AskDefine | Define phonetics

Dictionary Definition

phonetics n : the branch of acoustics concerned with speech processes including its production and perception and acoustic analysis

User Contributed Dictionary



  • /fəˈnɛtɪks/


  1. the study of speech sounds and their representation by written symbols


study of speech sounds and their representation by written symbols
  • Arabic: صوتيات
  • Chinese: 語音學 (yǚyīnxué)
  • Croatian: fonetika
  • Czech: fonetika
  • Danish: fonetik
  • Dutch: fonetiek
  • Finnish: fonetiikka, äänneoppi
  • German: Phonetik, Lautlehre
  • Italian: fonetica
  • Japanese: (onseigaku)
  • Lithuanian: fonetika
  • Persian: (âvašenâsi)
  • Polish: fonetyka
  • Russian: фонетика (fonétika)
  • Sindhi:
  • Slovene: fonetika
  • Spanish: fonética

Extensive Definition

Phonetics (from the Greek φωνή (phonê) "sound" or "voice") is the study of the physical sounds of human speech. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds (phones), and the processes of their physiological production, auditory reception, and neurophysiological perception.
Phonetics was studied as early as 2,500 years ago in ancient India, with account of the place and manner of articulation of consonants in his 5th century BC treatise on Sanskrit. The major Indic alphabets today order their consonants according to classification.

Types of phonetics

Phonetics has three main branches:

Phonetics and phonology

In contrast to phonetics, phonology is the study of language-specific systems and patterns of sound and gesture. While phonology is grounded in phonetics, it is a distinct area of linguistics, dealing with abstract but psychologically-real sound and gesture units (phonemes) and their variants (allophones), the distinctive properties (features) which form the basis of meaningful contrast between these units, and their classification into natural classes based on shared behavior and phonological processes. Phonetics deals with the physical properties of sounds themselves, not how they are meaningful. There are over a hundred phones recognized as basic by the International Phonetic Association (IPA) and transcribed by simple letters in their International Phonetic Alphabet.
Although "meaningful contrast" between phonemes forms the basis of other discussions of meaning, the subject of semantics does not enter into this level of linguistic analysis.


  • Abercrombie, D. (1967). Elements of General Phonetics. Edinburgh University Press: Edinburgh.
  • Ashby, Michael & Maidment, John. (2005). Introducing Phonetic Science. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 0-521-80882-0 (hbk); ISBN 0-521-00496-9 (pbk).
  • Catford, J. C. (1977). Fundamental problems in phonetics. Bloomington, IN: Indiana University Press. ISBN 0-253-32520-X.
  • Clark, John; & Yallop, Colin. (1995). An introduction to phonetics and phonology (2nd ed.). Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-19452-5.
  • Gussenhoven, C & Broeders, A. (1997). English pronunciation for student teachers. Wolters-Noordhoff BV Groningen, the Netherlands. ISBN 90 01 16703 9
  • Hardcastle, William J.; & Laver, John (Eds.). (1997). The handbook of phonetic sciences. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-18848-7.
  • Ladefoged, Peter. (1982). A course in phonetics (2nd ed.). London: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich.
  • Ladefoged, Peter. (2003). Phonetic data analysis: An introduction to fieldwork and instrumental techniques. Malden, MA: Blackwell Publishing. ISBN 0-631-23269-9 (hbk); ISBN 0-631-23270-2 (pbk).
  • Ladefoged, Peter; & Maddieson, Ian. (1996). The sounds of the world's languages. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers. ISBN 0-631-19814-8 (hbk); ISBN 0-631-19815-6 (pbk).
  • Maddieson, Ian. (1984). Patterns of sounds. Cambridge studies in speech science and communication. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Laver, J. (1994).Principles of Phonetics. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
  • Pike, Kenneth L. (1943). Phonetics: A critical analysis of phonetic theory and a technic for the practical description of sounds. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press.
  • Pisoni, David B.; & Remez, Robert E. (Eds.). (2004). The handbook of speech perception. Oxford: Blackwell. ISBN 0-631-22927-2.
  • Rogers, Henry. (2000). The Sounds of Language: An Introduction to Phonetics. Harlow, Essex: Pearson. ISBN 0-582-38182-7.
  • Stevens, Kenneth N. (1998). Acoustic phonetics. Current studies in linguistics (No. 30). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press. ISBN 0-262-19404-X.
phonetics in Aragonese: Fonetica
phonetics in Asturian: Fonética
phonetics in Bengali: ধ্বনিবিজ্ঞান
phonetics in Belarusian: Фанетыка
phonetics in Belarusian (Tarashkevitsa): Фанэтыка
phonetics in Bosnian: Fonetika
phonetics in Breton: Fonetik
phonetics in Bulgarian: Фонетика
phonetics in Catalan: Fonètica
phonetics in Chuvash: Фонетика
phonetics in Czech: Fonetika
phonetics in Welsh: Seineg
phonetics in Danish: Fonetik
phonetics in German: Phonetik
phonetics in Estonian: Foneetika
phonetics in Modern Greek (1453-): Φωνητική
phonetics in Spanish: Fonética
phonetics in Esperanto: Fonetiko
phonetics in Basque: Fonetika
phonetics in Persian: آواشناسی
phonetics in French: Phonétique
phonetics in Manx: Fockreeaght
phonetics in Galician: Fonética
phonetics in Korean: 음성학
phonetics in Croatian: Fonetika
phonetics in Ido: Fonetiko
phonetics in Indonesian: Fonetik
phonetics in Interlingua (International Auxiliary Language Association): Phonetica
phonetics in Icelandic: Hljóðfræði
phonetics in Italian: Fonetica
phonetics in Hebrew: פונטיקה
phonetics in Swahili (macrolanguage): Fonetiki
phonetics in Latvian: Fonētika
phonetics in Luxembourgish: Phonetik
phonetics in Lojban: voksnaske
phonetics in Hungarian: Fonetika
phonetics in Dutch: Fonetiek
phonetics in Japanese: 音声学
phonetics in Norwegian: Fonetikk
phonetics in Norwegian Nynorsk: Fonetikk
phonetics in Novial: Fonetike
phonetics in Polish: Fonetyka
phonetics in Portuguese: Fonética
phonetics in Romanian: Fonetică
phonetics in Russian: Фонетика
phonetics in Albanian: Fonetika
phonetics in Simple English: Phonetics
phonetics in Slovak: Fonetika
phonetics in Slovenian: Fonetika
phonetics in Serbian: Фонетика
phonetics in Serbo-Croatian: Fonetika
phonetics in Finnish: Fonetiikka
phonetics in Swedish: Fonetik
phonetics in Tamil: ஒலிப்பியல்
phonetics in Thai: สัทศาสตร์
phonetics in Turkish: Sesbilim
phonetics in Ukrainian: Фонетика
phonetics in Yiddish: פאנעטיק
phonetics in Chinese: 语音学

Synonyms, Antonyms and Related Words

ablaut, acoustic phonetics, articulatory phonetics, audiometer, auriscope, auriscopy, betacism, bowwow theory, cacography, comparative linguistics, derivation, descriptive linguistics, dialectology, dingdong theory, etymology, glossematics, glossology, glottochronology, glottology, gradation, grammar, graphemics, historical linguistics, language study, lexicology, lexicostatistics, linguistic geography, linguistic science, linguistics, mathematical linguistics, morphology, morphophonemics, mutation, orthoepy, orthography, otography, otolaryngology, otology, otoneurology, otopathy, otoplasty, otoscope, otoscopy, paleography, philology, phonetic spelling, phonography, phonology, psycholinguistics, rhotacism, semantics, sociolinguistics, sound shift, spelldown, spelling, spelling bee, spelling match, spelling reform, structuralism, syntactics, transformational linguistics, umlaut
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