Sounds - LL838

Location Term Level Credits (ECTS) Current Convenor 2019-20
(version 2)
View Timetable
7 15 (7.5) PROF A Arvaniti







This module deals with the linguistic study of speech. It covers how speech sounds are produced and perceived and what their acoustic characteristics are (often referred to as phonetics), as well as how speech sounds are organised into sound systems cross-linguistically (often referred to as phonology). Emphasis will be placed on the sound system of English (including dialectal variation) but basics of sound systems across the world's languages will also be covered and contrasted with English so that students are familiar with the gamut of speech sounds available in the world’s languages. Finally, the course will cover the differences between the traditional "static" view of speech sounds as articulatory postures and the organisation of running speech. This will be covered together with the repercussions that our current knowledge about running speech has for our understanding of phonological systems, their organisation and formal representation in phonological theory.


This module appears in:

Contact hours

Total contact hours: 20


This module is compulsory for students studying on the MA in Linguistics and the MA in Applied Linguistics with TESOL.

Method of assessment

Presentation (10 minutes) - 10%;
Take-home test 1 - 45%;
Take-home test 2 - 45%

Indicative reading

Ashby, M. and Maidment, J. (2005) Introducing Phonetic Science. Cambridge University Press;
Gussenhoven, C. & Jacobs, H. (1998) Understanding Phonology. London: Hodder & Arnold;
Ladefoged, P. & Johnson, K. (2010) A Course in Phonetics (6th edition). Boston: Wadsworth/Cengage Learning;
Ladefoged, P. (2003) Phonetic Data Analysis. Oxford: Blackwell;
Ladefoged, P. (1996) Elements of Acoustic Phonetics. Chicago: The University of Chicago Press;
Zsiga, E. C. (2013) The Sounds of Language: An introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Oxford: Wiley-Blackwell.

See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)

Learning outcomes

Students will be able to demonstrate systematic and comprehensive understanding of the central areas of the study of speech, and critical understanding of the central areas of the study of speech and of the problems with the traditional separation of the study of speech into phonetics and phonology;
Students will demonstrate conceptual understanding as to how speech sounds are produced and perceived; as well as an understanding of speech acoustics;
Students will be able to demonstrate comprehensive familiarity with the types of experimental research that contribute to our knowledge of how speech is produced and perceived and of how this research informs our understanding of sound system organisation;
Students will be able to demonstrate a systematic understanding of the English language and its varieties;
Students will be able to use the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) in a systematic and critical way to represent speech sounds and to refer to the IPA for guidance, while having a critical awareness of the controversies surrounding the use of the IPA and its limitations;
Students will be able to interpret visual representations of speech using relevant software (Praat) and should have mastered the basic functions of Praat (recording and playing files, cutting and pasting speech, doing basic measurements of duration, amplitude and fundamental frequency of speech sounds);
Students will be able to solve higher-level phonology problems using appropriate tests and arguments;
Students will be able to demonstrate cognisance of fundamental concepts of phonology and of formalism within the theory of generative linear and non-linear phonology.

University of Kent makes every effort to ensure that module information is accurate for the relevant academic session and to provide educational services as described. However, courses, services and other matters may be subject to change. Please read our full disclaimer.