“Phonetics is a part of linguistics, a field that studies language. Phonetics is concerned with sounds; how to write down sounds in transcriptions; how sounds are produced (articulatory phonetics); the acoustic characteristics of sounds (acoustic phonetics); and how sounds can be perceived (auditory phonetics).
Speech sounds are practically “small air pressure fluctuations” (3) or soundwaves that travel through air. When speaking air flows from the lungs, passing through the larynx and the vocal folds. Vocal folds are the muscles in the neck, that when vibrating create the pitch or melody of the speech. The vocal tract, thus the mouth, nose, and pharynx, creates obstruction with the help of the articulators, producing the sounds that end up in our ears receiving and decoding what we call language.
Phoneticians use spectrograms to analyse acoustic information over time and determine how a sound is produced. So, what can be seen in a spectrogram is the air pressure variations that are created while we speak. It was very interesting to compare how the articulation of the sounds differed between all the different linguistic backgrounds. If we compare the native speakers’ spectrograms (Lina and Tilda) to the non-native speakers’ (Evangelia, Agnes and Mehregan) we can immediately see the differences. The duration of the syllables changes and the vowels and consonants are pronounced in different places of the mouth, as can be seen in the way the soundwaves are stretched out. These unique patterns have something to say about each person’s linguistic background; their origin and identity. ” – Evangelia Kalpakli