Introduction to linguistics

I started learn linguistic from this semester ,because it sounds fun! But in fact, I found out that you need to memorize things a lot which I hate most to do in this world. I don’t like remembering anything seriously. But, then, why not approach it in a fun way? By learning linguistics and computer science, who knows that I would make some awesome translator which is absolutely way batter than Bing’s or Google’s. Then, you can go everywhere by cheaper price than now! World will be more peaceful ,since they understand others more. Also, people will collaborative more easily, so tech will be developed faster. Anyway, I can’t wait to see that.  That’s one of my dream actually. It might sound too idealistic ,but trying is always worthwhile. It’s better than doing nothing, at least.


So, shell we start?

By the way, before we start studying Linguistics, What’s the Linguistics anyway?

Well, It’s easy to answer the question, linguistics has broad area and a lot of academic branches in it. Generally, it is a study about “How human language works.” I’ll introduce some branches of it, here but essentially it’s just study all about human language. But who knows that you might meet across with bit silly questions on the test. So, for that reason, I’ll explain it, here.

1. Its structure and mechanism(by it, i refer to Human Language)

I know, it just looks like blah blah. I’ll just give you a simple example of it.

e.g., I don’t like remembering vs not I do like remembering

The structure of second one is ‘bucked up’, we can say. So Linguistics study, why some kind of structure we can tell it’s ‘bucked up’ or not.

2.principle of use: hidden meaning

It also looks blah blah. So yes, anther example

e.g., Your girl friend/boy friend:”I think that clothes is so pretty, It would be super good if I have one.”(↔ hidden meaning: I want that clothes for my coming birthday present.)  CLEAR, right? When people say, most of time, I felt they contain some kind of  hidden meaning  and in fact, I use it in that way ,also. For example, if I find something is weird, I’d say “it’s uhm.. interesting?” or “Well, that’s VERY interesting.” But that doesn’t necessarily mean that I found that is really nice. I used the word often in a very negative way not to harm any other people’s feeling.

3.the way language is acquired

It looks straight forward. I saw one video of an experiment that is done for a long time for making chimpanzee to learn human language.  But they failed, unfortunately. But actually I don’t think it’s pretty interesting. Because if someone put me in the water to make me learn the way that dolphin communicate with each other or put me in a tiger cage to make me learn the way that tiger communicate, I don’t think that I can learn of it, ever. So it was a very unfair experiment to chimpanzee. However, I feel interesting to see that some people failed to learn a language while most people can. Also, it’s interesting to see that some people can learn several languages easily while most people can’t. So if we can see those contrast, there must be a reason for that. So linguistics study of it.

4.How language changes over time

I don’t find this is interesting at all. In fact, everything is changing. You can argue with me that mathematical and  scientific facts are not changeable. But can you be sure that your knowledge of gravity will still work, if one day space just disappeared into the black hole and some new world come up? It might sounds crazy, I know, so let’s get back to the main point. So if you open any shakespeare’s book, you can see the fact that human language has changed. That’s it.

5.How language is instantiated in the brain

I think, this part is interesting.  But before that, what is mean by being instantiated? You can just think being represent or being recognized. So the main point is how the brain work with human language. Well, the reason I think it’s interesting is, if we know how it works then we give more help  to the people who can’t use human language because of some kind of malfunction in their brains.’s biological bases

This is talking how we can use human language with our body(i.e., mouth, throat and ears). I think this kind of theme is bit silly from my shallow view point as a person attending a linguistic introductory course, because any animal try to make the best use of what they got. For example, dolphin developed a way to communicate with other dolphin by using hyper sonic sound and bats do, too. So in a same sense, human use human voice to communicate with other human being. But in my lecture, my prof assert that human language is more sophisticated than other language ,so learning what biological feature makes it developed that way is important. However, seriously, can we assert surely that human language is more sophisticated than any other way that other animal is adapting? If then, why you can go out and pick up bats’ language in a sec? It’s like same as the experiment (that I introduced before) putting a poor chimpanzee into the human society to make him learn human language.  I just want to put those scientists into a chimpanzee cage to see if they can learn perfect chimpanzee language.’So don’t be duck’. Different is just different. That doesn’t make something better than another. That’s what I thought in my lecture. ‘That’s a duck head’s idea!’

Well, it’s too broad? There are some major area of linguistics that I can introduce to you.

Phonetics: This area is about the property of the sound of human language. 

What’s mean by that? Well, watch some foreign language youtube and write exactly how it sounds. Yup, what you’re doing is what I did for my Phonetics assignment except I did for English and used IPA symbols to record the pronunciation more correctly. It’s about how human language sounds and what organs(tongue, teeth etc)is used to pronounce those sound.

Phonology: This area try to classify the sound system

I just merely learned. But we learned about what specific sounds usually goes with some sound and don’t with others. Also, how to split sounds as bunch of segments. Those things.

Morphology: Principle of word structure

Well, I haven’t learned but I found this idea is bit tricky. So I found one cartoon about Morphology.

He said “I’m hungry” and mom gave him a cookie

He said “I’m thirsty” and mom gave him a juice

……..So he said “I’m televisiony”

and I understood. It’s a study about how words are related and spread out like that. e.g., huger, hungry

But well I might be mislead. So I’ll update it when I get to the lecture.

Syntax: analysis of the formation of sentences

There are free space for creativity but there are finite rules of how we should form sentences and it’s a study about it. Also, I haven’t got into.

So, let’s start about basic linguistic knowledge ,first.

1.The relationship between sound and meaning is arbitrary. 

Just take a example, if your child ask, “Why we call this as chair?” What would you answer.

The answer will be “Well, everybody call that chair so we call it char.”

Yes, how the word sounds is pretty random regardless of its meaning for most of time.

Why we’re not calling cows as mooers? It sounds silly but it’s more make sense compared to calling it a cow.

(Lecture example:Home is “casa” in Spanish and “dom” in Russian)

2.Language is characterized by “creativity” (but the creativity not limitless)

We can produce new words and understand some sentences we’re never heard of. This happened a lot to me in English, since English is my second language. So this means that language allows this creativity works while using it. So there is a saying , “Infinite use of finite human language” by some famous person that I’m not interested in. But there is an interesting question, being infinite is same as being limitless? Well, regarding the creativity of human language, the answer is “NO”. It’s infinite but it has its limit. You know that some sentence doesn’t make sense or impossible from you guts. That’s what we called “competence”

Competence vs Performance

Competence is, as I said before, a speaker’s knowledge of what can or can’t be said in their language. Performance is the way that the speakers use their language with their competence. Performance seems bit tricky to understand , it is just the way you use your language using competence. So, if it doesn’t make sense to you(to your guts), you would use it. That’s it.

3.Noun used as verbs in English

Have you ever heard of “I need to water my plant.” When I heard it at the first time, for me, it was bit weird but totally understandable(see? a example of the creativity of language). The reason it was bit weird for me,is I only used “water” as noun not a verb. But now I know why. It’s only because English sometimes use Noun as Verb.

(Lecture example: beach the boat, ground the airplane, bottle the wine)

but wait a minute, can all noun be verb, then?

Hell no. If it’s possible what’s the point of keeping verbs. However, it’s a question from my lecture slide. Let’s answer this question then.

Since we have verbs, there should be a limit and the reason/tendency for that some noun can’t replace verbs.

There are few reason/tendency for that.(The reason I put reason/tendency is sometimes it is what it is and hard to find any reasonable explanation for it.)

1. A new verb is not merely coined by noun if  the verb form of the noun is already exists

For example, we can say jail the robber but we can’t say prison the robber.

The reason is simple it’s because the verb form of prison (= imprison) exists.

2. There are some constraints regarding the time expression

In English, it’s possible to say, I summered in India or I wintered in Spain. But, It’s impossible to say, I one o’clocked in the street or I midnighted in the stree. Why?

It seems for the time expression, there is a tendency that only allows people to use time noun to refer some period of time. But the funny thing is, not all period English noun can be verb. e.g., I Autumned in Korea. So that’s why, I put it as tendency.


It’s hard to talk about an language without it’s grammar. If you take any second language course, you will probably study its grammar. But what’s the grammar? There are 3 grammars that are defined. (You might say, “What? I learned grammar in my primary school and there was only one grammar!” ,but yes there are 3)

1. Prescriptive grammar

That’s the one that bugged you when you’re in the primary school. I know it bugged me ,when I had to take an English test in my school in Korea. It’s a merely thing that people think, we should follow to generate clean(snobbish) English. Ah, ha that’s why, I got super poor mark for the grammar all the times! (understood) I got actually all right other than grammar, almost every time, and now I found a reasonable explanation for that. So to summit up, prescriptive grammar is just a thing that some people think that’s THE WAY to use the language and you got tested for that unfortunately.

2. Descriptive grammar(Performance)

Descriptive grammar is just the rule or way that actually people use as long as the way makes the user be able to communicate with others, we can include it our descriptive grammar.

Descriptive grammar counters with Prescriptive grammar with the following points

1. All variety of human language is valid as long as it is understandable

2. There is no strong reason to push one mold for a language

3. Language is constantly changing and it’s very natural

4.There is no original language, language is created by adopting many sources from another

3. Mental grammar(Competence)

This is “What people know when they know a language”

Mental grammar is just a “gut feeling” that you have about an language.

The main difference between “Descriptive grammar” and “Metal grammar” can be described by one sentence below,

“The things that you make sounds doesn’t make sense to me!”(So you can see that Descriptive grammar doesn’t go well Mental grammar). Okay, So Metal grammar can tell what’s right or not by the gut’s feeling. But wait a minute. Can I just call it as gut feeling? As all academic field, in linguistics, there are always “formal” term for this.

We call this “gut feeling” as “Mental lexicon(aka mental dictionary)”. Since your mental lexicon includes all the sounds, meanings related to it and the rules of how to use it and so on, you can tell when something doesn’t make sense in your language.

So, Linguists are interested in Mental grammar(the cognitive part of language) but to study it, they need to study through descriptive grammar. Because, metal grammar is in our subconscious.

So, what’s mental grammar?

1.It contains information of sound

e.g.,  We know that there is no sound like “STBCCKEP” in English.

2.Certain sequence of sound correspond to certain meaning

I think it can be also applicable where “certain sequence of writing” correspond to “certain meaning”.

e.g., If you heard “HOT”, what it reminds you of?Pretty not much more than 2, but you can see the sound(word) (i.e., the sequence of sound/character) is related to something in your mind whatever it is. For me, well this?

Haha, where are you looking at? Not the girl, but BIKE is hot to me!

3.It contains rule to combine words to sentence

These rules are finite. It’s totally make sense. First, our brain has its limit. Second, let’s think about infinite rules..then, what’s the point of having rules? So, when we see some sentence, we look up our rules and if we can’t find it from our rule. We say, “In our language, it doesn’t make sense. That sentence is pretty bucked up.”. One more important thing is, this kind of rules, we don’t really learn in the school. Bring 8 years old kid and ask her/him some sentence is make sense or not. They’ll probably know what is bucked up or not. It’s acquired naturally.  Also, our mental grammar rules are not strict. We’re not machine. So there are always space for “Creativity”!

So what’s THE grammar in Linguistic among these three?

It’s descriptive grammar. We care of the grammar that people use presently. It’s science! (It’s Sparta!!)We keep if we need and discard if it’s useless. So we’re not talking about prescriptive grammar.  Because prescriptive grammar is useless to capture the whole flavor of language. It’s just a opinion of some people. (I love Science because, they’re ravels actually. They don’t care about authority. Let’s buck up authority with science!..yay?) Above, we talk about the characteristic of descriptive grammar but didn’t introduce terms for the characteristics and didn’t introduce some characteristics. So let me introduce the them nicely.

Generality: all language/dialect have their unique grammar system

Parity: all grammar is equal. Rip off your grammar test, it’s useless and time wasting seriously.

Mutability: grammar changes over time

Inaccessibility: grammar knowledge is not accessible.(This is so true, one day, one of my Chinese friend made a sentence in Korean and I know it was wrong! but couldn’t explain. I just kept saying, “Nah, it just doesn’t make sense…”

Universality: all grammar are alike in basic way. Well, I didn’t study all the language. So looked up the lecture node to find some example of this. One of example is like this, 

E.g., There is no language that say like this “He brought Ned’s bag” where He is Ned himself.


Phonetics is all about sounds. Make some sounds. “AH!!!!!!!!!!!!What a lovely midterm!!!!!”

Yes, good job. Well, sounds.. How do people in linguistics study sound(Let’s call them lin ppl)?

There are basically two ways to do that.

1.  Articulatory Property

It’s all about how do you make sounds with what you’ve got(your organs)

Any anatomical picture of any animal including human being is bit disturbing to me..X(

2.Acoustic phonetics

Sound is actually kind of wave. You push the air by making some noise and the wave of the air get into the other person’s ear and he will feel the wave and recognize the sound. Air is actually very sensitive, so when you move all the moving action that you take push the air and make noise. That’s why this earth is very noisy ,since everything is moving. So Acoustic phonetics is a study of the waves. I haven’t got into but it sounds actually interesting. Since if you can develop some way to distinguish some wave in detail and if you can predict what’s the words that is spoken by the wake and some other basic information then you can implement that into a machine. Sounds pretty interesting to me but to do so I need to pass the LIN 100..

Anyway today’s main focus is 1.

To learn the material, we need to have a tool for that called “IPA” search the fool name. It’s just a way to describe the sounds you might want to argue with me that we already got the alphabet.

Well, there are different sounds that are represented in the same way like “ough” in

Rough and though.

So, we need a better tool for that. It’s hard to write IPA, so you need to practice yourself but I have a good reference that I got from my friend.

Also, you can check it in the dictionary website here,

I think I also need to do some practice. For, practice I did translate Katy Perry’s “Friday night”. It was fun but it was bit embarrassing when I had to pronounce it. It’s pretty funny so I’ll scan it later and upload it.

Yup, I wasted my time a lot to do so now we need to hurry.

So what IPA make us realize about the language?

They’re implying that sounds can be segmented! Like we did using IPA.

Regarding this, there’s an situation supporting this “segmenting idea”. That’s “slips of the Tongue” She gave an example which was “melcome wat instead of welcome mat” but I do not agree. I haven’t seen any people talked like that. Come one. So I don’t believe that is an good example but I believe we can segment the sounds.

And we call this individual segment as “Phone”

Okay we got segment but how do we make the sound with these segments?

Well, sound is as I said before the wave of air. So we need to push the air with our organ that means we need to get some air first(“air supply”) and to make wave we need to vibrate the air using our larnyx(you can call it as vocal cords but “larnyx” sounds more snobbish.). We call this as the sound source. And you need to control the vibration with you mouth and tongue etc(the parnyx, oral cavity and nasal cavity) to make more accurate and specific sound. We call this as the “filters”

So let’s think of some specific organ like lung?

Lung needs 2 tings to get the air supply.

1. intercostal

The muscle that allow you to raise your chest to get airs.

2. diaphragm

The sheet below your lung that allow the air comes to your lung

About larynx, I think there are only 2 things important

1. vocal folds

It just two sheet of muscle in your larynx that have some space between them


We call the space between vocal folds as glottis

“Glottal stage”

glottis is important b/c depends on its stage, we can classify sounds for 4 classes

1. voiceless

The air from the lung passes the glottis without any fraction between the vocal folds. So it doesn’t vibrate the vocal folds

2. voiced

vice verse, sounds that vibrate the vocal folds

3. whisper

It’s very similar with voiceless but the anterior part of the larynx pulled together while the posterior part of the larynx have some space

4. murmur

This is pretty interesting! Pronounce behind. Can you say that “h” is bit breathy?

Yes, but it’s voiced right? That’s murmur. This happens because, it’s vibrating the vocal fords but in a relaxing way.

So we check 4 kinds of sounds but it’s not the standard way of classifying sounds.

There are 3 standard classes.


You know vowel, aren’t you? But do you why they’re called vowel altogether?

Well because they have some similarity. Such as..

1) Voiced

2) Not much obstruction when you pronounce it. e.g., pronounce k and a and compare them

3) sonorous

You can differentiate sonority of sounds by check how much you speak louder the segment than others. For example pronounce “a” and “t” which make more louder sound? Yes it’s “a”. Vowels are more sonorous than stops.  So the hierarchy of the sounds like below.

Vowels > Glides> Nasals > Fricatives > Affricatives >Sops


1) less sonorous

2) lots of obstruction

It’s just opposite from the vowels actually.

3.Glide(“y, w”)

We call this something between vowels and consonants

Because it has both property

1)Their articulation is similar with the vowels(i.e., not much obstruction and tongue and mouth act similar when they’re pronouncing vowels)

2)However they can’t not form a syllable in the same manner of vowels.

We’ll get to this point later, b/c syllable is not included in the midterm

Okay, we saw standard trio classes.

Now let’s get to more specific classification on them 

1. consonant

We can divide this as few parts which are labial, dental,alveolars,palatal,velar,glottis(I didn’t wrote all the classes b/c they’re not simply including any English sounds)


labial sounds are articulated by lips

E.g., b,p,m

2) dental

dental sound are articulated by your teeth. Dental sound can be more classified by what other organ that you’re using with your teeth. E.g., “th” is interdental because you use your tongue between dental to make the sound. “f” is labiodental because you use a lip and teeth.


That’s the pic that I draw to explain the place of sound articulation, “a” is called alveolar ridge and the sounds made from there called Alveolar easy?

E.g., [n],[t],[d],[s],[z],[l].

There’s a trick to remember this, you can actually sound it but who knows for some case, but you need to know the animation called “Death Note”.  You will know what I’m saying down there if you watched it.

Death Note there is a L not Z” So remember the first consonant for each word.( maybe it’s not helpful..but at least for me. )

4) Alveopalatal

Alveopalatal is ” b’ ” area. The right after the Alveolar ridge.

pronounce “Ship, chip, judge and measure”  You can find this sound is Alveopalatal

5) palatal

Palatal is ” b” ” part.

It’s a hard palate in our mouth. Pronounce “y” then you can find “y” is palatal glide

6) velar

velum is “c” part soft part back in your mouth. The sounds made here called velar. [n], [k], [g] is the velar sounds and there a also trick to remember this. You can just remeber one surname in Korean “Kang” then all the consonant is velar sounds.

7) glottals

Do you remember “breathy sound” “h”? It’s “breathy” sound that is made by glottis since glottis is like a door to allow air get out from your lung and in the same way the flip sounds in better, bottle(we will talk about flip soon)are also glottals

Up to now we just talk about the place of sound articulation but

Even though the sounds share same place sound different. Why? because they have different manner.

What manner do I need to know? Well, there’s few classification regarding the manners.

1. voiced vs voiceless

2. nasal vs oral sound

1. and 2. are pretty easy so I’ll talk about it if I have a time

In English, there are 3 nasal consonant, [m,n] and IPA for -ing(can’t type)

3.Stops vs Continuant

Give me any character then I can differentiate it by 2 categories.

Stops and Continuant. Pronounce “d”. Before you do that you need to pause little bit. Yup, that’s stop. Pronounce “S”. Do you need to pause? No. That’s continuant.

I made a game so try to fill this board with the phones that I gave to you.

V less: voice less, B = bilabial, A=Alveolar,G=glottis

The answer is below.

So we’re done with the stops.

Now only continuant left and it’s only containing 3 parts.

1) fricate

fricate refers some sounds that make fraction in your mouth when you pronounce it like

[s]. Let’s do some game

LD: labiodental, I: interdental, A: Alveolar, AP: AlveoPalatal, G: glottis

The answer is like below


In stop, there’s something called affricate which is stop+fricate. I think since there’s a something(stop) before fricate it’s affricate. The example is like below

The first one is voiced and the last one is voiceless

Since affricate has fricate part, we’re including the affricate to the fricate when we classify them as “noisy fricate” and “less noisy fricate”

We call the noisy fricate as sibilant or strident

When I took the lecture, I didn’t understand what is exactly mean by “noisy” but I found more sensible way to explain what is mean by “sibilant”. We call some affricate or fricate as sibilant when the air stream go through along the tongue to the sharp edge of your teeth.

like this.


Try to solve this. A: Alveolar, AP: Alveolar Palatal

The answer is below:

2) liquid

liquid refers some continuant sound that make air passes through your mouth more freely.

Like L(lateral liquid) and R. I don’t actually get this stuff and I don’t why we need liquid but I’ll let you know when I study further.

For L, there’s something that we need to check before we go,

L is actually having two faces. Like some psychopath in movies.

One side of L is something we know that is pronounced in the alveolar area.

The other one called “dark l” and it’s pronounced in the velum. Just pronounce “fall” and “leaf”, which one has “dark l”?

: fall

There are also two sides of R

which is retroflex r and flap r

retroflex r is [r]. When you pronounce “rhyme”. You’re pronouncing [r]

but as you know, when you pronounce like “butter” you don’t say “t” that much unless you’re English. We usually use some kind of r sound which called “flap”

The last thing about liquid is liquid can be voiceless or voiced. We will talk about it later


Glide is bit confusing for me. It looks likes constant when it’s written but my text book saying it’s semivowel. But come to think of it, It actually sounds like vowel and it is actually vowel in my language. I still don’t get why it’s not a vowel then, but I heard it’s because it can not form a syllable like vowels do, so we will get to the part later after my midterm

I’ll just explain the property of glide.

1. glide is continuant

2. there are only two glide in English [w], [j]

You can find [w] in “what”

It’s voiced and “labiovelar”

[y] is in “yes”

It’s voiced and palatal.

So we just look over some property of Consonant.

Let’s look at some vowel!

There are few property of vowel.

1. They don’t have much obstruction when you pronounce them

2. Vowels are syllabic

-what’s mean by that? Well, generally you can usually get a syllables in a word by separating segments by the vowels.

e.g., bu/si/ness/ one vowel per one syllable

but we will  get to that point more closely soon

3. The vocal track is more open

They don’t have much obstruction in your mouth but also there are not much fraction when the air goes through it, too compared to glide and consonant.

4. different vowel can be articulated by the shape of your lips and the position of your tongue.

I guess you can check how your lips change it’s shape when you pronounce it and the tongue, too.

But the tongue part is actually very important because we differentiate vowels by the position of tongue. So the tongue goes behind then we call the vowel as “back vowel”

** vowel can be differentiate by whether it’s tense or lax and also by whether it’s rounding lips or not.

5. vowels are sonorous sound

block you nose holes by simply hod you nose tight and try to make some vowel sound.

You will find it’s hard because vowels are sonorous!

*simple vowel/ complex vowel*

You can differentiate vowels as simple vowel or complex vowel.

simple vowel has very consistent property during it’s sounded

like put it has only one sound for u

but complex vowel changed its place of articulation when it’s sounded or other quality when it’s sounded in a syllable

The main example of the complex vowel is dipthong.

dipthong changes its place of articulation when it’s sound it move away from its initial sound position to a glide sound position.

For some dipthong that has drastic change, we call them as “major dipthong”

Let’s take some example

e.g., price it has one syllable and i is [aj] it has two sound and it goes to [j](i.e., glide)from [a]

You can here clearly that the vowel has two sounds. So it’s major dipthong

Minodipthong you can check it out in play[plej]

You might say “What?” It’s one vowel and glide, duh? I know!

but I guess as long as it’s placed next to each other and form a syllable I think people in linguistics take them as one complex vowel which is bit strange for me.

Or you can see go[gow] it’s minor dipthong.

We can check some example of dipthong in Canadian English and solve some problems in test.

Well, I feel bad that I’m writing in hurry and don’t go deeply but I’ll try to get back here before the final and sort this things out nicely.

minor dipthong

say [sej]


major dipthong

** notice that for the major dipthong, even your lips are change drastically




Now let’s classify vowels more specifically using their place of articulation

As I said before, we can differentiate the vowel by the position of the tongue.

Let’s see pete[pit] and pot[pat]

To sound [i], your tongue moves to high front and for [α] moves to back low, so we call [i] as high front vowel and [α] as low back vowel.

pat a is [ae] and it’s front low vowel

and that’s pronounce to[tu]. [u] is back high rounded vowel, since the lips are rounded.

So let’s take all the front vowels altogether.

Then you might ask how to distinguish ‘I’ and ‘i’

 The difference is tense. There is a example, take a look at “green” and “grin” which vowels are more tensed? green right? that’s [i] and it’s tense and [I] is corresponding lax vowel.

Usually, tense vowel is longer and higher in pitch and the position of the tongue.

Take a look at bait and bet bait is more tensed right? and it’s [e]

Now we’re done with the front vowel.

Let’s take a look at the back vowels.

[u] is tense and the other one is lax.

Okay we got back and front and then what? MID

There are two central vowel we need to take care of.

It’s corresponding to the sound “ㅓ” in Korean.

Both are mid, lax, central vowel. The “hat” symbol like one has more accurate sound and it appears as stressed vowel in English while the other ones called as  “schwa” sound and unstressed ,also the pronunciation of it is not so clear.

Up to now, we talked about the place of the articulation of vowels and consonant.

But other than this, we also talk about their proper in the perspective of the suprasegmental properties which are pitch, loudness and length.

Pitch is all about how you control the “air pressure”.

You can control the air pressure by using your “vocal fords”.

Try make some high pitch like soprano. You will recognize that you’re vocal folds are controlling the air amount that go through the glottis.

Tone and Intonation

Those pitch are moving around between segments when you’re talking. The pattern of the  movement, we call them as Tone and Intonation

The difference of Tone and Intonation is Tone is the movement of pitch that affects the meaning of the word and Intonation is the movement of pitch that doesn’t affects the meaning.

We call some language that has different meaning if we change the pitch called “tone language”.

e.g., Chinese is tone language.

There are two types of tone languages which are level-tone language and contour tone language.

Contour tone language can have the change of the tone in one syllabic element but in the level-tone language there are several stable tones for each syllabic element to use.


Intonation is the change of tone that doesn’t change meaning.

But,(I hate use but here) in English, Intonation sometimes change the meaning of the speech.

Like “want some”. If you pitched high at the end it’s like want some? (we call this un-terminal contour b/c it’s not terminating conversation and change the tone in one syllabic element at the end)and If you pitched down, it’s like “want some.”(we call this terminal contour)


downdrift is a phenomena related with the pitch

Since one pitch is reconizable if it’s distinct with the thigns around it. if you pronounce lower one precede the higher pithch you don’t need to have really high pitch so it can be little bit lower than usual that’s down drift.

Length, stress [:],  primary ‘, ` secondary stress

Speech production in English

We’ve talked about the property of the sound of the individual segment. However, speech is the sequence of them and like the life is sequence of events and each events affect another, each segment affects how other segments sound

Pronounce “plower”, you don’t pronounce “p” exactly and “l”. When you pronounce “pl”, your tongue is heading toward to your alveolar ridge before your lips are separated.

We call this as “coarticulatoin”

Since coarticulation = sounds together, so there should be some change in the way to pronounce individual segment. We call this as “Process”

One of the process is “assimilation” which means that a sound become similar with the neighboring sounds.

For a example for the assimilation, vowel that precede a nasal consonant also get nasalized, together.We put “~” on top of the IPA symbol of the vowel if it’s nasalized.

We call this assimilation as “regressive assimilation”

Can you see that it’s kind of backward affection? You talk in a order of red cross but nasal assimilation takes place in a blue direction. So we call it “regressive assimilation”

Progress assimilation 

One of the progress assimilation is devoicing of sonoroant. If voiceless segment is precede the glide or liquid(i.e., [l,r,w,j]) then the liquid or glide become voiceless. We put a little circle at the bottom of the liquid or glide if it goes through voice assimilation.

Place of articulation is another example of progress assimilation. Let’s take a look at “impossible” and “intolerable”. We use “im-” or “in-” to negate something, since “p” is bilabial sound and m also. “im-” goes with “possible”. By the same reason, since [n],[t] are both  alveolar sounds, so “-in” goes with “tolerate”.

Flapping is also one of assimilation. Pronounce “butter”. Then you can feel that you’re kind of pronounce “r” similar sound when you pronounce “tt”. Because u and e are both continuant “tt” also changed to continuant like sound and that’s flapping


There is also something called “dissimilatoin”.  This is opposite of the rule of assimilation and bit rare case than “assimailation” But this happens in order to make us pronounce easier. Pronounce “fths” and “fts” which one is easier? later one right? If too many similar things are jumbled up together it’s hard to make difference between them so English put some stop segment like [t] to pause between similar things. For example, fifths is not pronounced as [fifΘs], since it’s f, th, s are all fricative, it’s hard to pronounce them altogether. Insted of that, we pronounce [fifts]. (Making our life easier by putting t(i.e., stop) between similar segements.)


It’s the situation when some segment is not pronounced. In English, usually a schwa sound is deleted if the next vowel is stressed.

Deletion can be happened sometimes instead dissimilation.   Instead of [fifts], people sometimes jut delete one between two similar things like [fifs].


It’s actually “Insertion”, I don’t know why it’s called Epenthesis instead of Insertion.

As we saw that when the nasal consonant is followed by un-nasal sound their places for articulation try be same like “impossible and intolerable” ,so sometimes insertion can happen if a nasal sound is followed by non-nasal sound has a different place of articulation, then we put something between them that has same place of the articulation from the nasal sound.

E.g., warmth [warm’p’th]


Metathesis is we move phonemes to ease our work to pronounce the words

e.g., prescribe sounds like perscribe

Vowel reduction

To make back vowel and front vowel, you need to move your tongue back and forth for most of time , it’s easier to pronounce the central vowel. So there is a tendency to pronounce central vowel, when the actual vowel is not stressed. We call this tendency as “vowel reduction” and in English, most of time, “schwa” is pronounced in the vowel reduction.

e.g.,  [kʰæ´nədə] ->  [kʰənéjdiən]


When voiceless stops comes to the first then hey hare aspirated.


Phonology is a subject how the sounds system is controlled and governed in Languages.

There are two major section in Phonology.

1. Find some sound pattern in languages

2.Find the principles underlying in the sound patterns

And the things that Phonology studies is segment, feature and syllable

And also studies how sounds are related with the meaning. We call two sounds are contrast if they change the meaning when we exchange them in a word like c and p in cap, gap

Minimal pair

We call two words as a minimal pair if they have only one different segment at the same position and they have a meaning difference

e.g.,loose [lus] and lose [luz]

We call the situation of what sound following and preceding as “environment”

Near Minimal Pair

It’s not perfectly differ by one segment but similar enough to make a contrast


Segment that contrast to each other called Phonemes. We use [] for Phones and // for Phonemes

Complementary distribution

Complementary distribution happens between two elements when one elements occurs in one environment and the other one occurs only in the complementary environment.

We can take an example of devoicing of sonorant or dark l and normal l

you know they have complementary distribuition but it’s not contrast ,so we say those segments are phonetically distinct but not phonologically distinct.

Where one segment is phonetically distinct while not in phonologically. We call them as allophones of phoneme.

Allophones: predictable variants

Phoneme: phonological unit

So we have two representation which are phonemic representation and phonetic representation.

/l/ = [l0], [l]

Phonological knowledge is something that we store in our head(metal lexicon)

Phonetic things are something happening very automatically. Hence if you know the Phonological distribution of a language, you can say you know the language.

What we do with this phonological knowledge?

So to study a language, you need to know how the language phonologically distributed.

There are some steps to do that.

Step1: Are there any minimal pairs for the sound?

yes. Well then you complete your job you found two sounds that belong to different phonemes.

if no, go to the step 2: List the environment where the sound occur

step 3: search for the pattern and check if they are in complementary distribution


Determine whether [s], [ʃ] and [z] in Korean are all allophones of the same phoneme or of any of them are in contrast. If they are all members of the same phoneme, state the distribution of the allophones and pick one as the basic sound of the phoneme. [ɯ] is a high back unrounded vowel.
[ʃihap]  ‘game’
[ʃipsam]  ‘thirteen’
[inza]  ‘greetings’
[yʌŋzučɯŋ]  ‘receipt’
[son]  ‘hand’
[sosʌl]  ‘novel’
[us]  ‘upper’
[ʃilsu]  ‘mistake’
[ʃinho]  ‘signal’
[paŋzək]  ‘cushion’
[ʃesuʃil]  ‘washroom’
[sᴐm]  ‘sack’
[sæk]  ‘color’

I’ll write the steps to solve this problem in my hand and later on I’ll scan it.

*free variation

Free variation in linguistics is the phenomenon of two (or more) sounds or forms appearing in the same environment without a change in meaning and without being considered incorrect by native speakers.[1][2] Examples from English include:

*either has two ways of pronunciation

*tomato has few ways to pronounce it.

Classes in Phonology:

In phonology, a natural class is a set of sounds in a language that share certain phonetic features

e.g., Glide and Liquid are non-sonorant consonant


I was practicing how to figure out some sounds are different phonemes or just allophones ,but I was kind confused after if figure two sounds are complementary distributed then why we conclude them are allophones. Becuase they can be just completely different phonemes and they can have complementary distribution by chance. But the fact is that the chance is very low if we think about our sample set is the whold data of lanugage(i.e., after generalization). Like ham, cam if they are different phone, then whatever the environment is we can use the h and c very freely. So there should be no rule to distiniguish them because they’re already distinguished in our brain(i.e., Mental Lexicon! remember difference of phonemes are stored in our Mental Lexicon hence we don’t have any need to implement any rule to differentiate)

However, if they’re allophones then we didn’t store them in our brain so there should be some rule to differentiate them if we can say they are different.

The component that mislead me was the size of set. Usually, for the research we have sufficient size of date so that we can generalize.

Yup. so the mystery is solved.

**Note: I got a lot of source from everywhere ,but I feel lazy to write all the source and I’m not an expert of Linguistics so don’t believe 100 % here.