Sounds of English - LL303

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
Canterbury Autumn
View Timetable
4 15 (7.5) DR T Rathcke







This module will begin by offering a basic description of speech sounds, with emphasis on those used in English and detailed descriptions first of consonants, and then of vowels. The gaps between sound and orthography will be highlighted as symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) are learned. The course will then move from phonetics (the study of speech sounds) to phonology (the study of the sound systems in language), focusing on phonotactics and other phonological rules of English. At the end of the term, basic prosodic concepts such as stress, rhythm, intonation and phrasing will be discussed. The main focus of the module will be on the standard variety of English spoken in the UK (often referred to as Received Pronunciation, or RP), but phonetic and phonological variation in non-UK and non-standard varieties of English will also be discussed (rhotic vs. non-rhotic varieties; luck-look merger).


This module appears in:


Total Contact Hours: 20

Method of assessment

This module will be assessed by 100% coursework.

• Group Presentation (15 minutes) – 20%
• Online Test (90 minutes) – 80%

Indicative reading

Reading list (Indicative list, current at time of publication. Reading lists will be published annually)
Catford, J. (2010). A Practical Introduction to Phonetics. Oxford: OUP.
Hughes A.,? Trudgill P.,? Watt D. (2012). English Accents and Dialects: An Introduction to Social and Regional Varieties of English in the British Isles. London: Routledge.
McMahon, A. (2002). Introduction to English Phonology. Edinburgh: EUP.
Ogden, R. (2017). An Introduction to English Phonetics. Edinburgh: EUP.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

On successfully completing the module students will be able to:

Demonstrate confidence using the basic terminology of phonetics and phonology as they apply to English;
Recognise and describe the phonemes of English;
Use with confidence phonetic symbols relevant to Standard Southern British Englishand other varieties;
Understand how the English phonological system is structured, and recognise some of the important phonotactic and phonological rules of English;
Recognise and describe variation at the phonetic/phonological levels in different varieties of English;
Understand the basics of higher-level speech phenomena of English.

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