Phonetics: A symbiosis of Humanities and Natural sciences

If you are looking for a truly interdisciplinary study field Phonetics is probably the challenge you are up to!

Although often viewed as the mere use of phonetic symbols to indicate the pronunciation details of speech sounds, Phonetics is much more than just that. Phonetics was once defined in Britannica by the late phonetician Peter Ladefoged as “the study of speech sounds and their physiological production and acoustic qualities” but even this definition falls short of what Phonetics actually deals with. Indeed, Phonetics combines the Natural sciences oriented acoustic and physiological study of speech sounds with behavioural studies of how speech sounds and melodies are perceived, and the Humanities’ perspective on how natural languages “pick” the set of sounds that are used within their linguistic communities.

Phonetics deals with speech sounds, anatomy, physiology, acoustics, psychology, auditory and visual perception.

By studying the fascinating complexities of human natural oral languages, Phonetics is at the intersection of a wide range of scientific fields. It is a challenge for ambitious students who will engage in addressing many different kinds of issues, from the neurophysiological control of respiratory and articulatory movements underlying speech production, the acoustics of speech sounds, the influence of room acoustics, and how the mechanisms of speech perception lead to the neural representations of the speech sounds.

These are just some of the general aspects that Phonetics typically deals with. Studies of language acquisition from birth to adulthood and technological applications such as speech synthesis and speech recognition are some other research areas involving Phonetics.

About Francisco de Lacerda

Professor Member of The Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences
This entry was posted in Fonetik, Fonetiker kan!, Fonetiklabb, Lingvistik, Musik, Phonetics laboratory, SUBIC: Stockholm University Brain Imaging Centre, Teaching and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

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