Phonetics and Phonology: A broad overview

By Prof. Shakuntala Mahanta   |   IIT Guwahati
Learners enrolled: 732
This course will provide the foundation for the development of a student’s knowledge on phonetics and phonology. A proper introduction of the theoretical underpinnings and conceptual framework of the scientific study of sound systems and its analysis will be the main focus of this course. It will provide a detailed overview of phonetic properties, articulatory and acoustic descriptions and International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) transcription of the sounds in the languages of the world. It also deals with phonological theory and covers many aspects of phonemics, phonological representations, features phonological alternations. Finally, the students will learn about many of these concepts with the help of data analysis and problem-solving. We will include examples from Indian languages to make the material more relevant to the students.

Engineering Undergraduates or undergraduates in any discipline looking to learn about language and speech
INDUSTRIES  SUPPORT     : Speech Technology industry which needs input in language and speech
Course Status : Completed
Course Type : Elective
Duration : 8 weeks
Category :
  • Humanities and Social Sciences
Credit Points : 2
Level : Undergraduate
Start Date : 24 Jan 2022
End Date : 18 Mar 2022
Enrollment Ends : 07 Feb 2022
Exam Date : 27 Mar 2022 IST

Note: This exam date is subjected to change based on seat availability. You can check final exam date on your hall ticket.

Page Visits

Course layout

Week 1:Human speech apparatus - Articulation of vowels and consonants, representation of sounds.
Week 2:Sounds of the world’s languages: Language endangerment and language varieties
Week 3: Properties of sound: Acoustic analysis: Fourier transform, source-filter theory Resonance, spectrograms, vowels and vowel charts Acoustic properties of consonants and vowels
Week 4:Speech perception:Basic overview of speech perception Categorical perception, VOT and phonetic knowledge Linguistic knowledge Phonetic coherence
Week 5:Identifying phonemes Phonemic analysis: phonemes, allophones, free variants Sonority, Syllables & principles of syllabification
Week 6:Natural class of sounds Distinctive Features & their hierarchical organization Markedness & Underspecification Rewrite rules and rule ordering
Week 7: Phonological alternations Phonological processes (word level processes such as harmony, other local assimilation processes, voicing alternations etc.)Principles of phonological analysis and Morphophonemic rules
Week 8:Suprasegmentals: pitch, intensity and duration Tone languages and pitch accent languages Intonation – sentence level prosody Intonational phonology

Books and references

Hayes, Bruce. Introductory Phonology. Willey Blackwell. 2008
Johnson, K.eith. Acoustic and Auditory Phonetics, Wiley Blackwell 2011
Ladefoged, Peter & Johnson, Keith Anderson. Course in Phonetics, Wadsworth Publishing. 2014
O’Grady, W. et al. 1996. Contemporary Linguistics: an Introduction. Harlow: Pearson Education Limited
Ladefoged, Peter & Maddieson, Ian (1996). The Sounds of the World's Languages. Oxford: Blackwell.

Instructor bio

Prof. Shakuntala Mahanta

IIT Guwahati
Shakuntala Mahanta specializes in phonology, a branch of linguistics which deals with the human knowledge of sound systems and its organization. As a consequence of working in this specialized area she also works on the interaction of phonology with morphology, phonetics and to a lesser extent with syntax. Over the years, she has worked on various aspects of phonology, sociolinguistics, computational linguistics, Grapheme to Phoneme mapping in Indian linguistics, intonation and information structure. The following is a non exhaustive list of her research areas: 1)Theoretical approaches to vowel harmony 2) Nature of exceptional patterns in langauge 3) Stress and intonation in South Asian languages 4) Tone and Intonation in Tibeto-Burman languages 5)Intonation & Information Structure 6) Problems in Grapheme to Phoneme mapping in Indian languages 7) Endangered languages of Northeast India and their documentation She has authored a book on vowel harmony (Directionality and Locality in vowel harmony 2008, Utrecht: LOT Press) and she was awarded the Fulbright fellowship for Academic and Professional excellence (FNAPE 2015 -2016).

Course certificate

The course is free to enroll and learn from. But if you want a certificate, you have to register and write the proctored exam conducted by us in person at any of the designated exam centres.
The exam is optional for a fee of Rs 1000/- (Rupees one thousand only).
Date and Time of Exams: 27 March 2022 Morning session 9am to 12 noon; Afternoon Session 2pm to 5pm.
Registration url: Announcements will be made when the registration form is open for registrations.
The online registration form has to be filled and the certification exam fee needs to be paid. More details will be made available when the exam registration form is published. If there are any changes, it will be mentioned then.
Please check the form for more details on the cities where the exams will be held, the conditions you agree to when you fill the form etc.


Average assignment score = 25% of average of best 6 assignments out of the total 8 assignments given in the course.
Exam score = 75% of the proctored certification exam score out of 100

Final score = Average assignment score + Exam score

YOU WILL BE ELIGIBLE FOR A CERTIFICATE ONLY IF AVERAGE ASSIGNMENT SCORE >=10/25 AND EXAM SCORE >= 30/75. If one of the 2 criteria is not met, you will not get the certificate even if the Final score >= 40/100.

Certificate will have your name, photograph and the score in the final exam with the breakup.It will have the logos of NPTEL and IIT Guwahati .It will be e-verifiable at nptel.ac.in/noc.

Only the e-certificate will be made available. Hard copies will not be dispatched.

Once again, thanks for your interest in our online courses and certification. Happy learning.

- NPTEL team

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