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Re: [s]Re: Phonetics and Phonology

Hello all,

The difference between phonology and phonetics is fundamental.

The perception of speech sounds implies their categorization. Phonological categorization includes only the features that are relevant for transmitting meanings. 
Phonology studies the sound features that are relevant for linguistic communication * as well as their distribution and organization into phonological systems. Phonemes form systems. 
Phonetic sciences study all kinds of acoustic characteristics that the sounds can display regardless of whether they are or not relevant for the primary function of a particular language  - that is transmitting linguistic meanings. 
Various acoustic characteristics of speech sounds can be relevant for example for speaker identification, for his mood or emotions but totally irrelevant for the linguistic code he/she is using at the moment of speaking. 
It wasn't until experimental phonetics made progress, that phonologists could clearly separate their science from phonetics. Both synchronic and diachronic phonology study the way speakers perceive, produce and arrange the speech sounds in order to transmit linguistic meanings.
Phonology belongs to humanities, and phonetics to natural sciences.

As fundamental reading I would suggest the great classic  N. S. Troubetzkoy's Principals of Phonology. By this work Troubetzkoy made a crucial epistemological contribution to linguistic sciences.

Best to all.

Dr. Branka Zei Pollermann
Psychiatrie de Liaison
Hôpitaux Universitaires de Genève

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