LING 2040 - Phonology: language sounds and sound systems

North Terrace Campus - Semester 1 - 2021

Almost all of us use spoken language everyday. We express ourselves through speech in a multitude of ways. Pronunciation immediately identifies each of us as belonging to a certain ethnic group, social class, locality, age group and gender. This course investigates the nature of speech sounds, the mechanisms of speech production and perception and the ways by which these sounds are classified into a fixed inventory of meaningful sounds, the phoneme inventory, by speakers of a language. Students will learn how to transcribe speech sounds using phonetic symbols (International Phonetic Alphabet or IPA). Students will compare and contrast the sound systems of a variety of languages. A particular focus of this course will be developing understandings of the relationship between speech and writing in a range of languages, including English. This course is essential for all linguistics students, language teachers (English or otherwise) and newsreaders. The course will also be of interest to many students of psychology, anthropology and social inquiry.

  • General Course Information
    Course Details
    Course Code LING 2040
    Course Phonology: language sounds and sound systems
    Coordinating Unit Linguistics
    Term Semester 1
    Level Undergraduate
    Location/s North Terrace Campus
    Units 3
    Contact Up to 3 hours per week
    Available for Study Abroad and Exchange Y
    Prerequisites At least 12 units of Level I undergraduate study, including LING 1101
    Incompatible LING 2012, LING 3012, LING 3038
    Assessment 3 x 1000 word or equivalent practical assignments (75%), 1500 word or equivalent exam (25%)
    Course Staff

    Course Coordinator: Ian Green

    E-mail: <>
    Consultations by appointment, email or phone/text 0438 756 936 to arrange
    Course Timetable

    The full timetable of all activities for this course can be accessed from Course Planner.

    Lectures: livestreamed Mondays 1pm-3pm, recordings available shortly after the lecture

    Tutorials: face-to-face Tuesday 1pm - 2pm Barr Smith South 1063 OR online Tuesday 2pm-3pm

  • Learning Outcomes
    Course Learning Outcomes
    1. Be able to describe the general physical mechanisms underlying the production & perception of speech.
    2. Be able to classify speech sounds according to vocal tract configuration, laryngeal activity and airflow.
    3. Be able to utilise the IPA (International Phonetic Alphabet) in both ‘broad’ and ‘narrow’ transcription of speech, and to work with other practical orthographies in speech transcription.
    4. Be able to identify the role of stress, intonation, pitch and duration in the production & perception of speech.
    5. Perform a phonemic analysis of any given language, drawing on notions of minimal pairs, contrastive vs complementary distribution, conditioning of allophones & free variation.
    6. Identify the distinctive features of any given set of phonemes.
    7. Explain the concept of ‘underlying phonological form’, drawing on examples from a variety of languages.
    8. Formulate phonological and phonetic realisation rules, having regard to rule ordering principles.
    9. Understand the basic principles of Phonological Typology.
    10. Undertake comparisons of conventional vs non-linear approaches to phonological representation.
    University Graduate Attributes

    This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attribute(s) specified below:

    University Graduate Attribute Course Learning Outcome(s)
    Deep discipline knowledge
    • informed and infused by cutting edge research, scaffolded throughout their program of studies
    • acquired from personal interaction with research active educators, from year 1
    • accredited or validated against national or international standards (for relevant programs)
    7, 8. 9, 10
    Critical thinking and problem solving
    • steeped in research methods and rigor
    • based on empirical evidence and the scientific approach to knowledge development
    • demonstrated through appropriate and relevant assessment
    4, 5, 6, 7, 8
    Teamwork and communication skills
    • developed from, with, and via the SGDE
    • honed through assessment and practice throughout the program of studies
    • encouraged and valued in all aspects of learning
    1, 2, 3, 4
    Career and leadership readiness
    • technology savvy
    • professional and, where relevant, fully accredited
    • forward thinking and well informed
    • tested and validated by work based experiences
    1, 2, 3, 10
    Intercultural and ethical competency
    • adept at operating in other cultures
    • comfortable with different nationalities and social contexts
    • able to determine and contribute to desirable social outcomes
    • demonstrated by study abroad or with an understanding of indigenous knowledges
    2, 3, 4, 5, 9
    Self-awareness and emotional intelligence
    • a capacity for self-reflection and a willingness to engage in self-appraisal
    • open to objective and constructive feedback from supervisors and peers
    • able to negotiate difficult social situations, defuse conflict and engage positively in purposeful debate
    2, 3, 4, 7, 8, 10
  • Learning Resources
    Required Resources
    Carlos Gussenhoven & Haike Jacobs, Understanding Phonology. Routledge: either 3rd edn 2011, or 4th edn 2017, due out 28.3.17.
    The 3rd edition of this text is available on-line at the library.

    Recommended Resources
    Zsiga, Elizabeth, 2013, The sounds of language: an introduction to phonetics and phonology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell. Available on-line at BSL: 414 Z92s

    Clark, John, Colin Yallop & Janet Fletcher, 2007, An introduction to phonetics and phonology. Malden, MA: Blackwell. BSL: 414 C593i.3

    Crowley, Terry, 1992, An Introduction to Historical Linguistics. Auckland: Oxford University Press. BSL: 417.7 C953i

    Ladefoged, Peter, & Keith Johnson, 2011, A course in phonetics, 6th edn. BSL: 414 L153c.6 CD-ROM

    Miller, Robert, (ed), 2015, Trask's historical linguistics, 3rd edition. London: Routledge. BSL: 417.7 T775ZM

    David Odden, 2014, Introducing Phonology, Second Edition. Cambridge University Press.

    Odden, David, 2008, Introducing phonology. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. BSL: 414 O22i

    Helen Attar, Research Librarian for Linguistics
    There is a good collection of linguistics books and journals in the Barr Smith Library.
    The textbooks listed above will be put in the BSL reserve collection.
    Online Learning
    Relevant information, notes and readings for the course may be found on MyUni.
    Lectures will be recorded and put on MyUni.
    Assignments should be submitted electronically on Turnitin.
  • Learning & Teaching Activities
    Learning & Teaching Modes
    Lecture outline: please note that this is a guide only, and may not be in this order; fuller details will be given during the semester.

    Week 1
    Mechanics and acoustics of speech production -- Handouts; chs 1, 2

    Week 2
    Phonological typology & phonetic transcription -- chs 3, 6

    Week 3
    Allophonic variation -- ch 4

    Week 4
    Underlying representations -- ch 7

    Week 5
    Feature Theory -- ch 5

    Week 6
    Rules & derivations -- ch 8

    Week 7
    Syllables & Prosody -- ch 9, 12

    Week 8
    Stress -- ch 11

    Week 9
    Tone -- ch 10

    Week 10
    Optimality theory -- ch 13

    Week 11
    Feature geometry -- ch 14

    Week 12
    Historical phonology -- Crowley, Miller's Trask

    Week 13
    Revision, take-home exam


    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.

    The information below is provided as a guide to assist students in engaging appropriately with the course requirements.
    1 x 2-hour lecture/workshop per week (x12) 24 hours
    1 x 1-hour tutorial per week (x10) 10 hours
    4 hours Practicals/Reading per week (x12) 48 hours
    4 hours Assignment Preparation per week (x12) 48 hours
    2 hours Research per week (X 13) 26 hours
    TOTAL 156 hours
    Learning Activities Summary
    Week 1
    Speech production & perception – the body and the brain
    The idea of sound systems

    Week 2
    Making, hearing, transcribing & categorising consonant sounds
    Distinguishing consonants

    Week 3
    Making, hearing, transcribing & categorising vowel sounds
    Distinguishing vowels

    Week 4
    Stress, Tone, Intonation, Duration – what are they & what difference do they make?

    Week 5
    The idea of the phoneme – minimal pairs, contrastive vs complementary distribution, conditioned variation, phonetic realisation.

    Week 6
    Phonemes as sets of distinctive features – universal parameters, archiphonemes, underspecification.

    Week 7
    Underlying Forms & phonological rules.

    Week 8
    Formulating sets of phonological rules – ordering and elsewhere conditions.

    Week 9
    Exploring phonological rules cross-linguistically.

    Week 10
    Phonological Typology – what comes ‘naturally’ (and why) ?

    Week 11
    Exploring phonological theory - linear & non-linear approaches

    Week 12
    The limits of abstractness – phonology as a human science vs mind game
    Small Group Discovery Experience
    Tutorials will focus on problems and practical application of phonological and phonetic analysis and categorisation. Some of these problems may be done in pairs or small groups. 
  • Assessment

    The University's policy on Assessment for Coursework Programs is based on the following four principles:

    1. Assessment must encourage and reinforce learning.
    2. Assessment must enable robust and fair judgements about student performance.
    3. Assessment practices must be fair and equitable to students and give them the opportunity to demonstrate what they have learned.
    4. Assessment must maintain academic standards.

    Assessment Summary
    Assessment          Weighting     Due date

    Practical no. 1        25%              tba
    Practical no. 2        25%              tba
    Practical no. 3        25%              tba
    Take-home exam   25%              tba

    All assessment components must be completed to qualify for a final result.
    Practical assignments will be posted during the course of the semester
    Assessment Related Requirements
    Submission of assignments:

    All assignments should be submitted on Turnitin. All assignments are due in by 5.00 pm on the due date.

    Do not e-mail assignments

    All assignments must be in grammatical English

    Always keep a copy of your work, as occasionally students’ work is lost

    Extensions (normally up to one week) may be negotiated through the course coordinator, but this must be organised prior to the due date

    Claims of extenuating circumstances require a doctor’s certificate, counsellor’s certificate or similar documentation of evidence. Supplementary assignments may be offered under certain circumstances, and on an individual basis

    Late assignments without an extension will not be accepted or marked, and a fail result will be recorded. This is because assignments will be discussed in seminars as soon as possible after they are marked, and work may not therefore be submitted after that time

    Assignments will be returned in seminars.
    Assessment Detail
    Assignment #1 – Distinguishing & transcribing speech sounds
    Assignment #2 – Analysing phonemes
    Assignment #3 – Formulating Phonological Rules
    Test – Practical analyses & short answer questions ranging over the content of lectures, tutorials & prescribed readings across the semester.
    Assignments are to be submitted through MyUni.
    Course Grading

    Grades for your performance in this course will be awarded in accordance with the following scheme:

    M10 (Coursework Mark Scheme)
    Grade Mark Description
    FNS   Fail No Submission
    F 1-49 Fail
    P 50-64 Pass
    C 65-74 Credit
    D 75-84 Distinction
    HD 85-100 High Distinction
    CN   Continuing
    NFE   No Formal Examination
    RP   Result Pending

    Further details of the grades/results can be obtained from Examinations.

    Grade Descriptors are available which provide a general guide to the standard of work that is expected at each grade level. More information at Assessment for Coursework Programs.

    Final results for this course will be made available through Access Adelaide.

  • Student Feedback

    The University places a high priority on approaches to learning and teaching that enhance the student experience. Feedback is sought from students in a variety of ways including on-going engagement with staff, the use of online discussion boards and the use of Student Experience of Learning and Teaching (SELT) surveys as well as GOS surveys and Program reviews.

    SELTs are an important source of information to inform individual teaching practice, decisions about teaching duties, and course and program curriculum design. They enable the University to assess how effectively its learning environments and teaching practices facilitate student engagement and learning outcomes. Under the current SELT Policy ( course SELTs are mandated and must be conducted at the conclusion of each term/semester/trimester for every course offering. Feedback on issues raised through course SELT surveys is made available to enrolled students through various resources (e.g. MyUni). In addition aggregated course SELT data is available.

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