Phonetics and Introduction to Phonology

Module Description

This module is a practical overview of articulatory phonetics, teaching the interrelated skills of recognition, production and transcription of a large variety of speech sounds, particularly those used in African languages. These skills are helpful in learning to understand and speak any language and provide the essential linguistic foundation for an adequate orthography (writing system) for an unwritten language. 

The module includes two weeks of phonology in order to give the students some basic notions.


Learning objectives

At the end of the phonetics part (6 weeks) the students will be able to:

  1. Identify and produce a broad range of the phonetic sounds observable in the world’s languages, with an emphasis on Africa.
  2. Transcribe sample data from various languages using the International Phonetic Alphabet.
  3. Demonstrate a basic knowledge of the articulatory system and its operation during the production of various speech sounds.
  4. Demonstrate a familiarity with the technical descriptions of speech sounds.
  5. Understand the need to look at each language on its own merits.
  6. Start to hear and transcribe pitch accurately.


At the end of the phonology part (2 weeks), the students will be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of the basic concepts of contrast, variation and distribution, including complementary distribution.
  • An understanding of the some basic procedures used in phonemic analysis.

Module Requirements
There will be homework and lab-sessions and, if needed, individual tutorials for practice in production and transcription of sounds.