109.1112 Introduction to Linguistics 1: Phonetics
Dr. Nancy Hall
Office hours: Tuesday 12-1 or by appointment. Room 1602.
Several people have reported trying to e-mail me and not
The problem is that the e-mail address listed for me on the department
website was (is?) not correct. My correct address is
Phonetics is the study of speech sounds. This course covers the physical nature of speech sounds: how they are produced in the vocal tract, and their acoustic components. You will learn to use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), a system for transcribing the sounds of all human languages. We will study the sound systems of several dialects, and learn what makes Americans and Britons, for example, sound different. This course will help you to pronounce English better and become more aware of the sounds that distinguish words in English. We will also discuss the range of sounds that exist in other languages.
40% Final exam
20% Lab exercise
20% Quiz (around week 4)
15% Home exercises
5% Class participation
Home exercises are due the week after they are given, and will not be accepted late. If you cannot come to class, you must leave the assignment in my box or e-mail it to me before the class at which it is due.
Schedule This schedule and in particular the homework assignments are subject to change.
- Week 1: Vocal anatomy, articulation of consonants
- Summary of lecture 1
- handout: diagrams of consonant articulations
- home exercises On the handout, identify which English
consonant is being pronounced in each picture. Give its IPA symbol, and its three-part phonetic description: place of articulation, manner of articulation, and whether it is voiced. Ex.: [t] is a voiceless alveolar plosive. You may find Dan Hall's online customizable vocal tract helpful.
Kevin Russell provides pictures
and definitions of the vocal organs and a self quiz on consonant properties. The self-quiz also covers some things we have not studied yet, such as which part of the tongue is involved.
Mark Tatham's website also has some extra information on the
vocal tract. SIL provides a good vocal
tract diagram and illustrations of places
You can also learn a little more with a tutorial
- Week 2: The vowel space; General
American (GA) vowels
- Summary of lecture 2
- handout: American English from Handbook of the IPA
- home exercise: Read the section on American English from
the Handbook of the IPA (handed out in class). At the end, there is a
short story written in IPA. Write this story in ordinary English
spelling. You should also memorize the vowel symbols we covered in class-
know what they sound like, and also their articulatory description. For
example, [e] is a front mid-high vowel.
- recommended: You can download IPA fonts for your
computer from SIL, or
full IPA chart.
- Week 3 British Received Pronunciation (RP)
- home exercise: Tolkien alphabet (Tengwar) problem.
Identify how Tolkien represents each feature graphically: for example,
what do all the Tengwar letters for voiced sounds have in common? Also
think about why he lumped certain features, like bilabial and
labio-dental, into one group.
- recommended: Online practice in
transcription. You can hear American
and British vowels from Ladefoged's online course.
- Week 4 Quiz; Differences between RP and GA
- For the quiz, you should be able to identify the articulatory
features of all the English vowels and consonants we have covered. For
this means height, backness, and rounding; for consonants: voicing, place,
manner. You also need to know their IPA symbols.
- Week 5 Sound systems of Hebrew, Russian, Arabic
- home exercise:A group exercise on Russian and Arabic is
due in two weeks. Here are the instructions in .pdf format.
Students formed groups at the end of class; if you were absent, ask a
classmate if you can join their group.
For next week, you should do the first English transcription exercise.
To get this exercise, take a cassette tape to the Self-Access Audio Lab
(room 604A). They will make a copy of the exercise for you which will be
ready the next day. Download the
instructions (pdf format) here.
- Week 6 Narrow transcription, allophonic variation in consonants
- Week 7 Stress and intonation
- Primary and secondary stress; strong / weak forms; N / V pairs; compounds
- Stress-conditioned phenomena: vowel reduction, syllabic consonants,
flapping, excrescent consonants
- Week 8 Narrow transcription of vowels, chain shifts
- Northern cities chain shift
- The Great Vowel Shift, or Why is English spelled like that?
- home exercise: transcriptions from the English spelling poem. Also, work on
memorizing pronunciations from the now complete
- Week 9 Transcription practice
- This is an OPTIONAL class meeting. We will review and practice
the transcriptions skills you will need for the final
- Some details of what to expect on the final exam are posted here.
- Week 10 Acoustic phonetics
- recommended: The spectrograms used in the lecture are
taken from the Acoustic Phonetics chapter of Ladefoged's
online course materials, and from Robert Hagiwara's How to Read
Spectrograms. There is an online vowel
synthesizer where you specify formant values and can listen to the
result. For the ambitious, PRAAT
offer free software for making spectrograms, pitch tracks, etc. on your
own computer. I've written brief instructions for
- Week 11 Acoustics cont'd
- Answers to the poem homework (pdf
- home exercise Spectrogram reading (handout). If you have
difficult, look at the links for Week 10 for review. For the final exam,
you will need to be able to identify vowel height and backness based on
formants, and identify the manner of articulation of consonants.
of speech; perceptual phonetics
- Airstream mechanisms, voice onset time, laryngeal contrasts
- Interaction of place, voice, and manner; or Why doesn't Arabic have [p]?
- Week 13 Sounds of the world’s languages
- Clicks, tones, ejectives, implosives, double articulations...
- recommended: You can hear all the sounds we cover on the UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive.
- Answers to Transcription Practice
Other linguistics links (in descending order of relevance to phonetics)
A number of linguistic tools, including free fonts, are available from
The phonologist Jennifer Smith maintains a large list of
links, including sound files of exotic phonemes, videos of the vocal
Phonetics Association (the people who designed the IPA) has
You can find statistics and
information on virtually all the world's languages at www.ethnologue.com.
The Linguist List is one of
the main forums for linguistics-related advertising, jobs, discussions,
etc. If you are thinking about continuing in linguistics, you might be
interested to see the kind of job postings that are aimed for linguistics graduates.