Talk:Phonetics

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Phoneme count[edit]

When you say :


The English language is pretty close to average, using 13 vowels and over 30 consonants.

I believe you are refering to the number of phonemes in English, not phones. RoseParks

Yes, and phonetics really does study phonemes, in addition to phones, contrary to what the initial paragraph claims. GregLee 02:15, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Peter Ladefoged[edit]

Needs a reference to Peter Ladefoged's A Course in Phonetics.

Unusual sounds[edit]

I'm impressed by the work on creating a taxonomy for practically every noise the human vocal apparatus can make. However, out of curiosity, I'd like to ask: what would be the proper phonetic descriptions of:

  • the Bronx cheer or raspberry, like an unvoiced bilabial trill, except the tongue is put between the lips before air is blown;
  • the sound Donald Duck makes, which (as far as I can tell by doing a Donald Duck imitation myself) is an unvoiced sound made by the voice artist vibrating their tongue against their (mostly back) teeth?

-- The Anome 10:33, Jun 13, 2005 (UTC)

Phonetics, generally, does not go into the realm of extra-linguistic sounds. However, Pike (1943) (mentioned in the biblio) does go into many sounds that do not occur in language (like twisting the tongue upside-down, etc.). But, I will give this a shot:
  • The raspberry is an voiceless exolabio-lingual trill, that is the tongue is vibrating against the protruded lower lip. It is inter-labial. I dont think that you need to specify that it is interlabial because I cant seem to produce this sound by drawing my lower lip inward. (can anyone do this?)
  • The Donald Duck sound, I am not sure that I can make very well, and I dont know how Clarence Nash made the sound (I dont have any Donald Duck recordings): so beware my description. From what I can do, it seems that this is a voiceless lateral lingual trill. I put my tongue behind against the back of my teeth (of course you can anchor the tongue behind this, too), but it does not vibrate there. Rather the vibration is along the sides of the tongue dorsum. The tongue appears to be hitting the sides of the back molars. The inside of the upper cheeks also vibrate, probably from the turbulent air coming out from between the back molars. The air pressure must rather forceful (as is the case with other trills). You can get something like this (although more brief) if you articulate a very forceful ejective lateral affricate. Anyway, something like that.
Hopefully, someone else has some thoughts about this. peace — ishwar  (SPEAK) 17:56, 2005 Jun 13 (UTC)
Your descriptions sound good to me, Ishwar, but then I don't do the DD sound either.
Raspberries could be notated [r̼] or [ʙ̼] [oops - with the under-ring too, of course] (that is, with the "seagull" diacritic). (There are theoretical assumptions between choosing the alveolar or bilabial trill as the base symbol: is this sound essentially coronal, or labial?, but that's not important here.) I don't think specifying the lower lip is required in the notation, because I can't imagine a contrast between an upper- and lower-labial trill, but of course you'd want to note it in the verbal description.
I can't think of any official way to notate the DD sound. I doubt it's ejective, since it can be held for quite a long time, which suggests that the airstream mechanism is pulmonic. I think, tho, that there's a certain odd, maybe strident, phonation that's essential to the sound. Or maybe that's just DD's general voice quality, and so doesn't need to be indicated for the individual phonemes? (Like I said, I can't do DD.) However, there may be an ad-hoc way to write it that would get the point across: labial flaps are sometimes seen as an ad-hoc wedge diacritic over the corresponding fricative or approximant (approximants would be better, since they're not fricated), so why not use the same over a lateral fricative like [ɬ], maybe with a length sign (or a double wedge, one above the other) to show it's not a flap? Another possibility: I've already seen linguists extend the belt of [ɬ] to other lateral symbols, for example to notate a voiceless retroflex lateral fricative. Why not assume it to mean 'voiceless lateral fricative' instead of just 'voiceless fricative', and extend it further to the trills? That is, belt-r for a voiceless lateral fricative trill? It would require some explanation, but might work. That's assuming the thing's alveolar, of course: with laterals, I believe that's an issue of where the tongue seals off the oral cavity, not where the air escapes, so we wouldn't need to come up with a symbol for a velar trill, which the IPA has deemed impossible (for a central consonant, of course). If it's just postalveolar or retroflex, we could use a retraction diacritic (underbar). As for it being forceful, that's probably just a requirement for making the sound at all. However, if you wish to specifically notate it as being forceful, there's a symbol for that (an underscript ") in the Ext-IPA.
Well, I know the question wasn't about notation, but sometimes trying to work that out makes you focus on the essense of a phone. kwami 20:34, 2005 Jun 13 (UTC)
yes, these are some good points mentioned by user kwami. In naming the raspberry sound, you dont need to be as specific as I have been: you could just call it a labiolingual trill (or a linguolabial trill). (the lower articulator is usually indicated by a prefix, i.e. labio- or linguo-.)
Although I have described the Donald Duck sound as a consonant (i.e. a lateral lingual trill), when "doing" Donald Duck this vibration is really used as a strange type of phonation, much like the vibration of the vocal folds. Donald Duck's real "consonants" are made by changing the shape of the lips & oral cavity (which is why it sounds like he is really speaking a language). So, I guess if we extend the study of phonetics to Cartoon Land, we will need to add Donald Duck voice to the other kinds of phonation (i.e., creaky voice, modal voice, breathy voice, whisper, etc.). Concerning my note about the lateral affricate, I think that if you articulate a voiceless lateral affricate with enough force, you start to get lateral vibrations. And it helps if the affricate is ejective (because you can usually push the air up harder & faster with the larynx than with the lungs).
Thanks for the fun question. — ishwar  (SPEAK) 23:14, 2005 Jun 13 (UTC)
I had asked someone else about his thoughts on these. He suggests that a raspberry using the lower lip could be called a sublamino-(exo)labial trill and a raspberry using the upper lip could be a apico-labial trill. On Donald Duck, he, too, notes that he has never been able to do a decent, but he agrees with my description. He says that for him the tongue body is so bunched up that he cant make anything except labial sounds (like saying "oh boy!"). He makes the sound as you do by placing the tongue one the backs of the upper teeth, but suggests that maybe a better Donald Duck can be made with the tongue anchored against the palate. peace — ishwar  (SPEAK) 00:49, 2005 Jun 14 (UTC)


What a fun discussion! I used to debate with fellow students the possible classification of nonlinguistic human noises like farts. Bilabial anal fricative? Sometimes voiced, sometimes unvoiced? Would a silent fart really be a fricative or more like an intestinal [h]? Is that [+stink] or [-stink]? In any case, not to spoil the party, but I believe the IPA is designed to include only those phones that have phonological and morphological significance and are not purely onomotopoeic or humorous. Undoubtedly you all knew this already, but just to clarify. If someone discovers a group of people in Papua New Guinea who speak like Donald Duck in regular conversation, the IPA will be modified accordingly (and please send me a recording). Thanks for the entertainment, and how would you folks transcribe the way you sneeze?

External Links[edit]

I've noticed that a user has been repeatedly adding a link to an external forum, which has been reverted a few times. I'm pretty sure that this link does not comply with the external linking policy, and so have also removed it. (I also have conflict of interest concerns, which suggest that the link should not be included.) However, if there's some reason that this doesn't violate the external links policy and should be included - great. The thing to do, however, is to discuss it over here on the talk page and see if we can reach consensus for inclusion. Thanks. --TheOtherBob 02:20, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Thanks for the help TheOtherBob. I've already posted a discussion on Ygwnkm's user talk page. I've entered the case into mediation [[1]] and am about to add it to WP:AN. Too bad it has to come to this. (forgot to add signature at the time - no conspriacy) Nposs 04:37, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

I now find that general phonetics theories, including those (of TheOtherBob’s) on Wikipedia, have great errors; so, I now try to correct them through forum. TheOtherBob and someone who wrote “Thanks for the help TheOtherBob. I've already posted a discussion on Ygwnkm's user talk page. I've entered the case into mediation [[2]] and am about to add it to WP:AN. Too bad it has to come to this.” will certainly know who I (Young-Won Kim) am through the link of “*[...] Comparative phonetics”. Will Wikipedia protect the fake theories of (fake phonetician) TheOtherBob’s by deleting my (moderate) link of “*[...] Comparative phonetics”. Let me know who you are and let’s talk whose theories are right or wrong openly; e,g, academici (Forum) Group, or somewhere else. I think the phonetics page of Wikipedia is not the private property of TheOtherBob. TheOtherBob will not accept my invitation/challenge, since he himself knows well that he is wrong. If you do not accept my challenge in a few hours, I will try to post my link again. —The preceding unsigned comment was added by Ygwnkm (talkcontribs).

Ygwnkm, Wikipedia is an encyclopedia, not a place to debate theories. The link you are adding fails our external link guidelines in a couple of ways - It's a forum, which are generally to be avoided; and it's being added by a site agent (i.e. it's your site and you're adding it). This is considered a form of spamming. You are encouraged to add content to the encyclopedia in keeping with our policies and guidelines. Re-adding the link will likely result in its deletion. Check out our five pillars and the welcome page for more on how to contribute effectively. -- Siobhan Hansa 04:30, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

Siobhan Hansa, How can an encyclopedia be made without debate/forum? Why do you/Wikipedia avoid truth through debate/forum? Spam; Do not say the different opinions as spam. However, you now protect the fake theories without proper reason/procedure/debate/forum. ygwnkm@yahoo.co.kr

    • This barely needs saying, but I have no theory of phonetics, general or otherwise. I'm editing this page in response to a report of a persistent spammer, not to promote any theory or point of view. I have not otherwise edited this page. In any case, there is nothing to "debate" here - the link violates our policies. Wikipedia is not the place to link to your own points of view on a topic; I'd suggest you read the requirements for reliable sources, neutral point of view, and (again) the external links policy. Regardless of whether you take that suggestion, I would strongly advise that you read the policy regarding making more than three reverts within 24 hours. If you are the same user that made the earlier reversions from an IP address (which is easily enough confirmed), then you could well end up blocked from editing. (You could also end up in trouble for sockpuppetry, of course.) --TheOtherBob 05:15, 4 January 2007 (UTC)

>I have no theory of phonetics, general or otherwise. __. But, in the world are there some people who understand/study phonetics, and they will eventually evaluate who are right or wrong if any opposite/different theories are presented at all, through forum or the likes. __. >Wikipedia is not the place to link to your own points of view on a topic. __. I post my link for the world and TheOtherBob does for no good purpose, and you now support TheOtherBob’s bad purpose. __. When someone’s ideas raise objection, we will need debate/forum/etc. __. Ask TheOtherBob Why he evades open debate/forum in any place/site, not on Wikipedia but on Comparative phonetics, or somewhere else.

Note: links to spam site voicespec-dot-com removed from the above thread, as it's now on the blacklist. Fut.Perf. 11:30, 30 September 2014 (UTC)

Do you think phonetics includes the study of the non-speech sounds?[edit]

Well, I'm just asking if there's any references while one says phonetics includes not only the study of the speech sounds but the non-speech sounds as well. If that's really the case, perhaps a further set of IPA symbols needs to be designed to handle the non-speech sounds? Tsuiwaiming 15:55, 8 January 2007 (UTC)

I wonder if by non-speech sounds you are referring to the implosives used in some African languages, also called Clicks.Jeffinthehouse728 (talk) 08:32, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

@Jeffinthehouse728: There is a fundamental difference between implosives (glottalic ingressive sounds) and clicks (lingual, or more precisely velaric, ingressive sounds). — See the article Airstream mechanism which also mentions buccal, esophageal and percussive sounds that no language uses phonemically. Love —LiliCharlie (talk) 09:43, 15 December 2016 (UTC)

Second Paragraph Largely Concerning Chinese Writing[edit]

While the article makes clear that Phonetics is concerned with the sounds made by the human vocal apparatus, not their delineation in writing, the second paragraph principally concerns Chinese characters, and a fact that there is some reference to pronunciation in logographic writing systems. Does this belong in the article about phonetics?

If it does, then should it be in its own paragraph with a contrasting fact about non-logographic systems?

Perhaps these facts about writing systems of languages should be linked to the paragraph below about the IPA, pointing out the inadequacies and non-universality of the writing systems of particular languages as a motivating factor for the creation and use of the IPA. Joshua Crowgey 07:56, 20 February 2007 (UTC)

I think the whole paragraph is superfluous, and in parts garbled. If there's enough to say about the Chinese concept of "phonetic", that could be branched off into a different article, because it's really an entirely different topic. I'm removing the whole paragraph. Fut.Perf. 09:47, 20 February 2007 (UTC)


Empty Article, Fruitful "see also"[edit]

There are lovely sections linked to in the "see also" section which might fill out this article nicely. Should there be links to "manner of articulation," "place of articulation," et cetera, while the only section in the article on Phonetics is a short paragraph regarding one particular technique (under the section labelled "techniques")?

I'm sort of new to wikipolicies and the like. I'd love to help out the phonetics project. It seems like the material needed to fill out this stub of an article already exists in the "see also" section. What to do, what to do? Joshua Crowgey 06:12, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

A history section with expanded content would be a good start. Some of the "see also" articles could be discussed briefly with "see main article: ..." at the top of each section. (Although, many of those articles are fairly short, as well.) What about notable theories or researchers? (I'm not a linguist - so I don't know.) Nposs 06:37, 9 March 2007 (UTC)

Phonetics / Phonology[edit]

I'm not a linguist, but a respected Slovenian linguist Jože Toporišič (the author of several treatises on phonetics and phonology, honored by the International Society of Phonetic Sciences in 1979 [3]) defined phonology as part of phonetics in 1992. ISBN 8636107563, COBISS 24684032. This article defines phonetics as opposed to phonology and the category Phonology is superior to Phonetics while it should be vice versa. --Eleassar my talk 10:22, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

I'm pretty certain the practice of treating the two fields as separate and on a par with each other is a lot more wide-spread. I haven't got many references at hand right now, but H. Bußmann's Lexikon der Sprachwissenschaft might do for the moment. In fact, as far as I can see, a lot of current work in phonology is decidedly non-phonetic. You can read articles after articles in current phonology journals without ever encountering a statement about the physical nature of a sound. Fut.Perf. 10:41, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
Well, different people have different opinions on the matter. I'd say phonetics and phonology inform each other, but neither is a subset of the other. —Angr 10:43, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

An expert who contributed to Slovenian Wikipedia explained that in English usage phonetics and linguistics are both linguistic sciencies, and phonology is part of linguistics. As a medicine student I won't comment this. He didn't cite any sources. --Eleassar my talk 10:49, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

I'd like to see more (secondary) sources cited in regard to this question, if anyone has access to them. --Eleassar my talk 13:50, 30 September 2007 (UTC)
I'm not sure - as long as we don't know what exactly Toporisic said and how, it's not quite clear what the question is. Are we talking about phonetics and phonology as academic activities? Those are pretty much distinct, though interrelated, and neither phoneticians nor phonologists would probably want to define themselves as a subset of the other group. Or are we talking about ways how the objects of those academic activities, i.e. phonetic and phonological facts about language, relate to each other? That is an extremely complex field, about which much has been written, but I don't think it can be reduced to a simplistic question of whether one set of facts is a "part" of the other. Here [4] is a collection of some relevant literature. In standard introductory textbooks, the two fields are virtually always introduced as two separate things; just open whatever introduction you find. Fut.Perf. 14:33, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

As academic activities. Toporišič defined:

phonetics - a linguistic science that studies the sound aspect of a language from a voice and intonation to a text. It studies it from the viewpoint of pronounciation or from the viewpoint of what can be heard [etc.]

phonology - that part of phonetics which studies how do the phenomena of the sound aspect of a language influence the meanings

My translation is a bit rough. You may verify for yourself what Toporišič said in Enciklopedija slovenskega jezika (1992), if someone can translate the entries for you. Here are some additional sources that treat phonology as part of phonetics.

Leksikon Cankarjeve založbe (1998; based on the German Volksbrockhaus and adapted by eminent Slovenian authors, but without Toporišič :)

phonology: a branch, respectively a school of phonetics. Studies voices as phonemes [etc].

Enciclopedia Italiana (1949; "a bit" outdated) says the following:

Fonetica descrittiva o fonologia: Si dice fonetica descrittiva o fonologia lo studio delle immagini acustiche o "fonemi", i quali sono dati dall'atto fonatorio e asticolatorio e dall'impressione auditiva.

Grundlagen der Phonetik/Fundamentals of Phonetics (2001): defines phonology as a separate scientific branch of phonetics. The same as Leksikon Cankarjeve založbe.

On the other side, EB explains that some experts define phonetics as part of phonology. --Eleassar my talk 10:16, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

This still strikes me as idiosyncratic usage. The Italian one is definitely outdated (I'm quite certain I've never seen the term "descriptive phonetics" used as a synonym of "phonology", and it wouldn't indeed make much sense; "functional" perhaps, but not "descriptive"). The Hess introduction actually isn't describing phonology as a part of phonetics, but (in its original German) says: [phonology] developed into a separate branch within the phonetic sciences, where "phonetic sciences" seems to be used as a cover term for phonology and phonetics proper. The sentence is actually about the separation of phonology from phonetics, if you read the context carefully.
Anyway, this is pretty academic; I can assure you that this question is not something that troubles the field currently. General usage in linguistics is to speak of "phonetics and phonology", where the "and" implies juxtaposition as two entities on the same level. You'd probably not find many explicit refutations of whatever other views there may be, simply because it's not something people are worried about. Fut.Perf. 10:42, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

Well, I am "worried" about it because of proper categorization (here and in Slovenian Wikipedia). Perhaps we should do the same as prof. Hess and put the articles/categories Phonetics and Phonology in the supercategory Phonetic sciences. IMHO it would be more neutral as it would imply that the modern phonology emerged from phonetics and that the two disciplines are interconnected: in line with the general usage in linguistics as you have explained it. --Eleassar my talk 11:03, 1 October 2007 (UTC)

A cat that would have only two subcats is not particularly useful, imo. I put them both simply under "linguistics", which I think is fine; alternatively one could imagine them together under a new "linguistics disciplines" together with the other major branches (syntax, morphology, semantics etc.). Category:Linguistics is a mess anyway, there are more urgent things to tidy up there than this one. Fut.Perf. 11:09, 1 October 2007 (UTC)


It would be helpful to remember that most people working in phonology and/or phonetics are self-described amateurs, even if they get to the PhD level. It's sort of like academic philosophers choosing ontological issues over traditional metaphysics.

It might also be helpful simply to try and remember what the terms refer to before they refer to academic fields. If I said, 'English phonetics' and then 'English phonology', what difference holds across the two phrases? I would bet we could not get a worldwide consensus, meaning that the two areas overlap. Phonology has, since Chomsky and Halle, tended toward abstraction and formalization. No, I take that back, it has tended towards that since the structuralists, but theirs was a social and behaviorist abstraction and formalization, while Chomsky proclaimed a psychological element (though it seems more like empty formalistics to me). —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.213.112.18 (talk) 09:12, 20 August 2008 (UTC)


Back when structrualist phonemics was all the rage, at least in the US, it was often custom to designate phonology as consisting of phonemics and phonetics. This inheritance persists, such as in TESL/TEFL/applied linguistics for ELT. —Preceding unsigned comment added by 220.213.97.215 (talk) 00:05, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Origin of Phonetics?[edit]

Ancient India is mentioned in this article as "studying phonetics 2,500 years ago". It is mentioned almost as if it originated there.

From my understanding, "phonetics" originated from the same place the "alphabet" came from; Phonecia. A place deeply influenced by the Semetic groups and particularly by Egypt.

At times it was considered to be part of Egypt.

Phonecia was well documented by the Greeks (as they were also deeply influenced by Egypt).

This article has me questioning my understanding as the Greek word for sound also starts with "p" "h" "o" "n".

Maybe there is a link to both the word and the place?

If I am wrong could someone please prove the origin of phonetics.

If I am right could someone please confirm.

Either way, please could the findings be put on the main page.

G. Logic. —Preceding unsigned comment added by Godlogic (talkcontribs) 14:34, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

If developping a phonetic script (that ignores the vowels) counts as "studying phonetics" (I don't agree, just for the sake of the argument), then that would make the early Egyptians themselves the first phoneticians, more than 5000 years ago.
The Egyptian hieroglyphic script was invented in the fourth millennium BC (quite possibly by a lone genius), and it is now thought in Egyptology that it must have been quite phonetic originally, consisting only of characters denoting single consonants, with multiple-consonant signs and logograms being later developments: there is a demonstrable tendency for the script to become more logographic rather than less in the course of the millennia.
That is, despite the pictographic look of the characters, the hieroglyphic script essentially started out as a consonantal alphabet like Phoenician, which is derived from it in the same manner that the hieroglyphic script is now thought to have been constructed, using the names of the depicted objects as convenient mnemonics for the denoted sound, probably from the first consonant. The traditional "rebus hypothesis" for the origin of the hieroglyphic script has been discredited. --Florian Blaschke (talk) 21:45, 17 July 2014 (UTC)

Origin of Phonetics?[edit]

Sorry for not signing, did not mean to be rude. I am new to this site.

G.Logic.

P.S If you encounter any typo's this is probably due to my stoopidity. Forgive me.

Godlogic (talk) 15:05, 11 September 2008 (UTC)

Nominating ' Phonetics Laboratories and Research Groups' section for deletion[edit]

A list of phonetics laboratories and research groups seems out of place in an encyclopedia article about phonetics. Perhaps a separate article would be more appropriate. Considering that such lists seem to be rare (if they even exist) in articles about other fields of study, I'm nominating this section for deletion. If no compelling arguments are made, then I plan on deleting the section a week from today. Emw2012 (talk) 18:12, 23 March 2009 (UTC)

Since noone raised any objections, I've gone ahead and deleted the section. If anyone thinks that it should be restored, please forward an argument here before reverting this deletion. Emw2012 (talk) 03:11, 8 April 2009 (UTC)

Possible overkill on references[edit]

I notice that the last sentence of second paragraph in the 'Phonetics and phonology' section has six references. One or two references is usually sufficient to support a controversial claim. Given that, using six references to support a relatively uncontroversial seems excessive. I suggest that the list of references be trimmed down the most relevant one or two references. Emw2012 (talk) 13:46, 12 September 2009 (UTC)

I took out two references and moved another. In academic papers, one often tries to give a wide representation of who has stated something, so it isn't sufficient to cite one paper from 1960, but one from 1960, another from 1975, and another from 1995. I think this was what I was doing unintentionally. It should be better now. Lingboy (talk) 09:18, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

Deletion of Shaw statement[edit]

The talk about George Bernard Shaw under "Phonology and Phonetics" is out of place. Should this be deleted or put into a different section which talks about something like "Phonetics in Popular Culture." I almost think that it should be deleted. If the purpose of the wikipedia page on phonetics is to provide people with a scientific perspective of the field, these types of "fun facts" are inappropriate.Lingboy (talk) 09:22, 13 September 2009 (UTC)

  • I agree with the move to delete per your rationale. Emw2012 (talk) 13:07, 13 September 2009 (UTC)
  • Hmm. Interesting course of action. Controversial. Shaw was, after all, a significant figure of sorts. --- Wikiklrsc (talk) 21:34, 31 January 2010 (UTC)
  • I think that info should be moved to orthography or English orthography, if it isn't already there. Perhaps a 'see also' link to ghoti on this article. kwami (talk) 21:49, 31 January 2010 (UTC)

Information in references[edit]

Could page numbers and ISBN's be included in existing and future references to books? Emw2012 (talk) 14:52, 16 September 2009 (UTC)

  • This seems like overkill to me. Sometimes page numbers are hard to find, especially if the source is cited within a source and ISBN's are not required for academic publications (ever). I vote against it. It is hard enough to find decent references in wikipedia articles to begin with. I've seen pages where "About.com" is the reference.Lingboy (talk) 12:53, 2 October 2009 (UTC)

Please read after you write.[edit]

This article has two "phonetic transcription" sections both discussing the IPA. Uncle G (talk) 20:18, 18 November 2012 (UTC)

Phonemes in IPA transcription?[edit]

"Every documented phoneme available within the known languages in the world is assigned its own corresponding symbol."

Shouldn't be "phone" instead of phoneme?

Neptilo (talk) 13:17, 10 August 2014 (UTC)