Phonetics and Phonology

Please note: this is archived course information from 2020 for LINGUIST 201.


Course overview

There are over 6,000 languages in the world, and for most of these, communication predominantly takes place through the use of vocal speech. As humans, we are all endowed with the same basic anatomical structures that allow us to produce and perceive this vocal speech. Despite this commonality though, no two languages have exactly the same system of speech sounds - they differ with respect to the consonants and vowels that are used, the types of syllables, different intonations and so on.  

This course explores the areas of phonetics and phonology (the study of speech sounds), and provides a convention for describing and discussing these sounds. The course aims to address the following questions: To what extent can languages vary in their sound systems? How are speech sounds organised by languages, and how can we formalise their structures and dynamic behaviours? What are the mental objects and operations responsible for how we organise speech sounds? How does the realm of speech sounds relate to the concept of "Universal Grammar"?

The course will provide students with an introduction to the descriptive and theoretical world of phonetics and phonology, with an opportunity to apply the concepts to actual language data by exploring the sounds of numerous languages of the world.

Course outcomes

A student who successfully completes this course will have the opportunity to:

  • Acquire knowledge of phonetics and phonology, and apply it to data
  • Understand and carry out a phonological analysis
  • Acquire skills in linguistic argumentation with respect to phonetics and phonology



Coursework + exam 

Availability 2020

Semester 1


Coordinator(s) Associate Professor Jason Brown


Readings will be made available on Canvas.

Recommended Reading


Coursework + exam


LINGUIST 201: 15.0 points


LINGUIST 100 or 103