Russian linguist Lev Scherba (1937) for the first time separated phonetics from phonology and stated that sounds are not only articulatory and acoustic units, but they also possess functional qualities. He noticed that in our real conversations we pronounce a greater variety of sounds that we are aware of. The sounds which can change meanings of words are called phonemes and the varieties of a phoneme that do not change the meaning of a word are called phones or a phoneme. The difference between these two branches of linguistics is that of generality and particularity. Though they are closely interlinked and serve the same purpose they differ from each other because of their separate disciplinary status. Some of the most prominent differences between phonetics and phonology are as follows.
Differences between Phonetics and Phonology:
Definition: Phonetics refers to the scientific study of the entire process of vocal communication using the speech organs. Phonology refers to the study of the speech sounds of a particular language.
Aspects: Phonetics deals with the production, transmission, and reception of speech sounds. On the other hand, Phonology deals with distinct but interrelated sound patterns of a particular language.
Nature of investigation: Phonetics is Descriptive. Otherwise, Phonology is Theoretical.
Point of view: Phonetics is general for all languages. On the other hand, Phonology is particular for specific languages.
Appeal: Phonetics is one and the same for all the languages of the world. Phonology differs from one language to another language.
Branches: Phonetics has 3 branches:
- Articulatory Phonetics
- Acoustic Phonetics
- Auditory Phonetics
Phonology is classified in the following ways:
- Segmental Phonology
- Supra-segmental phonology
- Synchronic Phonology
- Diachronic Phonology
Minimal Units: The minimal unit of phonetics is ‘Phone’ as, [p], , [ph], [t], [th], etc. On the other hand, the minimal unit of phonetics is ‘phoneme’ as, /p/, /t/, etc.
Transcribing Symbols: Phonetics is identified with square brackets ‘’ as, [p], [ph], [po], etc. Likewise, in Phonology slashes is used, ‘//’ as, /p/,/b/,/t/,/d/, etc.
This is the difference between Phonetics and Phonology. Check the infographic of Phonetics Vs Phonology to get an overall concept.