These can be grouped and re-grouped to generate further functional constituents of the higher hierarchical order. We can produce sentences through this process of combining units of a different order. Animal calls donot show such duality, they are unitary.
10) Productivity:
A speaker may say something that he has never said before and be understood without difficulty. Man uses the limited linguistic, resources in order to produce completely novel ideas and utterances. Fairy tales, animal fables, narratives about alien unheard of happenings in distant galaxies or nonexistent worlds are perfectly understood by the listeners.
11) Displacement:
One can talk about situations, places and objects far removed from one’s present surroundings and time. We often talk about events that happened long time ago and at a distant place ; bombing incident in Ireland’s Londonderry twelve years’ back, for instance; or the sinking of the Spanish Armada in the sixteenth century. Bees, of course, perform dances about the source of nectar that is also removed from the place of dance (beehive). But they cannot convey what happened in the previous season through their dance features. Human beings, however, can narrate events in which they were not involved.
12) Language is Both Linguistic and Communicative Competence:
A language is an abstract set of psychological principles and sociological consideration that constitute a person’s competence as a speaker in a given situation. “These psychological principles make available to him an unlimited number of sentences he can draw upon in concrete; situations and provide him with the ability to understand and create entirely new sentences. Hence language is not just a verbal behaviour; it is a system of rules establishing correlations between meanings and sound sequences. It is a set of principles that a speaker masters; it is not anything that he does. In brief, a language is a code which is different from the act of encoding; it is a speaker’s linguistic competence rather than his linguistic performance. But mere linguistic or communicative competence is not enough for communication; it has to be coupled with communicative competence. This is the view of the sociolinguists who stress the use of language according to the occasion and context, the speaker and the listener, the profession and the social status of the speaker and the listener. That language is the result of social interaction established truth.
13) Language is Human and Structurally Complex:
No species other than humans has been endowed with language. Animals cannot acquire human language because of its complex struc­ture and their physical inadequacies. Animals do not have the type of brain which the human beings possess and their articulatory organs are also very much different from those of the human beings. Furthermore any system of animals communication does not make use of the quality of features, that is, of concurrent systems of sound and meaning. Human language is open-ended, extendable and modifiable whereas the animal language is not. The difference between human and animal system of communication is explained below.
Human and Animal Communication
Language is primarily human. It is humans alone that possess language and use it for communication. Language is, in that sense, species-specific––it is specific only to one set of species. Also, all human beings uniformly possess language. It is only a few deaf (and therefore dumb) persons who cannot speak. Thus language is species-uniform to that extent. Animals also have their own system of communication but communication between them is extremely limited. It is limited to a very small number of messages. Animal communication differs from human communication in the following ways:
(a) Language can convey a large number, rather an infinite set, of messages whereas the number of messages conveyed through the communication system of animals is very limited. Animals, for example, are able to convey to their fellow animals if they are hungry or afraid. A bee, by its dance, is able to convey the distance or the direction of the source of nectar but it cannot convey how good or had this honey is. Similarly a bee cannot tell another bee that the source of honey is ten metres to the left of a point fifteen metres to the right. Language can thus convey messages along several directions whereas, in the case of bees, messages are differentiated along two dimensions only, i.e., direction and distance. Some monkeys, it is known, can produce a number of (not more than 9 to 10) sounds to express fear, aggression, anger, love etc. but these messages too are extremely limited in number.
(b) Language makes use of clearly distinguishable discrete, separately identifiable symbols while animal communication systems are often continuous or non-discrete.
One can clearly distinguish between /k/, /æ/ and /t/ in the word cat but one cannot identify different discrete symbols in the long humming sound that a bee produces or the caw-caw of a crow.
(c)  Animal communication systems are closed systems that permit of no change, modification or addition. A bee’s dance or a cock’s crow is today the same that it was two hundred years ago. It is not so in the case of language. Language is changing, growing every day and new words continue to be added to it in the course of time. Words like sputnik, laser, video, software etc. did not, for example, exist anywhere in English language three hundred years ago. Language is thus open ended, modifiable and extendable.
(d)  Human language is far more structurally complex than animal commu­nication. English (RP Variety), for example, has 44 sounds that join in different groups to form thousands of words. These words can be arranged into millions of sets to frame different sentences. Each sentence has its own internal structure. There is no such structural complexity in a lamb’s bleating or a monkey’s cry.
(e)  Human language is non-instinctive in the sense that every human child has to learn language from his elders or peers in society. This process of learning plays an important part in the acquisition of language. On the other hand, bees acquire their skill in dancing as humans acquire the skill to walk. Bees are sometimes seen to make hexagonal hives. They do not learn any geometry. Their knowledge is inherited, inbuilt. It is not so in the case of human beings who have to learn a language.
(f)   Another important property possessed by human language is called Displacement. A human being, for example, can talk about the past, the present or the future, of an event that happened nearby or thousands of miles away. An animal cannot do that. When a dog produces a certain sound, it generally refers to the present. A dog cannot tell his master that a thief had visited his premises the previous night or the previous Sunday. It cannot tell him that a piece of meat is lying 200 metres away on the left bank of a river flowing by the village. When a cat mews at the arrival of its master, it is expressing its present feeling only. It cannot refer to an event that took place two hours ago in the park. It is this property of displacement which enables humans to create fiction and describe the past as well as the possible future events.
Why Study Language?
Having outlined the various characteristics of language, one may like to ask: why study or learn language at all? An answer to this question can be easily derived from a consideration of the situation this world was in before language came into being. One can easily imagine that man must then have been a denizen of the forest very much like anyone of the other animals, viz. horse, cow, tiger, elephant, and dog. The entire human progress, in fact everything that distinguishes humans from animals, depends on language only. Language is, today, a medium of literature, science and technology, computers and cultural exchanges between social groups, and the most powerful, convenient and permanent means of communication in the world. It is ubiquitous, present everywhere in all human activities, thoughts, dreams, prayers, meditations and relations. It is only through language that knowledge and culture are stored and passed on from generation to generation. Thus all human civilization and knowledge is only possible through language.
Some Misconception about Language
Having discussed the major characteristics of language, it would be proper to hint at some major misconceptions which ate cherished by otherwise well-informed people. These misconceptions arise because of improper and inadequate reflection on the nature and structure of language. For some people, language is so familiar an object that it is not worthy of reflection and investigation. For others, reflection about lan­guage would only mean the vaguely understood statements made in a grammar class which they attended sometime in their schools or colleges. For the linguist, however, both these views are unacceptable. He regards the study of language as essential and exciting. He wants to study lan­guage to find out what it is like, what its parts or units or elements or components are like, and bow they are combined together. He is interested in discovering its structure. He speculates about language then he analyzes and describes it. If need be he compares it with other languages, and discovers its core grammar.
More than this the linguist raises very many pertinent and valid questions to be answered by researchers in the future. He raise the questions such as those listed here. Does every linguist analyse a language into the same number and kind of parts? What is the relationship of one analysis to another when there is mole than one way of analyzing a language? Out of the existing analysis and descriptions which is the better one? How is a language learnt? What is the difference between the first language acquisition and the second language learning? Why is second language learning difficult? Can the knowledge of one language help a person in acquiring the knowledge of the other language? How, why and to what extent does the learner’s knowledge of the mother tongue inter­fere with the learning of a second language? Are there sonic people who do not know even a single language? What happens to a child when he is brought up in isolation? Is there a particular age at which children start the process of learning a language and another by which they complete it? Why can’t animals imitate human language? Winn is the difference between human language and animal system of communication? What are the similarities and dis-similarities between one lan­guage and another? Are there some language universals among the languages of the world? By which they complete it? Why can’t animals imitate human language? What is the difference between human language and animal system of communication? What are the similarities and dis-similarities between one language and another? Are there some language universals among the languages of the world?
A linguist tries to ask these and similar other questions. It is not incumbent upon him to find out satisfactory answers to all the questions. It is a contribution of no little value to raise questions that arc valid and important. In all sciences, raising questions is more important then sun-plying answers to the questions previously raised. This is how scientific inquiry progresses. If a question is raised today, some future linguist will find out not only its answer but also the ways and means to analyse and study languages scientifically, ask valid questions and raise new controversies.
There are misconceptions of yet graver magnitude than those mentioned in the preceding paragraphs. The common ones are, that written form is more prestigious than the spoken form; that literary language is the only language; that one language is superior to another; that traditional alphabet is adequate; that the job of a linguist is not to describe hut. to prescribe the grammatical rules to preserve the purity of a language that children learn language merely by imitation; that language is an in­stinctive and inherited property of man; that there is little in common between the languages of the world; that there are no language universals at all; that no two languages have any similarities; that the purity of a language should somehow be preserved and that historical forms of usage are to be preferred and remembered whereas contemporary usage should be ignored as unworthy of attention. Even wore is the misconception that only a historical treatment of language is the right treatment and that a language should riot be studied isolating it as it were, at a particular stage or point of time, and that what one school of linguists se the absolute and the only truth and what the other says is a falsehood and heresy. Some other misconceptions are that all languages can he ana­lyzed as one would analyze European languages such as Latin and French; that Greek and Latin are ideal languages; that sounds a particular language are in themselves easy or difficult; and that languages are static. The earlier a student of language removes such misconception, the easier it is for him to acquire wholesome and scientific attitude towards language.

Phonetics – The Study of Speech Sounds

Phonetics has been defined as the science of speech sounds. It is a branch of linguistics and deals with the sounds produced by human beings in their speech behaviour. In speaking trial listening a complex of activities is involved : there is the production of speech which is the result of simultaneous activities of several body organs.

These activities are aimed at creating disturbances in the air. The inhaled air acts as source of energy setting the outside air vibrating so that the sound thus generated is carried along to the ears of the listener. The auditory process is set in motion which is again a complicated process involving auditory organs; perception of speech segments which involves discarding the non-significant features from the significant or distinctive features and perceiving only those that are meaningful. ‘Even a single speech sound combines a large number of distinctive features which provide the information on which an auditor bases recognition of the sound’ (Tiffany-Carrell). It is like retrieving a small visual image from a crowd of intricate details. But the brain can quickly decode the incoming signals that have been encoded by the speakers. ‘Physical energy in the form of sensory nerve impulses reaches the brain’, the brain circuitry is understood to organise them into percepts which are the basis of recognition. Obviously, a complex of multiple factors in the form of the listeners’ interest, his social background, intellectual level, pas! experience and other parameters play an active and significant role in the perception level, and the interpretation is made accordingly.

We thus observe that speech act encompasses intricate movements and activities that occur on different planes, some of them simultaneously and at incredible speed. We ate so used to speaking in a natural effortless manner, that we hardly give attention to the complex nature of speech production and speech perception.
Branches of Linguistics
Phonetics    has three major branches:
1)   Articulatory Phonetics
2)   Auditory Phonetics
3)   Acoustic Phonetics
Articulatory phonetics is also known as physiological phonetics; and auditory phonetics is known by the name perceptual phonetics.
Articulatory Phonetics
This branch of phonetics recognises that there is speech producing mechanism in human beings. ‘The ‘apparatus’ that produces speech sounds is situated within the human body. However, it must be clear that there is no separate ‘apparatus’ exclusively used for generating speech sounds. Speech is, infact, an overlaid function in that human beings utilize in a special way organs which are part of the respiratory and digestive system. Man uses those organs for speaking which already serve other biological needs. Thus lips, teeth, tongue, hard palate, soft palate, trachea, lungs – all these organs used in speech production have different basic biological functions. In the process of cultural evolution, man devised ways of utilizing these organs and parts thereof (such as the tip, blade, front, centre, back of the tongue alongwith the corresponding areas or points in the roof of mouth or hard palate) for verbal communication.
Besides( these the airstream that goes in and out of the lungs forms the basis of speech; that is, speech is based en the outgoing airstream. Articulatory phonetics studies how the outgoing airstream is regulated along the vocal tract to form various speech sounds.
Auditory Phonetics
This branch of phonetics studies how speech sounds are heard and perceived. This galls for a close study of the psychology of perception on the one hand, and the mechanism of the neuro-muscular circuitry on the other.
Hearing is a very intricate process; it implies ‘interpreting the physical description of actual or proposed signals in terms of the auditory sensations which the signals would create if impressed upon the ear’ (French). Acoustic signals generate a ‘complex chain of physical disturbances within the auditory system’. The brain receives signal about these physical disturbances; in the brain are caused other disturbances – physical counterparts of the sensations. It is necessary to establish correlation between the auditory signals and their interpretation in terms of the disturbances in the brain. It is a challenging task, one can say that not much headway has been made in unravelling the complex pattern of the course charted by the speech signals through the auditory system into the neuro-muscular processes. However, we can divide the whole process into three stages:
i)    the physical aspect of die auditory system
ii)   recognition of the essential characteristics of hearing.
iii)  interpreting auditory sensations, their attributes and their relation to the signals.
The physical aspect of die auditory system involves a detailed description of the external, middle and inner ear (also known as Cochlea), and the auditory receptive centres of tic bran, the neural network. This also takes into account ‘translating acoustic signals into auditory sensations’ which begins with the transfer of pressure variation of sound waves to the fluids in the inner ear. The inner ear analyses these vibrations and encodes them into ‘neural pulses of elctrochemical activity’. The inner ear is connected to the auditory receptive centres by the auditory nerve which carries these pulses. The auditory centres are correspondingly stimulated. But there is a difference between the liaises and the actual sensations in the neural centres that ate thus generated.
The basic characteristics of healing include such features as loudness, absolute sensitivity, frequency tones, ‘masking’ or the elimination of the subjective traces of one of the two or more sounds; that the ear is exposed to, pitch etc. Interpreting, the auditory sensations into their physical signals poses serious problems. The auditory sensations do lint offer a featly, palpable pattern that can satisfactorily be described Sound signals may be composed of a variety of components – horn bits of ‘transients’ to sounds of longer duration; from single unit tones to multiple segment complexes; Bonn ones having a constant pattern to continually changing frequencies. It is not necessary that the auditory sensation would reflect the identical occurrences of these sound signals. In the complex sound patterns, their ‘separate components may retain the identity in the resulting sensation’ or may produce an entirely new sensation. Signals of varying frequencies may produce a study pattern of sensations or separate sensations. Composition of the human brain plays a crucial role in this regard. It poses difficulties in the way of interpretation. Many signals are highly complex and can only be described in mathematical terms. However, such descriptions do not have any relevance to phonetics and must, therefore, be ignored.
Acoustic Phonetics
Acoustic phonetics is the study of the physical properties of speech sounds such as frequency and amplitude in their transmission. Acoustic phoneticians analyse the speech waves with the help of instruments, attempt to describe the physical properties of the stream of sound issues forth from the mouth of a speaker.
It is in the field of acoustic phonetics that the most sulking developments have taken place since the Second World War. Complex sound waves produced in speech can be analysed into their component frequencies and relative amplitudes. Considerable progress has also been made in speech-synthesis. Acoustic analysis has confirmed (if confirmation was needed) that speech is not made up of a sequence of discrete sounds. The articulatory features of rounding of voice, of nasality, of obstruction and of friction can also be identified acoustically. Acoustic phonetics achieved a good deal of success in matters of the study of the n vowels, but regarding consonants it has not reached final conclusions.
We shall now consider the organs which are used in articulation. All speech organs are known as articulators. They are broadly divided into two categories :
a)   Mobile or active articulators
b)   Fixed or passive articulators
We have already noted that there is perceptibly significant mobility in the laryngeal and pharyngeal regions. In fact, the whole of sub-laryngeal area is active in speech production. However, there are more noticeable movements in the larynx and areas immediately above it. The throat forms a crucial factor in determining resonance. The length of the pharyngeal resonator can be changed by muscular actions which raise and lower the larynx. Among the mobile or active articulators the centrally important one is the tongue. It is extremely flexible and mobile. The other two mobile articulators are the lower jaw (mandible) which can move both vertically and horizontally to change the phonetic qualities of sounds, and the lips; they can be rounded or spread, brought closer to the upper teeth or simply held neutrally.
The fixed or passive articulators are include the roof of the mouth. This is dome-shaped, hard and bony. It is known as the hard palate. The hard palate and the teeth play a necessary, although passive role in articulation. The bony palate forms the anterior part of the roof of mouth, separating the oral cavity from the nasal passage. The hard palate terminates in the soft palate which is muscular. This is also called velum or velum palatinum which forms the posterior section of the roof  of the mouth, separating the mouth cavity from nasopharynx. The velum can be lowered or raised for opening or closing the nasopharyngeal passage. We shall see this in detail in the section dealing with nasal sounds.
The upper teeth also participate in articulatory process, with the active articulators coming into contact with them to form various constrictions, thus modifying the airstream and producing different speech sounds.
We shall now separately consider in detail each one of these articulators. First let us look at the active articulators.
Active Articulators
The main role of the active articulators is to actively interfere with the outgoing airstream and modify it to produce various types of speech sounds. This is done either by approximating (forming a constriction) or coming into full contact with the passive articulators (forming complete stoppage). We have seen the functioning of the larynx, glottis and vocal cords in earlier sections. Now we shall take a look at the oropharyngeal articulators that are situated in the mouth.
The most active of articulators is the tongue. It shows an amazing range of adjustments and movements mainly because it is made of two groups of muscles, intrinsic ones are fibres of the longitudinal, transverse and verticalis lingual musceles. These muscles are within the tongue and mainly responsible for changes in its shape. They blend with the extrinsic muscles which originate outside of the tongue. Their function determines the position and movement of the tongue. ‘The tongue is an organ of taste, and used for chewing and swallowing activities… On the basis of its great flexibility and motility, the secondary function of articulation has been super-imposed’. (G.E. Arnold)
It has been divided into the following major parts on the surface along its length.
i)    apex or tip
ii)   blade
iii)  front
iv)  back or dorsum
v)   root
The sides of the tongue can also be used in speech, these are known as margin. For lateral sounds the sides are raised enough for the airstream to create turbulence and escape continuously. The tip can be raised and curled backwards letting the passing airstream to vibrate it. This produces retroflex sounds of various types.
Lower lip: The lower lip is a mobile articulator which can be used for many oral configurations. With the upper lip it can form various degrees of rounding that produce different vowels. It can bring about complete oral occlusion with the upper lip which produces bilabial sounds, plosives and in many languages fricatives also. When the lower lip comes into contact with upper teeth, we hear fricative sounds (labio-dental).
Passive Articulators
Passive or immobile articulators cannot be moved about, but perform a v cry crucial role in speech production. The mobile organs approximate them, i.e. come close enough to affect the shape of the outgoing column of air, or form a complete closure by coming into full contact with them.
These organs are mostly located in the upper part of the mouth, beginning in front with the upper lip, upper teeth, the gum ridge or alveolum, hard palate, the soft palate, just behind the hard palate and the back wall of the throat (pharynx).
Upper lip : Though upper lip is not a rigid organ and can be moved, in speech production it is not used as a mobile articulator; rather the lower lip reaches up to create various constrictions with it. Therefore, it has been classified as a passive articulator.
Upper teeth: The row of upper teeth functions as the passive articulator. Tongue-tip and blade as well as the lower lip form constriction with them. The active organs can do so either with the edges of the teeth or the back of them. Dental class of sounds is produced in this manner. Upper teeth are also involved in the production of the fricative sounds, called labio-dentals in which the lower lip approximates them to form a slit through which the air escapes creating friction noise.
Gum ridge: Just behind the upper teeth is located alveolar or gum ridge. The mobile speech organs – various parts of the tongue reach it to form either a narrow stricture or a complete closure. Hindi /d/ and /t/ and their aspirated counterparts are dental stops. But English /0/ in thin and /ð/ in this are fricatives.
Hard Palate: Behind the alveolum or gum ridge begins the hard palate which forms the major part of the oral arch or roof of the mouth. We already possess an idea of its formation. It is made of the horizontal plates of bone which terminate in the soft palate. ‘Some part of both the hard and the soft palates serves as a point of contact or near-contact for the tongue in the production of a number of speech sounds’. It can be divided into parts or areas where the tongue makes contact. Phonetic quality is changed according to the point at which the hard palate is approximated by the tongue. These sounds are recognised as palatal. These are further classified according to which part of the tongue comes into contact with the precise palatal area. For example, we can produce palato-alveolar sounds by bringing the tip of the tongue to touch the extreme front of the hard palate or the place lying between the gum-ridge and the palate. Alveo-palatal area lies further back of the region just mentioned; palatal the slope of the hard palate and domal is the dome of it. Classification is largely a matter of convenience and practical need of the particular language. Not all the languages or dialects make use of all the classification criteria. What is suggested here is that precise classifications are possible.
Soft Palate: This is recognised as the fixed articulator though it can he moved, being a soft and flexible organ. The principal action of soft place consists of opening the naso-pharyngeal cavity by lowering itself. When it is lowered, the oral passage is closed off and the outgoing airstream passes through the nose, sounds produced in this manner are identified as nasals. /m/, /n/, /h/ and the nasalised vowels are of this type. For opening the oral passage and allowing the air a free passage through it, the soft palate is raised. Soft palate thus acts as a valve. The back of the tongue or derssum makes contact with the velum to produce either frictional sounds or stops. These stops are known as velar stops /k/, /g/. Retroflex sounds can also be produced by bringing the underside of the tongue tip to touch the velum.
The soft palate terminates into a piece of flesh which dangles over the pharyngeal passage. This is called uvula. It is a ‘small flexible appendage hanging down from the posterior edge of the velum, (Gleason). It can be vibrated by the outgoing breath-stream, to produce uvular sound, particularly uvular trills. Some languages use these sounds as phonemes.
Pharynx: The posterior wall of the pharynx is used for producing speech. In the front are the base of the tongue, the palate, and the two openings leading to the nasal and oral passages. This area can be divided into three parts : the hypopharynx behind the tongue; the mesopharynx, behind the velum, and nasopharynx behind the nose. In the mesopharynx area are to be found the crossing of the alimentary and respiratory canals. The pharynx serves as a resonator for the voice. Widening of the pharynx promotes resonance and makes the tones full, dark, strong and resonant; narrowing tends to make them thin, sharp, dampened, and throaty’ (Arnold). Besides, the root of the tongue can also be made to come into contact with the pharyngeal wall and produce certain types of fricatives and stops. Below are discussed certain processes of speech production. These are generally used by languages all over the world.
This is a process in which the lips play an active part in various ways. They come together to form various stages or degrees of rounding which is a crucial factor in producing back vowels /u/, /o/, /*/, as in shoe, shore, and .a. The two lips are joined together for the pronunciation of the plosive sounds /p/, /b/; and the voiced nasal continuant /m/. The lower lip is raised approximate the edge of the upper teeth for the fricatives /f/, /v/. For the semi-vowel /w/ again there is a noticeable lip-rounding. Bilabial fricatives are not uncommon. In the African language Tshiluba this is used. Even a bilabial trill is heard in some languages.
Polatalization: In palatalization the tongue approximates the hard palate leaving only a narrow space through which the airstream passes producing friction noise; or the tongue may form complete occlusion and then gradually withdraw, creating a turbulence of air due to the breath-stream escaping through the space slowly being allowed to form. This is how the sound in jar /dзa:/ and chair /tòe∂/ is pronounced.
Velarization: Velar sounds are produced by this process. The back of the tongue either approximates or forms total occlusion for articulating certain types of stop and fricative sounds. The velar sounds are /k/ and /g/ in English. /h/ is a velar nasal heard in such words as king, sing, inquest and conquer.
Glottalization: The space between the vocal cords is called glottis. If the vocal cords are brought together taut and released with a ‘popping’ action, the resultant sound will be heard as a ‘glottal stop’, symbolised as /?/. We
create a glottal closure when we have to lift something heavy. In this act adequate pressure of air is, built up in sub- laryngeal region to provide enough strength. Immediately after doing the work a heavy amount of breath is forcefully released, accompanied by a glottal sound. In rapid conversation often this is used in the form of ‘catch’ in the throat. The Cockney speech of London contains quite a generous share of this sound takes place of certain dropped sounds, for example, in
butter pronounced bu’er /b^?/ or letter /le?ә/. Glottal stops are phonemic in some
languages. Glottal fricatives are used in Scottish language and its regional dialects. These are symbolised as [h] and [h]. In English /h/ as used in
house, he, her, horse is a glottal fricative. The Scottish word loch ‘lake’ contains the glottal fricative.
Nasalisation : This is a process whereby we produce nasal sounds or nasalised vowels. In articulating these sounds, the soft palate is lowered to close off the oral passage and direct the airstream through nasal cavity. In another case, the air is allowed to go into both the oral and the nasal cavities, but the active articulators check it in the mouth. For /m/ two lips come together to form a closure, and channelise the air flow, through the nose. Similarly, for /n/ the tip of the tongue comes into contact with the back of the upper teeth and forms a closure. ‘Although the vocal tract is blocked at one point, the breath-stream flows outward through what has been called a secondary aperture consisting of the nasal airway. Acoustically, the physical conditions which impart the perceived nasal quality to these sounds are sometimes referred to as cul de sac resonance, where a relatively small cavity, the nasal resonator, is coupled to a large cavity, the oropharyngeal cavity (Tiffany-Carrell). Nasals are also classed as resonants or continuants.
Voicing : It is an articulatory process in which the vocal flaps are set in vibration by the outgoing column of air. During voicing, the vocal cords are brought close enough to hold them taut and the airstream vibrates them in rapid succession. There is as a result, quick opening and closing of these vocal cords several times a second. Sounds can be produced without the vibration of the vocal cords. Such sounds are called unvoiced or voiceless sounds; sounds produced with the cords in vibration are called voiced sounds. How can one ascertain whether a sound is voiced or not? There are simple methods to do so. If we cup our ears and pronounce a voiced sound we can hear a ‘buzzing’ noise, from the time we actually get ready for it. /z/ in zoo and /dз/ in judge or jam are voiced sounds. Another simple method is to put a finger on the front of the voice box or ‘adams apple’ and say these sounds – a distinct sensation of noise can be felt which is missing when we pronounce an unvoiced sound. In English we produce /g/, /b/, /d/, /dз/, /v/, /z/, /з/, /ð/, /m/, /n/, /h/, /l/, /w/, /r/ and all the vowels with voicing. These are voiced sounds. The voiceless sounds are /k/, /p/, /t/, /tò/, /f/, /s/, /ò/, /q/.
Frequency of the vocal cords vibration is also related to the low and high tones, pitch level and voice amplitude, but we shall consider this in a later section. We must bear in mind at this stage that voicing or vibration of the vocal cords has a crucial function in speech production. It forms a basic factor in the fundamental classification of speech sounds into two functional categories, the voiced and the voiceless ones.
Manner of Articulation
The manner or way in which the outgoing air-stream is interfered with determines the manner of articulation. A sound can be described in this light. The airstream may completely be stopped and released with force producing a plosive or stop sound. The occlusion may occur anywhere between larynx and the two lips; or the passage of air may be constricted enough for it to produce audible friction. The sound thus produced is called fricative. According to the manner of articulation sounds are classified into smaller classes as stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals, laterals, trills or flaps and semivowels. These constitute the larger class of consonants. For the complete description both the point/place and manner of articulation are taken into consideration.
Fortis and Lenis
In producing speech sounds a great deal of muscular energy is involved. Some of the sounds need greater energy than others. Voiceless sounds are the examples of sound pronounced with greater energy. The dichotomy signifies grouping of sounds according to the degree of muscular tension. ‘The former tend to be voiceless, the latter voiced, but considerable contextual modification of these qualities are possible, especially as a result of accentual features’ (L.F. Brasnalian). English /p/, /t/, and /k/ are the examples of sounds pronounced with greater effort and breath. ‘In German fortis articulation such as t, k, f are distinctly voiceless, in American English, on the other hand, especially between vowels, these sounds are commonly voiced throughout their duration’.
In lenis, the muscular, energy is markedly decreased and so also breath. Mostly voiced sounds are lenis such as /b/, /d/, /z/, /v/, /з/, etc.
Voiced and Voiceless Sounds
We have already noted the voicing mechanism. The division of speech sounds into the voiced and the voiceless ones is of great importance in phonetics. The beginners should familiarise themselves with the vibrations felt during the production of voiced sounds.
Description of Speech Sounds
Speech Sounds are divided into two main groups: (1) consonants, and (2) vowels.
A description of consonants, according to A.C. Gimson, must provide answers to the following questions:
(i)           Is the air-stream set in motion by the lungs or by some other means? (pulmonic or non-pulmonic).
(ii)         Is the air-stream forced outwards or sucked inwards? (egressive or ingressive)
(iii)       Do the vocal cords vibrate or not? (voiced or voiceless).
(iv)        Is the soft palate raised or lowered? Or, does the air pass through the oral cavity (mouth) or the nasal cavity (nose)?
(v)          At what point or points and between what organs does the closure or narrowing take place? (Place of articulation).
(vi)        What is the type of closure or narrowing at the point of articu­lation? (Manner of articulation).
Thus the description of a consonant will include five kinds of infor­mation : (1) the nature of the air-stream mechanism; (2) the state of the glottis; (3) the position of soft palate (velum); (4) the articulators in­volved; and (5) the nature of the ‘stricture’.
The Nature of the Air-stream Mechanism. Most speech sounds and all normal English sounds are made with an egressive pul­monic air-stream, e.g., the air pushed out of the lungs.
The State of Glottis. A consonant may be voiced or voice-less, depending upon whether the vocal cords remain wide apart (voice-less) or in a state of vibration (voiced).
The Position of the Soft Palate. While describing consonants we have to mention whether they are oral sounds (produced with soft palate raised, thus blocking the nasal passage of air) or nasal sounds (produced with the soft palate lowered).
The Articulators Involved. In the description of consonants, we have also to discuss the various articulators involved. The articulators are active (the lower lip and the tongue) and passive (the upper lip, the upper teeth, the roof of the mouth divided into the teeth-ridge, the hard palate, and the soft palate, and the back wall of the throat pharynx). In the production of a consonant the active articulator is moved towards the passive articulator. The chief points of articulation are bilabial, labiodental, dental, alveolar, post-alveolar, palato-alveolar, retroflex, palatal, velar, uvular, and glottal. In the case of some consonantal sounds, there can be a secondary place of articulation in addition to the primary. Thus, in the so-called dark /l/, in addition to the partial alveolar contact, there is an essential raising of the back of the tongue towards the velum (velarization); or, again some post-alveolar articulator of ‘r’ (r) as in red are accompanied by slight lip-rounding (labialization). We can classify consonants according to the place of articulation.
The Nature of Stricture. By the nature of stricture we mean the manner of articulation. This stricture of obstruction made by the or­gans may be total, intermittent, partial, or may merely constitute a nar­rowing sufficient to cause friction.
When the stricture is that of a complete closure, the active and pas­sive articulators make a firm contact with each other, and prevent the passage of air between them. For instance, in the production of /p/ as in pin and /b/ as in bin, the lips make a total closure.
The stricture may be such that air passes between the active and passive articulators intermittently. Such a stricture is called intermittent closure, and involves the vibration of the active articulator against the passive. The Scottish /r/ as in rat is an example. The intermittent closure may be of such a short duration that the active articulator strikes against the passive articulator once only. The English /r/ in the word very is an example; the tip of the tongue (active articulator) makes one tap against the teeth-ridge (passive articulator).
In the partial stricture, the air passes between the active and passive articulators continuously, but with some difficulty. The sounds thus pro­duced are clear /1/ and dark /1/ in late, and hill, the clear and the dark ‘1’ respectively.
And lastly, the stricture may be such that the air, while passing be­tween the active and passive articulators, produces audible friction. /f, v, q, ð, s, z, f, з, h/ in English are examples of this kind of stricture. Or the air may pass without friction. Examples are /w/ in wet, /j/ in yes and flap /r/ as in butter. A stricture which involves audible friction, can be called a stricture of close approximation, whereas one which involves no such friction can be called a stricture of open approximation.
If we are to describe some of the consonant sounds in terms of the points discussed in the preceding paragraphs, we shall do that in the following manner (we shall not make any reference to the air-stream mechanism since we have already mentioned that all English sounds are made with a pulmonic egressive air-stream):
1.   /p/ in the English word pack.
(i)      The vocal cords are held apart and the sound is voiceless:
(ii)     The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage is closed.
(iii)    The active articulator is the lower lip.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the upper lip.
(v)     There is a stricture of complete closure.
2.   /b/ in the English word back.
(i)      The vocal cords vibrate, and the sound produced is voiced.
(ii)     The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage is closed.
(iii)    The active articulator is the lower lip.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the upper lip.
(v)     There is a stricture of complete closure.
3.   /g/ in the English word god.
(i)      The vocal cords vibrate, and the sound produced is voiced.
(ii)     The soft palate is raised and the nasal passive is closed.
(iii)    The active articulator is the back of the tongue.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the soft palate.
(v)     There is a stricture of complete closure; the back of the tongue makes a complete closure with the soft palate.
4.   /t/ in the English words cat.
(i)      The vocal cords are wide apart, and the sound is voiceless.
(ii)     The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage is closed.
(iii)    The active articulator is the tip of the tongue.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the teeth ridge.
(v)     There is a stricture of complete closure. The tip of the tongue makes a firm contact with the teeth ridge.
5.   /m/ in the English word man.
(i)      The vocal cords vibrate and the sound is voiced.
(ii)     The soft palate is lowered and the air passes through the nose.
(iii)    The active articulator is the lower lip.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the upper lip.
(v)     There is a stricture of complete oral closure.
6.   /v/ in the English word van.
(i)      The vocal cords vibrate and the sound is voiced.
(ii)     The soft palate is raised and the nasal passage is closed.
(iii)    The active articulator is the lower lip.
(iv)    The passive articulators are the upper front teeth.
(v)     The stricture is one of close approximation. (The lower lip is brought very near the upper front teeth. The air passes between them with audible friction.)
7.   /j/ in the English word yet.
(i)      The vocal cords vibrate and the sound is voiced.
(ii)     The soft palate is raised.
(iii)    The active articulator is the front of the tongue.
(iv)    The passive articulator is the hard palate.
(v)     There is a stricture of open approximation. The front of the tongue is brought near the hard palate but the space between them is sufficient for the air to pass without any audible friction.
Hence the kind of stricture involved in the articulation of various sounds is as follows :
a)   plosive : complete closure,
b)   affricate : complete closure and slow release,
c)   nasal : complete oral closure,
d)   fricate : close approximation,
e)   lateral : complete closure in the centre of the vocal tract and the air passes along the side(s) of the tongue,
f)    vowel : open approximation,
g)   semi-vowel : open approximation,
h)   frictionless continuant : open approximation.
Classification of Consonants
Consonantal sounds are classified on the basis of (i) voicing, (ii) place of articulation, and (iii) manner of articulation.
(i) Voicing. On the basis of voicing, sound can be classified into voiced and voiceless sounds. The voiced sounds in English are /b, d, g, v. ð, z, dз, m, n, ŋ, l, r, w, j/.
All the vocoids and semi-vowels are voiced sounds, whereas among the consonants some are voiced and some voiceless. If the vocal cards vibrate when a sound is produced, it is said to be voiceless.
(ii) The Place of Articulation. Consonants are divided as given in the following table on the basis of the articulatory points at which the articulators actually touch, or are at their closest.
The Classification of English Consonants according to the place of Articulation.
Upper lip and lower lip
/p b m w/
Teeth and tip of tongue
/q ð/
Lower lip and upper teeth
/f v/
alveolar (teeth) ridge and tip and blade of tongue
/t d s z r k b/
Hard palate and tip of tongue
Hard palate—alveolar and tip, blade and front of tongue
Hard palate and front of tongue
Soft palate and back of tongue
/k g ŋ/
Glottis (vocal cords)
The Manner of Articulation           
According to the manner of articulation, which describes the type of obstruction caused by the narrowing or closure of the articulators, the conso­nants can be divided into stops. affricates, fricatives, nasals, rolls, laterals, and semi-vowels or frictionless continuants. We shall discuss these one by one.
(1) Stop. In the production of a stop, the oral and nasal passages arc closed simultaneously. The active and passive articulators come in contact with each other forming a stricture of complete closure and preventing the air from escaping through the mouth. The soft palate is raised and thus the nasal passage is also blocked. (This is also known as velic closure). The air behind the oral closure is compressed, and when the active articulator is removed from contact with passive one, the air escapes with an explosion. Stops are also known as mutes. explosives. plosives or occlusives. /p/ in pat and /b/ in hat are the examples of stops.
(2) Affricate. If the stop is not held for any appreciable time and released slowly, we get an affricate rather than a plosive, e.g. /tò/ in chair and /dз/ in jail.
(3) Nasal. In a nasal contoid, the breath stream is interrupted at some point in the oral cavity or at the lips, while being allowed to enter the nose and create resonance there. Thus a nasal is produced by a stricture of complete oral closure. The soft palate is lowered and the air passes through the nose. All nasal sounds are voiced. Examples /m, n, v/ in English.
(4) Trill (or Rolled Consonants). In the production of a trill, the active articulator taps several times against the passive articulator. The stricture in­volved can be called a stricture of intermittent closure. Scottish /r/, for example in red, in which the tip of the tongue strikes against the teeth ridge a number of times, is called a trilled consonant.
(5) Flap. For a flap the active articulator strikes the passive articulation once only. For example the /r/ in the English word very, in which the tip of the tongue strikes against teeth ridge only once.
(6) Lateral. Laterals are produced by a stricture of complete closure in the centre of the vocal tract, but the air passes out every one or both side of the tongue. For example, /I/ in late.
(7) Fricative. In the production of a fricative consonant the stricture is one of close approximation. The active articulator and the passive articulator are so close to each other that passage between them is very narrow and the air passes through it with audible friction. Examples are /f/ in face, /v/ in vain /q/ in think, /ð/ in them, /s/ in sail, /z/ in zero, /ò/ in ship, /з/ in measure, /h/ in hat.
(8) Frictionless Continuant. In the production of a frictionless continuant the stricture is that of open approximation. For example in the production of /r/ in red, read, real, ready, the active articulator (tip of the tongue) is brought just behind the passive articulator (alveolar ridge) so that there is plenty of space between the two articulators, and the air passes between them without friction; and hence the term “frictionless continuant.”
Gimson includes the English /r/ in words like red and read among the frictionless continuants, but the English (r) also occurs as a fricative as in try, cry, ray, pray, grow, very, sorry. Jones includes it in the list of fricatives and Gimson in the list of frictionless continuants.
(9) Semi-vowel. A semi-vowel is a vowel glide functioning as a consonant i.e., as the C element in syllable structure. In terms of articulation semi-vowels are like vowels, but they don’t behave like vowels. Semi-vowels are never stable; they can never be pronounced by themselves. They are sounds in transition. Examples are /j/ in yet and /w/ in wet. These are also called semiconsonants too.
(10) Fortis and Lenis. When we have voiceless/voiced pair, the two sounds are also distinguished by the degree of breath force and muscular effort in­volved in the articulations. e.g., is comparatively strong or fortis, and z is comparatively weaker lenis.
We summarize the classification of the consonants in English on the basis of the manner of articulation in the following table.
Name of the Class
Structure Involved
Complete closure
/p b t d k g/
Closure, then slow separation
Narrowing, resulting audible friction
/t ò dз/
/f v q ð s z ò з/
Complete clsoure in mouth, air escapes through nose
/m n ŋ/
Rapid intermittent closure
Closure in the centre of  mouth, air escapes over the sides of tongue
Frictionless Continuant
Slight narrowing, not enough to cause friction
Semi-vowels/ Semi-consonants
Slight narrowing, not enough  to cause friction.
/w j/
Vowels may be defined with an open approximation without any obstruc­tion, partial or complete, in the air passage. They are referred to as vocoids in phonetics. They can be described in terms of three variables:
(1)  height of tongue
(2)  part of the tongue which is raised or lowered
(3)  lip-rounding.
In order to describe the vowels, we usually draw three points in the hori­zontal-axes: front, central and back, referring to the part of the tongue which is the highest. So we have
i)    front vowels, during the production of which the front of the tongue is raised towards the hard palate. For example, /i, i:, e. æ/ in English as in sit, seat, set, and sat respectively.
ii)   back vowels, during the production of which the back of the tongue is raised towards the soft palate. For example /a:, *, *:, u, u:/ in English as in cart, cot, caught, book and tool respectively.
iii)  central vowels, during the production of which the central part of the tongue (the part between the front and the back) is raised. For example, /ә, ә:, Λ/ in English as in about, earth and but respectively.
To describe the vowel sound we mention whether it is open or close, half-close or half-open, front or back or central, long or short, whether the tongue is tense or lax while the vowel is being pronounced, and whether lips are spread, neutral, open rounded, or close rounded. All English vowels are voiced. So, for every vowel, we must state that it is voiced:
From the point of view of their quality, vowel sounds are of two types : monophthong and diphthong. Monophthongs are pure vowels and diphthongs are gliding vowels. ‘A vowel that does not change in quality’ may be called a monophthong; and a vowel sound with a continually changing quality may be called a diphthong.
A pure vowel is one for which the organs of speech remain in a given position for an appreciable period of time. A diphthong is a vowel sound consisting of a deliberate, i.e. intentional glide, the organs of speech starting in the position of one vowel and immediately moving in the direction of another vowel. A diphthong, moreover, consists of a single syllabic––that is, the vowel-glide most be performed with a single impulse of the breath; if there is more than one impulse of breath, the ear perceives two separate syllables…
––Peter MacCarthy, English Pronunciation.
A diphthong, thus, always occupies one syllabic. If two adjacent vowels form the nuclei of two successive syllables, they are not a diphthong. For example the vowels in bay, boy, and buy are diphthongs, but the vowels in doing are two different vowels since they belong to two different syllables.
One end of the diphthong is generally more prominent than the other. Diphthongs are termed ‘decrescendo’ of FALLING if the first element is louder or more prominent than the second, and ‘crescendo’ or RISING if the second element is louder or more prominent than the first. All the English diphthongs are falling diphthongs, because in them the first clement is louder or more prominent than the second clement.
Diphthongs are represented in phonetic transcription by a sequence of two letters, the first showing the position of the organs of speech at the begin­ning of the glide, the second their position at the end. In the case of the ‘closing’ diphthongs the second letter indicates the point toward which glide (movement) is made.
Phonetic Transcription
Phonetic transcription is a device in which we use several symbols in such a way that one symbol always represents one sound. It is also known as phonetic notation, it is an ‘attempt on paper, a record of the sounds that speakers make.’ By looking at an English word in its written form one cannot be sure of its pronunciation, whereas by looking at it in phonetic transcription one can be. Most of our phonetic transcriptions are phonemic transcriptions, that is, each symbol represents a phoneme, a distinct sound unit in language. A pair of square brackets [ ] indicates a phonetic transcription: Phonemic transcriptions are enclosed within slant bars / /.
The Usefulness of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)
The IPA gives us a uniform international medium of studying and transcribing the sounds of all the languages of the world. Many languages in the world have no orthographic (written) form at all. It has been made possible to study such languages with this alphabet. In other words, the IPA is ‘a precise and universal’ means (i.e. valid for all languages) of writing down the spoken forms of utterances as they are spoken without reference to their or­thographic representation, grammatical status, or meaning.
As regards English, the IPA helps us in establishing and maintaining international intelligibility and uniformity in the pronunciation of English. With the help of the IPA we can easily teach the pronunciation of English or of any other language. The IPA has contributed a lot in the teaching and description of language. The teachers and learners of English can improve, and standard­ize their pronunciation and can overcome the confusion created by the spell­ings with the help of the international phonetic alphabet.

Phonology – The Pronunciation of English

“Phonology is essentially the description of the systems and patterns of speech sounds in a language”. (George Yule)
“Phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and systematic patterning of sounds in human language”. Adrain Akmajian)
According to Bloomfield, phonology is the organizantion of sounds patterns. In order to fulfil the communicative functions, languages their material, the vocal noises, into recurrent bits and pieces arranged in patterns. It is the study of this formal organisation language which known as phonology.

What is sound? How and where is it produced from? How is it received by the ears? How and why is one sound different from the other? ––questions like these are the subject-matter of Phonology
Difference between Phonetics and Phonology
The difference between phonetics and phonology is that of generality and particularity. Whereas phonetics is the science of speech sounds, their production, transmission and reception and the signs to represent them in general with no particular reference to any one phonology is the study of vocal sounds and sound changes, phonemes and their variants, in a particular language. If phonetics can be likened to a world, phonology this is a country. Phonetics is one and the same for all the languages of the world, but the phonology of one language will differ from the phonology of another.
According to John Lyons, “Phonetics differs from phonology… in that it considers speech sounds independently of their paradinmatic opposition and syntagmatic combinations in particular languages,” and that phonology is the level at which the linguist describes the sounds of a particular language (New Horizons in Linguistics).
The subject-matter of phonology is the selected phonetic material from the total resources available to human beings from phonetics. The human vocal system can produce a very large number of different speech sounds. Members of a particular speech community speaking that particular language, however, use only a limited number of these sounds. Every language makes its own selection of sounds and organizes them into characteristics patterns. This selection of sounds and their arrangement into patterns phonology of the language.
To quote Robins, “Phonetics and phonology are both concerned with the same subject-matter or aspect of language, speech sounds, as the audible result of articulation, but they are concerned with them from different points of view. Phonetics is general (that is, concerned with speech sounds as such without reference to their function in a particular languages), descriptive and classificatory, phonology is particular (having a particular language or languages in view) and functional (concerned with working or functioning of speech in a language or languages). Phonology has in fact been called functional phonetics”. (General linguistics)
English Vowels
Vowels are continuous sounds: what distinguishes one sound from the ether is the shape of the oral cavity changing to form resonance chamber. The airstream expelled from the lungs acquires a distinct quality, but at no point does it meet any obstruction. Mostly tongue is the crucial factor in creating resonance chambers. It can move from a state of total passivity to the highest point in the mouth close to its roof. This highly flexible organ is capable of positioning itself to various degrees of height.
Three major criteria for the articulatory description of vowels are identified, namely,
i)    Tongue-height (the relative height of the tongue in the mouth). Tongue-advancement (the relative position of the tongue in the mouth).
ii)   Tongue-advancement (the relative position of the tongue in the mouth).
iii)  Lip-rounding (the relative shape of the lips).
As has been mentioned, the tongue can position itself at degrees of height and change the vowel sounds. In pronouncing /i:/ the front of the tongue assumes the maximum high position, being raised toward the hard palate to make the closest approximation to it. For /u:/ the back of the tongue is raised toward the back of the mouth or the soft palate. It also moves forward in the front for front vowels and is withdrawn for the back vowels.
In English, we can recognise twelve pure vowels and eight diphthongs or vowel glides. They are contrasted below to emphasize their phonemic nature.
Pure vowels
i – i:           as in bit – beat
e – æ          as in tell – tap
æ – *         as in bash – box
o – u           as in toll – tool
u – u:         as in full – fool
∂ – ^           as in hurt – hut
ei   as in eight
al   as in fight
*i   as in toy
әu   as in so
au  as in foul
iә    as in fear
uә   as in poor
eә   as in fare
Since vowel-length in English is phonemic, that is, they contrast, the long and short vowels have been treated as different phonemes. Examples of the long and short vowel contrasts are
full             fool                   /ful/                  /fu:l/
fill              feel                   /fil/                   /fi:l/
fell             fail                   /fel/                  /feil/
Vowel-length is also determined by phonetic environment : voicing or its absence in the consonants coming in immediate proximity is responsible for making a vowel long or short. The long vowel /i:/ varies in length in such words as bit and bid, the latter showing a greater length than the former due to Id/ phoneme which is a devoiced consonant. In a word like bee /bi:/ it is longer than in /bid/. These variations are allophonic.
Front Vowels
Four pure front vowels in English can be identified /i:/, /i/, /e/ and /æ/. Since the front of the tongue assumes various degrees of height inside the mouth these vowels are termed front vowels. However, what we can broadly establish are four ranges and not precice points, as it is difficult to give exact description of the vowels in terms of articulation process. A look at the cardinal vowel quadrilateral will clarify this point. The range of /i:/ for example, stretches from the highest extreme to the point close to /e/. Allophonic variations of this sort are not taken serious note of. This is true of all the other vowels too. A detailed description of the vowels is given below.
For articulating this vowel the front of the tongue rises to the hard palate, sometimes close enough to be heard as a fricative sound. It is pronounced with the lips spread and pulled back, the lower jaw is raised a little. The muscles of the tongue are tensed, so it is also called a tense vowel. It is syllabic and shows a high level of sonority. It occurs in all the three positions in a word as shown below :
Initial         Medial             Final
even           people              tea
eat              measle              flee
Variations in its pronunciation can be perceived as changes in length and diphthongizations.
The back of the front of the tongue is raised toward the hard palate to assume the height between /i/ and /e/ positions. The lips are spread and drawn back as in /i:/ but they are lax. It is non-diphthongal and short, and contrasts with the long vowel /i:/ as in sit – seat /sit-si:t/. Words like busy, women and hear contain this vowel. It is seen to occur in all the three word positions.
Initial         Medial             Final
it                bit                    city
ill               mist                  dirty
Notable among its variations is the relative level of muscle tenseness before a velar nasal like /n/ which is seen in sing /sih/. We can compare the word with sin to see the point. Prof. Gimson observes; ‘A. trend towards /∂/ in unaccented syllables traditionally with /i/ is becoming increasingly noticeable among RP speakers of the middle and younger generation’, as in
easily         /-әli/
useless       /-lәs/
preface       /-әs/
For pronouncing this vowel the front of the tongue is raised in the direction of the hard palate between high-mid and low-mid positions, The lips are drawn back, and the lower jaw is somewhat dropped. /el is described as high-mid-unrounded vowel.
Initial         Medial             Final
elm             let                    they
enter          get                   stay
During the articulation of this vowel the tongue position is lower than it is for /e/. The root of the tongue is drawnback a little. The lips are spread and the lower jaw dropped. It is described as front lower-mid unrounded vowel. We hear it in words get, set, tell, fell.
It is a low front vowel. The lips open to become unrounded. The font of the tongue is at a position lower than for /e/ and somewhat retracted too. Of all the front vowels it is the most open. We can hear it in band, lank, rag and tap. It is described as low front unrounded vowel.
Initial         Medial             Final
at               fat                    ––
ass             man                  ––
Back Vowels
All English back vowels are articulated with the back of the tongue drawn back and raised by degrees. Lip-rounding varies according to the position of the tongue. There are five back vowels in English : /u:/; /u/; /*:/; /*/; /a/.
In pronouncing it, the part at the front of the centre /of the tongue is retracted slightly and raised to a place that corresponds to the position for the high front /i:/. It is a long vowel, and there is a noticeable tension of muscles in the tongue. The lips are pursed up and pushed forward a bit. The opening gives this sound resonance. There is also to be noted a slight protrusion of the lower jaw. We can describe it as high back rounded vowel. We can identify it in these words : rouge, root, tool, shoe, food, do, etc.
The most noticeable allophonic variation of this vowel is in the form of centralized vowel. So room could become [ru:әm] and coo [kuә] accompanied by less prominent lip-rounding.
In terms of tongue movement, this sound is similar to /u:/. It shows a symmetrical correspondence with the high-mid front /i/. The lips are rounded, and the lower jaw somewhat raised. Its position is above high-mid. It has not been found in the initial position. It is called back above high­mid-rounded vowel. We hear it in could, would, look, push, put, etc.
For articulating it, the back of the tongue is raised towards; soft palate, between high-mid and low-mid positions. he lips are less rounded than for /u/. We can describe it as back between low-mid and high-mid vowel. Examples of its occurrence are cord, fault, half. R.P. speakers tend to round /C:/ approaching /o/ in quality.
Initial         Medial             Final
ought         nought             law
oggle          bought              saw
The back of the tongue is raised above the low back position. One can notice a fair degree of lip-rounding and Ole lower jaw lax and dropped. It doesnot occur finally. American pronunciation makes it more open, and unrounded; so pot /pCt/ tends to sound like /pat/.
Initial         Medial             Final
ox               box                   ––
all              fox                    ––
It is a low back vowel, the lowest of the back vowels. The tongue leaves a fairly open oral cavity. This is the only back vowel that is completely unrounded, and occurs in such words as laugh, car, march, calm, alarm.
In some regional variant forms, hardly any distinction is made between /a/ and /æ/. In plastic, transfer, elastic, Atlantic, gymnastic, both /a/ and /æ/ are used.
Central Vowels : /^/, /ә/, /ә:/.
In the cardinal vowel system three cent: al vowels have been identified; /^/, /∂/ and /∂:/. In articulating these vowels, the central part of the tongue is raised towards a point in the roof of the mouth that lies between the hard palate and the soft palate or velum. These are unrounded vowels, but sometimes slight roundedness of the lips may occur. The lower jaw is dropped noticeably.
In pronouncing this vowel, the centre of the tongue rises toward hard palate halfway between low and low-arid positions. It is described as the central unrounded vowel between open and half open position. We hear it in the following words, up, sup, submit, done, come, flood.
For pronouncing /∂/, the centre of the tongue rises in the direction of the hard palate to a point between hard and soft palates. The lips remain neutral and the lower jaw is dropped. The symbol for it is called ‘schwa’, pronounced /òwa:/. We can hear it in these words – about, the, sir, her, fir, etc.
In pronouncing this sound the tongue is raised toward the hard palate to a position between half-close and half-open positions. The lips are neutral. It is called a central unrounded vowel between high-mid and low-mid position. We can hear it in bird, church, earth, journey, courage.
Initial         Medial             Final
earn           bird                  sir
earth          birth                 her
When it is followed by a voiced consonant, it is longer than when followed by a voiceless one.
Diphthongs (consisting of two vowels) are also called vowel-gides suggesting the manner in which the tongue assumes position for the pronunciation of one vowel, and glides towards another, producing vowel clusters. Diphthongs are syllabic like vowels. They ‘donot have a single position of articulation and cannot be retained for long’ (Krishnaswainy). These sequences of vowels are composed of two vocalic elements, the first vowel being called the first element, and the second vowel the second element. The first element is usually longer and carries the stress. In RP the following diphthongs are identified :
/ei/,      /ail/,     /*i/,      /∂u/,     /au/
/iә/,       /uә/,      /eә/,      /iu/,      /*ә/
In pronouncing it the front of the tongue assumes the position for the articulation of /e/, just .below the front high-mid position and glides in the direction of front high position about the high-mid point as shown in the figure. But the tongue height is not as high as for [i] when position for the second element is taken. This diphthong occurs initially, medially and finally as shown below.
Initial         Medial             Final
eight          late                   say
aim             rail                   day
It is longer when in a word final position and before a voiced consonant. Thus it is longer in aid than in ace. When the first element is lengthened it is called falling diphthong.
The tongue assumes position at a point low front, and glides toward the high front position /i:/, something like a: i:. The oral cavity is open and the lower jaw dropped. The lips change their position from the neutral to the spread position. The resonance shifts quickly to [i]. We hear it in sight, fight, island, fine.
Initial         Medial             Final
either         height              lie
ice              mind                by
In pronouncing this diphthong the tongue moves from the back high-mid position to a high front point. The second clement is, however, lower than the high front vowel /i/. Initially the lower jaw is dropped but is raised for articulating the second element.
Initial         Medial             Final
oil              boil                   toy
oyster         foil                   ploy
Some American phoneticians report that a central [∂] is substituted for the first element, followed by an [r] in Southern Indiana region. In New York and New Orleans it becomes [∂i].
The tongue assumes the position for pronouncing the first element /ә/ which is a central vowel. From this point it glides back to a high point. But the second element is not as high as the back high vowel /u/. The lips are perceptibly rounded for it. We hear it in all the three positions in a word.
Initial         Medial             Final
own            fold                  so
oar             wrote                go
Variations observed in its articulation may range from a fronted [^] to rounded [o]. Among the Indian speakers the back high-mid [o] is generally substituted for the vowel-glide with full stress and lengthening of the vowel.
Here the tongue is placed at low back vowel position and moved towards the high back region. The second element is placed not as high as /u/ but below that point. The lips are neutral for the first element, but become rounded for the second. Examples of its occurrence in all the three positions are given below.
Initial         Medial             Final
out             sound               cow
oust            bout                  how
In some varieties a perceptible weakening of the second element is found. So, the weakening of [u] in now and how leads to such variant forms as [na*:]; [haә:] or [na:], [ha: ].
The tongue takes the position of high front vowel /i/ and glides for the central vowel position /ә/. It is notable here that the second element in this diphthong is stronger. We hear it in such words as near, period, serious. It occurs in all the three positions in a word as shown below.
Initial         Medial             Final
ear             weird                fear
Ian             period              steer
In pronouncing this diphthong the tongue assumes the position of high back rounded vowel and moves in the direction of the central vowel. There is some lip-rounding, but the lips become neutral for the second element. In the weakly accented syllables the second element may be prominent, We hear it in such words as valuable, cure, etc. It doesnot occur in the initial position.
Medial       Final
during        poor
fluent         tour
Sometimes /uә/ is preceded by /j/. The normal tongue glide in such case is from /j/ to a high back rounded /u/ and then to the central /ә/. But this is shortened to /ρ:/ pure and sure sound like /pj*:/ and /òρ/.
During the pronunciation of this diphthong the tongue assumes the position for the high-mid front vowel and moves towards the position of central unrounded vowel. The lips are neutral. Examples are air, their, mare, dare, hare, etc.
Initial         Medial             Final
heir            scarce               chair
aeon           chaired             pair
For the articulation of this diphthong the tongue moves from high position to high back one. It is a rising diphthong, with the second element showing greater syllabic prominence. According to sonic conventions the first element is symbolised [j].
Examples are yew, cure, new, due, etc.
Initial         Medial             Final
yule            mule                 you
use             beauty              Hugh
English Consonants
On the basis of the articulatory process, consonant phonemes in English are divided according to i) the manner of articulation into plosive/stops; nasals, fricatives, laterals, and approximants; and according to ii) the points/ places of articulation into bilabials, labio-dentals, dentals, alveolars, post-alveolars, palato-alveolars, palatals, velars and glottals. Points of articulation are situated along the upper margin of the oral cavity, and manner of articulation indicates different ways of interfering with the passing air-stream.
/p/     pay       poor           pebble        apt             ape
/b/     bog       buy             able            abbot          rub
/t/      take      tie              attack         settle          set
/d/     date      die             addition      meddle       made
/k/     cog       kite             ankle          tinkle          arc
/g/     gay       guy            angle          mingle        log
/f/      fast       few             after           shift            sniff
/v/     vast      view           aver            average      halve
/q/     thin      through      athwart       Athertn       myth
/ð/     then     that            within         without       bathe
/s/      sigh      sight           hissing       message     kiss
/z/     zoo       zeal            resist          muzzle       buzz
/ò/      shoe     shy             fishing        bashful       brash
/з/                                    measure     leisure        rouge
/h/     hay       hose                                               blah! ah!
/tò/     chin      chew          itching        latches        hatch
/dз/    jar        gym                              judges        badge
/m/    man      muse          lump          ample         sharn
/n/     nose     news          ant             land           tan
/h/                                   single         angle          king
/l/      lip        lamp           alter           malt            mall
/w/     way      whose                                             cow
/y/     yule      yew
/r/      ray       raw             merrily       rarely         borrows
This class of consonant phonemes is marked by the complete closure (or occlusion) of the vocal tract, creating the air pressure behind the closure and sudden release of the air. The sudden release of air results in the phonetic effect of plosion.
We can locate three stages in the articulation of the stops.
1)   creation of the occlusion or closure (described as fore glide).
2)   a brief hold in this position.
3)   release of the hold (described as offglide or after glide).
During the third stage litany active articulators may make movements, depending on the sound immediately following the stop. Features that may accompany these sounds are as follows a) Voicing, which occurs during stage 2 of the plosive articulation producing a voiced consonant b) Aspiration in. which voiceless stops are accompanied by a strong breath when these sounds occur initially, or they are stressed and occur medially. Voiceless stop sounds are fortis, articulated with greater energy. Its opposite lenis are those sounds that carry weak muscular energy. Normally, voiced sounds are lenis.
STOP, bilabial /p/, /b/
The two lips come into firm contact to create an oral closure, behind which the air-stream is stopped, the closure is released to produce the effect of bilabial stop phonemes. Vocal cords are set in vibration for /b/, but for /pi they are not vibrated. /p/ is aspirated when it occurs initially and is fortis. Examples of its occurrence in all the throe positions arc as follows.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/p/        pat                apple                lap
      possible         apply                sip
/p/ is described as voiceless bilabial plosive/stop consonant. /b/ is described as a voiced bilabial plosive/stop consonant. We hear /b/ in the following words in all the three positions.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/b/        bleat              rabbit                lamb
      bask              absent              tub
In the final position it is devoiced as in cub and nib. It is in this position unreleased in words like absent and obtain.
/t/, /d/
During the pronunciation of these sounds the tip or the blade of the tongue establishes firm contact with the alveolar ridge and the air pressure is built up behind the closure formed in this way. For /d/, the vocal cords continue to vibrate as long as the contact is maintained. The period of contact is known as ‘consonant occlusion’. For /t/ the vocal cords donot vibrate. /d/ is voiced and /t/ a voiceless consonant which makes the reamer lenis and the latter frotis. We can now describe /d/ as voiced alveolar stop and /t/ as voiceless alveolar stop.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/d/        done              addition            sad
      describe         meddle             lid
/t/         tap                retain               hut
      table              metal                fat
/t/ is palatalized when followed by /j/ or an affricate as can be seen in such sequences as bet you; didn’t you /bet òju:/; /didntòju:/.
/d/ tends to become post-alveolar when it is followed by /r/. This phoneme also occurs as the past tense formation. Its voicing is affected by the sound preceding it. When it follows a voiced sound it remains voiced but when a voiceless sound precedes it, its voice quality is considerably weakened, as the following examples illustrate.
robbed /r*bd/         asked /a:skt/
Velar /k/, /g/
In pronouncing these sounds, the back or dorsum of the tongue is raised and brought in contact with the velum (hence ‘velar’). Thus a complete velopharyngeal closure is made. Sudden release of the dorsum produces these sounds. Both /k/ and /g/ are described as dorso-velar plosive or stop. /g/ is voiced and /k/ voiceless. Following are the examples of these sounds occurring in all the three positions.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/k/        cab                fact                   back
      cup                pact                  sack
/g/        gap               baggage           big
      grill               luggage            lag
Lips               Alveolar Ridge           Velum
p                               t                          k              voiceless
b                              d                         g              vocied
System of plosives
Fricatives are articulated by narrowing the passage of air so as to create audible friction. The active articulator comes so close to the passive articulator that a, constriction is created narrow enough for the air to force through. Complete stoppage is not made.
Four pairs of phonemes in this category have been identified, each a voiceless or voiced sound; /f-v; q-ð; s-z; ò- з/, and a glottal voiceless fricative /h/. As we have noted in an earlier section, fricatives are grouped with some other sounds to be commonly called continuants, because the friction noise created can be prolonged. Strindency is strongly marked in some fricatives, in others it is weak.
Teeth          Teeth              Alveolar    Palato            Glottal
+ lip           + tongue       ridge          Alveolar
feel /f/         thigh /q/         seal /s/        shell /s/           hall/h/        voiceless
veal /v/       thy /ð/             zeal /z/       leasure /з/                          voiced
Articulatory Position for Fricatives
Labio-dental fricatives /f/, /v/
For pronouncing this sound the lower lip is raised in close approximation to lower edge of the upper teeth. The nasal passage is closed off by raising the velum. The air is allowed to pass through the slit left open between the lower lip and the upper teeth. Therefore, these sounds are called labio­dental fricatives. In articulating /f/ the vocal cords donot vibrate, making it voiceless, while in pronouncing /v/ they do, making /v/ a voiced fricative.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/f/         form              often                 sniff
      frail               laughter           brief
/v/        vale               evening            dove
      visit               evade               give
Dental /q/, /ð/
For articulating these sounds the tip of the tongue is placed on or near the edge of the upper teeth. The air squeezes through the gap thus formed. /q/ is voiceless and /ð/ voiced. /q/ is described as voiceless dental fricative, /ð/ as voiced dental fricative /q/ is fortis and /ð/ is lenis.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/q/        three             lethal               bath
      thrice             Gothic              cloth
/ð/        then              leather              seethe
      though          father               clothe
Alveolar /s/, /z/
During the pronunciation of these phonemes, the oral passage is opened by lifting the soft palate and closing off the nasal cavity. The tip of the tongue and the blade is raised to approximate the alveolar ridge. While the sides of the tongue make contact with the upper teeth, a narrow channel is formed in the mid line of the tongue. Because of the size of the channel, /s/ phoneme is called a narrow channel fricative, and /z/ is called broad channel fricative. The groove-shaped channel allows the air to pass between the tongue front and the anterior alveoli in, producing the audible friction. /s/ is a voiceless fricative and fortis, /z/ is voiced and lenis. These are also called sibilant and spirants. Lip position is determined by the vowel adjacent to these. Seal is pronounced with the lips, spread, while soup has noticeable lip-rounding. So also with zeal and zoo.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/s/         sell                task                  less
      soul               listen                loss
/z/        zeal               bosom               maze
      zest               hesitate            haze
Palato-alveolar /ò/, /з/
Both /ò/ and /з/ are identified as palato-alveolar fricatives (or sibilants or spirants). The nasal passage is shut off by raising the soft palate. The tongue-tip and blade are brought into contact with the teeth ridge. At the same time the front of the tongue comes closer to the ‘hard palate’. The passing breath-stream squeezes out through the gap between the tip and blade of the tongue and the teeth ridge, on the one hand, and between the tongue and the hard palate on the other. /ò/ is a voiceless palato-alveolar fricative and /з/ is a voiced palato-alveolar fricative.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/ò/         sham             admission         lush
shop              nation               mash
/з/         genre            decision            rouge
      gigolo            measure           garage
In certain cases pronunciation of [ò] varies from [s] to [ò] in the medial and final positions :
sexual, appreciate, assume, issue, tissue
Similarly, pronunciation of /з/ also varies from [z] to [з] as in gymnasium, axiom, version, rouge, barage, garage, etc.
Glottal /h/
For articulating this phoneme the glottis is constricted. The outgoing air sets the vocal cords in vibration. The friction noise is greater in the vocal tract than in the glottis. How prominent is this fricative depends on the ‘articulatory position for the following speech sounds’ (Tiffany-Carrell). This is also viewed as the voiceless onset of a vowel. We can describe it as a voiceless glottal fricative. It is heard in these words, hat, behind, hall, heel, etc.
/h/ is essentially voiceless, but it may become voiced in some words as behind, greyhound, anyhow, and so on. The voiced sound is symbolised /h/.
Affricates /tò/, /dз/
These phonemes are also-classified as stop sounds by some phoneticians. These are combinations of the articulatory processes for stop and fricative. The front of the tongue is raised to make full contact against the rear part of the gum ridge. The sides of the tongue are raised to touch the side upper teeth. The air stream is stopped behind the occlusion formed in this manner. However, the affrication quality is produced by the manner in which the closure is released : the front of the tongue is withdrawn in the direction of the hard palate. Air pressure is released through the gap between the withdrawing tongue front and the hard palate, and the sides of the tongue and the upper teeth. This friction is of shorter duration than the one we hear in fricatives.
/tò/ is described as voiceless palato-alveolar affricate, and /dз/ as voiced palato-alveolar affricate. We hear these in ‘church and judge. The following examples show their occurrence in all the three positions.
Initial            Medial             Final
/tò/        chill               matchless         snatch
choice            kitchen             ditch
/dз/       jail                majority            hedge
jar                 majesty             judge
Individual pronunciation varies in such words as educate, guardian, grandeur, verdure, obituary, christian, etc. In these instances [d] and [t] alternate with [dз] and [tò].
Nasals /m/, /n/, /h/
These sounds are not strictly placed in the consonant category, but rather on the boundary between contoid and vocoid (Hockett). They are produced exactly like stops, except that the nasal passage is open. For producing these sounds the air stream is directed through the nasal passage, which is opened by lowering the soft palate. In the mouth also stoppage is formed by bringing the tongue in contact with the passive articulator. Nasal consonants are described in terms of the place or point of articulation.
Bilabial /m/
Both the lips join to form oral closure while the soft palate is lowered to open the nasal passage. Resonance of the nasal passage is increased by adding the oral resonator also in this manner. The vocal cords are set in vibration leading to the voicing of the sound. It can be continued without interruption by allowing the air to flow through the nasal passage while the mouth is still closed. It is both syllabic and non-syllabic. /m/ is described as the bilabial voiced nasal.
      Initial            Medical            Final
/m/       male              Humpty            slim
mother           attempt             time
/m/ is symbolic in such words as rhythm and. Gandfais,n.
Alveolar /n/
During the pronunciation of this phoneme, the tongue is raised, its blade and apex making occlusion against the alveolar ridge. The sides are in contact with the upper teeth and gum ridge (alveolum). Vocal cords are in vibration and the outgoing breath resonates simultaneously the nasal cavity as well as the phalyngo-oral passage. Lip-position is determined by the vowels that follow. In noose the lips are rounded, but for need they are spread and neutral. It is described as voiced alveolar nasal consonant.
Examples of its occurrence in all the three positions are given below
      Initial            Medial             Final
/n/        news             and                  open
      nip                send                 on
The syllabic function of this nasal can be seen in these words, cotton, mutton, sudden, fasten, In such sequences as spick and span and Jack and Jill, [spikn spaæn] and [dзækn dзil], /n/ tends to become syllabic due to the assimilatory changes occurring. Velars /k/ and /g/ affect its phonetic quality, making it velarised as in inquest and conquer.
Velar /h/
This nasal shares with other two nasal phonemes part of the articulatory movements in that the nasal passage is opened by lowering the velum and allowing the air to enter it. The dorsum or the back of tongue joins the velum (soft palate) to form a stoppage. The lip position depends on the preceding vowel. It is a voiced sound, the vocal cords are vibrated by the outgoing breath stream. It is described as the voiced velar nasal. /h/ doesnot occur initially but is heard in the medial and final positions as shown below:
Medial Final
/h/        singer               king
longest hang
Lateral /l/
This sound is produced by holding the tip of the tongue against the central, part of the alveolar ridge. The sides are kept open either on one side or both. This is called the secondary oral aperture, though which the air-stream escapes without friction. Vocal cords are set in vibration and the nasal passage is shut off by raising the soft palate. /l/ is described as the voiced alveolar lateral.
      Initial            Medial             Final
/l/         leaf                below               fool
      load               hold                 till
The prominent allophone of this phoneme, the dark [l] occurs in such words as little, tiddle, mettle, bottle. This phonetically variant form is produced by retracting and raising the back of the tongue towards the soft palate, while the tip is held against the alveolum. Dental phonemes /q/, /ð/ following the lateral makes it dental, as in healthy, stealthy. Although it is voiced, a voiceless plosive /p/ and /k/ make it voiceless, as in clear, plain. /I/ is palatalized when it comes before a semi vowel /j/ or a vowel as in contemplation, William. In words like battle, brittle, settle it is syllabic.
Approximants /r/, /w/, /j/
In terms of articulatory description, these are vowel-like sounds. The passage of the air is constricted by the active articulators in the oral cavity. It occupies a consonantal position in a syllabic structure. /r/ is a frictionless continuant and /j/ and /w/ semi-vowels.
Frictionless continuant /r/
Also identified as a flap, its articulation requires the apex or the tip of the tongue to be raised towards the alveolar ridge curling backwards in the direction of the palate. The central part of the tongue bunches up somewhat and the air is allowed to pass over the body of the tongue, producing a frictionless sound. A single tap is made by the tongue.
A variety of this sound is alveolar trill in which the tongue is held amid the passing air-stream with just the right tension to allow the air to set it into rapid vibration. In RP it is not found hut in some dialects of English and certain European languages /r/ is found. /r/ is a voiced consonant.
Initial               Medial Final
/r/         rapid                marry               ––
rain                  very                  ––
Palatal /j/
Commonly it is recognised as a semi-vowel. The tongue moves from the position of /i/. The lips are spread. The tongue then moves away in the direction of the next vowel following it. For you the tongue moves to high back position; for yeast it moves to high front position. It is described as voiced palatal approximant.
Labio-velar /w/
In pronouncing this phoneme the tongue is retracted and then raised towards the velum in high-mid to high back region. Lip-rounding is prominently noticeable. However, it depends on the vowel following. /w/ is a voiced sound and is described as voiced labio-velar approximant or semi-vowel. It is not observed to occur in the final position.
Initial               Medial
/w/        waist                swing
wonder sweet
In some varieties words with wh spelling are pronounced as sequence of h+w as in whale, whom, white, while. This is symbolised as [M].
Consonant Clusters
Sequences of two or more consonants are called ‘consonant clusters’. In a word like cash /kæò/ there occurs single consonant in initial position; but in crash /kræò/ we observe a sequence of two consonants /kr/. Occurrence of such combinations is quite common, and can be seen in words like flame (fl), dress (dr), slow (sl), emblem (bl), apron (pr), fifth (fq), and against (nst). Clusters can have more than two consonants. They are articulated simultaneously. Consonant-clusters can form the onset and coda of syllable as in frame /freim/ and sand /sænd/.
Consonants can cluster together to form a syllable, without a vowel. For example in tasks /tasks/ with /-sks/ forming the final syllable. Some phoneticians hold that the name ‘cluster’ can be given only to those consonant sequences which comprise part of a syllable and are not abutting consonants. In bundle /b^ndl/, the consonants /n/ and /d/ are parts of two different syllabic peaks – /n/ belonging to the first and /d/ to the second. According to this criterion, these sequences cannot strictly be considered as consonant clusters.
Regarding possibilities of consonant combinations Ronald Wardaugh observes, ‘There are restrictions in the combinatorial possibilities of consonants, and the maximal lengths of possible consonant sequences’.
According to the number of consonants that can be clustered in words the following three classes can be identified.
1)   Two-segmental clusters
2)   Three-segmental clusters
3)   Four-segmental clusters
Consonant cluster may occur initially in syllable (ccv-structure) and finally only (-vcc).
Some examples of the possible consonant clusters distribution are presented below:
A.   Two segmental initial consonant clusters
/p/     p+l      /pl /      ploy, play
         p+r      /pr/       present, pressure
         p+j      /pj/       pure, puma
/b/     b+l       /bl/       bless, blast
         b+r      /br/       broom, brash
/t/      t+r       /tr/        tree, train
         t+w      /tw/       twist, twinkle
         t+j       /tj/        tunic, tune
/d/     d+r      /dr/       draw, dragon
         d+j      /dj/       dew, due
         d+w     /dw/      dwindle, dwell
/k/     k+l       /kl/       class, clique
         k+r      /kr/       cringe, crack
         k+w     /kw/      queen, quest
/g/     g+l      /gl/       glass, glow
         g+r      /gr/       grease, grass
/f/      f+r       /fr/        frown, frighten
         f+l       /fl/        flame, fling
         f+j       /fj/        fume, fusion
/v/     v+j       /vj/       view
/q/     q+r      /qr/       three, throng
/s/      s+l       /sl/        sleep, slow
         s+t       /st/        stay, sting
         s+k      /sk/       school, sky
         s+m     /sm/      smile, smoke
         s+n      /sn/       snail, snake
         s+p      /sp/       spill, speed
         s+w     /sw/      swallow, swell
B. Three-segmental initial consonant clusters
/s/      s+p+l           /spl/      splinter, spleen
         s+p+r           /spr/     spread, spring
         s+t+r            /str/      street, strong
         s+t+j            /stj/       stew
         s+k+r           /skr/      scrub, screech
C. Two-segmental final consonant clusters
final /p/      /s+p/          /spl/            wasp, gasp
                  /l+p/          /lp/             help, gulp
                  /m+p/         /mp/           bump, ramp
final /b/       /l+b/           /lb/             bulb
                  /r+b/          /rb/             barb, garb
final /t/       /p+t/          /pt/             kept, slept
                  /k+t/           /kt/             pact, attract
                  /tò+t/           /tòt/             snatched, attached
                  /f+t/           /ft/              cleft, deft
                  /s+t/           /st/              blast, mast
                  /n+t/          /nt/             dent, spent
final /d/      /b+d/          /bd/            stabbed, barbed
                  /g+d/         /gd/            begged, bugged
                  /dз+d/        / dзd/          judged, pledged
                  /ð+d/          /ðd/            clothed, mouthed
                  /l+d/          /ld/             held, weld
                  /n+d/         /nd/            grand, find
final /k/       /s+k/          /sk/             flask, task
                  /l+k/           /lk/             milk, bulk
final /tò/       /n+tò/          /ntò/            bunch, crunch
final /dз/     /n+dз/        /ndз/           range, strange
final /v/       /l+v/           /lv/             resolve, delve
                  /r+v/          /rv/             swerve, carve
final /q/       /d+q/          /dq/            bredth, width
                  /f+q/           /fq/             fifth
                  /p+q/          /pq/            depth
                  /h+q/          /hq/            strength
                  /n+q/          /nq/            tenth, eighteenth
final /s/       /p+s/          /ps/             grips, slips
                  /q+s/          /qs/             depth
                  /l+s/           /ls/              tools, mills
                  /n+s/          /ns/             hens, minee
                  /f+s/           /fs/              cuffs, puffs
final /z/       /b+z/          /bz/             sobs
                  /m+z/         /mz/            bombs
                  /ð+z/          /ðz/             bathes
                  /v+z/          /vz/             valves
                  /h+z/          /hz/            hangs
D. Three-segmental final consonant clusters
final /t/       /d+s+t/      /dst/            amidst
                  /s+k+t/      /skt/            masked
                  /m+p+t/     /mpt/          unkempt
                  /n+s+t/      /nst/            against
                  /l+p+t/       /lpt/            helped
                  /l+s+t/       /lst/             whilst
final /d/      /n+dз+d/   /dst/            deranged
                  /l+v+d/      /lvd/           resolved
final /s/       /p+t+s/      /pts/            adopts
                  /p+q+s/     /pqs/           depths
                  /s+k+s/      /sks/           asks
                  /n+t+s/      /nts/            fasts
                  /m+p+s/    /mps/          lamps
final /z/       /l+d+z/      /ldz/           folds
                  /l+v+z/      /lvz/            wolves
                  /n+d+z/     /ndz/          sends
E. Four-segmental final consonant clusters
final /s/       /k+s+t+s/        /ksts/          texts
                  /l+f+q+s/         /lfqs/           twelfths
                  /k+s+q+s/       /ksqs/          sixths
Some Major Concepts of Phonology
Phoneme: Most linguists, until recently at least, have regarded the phoneme as one of the basic units of language. But they have not all defined the phonemes in the same way. Some linguists like Bloomfied and Daniel Jones have described phonemes in purely physical terms. Others like Sapir have preferred psychological definitions. Some regard the phoneme only as abstractional fictitions unity and argue that in a language it is not phonemes but allophones that exist in reality. Furthermore, linguists of the Copenhagen School treat the phonemes as glassemes and regard them as algebaical units.
The term phoneme was first used in the late 1870’s notably by Kruszewski. Saussure too worked on the phonemes. But the most notable work in this field was done by Sapir in 1927. Most phoneticians such as Louis Jhelmsley, Bloomfield, Trubetzkoy, Daniel Jones, Roman Jakobson, and Pike have thrown light on the phoneme.
The phoneme, according to Bloomfield, is the minimal unit of distinctive sound-feature. In Webster’s Third New International, the phoneme is defined as the smallest unit of speech distinguishing one unit from another, in all the variations it displays in the speech of one person or in one dialect as a result of modifying influences, such as neighbouring sounds or stress. In Dorfman’s oinion a phoneme is a single speech sound or group of similar or related speech sounds functioning analogously in a language, and usually represented in writing by the same letter, with or without diacritic marks.
According to most contemporary linguists, however, the phoneme is the minimal bundle of relevant sound features. A phoneme is not a sound; it can be realized only through one of its allophones: it is a class of sounds, actualized or realized in a different way in any given position by its representative, the allophone: it is an ideal towards which the speaker strives, while the allophone is the performance he achieves; it occupies an area within which the various allophones move and operate; its outer limits may approach but not overlap those of other phonemes, and it cannot invade the territory of another phoneme without loss of phonemic distinction.
Thus the precise definition of a phoneme has been the subject of much discussion among linguists and there are two major points of view. The first is the ‘classification’ theory developed by Daniel Jones which considers the phoneme to be a group or family of related sounds, e.g. /p/ in English consisting of [p], [ph], etc. or /u/ consisting of (u:), (u) etc. The second or ‘distinctive feature’ theory developed by N.S. Turbetzkoy and the Prague School considers a phoneme to be a bundle of distinctive features, e.g. /p/ in English is considered to be made up of bilabial + stop + voiceless (aspiration is therefore not distinctive and thus the allophones (ph) and (p) above are allowed for.
Depending on the point of view taken, a phoneme can be defined as “a unit, a rubric, a bundle of sound-features”, or “the smallest contrastive linguistic unit which may bring about a change of meaning”. Hence it is a minimum distinct functional unit. Phonemes of a language may be discovered by forming minimal pairs, i.e. pairs of words are different in respect of only one sound segment. The series of words pat, bat, cat, hat, sat, that, mat, supplies us with seven words which are distinguished simply by a change in the first (consonantal) element of the sound sequence. These elements of contrastive significance are phonemes and be symbolized as /p, b, k, h, s, ð, m/. Similarly, in the series of words hat, hit, heat, hot, heart, the elements of contrastive significance are æ, I, i:, o, a:/
Any objective speech sound, considered as a physical event, and without regard as to how it fits into the structure of any given language, is a phone. Hence a phone in phonology is ‘the smallest possible segment of sound abstracted from the continuum of speech’.
Some sounds, the native speaker thinks are the same, while others are different. The linguist has to figure out what sounds are grouped together as the same, what it is that they all have in common among themselves and how dissimialar are they to other groups of sound in the informant’s speech and what criteria the native speaker uses to tell sounds apart. We said earlier that by substituting other segments, the linguist can arrive at a list of these significant, contrastive classes of sounds called ‘phonemes’. But we do not always find minimal pairs to help us figure out the list of phonemes. There must be other criteria too, which we will have to incorporate into the definition of a phoneme. The k-sound in keel, calm and cool differs. In keel it is at the front in the mouth, in calm it is a little in the centre and in cool further back in the mouth. The absence of the above mentioned features do not distort the message for the native speaker. He does not differentiate these sounds in every day speech in the sense that he is not aware of the physical differ­ences. He thinks these sounds are members of the k-class or are all k. In other words for the phonemic /k/, central-k, retracted-k, fronted-k are all allophones.
Hence an allophone is a speech sound which is one of a number of vari­ants of a phoneme. Such a variant can, either in complementary variation or in free variation. The occurrence of a particular allophone ma be determined by its environment, or it may be in free variation. Allophones deter- mined by environment, for example, are front or clear [l] as in lamp or light occurring before vowels and the so-called ‘back’ or ‘dark’ [l] as in Old and table occurring before consonants and at the end of words. They are in comple­mentary distribution, that is where the dark [l] appears in English, there cannot occur the clear [l]. An example of allophones occurring in free variation in the Southern British English (RR) is the /r/ between vowels, as in very, which can occur either as a flap, or as a fricative. Thus allophones phonetic variants; they are positional or contextual, or conditional variants, (alternants) of phoneme.
According to Trager and Smith (An Outline of English Structure), a linguist identifies these allophones in the following way :
1.   The sounds should be phonetically similar.
2.   They should be in complementary distribution.
3.   They should exhibit pattern congruity with other groups of sounds.
Sometimes a sound is used by a particular speaker or group) of speakers of a language, but is substituted by another sound by sonic other speaker or group of speakers of the same language. For example, the sound of the diphthong /ou/, as in the word ‘loan’ may be substituted by the vowel sound /ә/*:/, or the sound of the consonants dark ‘l’ as in ‘little’ may he substituted the sound of clear ‘l’ by some speaker. The bilabial plosive consomnant-sounds /p/ and /b/ may often be replaced by the aspirated sound /ph/ and /bh/.
Both the sounds that is originally used by the speakers of a language as well as that which is used by other speakers of that language, are said to constitute a diaphone. Daniel Jones has defined a diaphone in the following manner: “The term diaplione is suggested to denote a sound used by one group of speakers together with other sounds which replace it consistently in the pronunciation of other speakers” (An Outline of Phonetics).
Sounds are influenced by the phonetic environment in which they occur. Since speech is a continuum, and not a stringing together of phonemes (or sounds), what precedes and, follows a sound has a direct bearing on it. Phonetic environment thus determines the phonetic quality of a sound that is different environments tend to produce different phonetic qualities Let us see how does this take place.
1.   A consonant’s proximity affects the vowel length. In two words beat /bi:t/ and bead /bi:d/ we find the same vowel, the high-front long /i:/. But the voiceless phoneme that follows it in /bi:t/ makes it shorter than the one that occurs in /bi:d/. The voiced stop /d/ occurring in this word lengthens it. They differ in the precise phonetic quality. In these two words, voicing and the absence of it in the consonant affect the length of the vowel. But the vowel occurring in beat is not as short as the vowel in bit or pit. Its length is half-long, which is halfway between long and short.
We can now say that due to the proximity of certain phonemes having specific phonetic qualities the vowel length has been affected. This process is called assimilation.
2.   In a word like inquest [ihkwest], the nasal consonant is affected by the voiceless velar /k/ and shows velarization resulting in /h/ which is velar nasal phoneme. The same is the case in income and incongruous. Another common example of assimilation by the sound following is presented by the word triumph /traimf/. Here the bilabial nasal /m/ is ‘changed into labio­dcntal sound due to the contiguous labia-dental fricative /f/. Another word triumvirate also exemplifies the same process.
3.   The physiological factor that is operative in this is that of co-articulation. The above examples reveal that the bilabial nasal phoneme is concurrently articulated with the labio-dental fricative : /m/ + /f/. Even before the articulation of /m/ is fully gone through, the articulators assume the position for the pronunciation of the following sound. In triumph and triumvirate /f/ and /v/ can be described as prenasalised.
There are three types of assimilatory process based on various types of relationships existing between assimilated sounds and the sounds that bring about assimilation. The two sounds are usually immediately close to each other in the stream of speech.
We identify the three types of assimilation as 1) Progressive, 2) Regressive, 3) Reciprocal.
1) In progressive assimilation the assimilated sound follows the conditioning sound. The phonetic form of the plural morpheme {z}, /-s/ changes into the voiced sibilant due to the voiced sound [g] in the word dogs [d*dz]. In other words, the plural morpheme is realised as the voiced ‘fricative because the base ends in a voiced sound.
2) A reverse mechanism operates in the regressive assimilation where the conditioning sound, one that assimilates, follows the conditioned or affected sound. In the word imlperfect we can identify root /pә:fikt/ and a prefix whose base form is {in-}. /n/, an alveolar nasal, changes to a bilabial nasal /m/ by the proximity of /p/ which is itself a bilabial stop. The assimilation of /n/ is said to be conditioned by /p/.
3) Reciprocal assimilation shows the two contiguous sounds affecting each other equally and producing a new sound. In word-sequences like would you the normal rapid articulation produces the result /wudзju:/, and what you sounds like /w*tòju:/. These two examples show us assimilation occurring across the word or what is widely known as morphemic boundaries. The important role of this process can be understood by observing, carefully a rapid conversation. Quick changes occur in the phonetic shapes of individual phonemes. Sounds are quickly lost, reduced and altered in. morphemes, words and phrases spoken in one breath group after another in connected speech through a concurrent process of co-articulatory movements. In a sequence like young ones the final velar nasal is spoken with lip-rounding which is co-articulated with the next phoneme of the following word. Similarly, partial loss of voicing is seen in /l/ in at least due to /t/ of the preceding word. In good night and good girl the final /d/ is almost completely assimilated by the voiced sounds of the next word, so that these sound like /guaait/ and /gu?gә:l/ or /gugә:l/.
In truth, assimilation operates as a great force in day-to-day speech situations where rapid pace of conversation shows this in full operation. It shows level of mastery over language. Speakers of L2 (or second language) on the other hand, tend to become conscious. To that degree their pronunciation reflects a lower level of assimilation.
The above discussion highlights assimilation as a process whereby certain sound features are either partially or totally lost. In the word ask when pronounced singly we can hear the final velar stop. But in its past tense asked [a:st], there is a loss of the velar stop accompanied by a change of [d] to [t]. While change of [d] into [t] is due to assimilation, the disappearance of [k] is the result of elision, This process indicates loss of certain elements in rapid speech which are present in isolated utterance or very conscious speech. In normal conversation we hear such utterances as ‘cause (for because); prob’ly (for probably); costly (for costly); pos (for posts). These are very common, and one has only to keep one’s eyes open in order to see the mechanism. The unavoidable fusion of segments in such combinations as forced choices, group behaviour and bunched children points to not only assimilatory factors at work, but the resultant elisions as well. In the first example [d] is dropped, in the second we donot hear [p], and the third example shows [d] being elided.
Contracted forms in poetry, plays and fiction such as ne’er, ‘tis, don’t, can’t, mayn’t for never, it is, do not, cannot and maynot are quite common.
Elided elements are often weak syllables or voiceless consonants. So about and along change into ‘bout and ‘long. The finest example of what happens in elision are presented by such expressions as Jack and Jill, black and white, high and low, wind and rain and bread and butter. These sound like [dnзæk n dзtil]; [blæk n wait] [hainlðu]; [windnrein] and [brednb^t∂].
Table 1
Phoneme       Assimilating        Changes into       Examples
k                   i:                         pre-velar             keen, keel
                     *:                        post-velar            caw caught
d                   r                          post-alveolar        dry, drawl
t                    q                         dental                  eighth
t                    r                          post-alveolar        training
m                  f                          labio-dental         comfort
n                   q                         dental                  tenth
h                   q                         dental                  length
i:                   l                          retracted              kneel, feel
u:                  j                          forward                due, muse
Table 2
Phoneme       Conditioning       Changes into       Examples
t                    ð                         dental                  at the meeting
t                    ð                         post-alveolar        that road
d                   ð                         dental                  add them
m                  f                          labio-dental         come for
n                   ð                         dental                  in the river
s                    r                          post-alveolar        that’s right
l                    ð                         dental                  tell them
l                    r                          post-alveolar        tall reed
Theories of Phonological Analysis
The analysis of an utterance into segmental and suprasegmental fea­tures is known as phonemic or phonological analysis. There are several dif­ferent theories of phonological analysis. Some of these major theories are discussed below,
(a) Structure and System:
One approach is in terms of what are called structure and system. The phonological units (Phonemes or sounds) of a language are grouped together to form the various systems and the arrangements of these units in larger units such as syllables, feet, tone-group, sentence that form the structure of that language. The units that form a system, can be replaced by other units to produce different utterances, while the relations between the different units present in an utterance consitute a structure. For instance, the English word sack/sack has one syllable, which is made up of sequence of three phonemes /s/, /ae/ and /k/. The phoneme /s/ can be replaced by other phonemes /b/,/p/, /t/dз/. /h/, /l/ to give us different words back, pack, tack, jack, hack, lack. All these items that can be replaced by another at a particular place in a structure are in paradigmatic relationship and form a system. Similarly, /ae/ forms a system with other phonemes /i/, /i:/, /e/, /ei/ that can be used as substi­tutes to give us other words sick, seek, seek, sake, /k/ also forms a system with the /t/, /d/, /p/, /m/ /ŋ/ that give us the words sat, sad, sap, sam, sang.
The units of phonological analysis have a hierarchy, so that a unit of higher ranks consists of a sequence of one or more occurrences of the next lower rank. For example, in English one or more phonemes make up a syl­lable; one or more syllables make up a foot (which is the unit of rhythm); one or more feet make up a tone group (which is the unit of intonation); one or more tone groups make up a sentence. Examples of these phonological units arc given here :
i)    Phoneme : /k/, /b/, /t/, /d/, /i/, /e/, etc.
ii)   syllable : back/bæk/ago/әigou/button b^-tn,/ etc.
iii)  foot: The cur/few tolls/the knell/of part/ing day/. Here we have five feet. (/A slanting bar/ represents a foot boundary)
iv)  tone group : // If the ‘bride a, grees // the ‘marriage is in’ January.//. (// represents tone group boundary; ‘represents rising tone, and ‘falling tone,’ accent (strong or stressed syllable.)
v)   Sentence : For example, the sentence given above has two tone groups.
(b) Prosodic Analysis:
Prosodic analysis is another aspect of phonology. It is concerned with phonological features ‘that extend beyond a phonematic unit in a structure’. Features like aspiration, nasalization, labialization, retroflexion and palatalisation often relate to sequences of more than one phonematic unit. The study of supra-segmental features like stress, rhythm, intonation, etc. also forms a part of prosodic analysis. Examples of a few prosodic features are given below :
i)    aspiration: The English word clay /klei/ has an aspirated /k/ in the form of [kh], but the aspiration affects the following /l/ also and devoices it to [1o]. It can therefore be described as /h/ prosody.
ii)   nasalization: The English word sing /siŋ/ has incidental nasaliza­tion of the vowel /i/ under the influence of the nasal consonant after it. Nasalization can therefore be described as a prosody in this kind of syllable.
iii)  lip-rounding: The English word quiet /kwait/ has lip-rounding for /k/ also under the influence of the following /w/. We have here an example of /w/––prosody.
iv)  retroflexion: The Hindi word ===== has retroflexion extending to both the nasal and the following plosive sounds. We can call it an example of the prosody of retroflexion.
v)   palatalization: The English word key /ki:/ has a palatal instead of a velar /k/ under the influence of the following /i:/. This can be described as /i/––prosody.
vi)  accent: Accent on a particular syllable in a word can be taken as a prosody. For example, the English word ago/ә ‘ gou/ has the accent on the second syllable.
vii) sentence stress, rhythm and intonation are also prosodic features.
Another approach to phonology is based on phonemics, according to which the discovery of the phonemes (the minimal distinctive sound-units) of a language is done by forming minimal pairs (by replacement of one pho­neme by another which can bring about a change of meaning). Each pho­neme, however, may have slightly different phonetic realizations, called allophones, in different environments. Most phonological theories are based on phonemics.
Some linguists restrict the use of the term ‘phoneme’ to segments of human sounds only, and analyse what are called suprasegmental or prosodic features separately. The most important of the suprasegmental features are : (1) length (syllables and feet), stress, and pitch. (These are discussed in the next section of this chapter). Other linguists extend the use of the term ‘pho­neme’ to cover all distinctive sound features including levels of stress, levels of pitch, and types of juncture.
(d) Distinctive Features Theory
In the phoneme theory, the phoneme (segment) is the smallest unit of phonology, but in the Distinct Features Theory the phonetic feature is the smallest unit of phonology. Segment theory is linguistically inconvenient. There are no rules in any language which apply to all the sounds. There are a fixed number of features or components which form a basic stockpile from which every language selects phonetic features and combines them in differ­ent ways. It is these features which keep a segment distinct or separate from others. That is why they are called the distinctive features.
In distinctive features theory (as different from the notation transcrip­tion), the phonetic transcription is simplified and systematized by regarding each sound a set of components, exactly parallel to semantic component. As proposed by Roman Jakobson, Morris Halle, Chomsky, etc., acoustics and / or articulatory variables can be reduced to a small number of parameters or phonetic features (twenty-seven with multi-values). A distinctive features component, for example for the sounds /t/ and /k/ as in the English word take according to this theory, may be as follows :
+ consonantal
– vocalic
– voice
+ plosive
+ Alveolar
+ Aspirate
+ Tense
+ consonantal
– vocalic
– voice
– aspirate
+ plosive
Note : Dots [.] mean that the list is inexhaustive.
In English, for example, the following phonetic features are distinct :
i)    State of Glottis : voiceless/voiced.
ii)   Position of Soft Palate: oral/nasal.
iii)  Place of Articulation: (a) bilabial/alveolar/velar; (b) labiodental/ dental/ alveolar / palato-alveolar.
iv)  Manner of Articulation: (a) plosive / fricative/ nasal; (b) nasal/lat­eral; (c) affricate/fricative.
v)   Part of Tongue Raised: front/back.
vi)  Height of Tongue: Close/between half-close and half-open/between half-open and open/open.
vii) lip-position: unrounded/rounded.
viii) stressed/unstressed.
ix)  reduced vowel/unreduced vowel.
x)   tonic/non-tonic.
xi)  Tone: falling/rising; low fall/high fall/low rise/high rise/fall rise: or primary/secondary/tertiary/fall-rise.
In more recent work on generative phonology, particularly by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle, these features have been extensively modified and placed into categories such as
i)    Major class features as sonorant [making a deep impression] vs. non-sonorant; vocalic vs. non-vocalic.
ii)   Cavity features relating to the shape of the oral cavity and the point of articulation with such features as coronal vs. non-coronal, anterior vs. non-anterior.
iii)  Manner of Articulation features such as continuant vs. non­contivant, tense vs. lax.
vi)  Source Features as voiced vs. voiceless; strident vs. mellow.
v)   Prosodic Features as stress, pitch, etc.
Received Pronunciation (R.P.)
Linguistic differences marking particular  geographical areas are a reality. These deviations correspond to the geographical distance, or other features of the area like river, mountain and a vast intervening desert zone. However, when these distinctions stand in the way of societal or communal cohesion, the urge to use language as a binding clement is very strong. Search for standard language or speech is often motivated by this need of the community. The larger the country and more heterogenous its demographic composition, the more divergent may be its linguistic/dialectal forms. India presents an ideal picture in this respect.
Although England is geographically far smaller and different from India, there are markedly distinct varieties of language in that country too. What strikes one is the distinct cultural character that Ireland, Wales and Scotland possess and have all along the history been asserting. Their Celtic heritage is quite different from the Anglo-Saxon character that came from the overseas and imposed itself on all. Even within strictly English speaking population can be noticed such dialectal varieties as the speech of Yorkshire and Nottinghamshire, Midlands (east and west Midlands forming distinct varieties) and so on. Perhaps one of the ways of bringing about social unity and cohesion was through creating a standard form of pronunciation. A.J. Ellis gave it the name of Received Pronunciation. Of course, in historical sense this is seen as a means of furthering political domination of the English speaking rulers over the Celtic areas, ‘the minority languages of the British Isles have been undermined by English political and economic power… The opprobrium cast on the regional dialects of England has been visited on the speech of regions diverse in language and culture and situated far away from the metropolitan south-east’ (Dick Leith).
‘RP’ or Received Pronunciation carries a strong class sense about it. The birth and spread of RP is a manifestation of the notions of correct pronunciation’ against ‘a background of what to avoid’; and it becomes quite clear that it is ! Lower class pronunciation that must be avoided’ (Leith). In London itselt which is the seat of the ‘socially correct’ variety of speech, Cockney is used with all its colourful deviations of pronunciation and lexical differences, ‘the differences are purely social, rooted in class conscious society. In the public schools, the predominantly east midland basis of the upper class London pronunciation gradually lost its regional colour. It became a class accent, and was accordingly evaluated in ways which reflect the attitude of the most powerful social group’.
RP represents the ‘best’ accent, but is not attached to any dialect or city, ‘Every town, and almost every village contains speakers of R.P. whose families have lived there for generations…Those who speak RP are set apart from other educated people by the fact that when they talk one cannot tell where they come from’. (David Abercrombie). It is said to have originated in south-eastern England, but has now ‘a genuinely regionless accent within Britain, i.e., if speakers have an R.P. accent, you cannot tell which area of Britain they come from. This means that this accent is likely to be encountered and understood throughout Britain’. (Trudgill and Hannah).
The spread and acceptance of the RP in those areas where English was taken and prevailed for considerable length of time was facilitated by the B.B.C. broadcasting policy. With the coming of the radio, the official policy of the B.B.C. was to strictly follow RP and recommend it for its speakers, the main reason being that it was widely understood, and provoked little regional prejudice. BBC became the model for all English speakers, mainly those foreigners who were learning it. How far this universal acceptance of RP in the broadcasting media and educational institutions has helped dilute the class boundaries and bias and bind all English speakers into one cohesive whole may continue to be debated sharply, but as Prof. Gimson says, ‘it cannot be said that R.P. is any longer the exclusive property of a particular social stratum. This change is due partly to the influence of radio in consistently bringing the accent to the ears of the whole national but also, in considerable measure, to the modifications which are taking place in the structure of English society’.
An interesting aspect of the R.P. is that thought it was created as a standard form of English pronunciation, it is itself subject to changes like other languages and dialects. Two varieties of R.P. have been identified: a ‘conservative’ and an ‘advanced’. Conservative accent is found in the older speakers, and advanced pronunciation typical of the younger speakers.
In the commonwealth countries English still holds an important position, particularly in the official, administrative. Educational and a few other areas.
We can see the example of Indo-Pakistan where, in spite of Urdu being the official language and several regional languages enjoying greater prestige and wider currency, English plays a crucial role. British English serves as a model for all the users of English. Pakistani English is emerging as a distinct variety with its phonetic and characteristic grammatical features offering an interesting area of research to the students. Nevertheless, British English and, particularly, the Received Pronunciation is what everyone is trained to aim at.
Yet we must be clear about one thing; it would be wrong to say that in countries like India, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and other places anyone really uses R.P. Received pronunciation is a standard for the British English, it is not used by the speakers in these countries where English is L2, a second language, and is likely to be affected by L1, the first language of the speaker. This L1 × L2 interaction has produced some highly interesting phenomena. There have emerged different ‘international varieties’ of English, an Indian English, Australia-New Zealand English, Suth African English and Canadian English; in each case the language is carried further away from the standard British English. This is manifested in the emergence of characteristic forms of pronunciation, vocabulary, word-formation and sentence construction. A curious aspect of these varieties is that a ‘standard’ has emerged because of the sense of what is ‘acceptable’ socially.

Supra-segmental Phonemes and Phonetics

Phonemic particles that we have so far been considering such as vowels, consonants, diphthongs, etc. are called segmental phonemes. They contribute to the meaning of a speech segment. Apart from this class of segmental phonemes, there is another class of particles that’ play equally important role. These are supra-segmental phonemes.

Features of stress, pitch, intonation and juncture comprise this class, and are said to be ‘overlaid’ on the segmental units. It is difficult to imagine human communication without these features. They invariably accompany our speech and lend the additional dimension which is mote immediately and directly understood. These features convey the speaker’s identity, attitudes, emotional states and his/her evaluation of how he/she is being received. Often, in the totality of communicational situation, a listener doesnot pay so much attention to the wards as he does to the rise and fall of pitch, volume of voice, stress and pauses, and so on. He understands the meaning by simply responding to these extra-linguistic indices.

We will now look at these features or phonemes a little more closely.
Physiologically, stress means greater articulatory effort. By putting stress on particular segments we give it greater prominence. Various types of meaning are conveyed by distributing stress pattern over speech segments in a controlled manner.
Two types of stress can he established
1.   Word stress (or accent)
2.   Phrasal (or sentence stress)
Word Stress
In words made up of more than one syllable, some syllable stands out from others. In a word like fable it is the first syllable that receives ‘stress’ or more articulatory energy which results in its’ sounding louder and longer than the other syllable’ the second syllable here. The distribution of stress over the word fable can be shown in this manner – fa-ble.
In monosyllabic words – these words may contain more than one phoneme, but that doesnot matter-stress falls on the only syllable they contain:
l                 /ai/             (single phoneme word)
see             /si:/             (two-phoneme word)
cat              /kaet/          (three-phoneme word)
flame          /fleim/         (four-phoneme word)
tract           /traekt/        (five-phoneme word)
In words made of more than one syllable, the stress is distributed over the syllables; one of the syllables is pronounced with greater syllabic energy or prominence. In words like sector and enable, the first syllable is prominent in sector and the second syllable in enable.
The syllable that is strongly stressed is called a strong syllable and weakly stressed syllable is called weak syllable. In sector, sec is strong syllable and-tor weak syllable. In enable, en is weak syallable and no srong syllable followed a weak –bl. In polysyllabic words the stressed syllable may be more than one, for example these words – understand, appetizing examination. Syllabic division is shown as follows:
Un-der-stand; ap-pe-ti-zing; e-xa-mi-na-tion.
A polysyllabic word is graded in terms of the release of syllabic energy. It can be seen that from the strongest to the less strong to the weak, we can easily perceive different parts carrying these stresses. For example, in a word like consolidation, the strongest stress falls on the fourth syllable /-dei-/, the next prominent syllable is the second one, the other syllables carry weak stresses.
One reason why the fourth syllable is the strongest is that the pitch of the voice changes on this syllable. Therefore, this is also called primary stress or tonic stress. A strong stress accompanied by a pitch-change or pitch movement is known as primary stress. Roger Kingdon says that ‘the prominence of a syllable is also affected by its pitch; high-pitched syllables sound more prominent than low-pitched ones’.
Stress features are thus divided into the following levels:
1.       Primary stress
2.       Secondary stress
3.       Tertiary stress
4.       Weak stress
The strongest release of syllabic energy accompanied by a potential change of pitch direction marks the primary stress. The next strong stress is called secondary stress. Primary stress is represented by the half straight bar [‘], and the secondary stress by the bar placed at the bottom before the syllable that is stressed. Thus in apple the primary stress is on the first syllable ‘apple; so with ‘father; but in ga’rage it is on the second syllable. The word understand carries a primary and a secondary stress indicated as /unders’tand. Tertiary stress is weaker than the secondary stress and close to weak or unmarked stress. It is somewhat difficult to define and describe it. The two identically pronounced words nightrate and nitrate, show that the second example has a tertiary stress while in night rate rate carries the secondary stress. A weak stress is always left unmarked. Here the pitch is low and the vowel lax as in to’bacco.
Stress pattern in English has to be learned; there is nothing in a syllable itself which indicates that it may receive stress or not. In some disyllabic words the first syllable is stressed, for example ‘writer, ‘bellow, ‘coral, ‘glimmer, ‘ginger, while other disyllabic words have the second syllable sressed: re’cord, be’low, con’sort (vb), di’sable. Compared to the unstressed syllable, the vowel in a stressed syllable is longer. Similarly, a long vowel becomes reduced in length when it occurs in an unaccented syllable.
Stress Shift
It has been observed that stress shifts in derivative words. The following table shows how different derivative words take stress on different syllables.
1st syllable           2nd syllable                3rd syllable
‘fraternise            fra’ternity
‘fragility              fra’gile
‘fragment             frag’ment                   fragmen’tation
                           Or’thographer           ortho’graphic
‘syllable               sy’llabify                    syllabifi’cation
‘product               pro’duce                    produc’tivity
‘excavate                                              exca’vation
‘excellence          ex’cel
‘photograph         pho’tographer            photo’graphic
Shift of Primary Stress in Syllables
In derived words also there is no predictability about the placement of stress. However, an interesting aspect of the stress distribution is that for noun/adjective, stress is on the first syllable and for verb it is on the second syllable.
Noun/Adjective                   Verb
‘produce                             pro’duce
‘import                               imp’ort
‘subject                               sub’ject
‘perfect                               per’fect
‘record                                re’cord
‘contract                             con’tract
Compound Word Stress
Compound word consists of two words, which are written as one word. Mostly the nuclear, tonic or primary stress falls on the first syllable of the first word as in ‘postman, ‘batsman, ‘chairman, etc. Distribution of stress varies greatly according to the syllabic composition of the compound words.
Primary stress on the first syllable
‘Honeymoon, ‘honey suckle, ‘market day, ‘main spring, ‘long shore, ‘live stock, ‘liveryman.
Primary stress on the first, secondary on the third syllable
‘borderline, firebrigade, copyright
Primary stress on the first, secondary on the fourth syllable
National issue, labour exchange, cabinet maker
Primary stress on the third, secondary on the first syllable
Secondhand, country farm, easygoing, seargent major
Phrasal Stress
Although words have more or less fixed stress in connected speech, the intonational and contextual imperatives guide a speaker’s choice of stress. Longer utterances, clauses and segments can show changes in stress pattern. This is accompanied by the rise and fall in the pitch level. For example in a sentence like
Bring those chairs closer
different words can be stressed in the manner shown below:
bring                those                chairs               closer
bring                those                chairs               closer
bring                those                chairs               closer
bring                those                chairs               closer
Each of the above examples conveys a different meaning. Normally, content words receive the primary stress, grammatical words donot As T. Balasubramanian says, ‘The choice of the syllable receiving primary accent depends on the meaning the speaker wants to convey’.
Speech Rhythm
In connected speech certain words receive the primary stress and other words are unstressed. A pattern of alternations between the stressed and unstressed words is formed. If we consider the sentence, see the cat on the roof we will find that the second, the fourth and the fifth syllable are unstressed; the third and the sixth words are stressed. It is the tendency among the English speakers to crowd together the unstressed syllables between the two stressed syllables. The effect is a rhythm which makes English a stress-timed language.
There is another process that produces the characteristic English rhythm, that of weakening of the accent on certain words. In connected speech stress tends to be re-arranged due to elision and assimilation. Syllables that in isolated expressions appear stressed may be unstressed in such instances. Form-words, like articles, prepositions, auxiliary verbs, conjunctions and other elements may show this, where consonant and vowel quality of the weak form is affected. Let us look at these sentences.
a.   I shall let you have it transcribed as
      /ai òl let ju: hæv it/; the verb shall has become weak and is represented as /òi/ instead of /òæl/.
b.   Lend me the book, I’d read it transcribed as
      /lend me buk, aid ri:d it/; would becomes simply /d/ here.
a.   There was a book on the table transcribed as
      /ðәwәzә buk* nðә teibl/; note the weakening of vowels in there /ðeә/ ® /ðә/ and was /w*z/ ® /wәz/.
We can, therefore, say that such words have two forms; a strong form (in isolation) and a weak form (in raid speech). Below are listed a few words with the two forms.
Strong form                        Weak form
æt                                      әt /t
bai                                      b∂
in tu:                                  intә
tu:                                      tә, tu
iz                                       z,s
kæn                                    k∂n, kn
will l,                                  әl, l
kud                                    kud, kd
jә: ‘selvz                             jә’selvz
maiself                               m∂self
tu him                                tuim
hæd                                   hәd, әd, d
m^st                                  mәst, ms
aend                                   әnd, әn, d
aez                                     әz
eni                                     ni
s^m                                   sm
sәu                                     sә
frәm                                    fr∂m
fә:                                       fә
Another significant suprasegmental feature of English language is intonation or variation of pitch from one segment of an utterance to another. A lot of emotional meaning is conveyed by consciously varying intonation level.
Pitch is closely associated with vibration of the vocal cords. In males the vocal cords vibrate at a rate of 70-125 times per second, and in adult females it is between 150-200 times. Increase in the vibration of the vocal cords results in the rise of pitch. In normal conversation, pitch variations are quite an integral part and cannot be completely ignored.
A combination of stress on a syllable and change in pitch-range produces tone, a significant element of intonation. Two types of tone have been identified i) static tone and ii) kinetic tone. A syllable pronounced on a level tone of unvarying pitch is said to have static tone. The kinetic tones show different kinds of change in pitch contour. Physiologically, this is explained by variation in the tension of the vocal cords.
Different levels of kinetic tone have been postulated by different phoneticians, some grade it into fie, some into four. This shows that precise location of a tone contour is not possible – gradations are made only as identification of a range, where correspondence with modulations in the emotional level can also be identified.
In rapid speech pitch contours rapidly alternate but it must be remembered that all pitch movements are not discriminating, and therefore, significant. Only those variations that serve as significant units, discriminating between meanings are phonemic.
Below are presented the signs that are used for indicating itch contours
Rising Tone is symbolized as [‘]
Falling Tone is symbolized as [`]
Falling – Rising Tone is symbolized as [v]
Rising – Falling Tone is symbolized as [^]
Intonation pattern in English can be understood by dividing an utterance into breath-groups. Each breath-group forms a tone group.
In a sentence like She will ‘not` go we can identify the whole utterance as a breath group, a sense group and an information unit. Under normal conditions it is the final syllable /gәu/ that shows the pitch variation. This syllable, therefore, contains tonic prominence. It is known as tonic syllable. Tonic prominence is a stress on the syllable, plus change in pitch level. A speaker can vary the tonic syllable to correspond to the meaning, sense and emphasis he wishes to convey. That means that tonic prominence can shift from final syllable to any other in a sentence.
Thus in the example cited above, she will not go, shifts in tonic prominence can be demonstrated alongwitht he corresponding meaning changes:
i)    She will not go = it is she who will not go.
ii)   She will not go = come what may, she won’t go.
iii)  She will not go = she will do anything but go.
We shall now consider below some examples of all the four tones.
1. Rising Tone:
‘Are you coming?                (stress on are)
Is, he at home?
‘Wait, , keep it in place       (gentle command)
‘Come, ,here                       (encouraging, inviting)
‘Really?                              (surprise)
2. Falling Tone:
When this tone is used, special implication is conveyed which is not verbally expressed, like sympathetic attitude, surprise, disbelief, sarcasm, boredom, routine greeting, detached attitude, and so on.
‘Put it on the stool               (neutrality)
‘Good ,morning                  (routine greeting)
‘How ,nice                          (routine, bored)
,Sit down ,please                (polite command)
,Such a ,waste                    (mildly sarcastic)
3. Falling-Risging Tone:
The pitch registers a fall from about mid to low and then from high to mid.
We are vwaiting                  (= better make haste)
vCarefully !                         (soothing, encouraging)
The vfood was nice              (=but the hotel awful)
vWell done                          (appreciating)
You may vre lax                   (you really need it)
vCan she do it?                   (=are you sure?)
4. Rising-Falling Tone:
The pitch changes from low to close to mid and low again. Normally, sarcasm, surprise, interest, enthusiasm are expressed.
Is he^alright?                    (surprise)
She looked^beautiful         (enthusiastic)
Yes, it is^nasty                  (full agreement)
But,^will that do?              (doubt)
In connected speech it is necessary to distinguish within one macrosegment such phonems whose function is to keep utterances apart. We must, for example, convey to the listener whether we mean a part (a+part) or apart when we use these segments, however rapid our speech may be. The accent feature of course plays a significant part in it; but we must also give a brief pause that would separate a  from part when we wish to say a part, and remove that pause when we wish to say apart. As Hockett says, ‘Any difference of sound which functions to keep utterances apart is by definition part of the phonological system of the language’. Such transition from one segmental phoneme to another is called juncture and represented by [+] mark. Juncture is thus a type ‘of boundary between two phonemes. Often, juncture helps the listener to distinguish between pairs such as see Mill and seem ill in Did he see Mill? And Did he seem ill?’ (Richards, Platt, Weber). Terminal juncture is represented by the [+] sign as in the following examples.
a                + name
an              + aim
that            + stuff
that’s          + tough
Ice              + cream
I                 + scream
Two vowels in close proximity both bearing the primary stress must receive a terminal juncture.

Morphology and Linguistics

Morphology is the study of morphemes, which are the smallest significant units of grammar.
According to Bloomfield, it is the study of the constructions in which sound forms appear among the constituents. Dorfman defines morphology as the study of the ways and methods of grouping sounds into sound-complexes or words.

Morphology is a level of structure between the phonological and the syntactic. It is complementary to syntax. Morphology is the grammar of words; syntax is the grammar of sentences. One accounts for the internal structure or form of words; the other describes how these words are put together in sentences.
The English word unkind is made up of two smaller units: un and kind. These are minimal units that cannot be further sub-divided into meaningful units. Such minimal, meaningful units of grammatical description are generally referred to as morphemes. A morpheme is a short segment of language that meets three criteria:
1.       It is a word or a part of a word that has meaning.
2.       It cannot be divided into smaller meaningful parts without violation of its meaning or without meaningless remainders.
3.       It recurs in differing verbal environments with a relatively stable meaning.
The word unlikely has 3 morphemes while the word carpet is a single morpheme. The words car and pet are independent morphemes in themselves. The word carpet has nothing to do with the meaning of car and pet. Carpet is a minimal meaningful unit by itself. Again, the word garbage is a single morpheme while the words garb and age are independent morphemes by themselves. A systematic study of morphemes or how morphemes join to form words is known as morphology.
The definition of the morpheme may not be completely unassailable as will be evident from the discussion that follows, but it is certainly a very satisfying definition applicable to a majority of words in any language. The English word unassailable is made up of three morphemes, un, assail, able, each one of which has a particular meaning distribution and a particular phonological form or shape.
Some Basic Concepts of Morphology
We can easily recognise such constructions as mats, artists, artistic. national, childishness, unmoved, denationalization, horseride, highway, footpath as words. Difficulty arises when we try to define these constructions – but all the same they can be recognised. They have meaning which is independent of the meaning of other words. They convey the meaning in the same way as the following words :
Sky, water, hill, cousin, mango, walk, sew, autumn and tap.
But the crucial difference between the first set of examples and the next is that while we can break the items of the first set and still obtain smaller meaningful units we cannot break the items occurring in the second set. If we do so we would be destroying their meaning. Let us see how the items in the first group of examples can be split.
i.       mat + s
ii.      art + ist
iii.     art + ist + ic
iv.     nation + al
v.      child + ish + ness
vi.     un + move +d
vii.    de + nation + al + ize + ation
viii.   high + way
ix.     foot + path
After having broken these words we are left with more particles with different meanings. Attempts to break these ten words have not destroyed their meaning. We rather discover that the words are composed of smaller particles. We also see that two types of meaning in such constructions can be identified :
a.   some particles refer to the external reality.
(sky, dog, table, nation, child)
b.   others donot do so, but are to be understood in terms of their function within the language.
Words of the former type are known as content words and their meaning as lexical meaning; while words that are meaningful in terms of their structural significance are called form words having structural, formal or grammatical meaning. Thus we can see that the word child is content word whose meaning is referable to the external world and is bound to be destroyed if we try to split it further :
ch – ild, chi-Id, chil-d
But after breaking childishness into childish and ness we get two segments whose meanings are independently contained in them. We cannot break -ness; but childish can be split into child and -ish. Again we obtain such particles each one of which possesses meaning. Further attempts to break them will, however, destroy their meaning. We will not get more particles that can either be referred to the external reality or can be construed as having any grammatical function. They are the minimal meaningful units. Such a particle is called a morpheme. ‘Since a morpheme is a unit of language, it will have a differential function; that is, it has some conventional and recurrent connection with nonlinguistic circumstances in which it occurs’ (Dinnech). In the above examples, the particles that we have been able to obtain after breaking the various sequences, are all minimal meaningful parts of the English language. They are minimal since they cannot be broken down further on the basis of meaning. They are meaningful because we can specify the kind of connection they have with the nonlinguistic circumstances in which they are used.
Morpheme is, therefore, the minimal recurring unit of grammatical structure, possessing a distinctive phonemic form, having a grammatical function and may differ in its phonological manifestations.
Morpheme and Syllable
A single morpheme may be made up of one syllable, more than one syllable, or no syllable at all. Monosyllabic morphemes (those consisting of one syllable) are tin, train, gold, pen, man, cat, dog. But words like station and teacher are composed of two syllables – sta-tion, tea-cher, Hyperion and introduction contain four syllables; and chloromycetin contain five syllables. These are all single morphemes, though their syllabic composition varies. On the other hand, there are morphemes that can be marked to contain no syllable at all – the plural morpheme /-s/, the past tense morpheme /-d/ are example of this type. Though they are not syllabic, they are morphemes. In this context, the case of zero allomorph is still more interesting.
Morph :
The concept of morph recognises that a morpheme has a phonetic shape. This phonetic representation is called its morph. The word writer has two morphemes, write and -er. These are realizable in the phonetic shapes as /rait/ and/-∂:/. These are two morphs of the morpheme (or word in this case).
Allomorph :
In our discussion of morpheme we have noted that it sometimes manifests itself in various phonetic shapes or forms. The plural morpheme can be realized as /-s/ or /-z/ or /-iz/ and so on. Similarly, the past tense morpheme can appear as /-d/, /-t/, /-id/, and /-q/. Each of these morphs belongs to the same morpheme. These are called allomorphs.
The plural morpheme in English (which combines with a noun morpheme to form a plural) is represented by three allomorphs /s/, /z/ and /iz/ in different environments (which are phonologically conditioned).
Plural Morpheme
/iz/ in the case of words ending in /s/, /z/, /ò/, /з/, /tò/, /dз/
e.g. buses /ru : bΛsız/, vases /va: zız/, bushes / b ò f ız/,
rouges /ru : зız/, churches /tòз tòız/ judges/, /dзnΛdзız/
/s/ in the case of words ending in a voiceless consonant (other than ò, s, tò): cats /kæts/, caps /kæps/
/z/ in the case of words ending in voiced sounds (other than /z, з, dз/): boys: b]ız/, bags /bægz/
Similarly, the present tense morpheme {-e(s)} has three allomorphs /s/, /z/ &. /iz/, e.g. packs /pæks/, digs /digz/, washes /woòiz/. The past tense morpheme of English, {-e(d} has also three different (phonologically conditioned) allomorphs /t/, /d/ and /id/. The rule that governs these allomorphs is as follows:
Past Morpheme
/t/ after morphs ending in voiceless sounds (except /t/)
booked /bkt/, pushed /pòt/
/d/ after morphs ending in voiced sounds (except /d/).
loved /lžvd/, bagged /bægd/
/id/ after morphs ending in /t/ and /d/ wanted /wantid/ wedded /wedid/
The relationship between the terms morph, allomorph and morpheme is similar to that between phone, allophone and phoneme. The term ‘morph’ means shape. Any minimal phonetic form that has meaning is a morph. Thus /bžs/, /iz/ /bò/, /iz/, /kæp/, /s/, /b]i/, /z/ are all morphs. Those morphs which belong to the same morpheme are called allomorphs of that morpheme. Thus /s/, /z/ and /iz/ are allomorphs of the plural morpheme {e(s)}. Similarly, a phoneme is a minimal, distinctive unit in the sound system of a language. A phoneme may sometimes occur in more than one phonetic form called allophones. These phonetic forms have considerable phonetic similarity between them and their phonological function is the same. They, however, never occur in the same phonetic environment and are said to be in complimentary distribution. Allomorphs, like allophones, are also in complimentary distribution. The phonemes /p/, /t/ and /k/ for example, have two phonetic forms each i.e. [p] and [ph], [t] and [th], [k] and [kh]. Here [p] and [ph] arc the allophones of the phoneme /p/. All the speech sounds (phonemes as well as allophones) arc called phones.
It may be noted that in some languages words can generally he segmented into parts (morphs) while it is not so in others. Similarly there are languages in which the morph tends to represent a single minimal tirammatical unit (a morpheme) while
Allomorphs of a morpheme may change their phonemic shapes due to two types of conditioning:
a)   phonological or phonemic conditioning
b)   morphological conditioning
Phonological Conditioning
We shall first examine the following sets of words :
The pluralising suffix in set A appears as /s/; in set 13 it appears as /z/. This can be explained as due to the occurrence of final sound of the stem which is voiced, or voiceless. In set A words end in the voiceless sounds /t/ and /p/ affecting the plural morpheme which also appears as a voiceless phoneme /-s/. But in set B the stems end in voiced sound and affect the plural morpheme, which becomes /-z/. The phonetic quality of one sound affects the phonetic quality of another occurring in close proximity. The affected sound is phonetically conditioned. Both /-s/ and /-z/ are the allomorphs of the plural morpheme. Their positions cannot be interchanged, i.e., we cannot have /z/ placed in set A and /s/ in set B. These sounds are thus in complementary distribution. In the same way words rose, pose, advise, horse, judge take the plural morpheme which is phonemically realized as /iz/ so we have roses /rәuziz/; poses /pәuziz/; horses /h]:siz/, etc. These words also show phonological conditioning.
We thus obtain three phonologically conditioned allomorphs of the plural morpheme /s/ ~ /z/ ~ /iz/. Phonological conditioning is predictable.
(Plural Morpheme z1}
{Past Tense Morpheme}
Morphological Conditioning
The regularity of phonological conditioning is restricted. There are several irregular forms that donut show the predictable direction of morphophonemic changes. We can always explain reasonably why such variant forms as the /t/~/d/~/id/ occur for past tense and /s/~/z/~/iz/ for plural morpheme.
But such explanation is not possible in the case of the plural form of child – children, and sheep – sheep. These forms are not phonologically conditioned, i.e. the proximity of a sound doesnot affect these forms. en is peculiar to children, oxen and brethren. Such changes are said to be due to morphological conditioning.
We shall consider below some major types of morphological conditioning.
Zero Suffix
Certain words in English do not show any change of form when inflected either for pluralizing or making into past tense form. These singular – plural and present and past tense forms are alike.
Set A          (Singular)                    Set B (Plural)
                  Sheep                           sheep
                  deer                             deer
                  cattle                            cattle
Set A          (Present Tense)            Set B (Past Tense)
                  cut                                cut
                  put                               put
                  hit                                hit
                  beat                              beat
But we know that set A words are in present tense and that set B words are in the past tense. With this understanding we use the words.
There is a sheep
There are sheep
He cuts
He has cut
We can say that a zero suffix of plural and a zero suffix of the past tense has been added to these forms. The change is not one of overt alteration in the phonemic shape of the morpheme (allomorph). They are said to undergo a zero modification. This is shown by {q} symbol which is called zero allomorph.
Thus, sheep is written as /òi:p + q/.
cut is written as /kžt + q/
Vowel Mutation
Let us take another example; the plural form of man is men that of woman is women, and louse is lice. In making them plural we see that nothing has been added, but a change in the vowel and diphthong has been made.
/a/              >         /e/
/au/            >         /ai/
Similarly, for making past tense, we can change the vowels as shown below :
find – found            /ail > /au/
swim – swam           /i/ > /æ/
bring – brought       /i/ > /]/
seek – sought          /i:/ > /]:/
catch – caught         /æ/ > /]:/
feed – fed                /i:/ > /e/
These changes too cannot be explained by the process of phonetic change. These are irregular changes and are known as vowel-mutation.
A few more examples are to be seen below :
fly – flew                 /ail > /u:/
slay – slew              /ei/ > /u:/
get – got                 /e/ > /]/
meet – met              /i:/ > /e/
take – took  lei        /ei/ > /u/
Vowel mutation can also be seen in verb-making, adjectivising, noun-making, and so on.
Consonant Change
Apart from vowel changes, pluralizing is effected by changes in consonants also. Some English words ending in /f/ – leaf life, wife, knife, shelf loaf make their plural by converting /f/ into /v/ and adding /z/. Examples are given below.
shelf /òelf/      > shelves /òelvz/
sheaf /òi:f/      > sheaves /òi:vz/
knife /naif/     > knives /naivz/
wolf /wulf/     > wolves /wulvz/
wife /waif/   > wives /waivz/
But here too we observe irregularity. Not all words ending in /f/ undergo such changes -proof, roof and reef, to name only three, take /s/ for changing to plural form; while hoof is pluralized both by simply adding /s/ – hoofs and through the process of consonant change – hooves.
In the case of past tense formation also we observe consonant replacement –
send           – sent
bend           – bent   /d/ > /t/
lend           – lent
spend         – spent
The list of different kinds of changes signalling pluralization and past tense formation is fairly long. What is important here is to understand the mechanism of different types of vowel and consonant mutation that operates in such processes.
In suppletion instead of a partial change in the root (either vowel change or consonant change or addition of s), we see the whole form of the root being replaced by a new -form. So, we see the past tense of go is went, and the comparative of bad is worse, good has better as comparative, the adjective of moon is lunar, and sea ,has marine as its adjective; tooth is adjectivised as dental and mouth as oral. What we see in these examples is the complete change in the phonemic shape of the stem, for changing their form classes.
Free Morphemes and Bound Morphemes
Two types of morphemes have been identified on the basis of their occurrence in larger constructions : free form and bound form. A morpheme that occurs alone, or can stand alone is a free form. It doesnot require the presence of another morpheme; in other words, such a morpheme doesnot need the support of any other element. All content words are free forms : house, church, girl, cat, walk, see, red, short, book, water. Some form words are also free forms, always, though, but, never, and, or, if. The meaning of such words is ‘contained in their ability to refer to some point in the world outside’.
A second class of morphemes called bound form, contain elements that must always be attached to some other elements. They cannot occur or stand alone. In words like watery, invisible, reader, possibility, madness, cats, and manly. We can identify such morphemic particles as -y, in, -He, – cr, -ty, -ness, -s, and -ly. Their meaning is in their grammatical functions such as noun-making, verb-forming, pluralizing, adjectivising, and so on. They can be attached to any other free forms of the same form class to construct similar segments. Isolated they donot stand by themselves.
Two types of hound form that are widely used are prefix and suffix. As a class they are known as affixes.
A prefix precedes a free form, a stem or a root. We see these in the following words : uncommon, decentralise, disappoint, recycle. Un-, de-, dis-, re- are all prefixes. There are many other prefixes. All these are word-formative elements.
A suffix is also a word-formative clement – it follows a free form. Examples are sleeveless, temptation, government, activate, darkness, reader.
By adding a suffix we can either negativise a word, i.e. hat less, merciless, or change its form class; dark is an adjective, by adding -ness we can change it into noun.
-ate and -ide are verb-making particles. They are, therefore, known as grammatical morphemes.
Inflection and Derivation
Affixes are classified on the basis of their function into two categories – derivation and inflection. Affixes that cannot take another affix is generally identified as inflectional affixes. If we add -s or -ed to present we will get derivative words presents and presented. We cannot add another suffix to it. Inflectional suffixes of this type may create a set of forms of a morpheme within the same form class, usually known as paradigm. Such words are said to be ‘inflected’. We can in this way pluralise a noun, speeches, judges and tops, etc.
These words are said to be inflected for pluralising. Similarly nouns can be inflected for making them genitive – teacher’s, doctor’s, men’s, etc. Verbs are inflected for third person singular. Generally, in English, inflectional affixes are suffixes. They define a part of speech, but donot change it – ugly, uglier, ugliest – all the three forms belong to the adjective form class.
Both prefixes and suffixes can be derivational. The form-class of the morphemes may be changed by additing a derivational affix. Globe (N) may become global (Adj), globalize (vb), globalization (N); and so also child (N), childish (Adj), childishly (Adv), childishness (N). Each time a derivational affix is added in the above examples, we see the form-class changing.
A significant feature of the derivational affix is that other suffixes can be added to it. One of the functions of derivational affixes has been recognised as that of ‘formation of new words’ (Richards, Platt, Weber). This is one of its functions,
Another function is that they maintain the form-class, that is, the grammatical category is not changed, as is seen below :
If we add the prefix un-to certain (Adj.), we donot find the prefix changing the root to another form-class. Uncertain remains as much an adjective as certain is. Similarly, possess (vb) can take a negativising prefix dis- to make an antonym dispossess while retaining its form-class association.
Structure of Words
Considered from the point of view of their morpheme constituents, there are mainly three types of words:
(i) Simple Words: They consist of a single free morpheme followed, or not, by an inflectional suffix, e.g. play, plays, stronger.
(ii) Complex words: They consist of a base and a derivational affix, e.g. goodness, enable, boyhood, determination.
(iii) Compound words: They consist of two (or more) free stems which are independent words by themselves, e.g. over-ripe, happy-go-lucky, elevator-operator.
A morphological analysis of a few more words will further clarify the position:
Various Ways of Word Formation
The users of a language have to be conversant with the myriad ways in which words are formed. A simple word like happiness for example, is formed by adding the suffix -ness to the base word happy. While the word happy is an adjective, the word happiness is a noun. The word happiness has thus been derived from the word happy. This most important method of word formation is known as affixation, i.e. by adding a prefix or a suffix to a base. The base is different from the stem. The stem is that part of the word that remains after every affix has been removed. A base can also be stem but every base is not a stem (see Examples (a) and (b) below). Every stem can, however, be a base. The stem cannot be further broken up into two separate morphemes. Here are two examples:
A Wonderful World
Apart from affixation, there are several other ways in which new words are formed. Also, words are used in different ways for different meanings or connotations. The world of words in any language is a wonderful world. A user of a language who masters the art of using words or manipulating words becomes a wizard with the language and proves to be a master in the skill of communication. It would be quite pertinent, therefore, to briefly list some of the different ways in which words are formed or skilfully used.
Use of prefixes
Prefixes arc used to coin new words of various types:
(a) Negative prefixes
Prefix               Base word                    New word
im-                   possible/mortal             impossible/immortal
in-                    evitable                        inevitable
                        sensitive                       insensitive
un-                   stable                           unstable
                        like                               unlike
a-                     theist                            atheist
                        moral                            amoral
non-                 entity                            non-entity
                        violence                        non-violence
dis-                  passionate                    dispassionate
                        service                          disservice
il-                     logical                          illogical
                        limitable                       illimitable
ir-                     rational                         irrational
                        relevant                        irrelevant
de-                   frost                              defrost
                        forestation                    deforestation
mis-                  interpret                       misinterpret
                        represent                      misrepresent
pseudo-            secular                         pseudosecular
                        religious                       pseudosecular
(b) Prefixes of Number
mono-               syllabic                         monosyllabic
                        logue                            monologue
uni-                  lateral                           unilateral
                        cellular                         unicellular
bi-                    lingual                         bilingual
                        lateral                           bilateral
di-                    pole                              dipole
                        ode (electrode)             diode
                        urnal                            diurnal
tri-                    weekly                          triweekly
                        angle                            triangle
tetra-                cyclic                            tetracyclic
multi/poly-        syllabic                         polysyllabic
                        racial                            multiracial
                        pronged                       multipronged
                        lingual                         multilingual
(c) Prefixes of Time and Order
re-                    evaluate                       re-evaluate
                        examine                       re-examine
ante-                chamber                       antechamber
fore-                 knowledge                    fore-knowledge
                        tell                               foretell
pre-                  natal                             prenatal
                        mature                          premature
post-                 war                               post-war
                        dated                            post-dated
ex-                   M.N.A.                         ex-M.N.A.
                        principal                       ex-principal
super-              structure                       superstructure
                        fine                              superfine
(d) Prefixes of Location
sub-                  way                              subway
                        terranean                      subterranean
Inter-/intra-      national                        international
                        class                             interclass
                        group                           intragroup
                        departmental                intra-departmental
trans-               plant                            transplant
                        migration                      transmigration
(e) Prefixes of Degree or Size
super-              man                              superman
                        natural                         supernatural
out-                  run                               outran
                        live                               outlive
under-              state                             understate
                        cooked                          undercooked
hyper-              active                           hyperactive
                        critical                          hypercritical
ultra-                modern                         ultramodern
                        simple                          ultrasimple
mini-                bus                               minibus
                        skirt                              miniskirt
over-                active                           overactive
                        smart                            oversmart
sub-                  human                          subhuman
                        zero                              subzero
                        standard                       substandard
arch-                bishop                          archbishop
                        angel                            archangel
(f) Prefixes of Attitude
pro-                  congress                       pro-congress
                        democracy                    pro-democracy
anti-                 hindu                           anti-hindu
                        social                            anti-social
co-                    operate                         cooperate
                        sponsor                        cosponsor
counter-            act                                counteract
                        proposal                       counterproposal
(g) Other Prefixes
auto-                biography                     autobiography
                        start                              autostart
neo-                 rich                              neorich
                        classical                        neoclassical
semi-                circle                            semicircle
                        nude                            seminude
pan-                 Indian                          pan-Indian
(h) Class-changing Prefixes
Here are examples of some prefixes that change the class to which a word belongs:
New word
Use of suffixes
The suffixes may be broadly divided into two categories: class maintaining and class-changing. Here are a few examples:
(a) Class-maintaining Suffixes
New word
(b) Class-changing Suffixes
(i) Noun to adjective
(ii) Adjectives to Noun
(iii) Nouns to Verbs
(iv) Verbs to Nouns
(v) Verbs to Adverb
(vi) Adjectives to Adverbs
Some words can be used as nouns, verbs, adverbs or adjectives without any change in the form of the word, without the addition of an affix or prefix. This process of derivation is called conversion. Here are some examples:
Light:         Switch on the light (noun).
Light the lamp (verb).
The luggage is light (adjective).
Travel light if you must (adverb)
Round:       The earth is round like a ball (adjective).
The principal went on a round (noun).
You must round all the sharp corners (verb).
Fast:           He is observing a fast today (noun).
He ran fast to catch the bus (adverb).
This is a fast colour (adjective).
I am fasting these days (verb).
(A lexicographer may enter all these four different uses of the word fast as four different lexical items).
Back:          He is carrying a bag on his back (noun).
You must back me up (verb).
The plane flew back in no time (adverb).
He left by the back door (adjective).
(b) Other types of conversion
i)    Please give me two coffees.
(An uncountable noun used as a countable noun)
ii)   This instrument is a must for you.
(A closed system word being used as a noun)
iii)  I do not like this touch-me-not policy.
(A phrase being used as an adjective)
iv)  I do not believe in any ism bothering the society today.
(A suffix being used as a noun)
v)   He is only being nice.
      (Stative verb used as a dynamic verb)
(c) In some words of two syllables, change of accent from the first to the second syllable changes a noun/adjective to a verb:
Noun/Adjective                  Verb
‘conduct                             con’duct
‘subject                               sub’ject
‘object                                ob’ject
‘present                              pre’sent
‘contrast                             con’trast
(d) There are some words, in which there is a change in the meanings of words if the final consonant is voiced (either by a change in spellings or without it); for example:
Final sound
Final sound
advice (n.)
advise (v.)
thief (n.)
thieve (v.)
house (n.)
house (v.)
Compound Formation
Compounds are formed by joining two or more bases. These bases are, in some cases, separated by a hyphen, while in other cases, the hyphen appears to have disappeared with the passage of time. There is no rule governing the presence or absence of the hyphen. Here are some examples of compound words:
(a) Noun + Noun
Motor cycle                        hair breadth
teargas                               goldfish
girl-friend                           television fan
bread-piece                        block-head
fire-engine                         pot-belley
(b) Noun + Adjective
trustworthy                         beauty conscious
home sick                           brickred
duty free                             sea-green
(c) Adjective + Noun
paleface                              yellow press
                                          red light
fathead                               greenhorn
(d) Compounds with verbs/adverbials/verbal nouns
sight-seeing                       man-eating
birth-control                        heart-breaking
record-player                      easy-going
brain-washing                    baby-sitting
walking-stick                      lip-read
Two words are sometimes clipped and the clippings joined to forma new word.
brunch        from        breakfast and lunch
smog          from        smoke and fog
telecast       from        television and broadcast
motel          from        motorists and hotel
English (or any other language) generally borrows words from other languages with which it comes into contact. English continues to enrich its store of words by such borrowings.
Guru          (from Hindi)
bazaar        (from Persian)
Sheikh        (from Arabic)
tycoon        (from Japanese)
Dame         (from French)
New words have to be given to new inventions. Such words (as other words of the language) are arbitrary but in course of time, they come to stay as a part of the language.
X-rays, laser, sputnik, astronaut
Some words are formed by the sounds that suggest their meaning.
clang, whisper, thunder, click, tick, lisp, murmur
Language, as everybody knows, is dynamic. It continues to acquire new words with the passage of time. Some words also go on disappearing, as the time passes, due to several reasons. Language is open-ended and modifiable.