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Phonetics and Phonology; Brief-answer Questions

Phonetics and Phonology

1. What is phone? [NU 2014]

Ans: A phone is an unanalyzed sound of a language. It is the smallest identifiable unit found in a stream of speech that is able to be transcribed with an IPA symbol.

2. What is phoneme? [NU 2012]

Ans: A phoneme is a sound or a group of different sounds perceived to have the same function by speakers of the language or dialect in question. An example is the English phoneme /k/, which occurs in words such as ‘cat’, ‘kit’, ‘scat’, and ‘skit’.

3. What is IPA? [NU 2012, 2016, 2017]

Ans: IPA stands for International Phonetic Alphabet devised by the International Phonetic Association in the late 19th century as a standardized representation of the sounds of spoken language.

4. What is the smallest phonetic unit?

Ans: Phoneme is the smallest phonetic unit.

5. How many phonemes are there in English?

Ans: There are 44 phonemes in English.

6. What is allophone? NU 2015]

Ans: An allophone is any of the speech sounds that represent a single phoneme, such as the aspirated /k/ in ‘kit’ and the unaspirated /k/ in ‘skit’, which are allophones of the phoneme /k/.

7. What is phonetics? [NU 2013, 2015]

Ans: Phonetics is the scientific study of the production, transmission and perception of speech sounds.

8. What are the branches of phonetics? [NU 2012]

Ans: The branches of phonetics are Articulatory Phonetics, Acoustic Phonetics and Auditory Phonetics. 

9. What is articulatory phonetics?

Ans: Articulatory phonetics is the study of the production of speech sounds via the interaction of different physiological structures.

10. What is acoustic phonetics?

Ans: Acoustic phonetics is the study of the acoustic characteristics of speech, including an analysis and description of speech in terms of its physical properties, such as frequency, intensity, and duration.  

11. What is auditory phonetics?

Ans: Auditory phonetics is a branch of phonetics dealing with the physiological processes involved in the reception of speech sounds.

12. What are the articulators?

Ans: The articulators are the organs of the human articulatory system that are used to produce speech sounds. They include nasal cavity, alveolar ridge, hard palate, soft palate, tongue, lips, teeth etc.

13. What are the active articulators?

Ans: Lower lip and the tongue are the active articulators.

14. Name the passive articulators. [NU 2013, 2016]

Ans: The passive articulators are the upper lip, the teeth, the alveolar ridge, the palate, the velum and the pharynx.

15. What is pharynx?

Ans: The pharynx is the open space at the back of the throat that runs from the back of the nasal cavity down to the larynx.

16. What is velum?

Ans: The velum is the back part of the soft palate. It is a moveable structure that, when pressed up and back, closes the airway from the mouth into the nasal cavity.

17. How many parts does a tongue have?

Ans: A tongue has five parts: tip, blade, front, back and roof.

18. What is alveolar ridge?

Ans: Alveolar ridge is a small swelling just behind the upper front teeth. It can easily be felt with the tongue.

19. What is a vowel sound?

Ans: A vowel sound is a speech sound that is made with no obstruction of the vocal tract.

20. How is a vowel produced?

Ans: A vowel is produced without any kind of obstruction to the flow of air in the mouth as it passes from the larynx to the lips.

21. How many vowel sounds are there in English? [NU 2012]

Ans: There are 20 vowel sounds in English.

22. What are the semi vowels?

Ans: Semi vowels are speech sounds that are intermediate between a vowel and a consonant, e.g. w or y.

23. What is cardinal vowel?

Ans: A cardinal vowel is a theoretical vowel sound produced when the tongue is in an extreme position, either front or back, high or low. Cardinal vowels are used to classify, compare and contrast the vowel sounds of any speaker in any language.

24. What does RP stand for?

Ans: RP stands for Received Pronunciation which is an accent of Standard English in the United Kingdom. 

25. What is front vowel?

Ans: Front vowel is the vowel that is articulated positioning the tongue as far in front as possible in the mouth without creating a constriction that would make it a consonant.

26. What is monophthong? [NU 2017]

Ans: A monophthong is a pure vowel articulated without any obstacle in vocal tract.          

27. Write down the monophthong sounds. [NU 2013]

Ans: The monophthong sounds are /i/, /ɪ/, /e/, /æ/, /ɑ:/, /ɒ/, /ɔ:/, /ʊ/, /u:/, /ʌ/, /ɜ:/ and /ə/.

28. What is diphthong? [NU 2014, 2016]

Ans: Diphthong is a vowel sound formed by the combination of two monophthongs in a single syllable, in which the sound begins as one vowel and moves towards another.

29. How many diphthongs are there in English?

Ans: There are 8 diphthongs in English.

30. What is a triphthong?

Ans: Triphthong is a monosyllabic vowel combination involving a quick but smooth movement of the articulator from one vowel quality to another that passes over a third.

31. How many tripthongs are there in English language?

Ans: There are five tripthongs in English language: /eɪә/, /aɪә/, /ɔɪә/, /әʊә/ and /aʊә/. 

32. What is consonant sound?

Ans: A consonant sound is a speech sound that is articulated with complete or partial obstruction of the airstream by a constriction of the speech organs.

33. How many consonant sounds are there in English?

Ans: There are twenty-four consonant sounds in English. 

34. What is the place of articulation?

Ans: Place of articulation is the point of contact where an obstruction occurs in the vocal tract between an articulatory gesture, an active articulator and a passive location. 

35. What is bilabial? NU 2015]

Ans: A bilabial is a consonant for which the flow of air is stopped or restricted by the two lips.

36. What are the labio-dental sounds?

Ans: The labio-dental sounds are the sounds that are articulated with the touch of the lower lip and the upper front teeth. /f/ and /v/ are labio-dental sounds.

37. What is an alveolar consonant?

Ans: An alveolar consonant is a consonant sound that is produced with the tongue close to or touching the ridge behind the teeth on the roof of the mouth.

38. What are the alveolar consonants? [NU 2013]

Ans: [n], [t], [d], [s], and [l] are all alveolar consonants.

39. What is manner of articulation?

Ans: The manner of articulation is the way the airstream is affected when it flows from the lungs and comes out through the nose and the mouth.

40. What is plosive?

Ans: A plosive is a consonant formed by sudden release of air held back by a complete closure of the airstream at some point in the vocal tract.

41. How many plosive sounds are there in English consonants?

Ans: There are six plosive sounds in English consonants. They are /p b t d k g /.

42. Name the fricative articulators. 

Ans: The lower lip against the upper teeth and the back of the tongue against the soft palate are the fricative articulators.

43. What are English fricatives?

Ans: /f/, /v/, /q/, /ð/, /s/, /z/, /s/, /z/ and /h/ are English fricatives.

44. What is ‘affricate’?

Ans: Affricate is a phoneme which combines a plosive with an immediately following fricative or spirant sharing the same place of articulation, e.g. ch as in chair and j as in jar.

45. What is Nasal?

Ans: Nasal is an occlusive consonant produced with a lowered velum, allowing air to escape freely through the nose.

46. What are the nasal sounds in English?

Ans: The nasal sounds in English are /m/, /n/, and /ŋ/.

47. Which one is a nasal sound among /ò,k,f,m/?

Ans: Here /m/ is the nasal sound.

48. What is lenis?

Ans: A lenis is a “weak” consonant produced by the lack of tension in the vocal apparatus.

49. What is fortis?

Ans: Fortis refers to the consonants like /p/, /t/, and /k/ that are pronounced with considerable muscular tension and breath pressure, resulting in a strong fricative or explosive sound.  

50. Define voicing. [NU 2012, 2016]

Ans: Voicing refers to either the physical production of vibration by the vocal folds as part of articulation, or the potential phonological distinction this allows.

51. What are the voiceless sounds in English?

Ans: [p], [t], [k], [f], [θ], [s], [ʃ], [ʧ], [h] are the voiceless sounds in English. 

52. What is the classification of the English consonants on the basis of voicing?

Ans: The classification of the English consonants on the basis of voicing is (i) voiced consonants and (ii) voiceless consonants.

53. How to identify a voiced and voiceless consonant? 

Ans: A voiced consonant produces vibration of the vocal cords but a voiceless consonant does not produce such vibration.

54. Identify the voiced and voiceless sounds: /p,l,j,n,h,f,n/

Ans: / l, j, n, ŋ / are voiced and / p, f / are voiceless sounds.

55. What type of sound is /h/?

Ans: /h/ is glottal sound.

56. What is phonetic transcription?

Ans: Phonetic transcription is the visual representation of speech sounds.

57. What is phonology?

Ans: Phonology is the branch of linguistics concerned with the study of speech sounds with reference to their distribution and patterning.

58. What does phonology study?

Ans: Phonology studies the distribution and patterning of speech sounds.

59. What is a syllable?

Ans: A syllable is any of the units into which a word is divided, containing a vowel sound and usually one or more consonants.

60. What is stress? NU 2015]

Ans: Stress is the degree of emphasis on a sound or syllable in speech.

61. What is tonic stress? [NU 2014]

Ans: Tonic stress refers to the syllable in a word which receives the most stress in an intonation unit. An intonation unit has one tonic stress.

62. What are the factors of stress prominence?

Ans: The factors of stress prominence are pitch, length, loudness and quality.

63. What is lexical stress?

Ans: The stress placed on syllables within words is called lexical stress.

64. What is tone? [NU 2014]

Ans: Tone is use of pitch in language to distinguish lexical or grammatical meaning.

65. What do you know about intonation? [NU 2017]

Ans: Intonation is the rise and fall of the voice in speaking.

66. What is the function of intonation?

Ans: The function of intonation is the variation of pitch and stress when pronouncing words.

67. What is assimilation? [NU 2013, 2016]

Ans: Assimilation is the influence of one sound on another sound to become more like it.

68. What is elision? [NU 2012]

Ans: Elision is the complete disappearance of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, making the word or phrase easier for the speaker to pronounce.

69. What is ‘minimal pair’? [NU 2013, 2015]

Ans: Minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language that differ in only one phonological element, such as a phoneme, toneme or chroneme, and have distinct meanings.