Theory of phonetics as a branch of linguistics

The word “phonetics” is derived from the Greek “sound” and used in two different meanings: 1) to some authors, usually non-phoneticians, phonetics is that part of grammar which deals with speech sounds; 2) to phoneticians, however, phonetics is an independent branch of linguistics which is concerned with the phonetic structure of a language.

Within the last few decades, the ever increasing recognition of the importance of phonetics in the study of a language, has led to great achievements in the field of phonetics. The development of the theory of phonemes, for instance, has caused a revolution in the treatment of many phonetic phenomena. A number of other important phonetic concepts have been developed; it is therefore possible to assert that phonetics should no longer be considered a part of grammar. It is an independent branch of linguistics that has, in its turn, developed

branches of its own.

However, phonetics, being a branch of linguistics, occupies a peculiar position. One the one hand, it is quite independent, and develops according to its own laws. To-day the sphere of phonetics is wider and deeper than ever before; phonemes and their distribution in words, their mutual adaptation, stress, syllable formation, intonation, the relation between oral and written speech and a number of other problems have now become objects of phonetic investigation.

On other hand, phonetics is closely connected with a number of other sciences, such as physics (or rather acoustics), biology, physiology and others. The more phonetics develops, the more various branches of science become involved in the field of phonetic investigation.

Phonetics is an essential part of language because it gives language a definite form; – the vocabulary and grammar of a language can function only when the language has phonetic form.

Hence, grammar and vocabulary depend on phonetics; they cannot exist outside of phonetics, because all lexical and grammatical phenomena are expressed phonetically. Thus, although phonetics serves as a means of expressing grammatical and lexical phenomena, yet it has laws of its own which are dependent of grammar and vocabulary.

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