Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology

The important purpose of writing this note e.g.  “to explain, how English is pronounced in the accent normally chosen as the standard for people learning the English spoken in England”. The theoretical material in the present course is meant for the advanced learners who want to be familiar with the “principles regulating the use of sounds in spoken English”. Then Roach describes the significance of phonemes. The letters of English alphabets are confusing. As a result, English pronunciation should be learnt in terms of phonemes. The vowels in the words ‘pin’ and ‘pen’ and consonants in the words ‘pet’ and ‘bet’ have different phonemes. The phonemes are represented by symbols which are based on international phonetics alphabets (IPA).

Structurally, the course is divided into two parts. The first part deals with the identification and description of phonemes of English. The second part of the course is concerned with the large units (syllable, stress, and intonation). In the course, single quotes are used when words as examples are presented in spelling form e.g. ‘pin’, ‘pen etc.

Roach distinguishes dialect from accent. Different of accent are only pronunciation differences whereas ‘dialect’ has differences in vocabulary, grammar word order and pronunciation.

Instead of using the term Received Pronunciation (RP), Roach has given preferences to the term BBC pronunciation. Roach states that “the accent described here is typical of broadband with an English accent”. The course is meant for those who wish to study British pronunciation. The reason behind choosing BBC pronunciation is that this accent is chosen by British teachers and the writers of pronouncing dictionaries.

It is worth-mentioning that the name BBC pronunciation instead of RP is used in this edition of the course. It is used in 15th edition of ‘Daniel Jones’ English Pronouncing Dictionary’ and also used in ‘Longman Pronouncing Dictionary’ written by Wells.

The Roach suggested some books for the learners of pronunciation of English.

  • Choice Of English accent (O’Conner, Brown and Crittenden)
  • RP Status (Abercrombie)
  • More About British (Hughes and Trudgill),
  • More Advanced Works ( Trudgill, Foulkes and Docherty)
  • English Accent (Wells)

The website by T.C wells is also useful in this regard. Then Roach gives reason for the use of English symbols used in course of English Phonetics and phonology. These symbols are used in all modern works on English pronunciation published in Britain. Actually, these symbols were in his influential book “Introduction to the pronunciation of English”.

In the notes meant for teachers Roach states that pronunciation teaching was unfashionable in past. But in recent years ‘significance growth of interest’ can be noticed in this regard. Though the model chosen is BBC, yet the goal is to ‘develop the learner’s pronunciation sufficiently to permit effective communication with native speakers. According to Roach, a detailed analysis of classroom methods is beyond the scope of the book. The book gives the reader some of the well-tried methods dealing with teaching and testing pronunciation.

Phonetics and Phonology Course Outline International

The following abbreviations are used in the syllabus:

  • L = Ladefoged textbook
  • Unlabeled page numbers refer to the Roca and Johnson textbook, and homework from there is in the “Further practice” sections at the end of each chapter.
  • Readings referred to by name are in the reading packet.
  • G = Gussenhoven and Jacobs book
  • W = Roca & Johnson workbook
Week Day Topic Reading Homework
1 01 Introduction Skim & review,
L Ch. 1 A,B,C (p. 24)

Review the IPA symbols
02 Obstruents & articulation Ch.1 29,30, L Ch. 1 D,E (p. 27)
2 03 Assimilation Ch. 2 57, L Ch. 2 A-D (p. 48)
04 Rules & derivations W 2.1, 2.2, 2.3
3 05 Sonorants Ch. 3
06 Sound waves & spectrograms
Labs 1 & 2  

L Ch. 8 (pp. 181-190)

L Ch. 6 C,D (p. 153)
4 07 Acoustics of vowels Labs 3 & 4 Lab 4 report
08 Natural classes Ch. 4 112-113
5 09 Vowels Ch. 5, Veatch 141.1,3, G 82.1,2
Acoustics of consonants Labs 5 & 6  

L Ch. 8 (pp. 191-205)

Lab 7 & 8;
6 11
Vowel processes Ch. 6.1-4, -7 L Ch. 8 A,B (p. 208)
Applications of phonetics Labov (?? presents–focus on the “Prinzivalli Case” section),
Cohen (?? presents)
Reading questions
7 13
14 Feature geometry Ch. 17.8-10 G 70.1,.2, 71.1, 180 (due)
15 EXAM 1: Phonetics  


16 The Timing Tier 

Phonetics & acquisition

Ch. 8.1-4, -9 

optional read: Foulkes, Docherty & Watt. 2005. Phonological variation in child-directed speech. Language 81.1:177-206.

9 17 The Syllable p. 233, Ch. 9 259 (but not 260)
18 Syllable complexity Ch. 10.1-7  


292 (just French)

19 Stress Ch. 11 Abstract due 11/2 

318,319 (poetry Q optional)

L Ch. 5 A,D,F (p. 128-30)

20 Metrical theory 

Napoli pp. 100-117 (PDF in Blackboard) L Ch. 10 D (p. 254)
21 Ch. 12 346-347 (due 11/14)
NO CLASS – work on your paper with a partner
23 Syllable weight 

Ch. 13.1-5 379-381  

24 Ch. 13.6-9 

G 163 (all), G 226 (just Italian)  

25 Tone and intonation Ch. 14.1-4 G 147.WG
Draft due 11/21
26 NO CLASS (Thangksgiving)
27 Tone, continued Ch. 14.9-12 

406 (just Margi) , G 146.Men, 164.K

Optimality Theory Ch. 19.1-5 G 49.M, 53, 237
29 Ch. 19.6-9  

McCarthy’s /r/ in OT (paper posted in Blackboard)

G 49.k, 238
30 Summary and review via presentations
EXAM 2: Phonology

Paper due by 9:00 a.m.