Phonetics (1)

The study of the medium of spoken language usage, in all its aspects and all its varieties, constitutes the subject of Phonetics. Phonetics is concerned with the medium in speaking all human languages (…) and as used in all styles of speech (…)

Abercrombie (1967: 2).


Phonetics is the systematic study of human speech sounds. It provides a means of describing and classifying virtually all the sounds that can be produced by human vocal tracts.

Catford (1988: 1)



Phonetics (2)

Phonetics is concerned with describing the speech sounds that occur in the languages of the world. We want to know what these sounds are, how they fall into patterns, and how they change in different circumstances. Most importantly, we want to know what aspects of the sounds are important for conveying the meaning of what is being said.

(Ladefoged 1975: 1)


… the indispensible foundation…

(Sweet 1877/1913: 85)


The International Phonetic Association


The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

Theoretical assumptions (Handbook 1999: 3ff):


The International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA)

The development of the IPA follows a set of principles.


The Vocal Tract (mid-sagittal section)

Taken from Laver (1994: ix)