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Linguistics: Phonetics

  • By: Julie A. Hochgesang
  • In: The SAGE Deaf Studies Encyclopedia
  • Edited by: Genie Gertz & Patrick Boudreault
  • Subject:Physical Disabilities, Otorhinolaryngology (Ears, Nose, & Throat)

Phonetics is a subdiscipline of linguistics used to describe and categorize the smallest units of language used to build words. The smallest units of language themselves hold no meaning but help create meaning when they are combined into words. Phonetics is often used to help the investigation of other aspects of linguistics—phonology, morphology, syntax, discourse, etc.

What is the significance of understanding the smallest parts of language? First, we must understand what they are and what they are capable of (phonetics) and then how they can be used in language and how they may be influenced by certain linguistic processes (phonology). This investigation helps us understand how the smallest units of language are used. This understanding helps further the investigation of how meaning is created ...

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