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Every language has its own rules and system. “Language
is a human system of communication that uses arbitrary signals, such as voice
sounds, gestures, and or written symbols.” Nordquist, R. (2017). In simpler
terms, it is how humans connect with each other on a daily basis to increase
understanding by expressing their inner thoughts and emotions. Phonology is the
study of the sound systems of a language. That is, how speech sounds are
organized within languages. Szczegielniak, A. (n.d). According to Nordquist,
(2017). “Phonetics is the branch of linguistics that deals with the sounds of
speech and their production.” “A phoneme is a class of sounds which are
phonetically similar, and show certain characteristic patterns of distribution
in the language or dialect under consideration.” Gleason, (1955). Suggesting
that it is a group of sounds understood by a native speaker as being the same
sound. It is also a segment that can distinguish meaning. For example, /mat/
and /kat/. The m and k are phonemes. This is because they change the
meaning when added to “at”.

The phonological processes accommodate ease
of articulation. It has been noted that different kind of
sound patterns in spoken language are motivated by articulatory concerns. Ease
of articulation is used to make pronunciation more comfortable and the
assimilation makes it easier. For example, the word “climb,” and the word
“hand,” persons do not normally pronounce the “b” and the “d.” Persons tend to
delete the final latters off words because it is easier to pronounced, and over
time it is accepted and becomes a language. In addition, assimilation is a
phonological process in which a sound, starts to sound like a neighbouring
sound or neighbouring sounds. There
are many different languages around the world, and they vary based on the way
the sounds are produced by a particular speaker. Hence, phonology provides
insights as to what sounds are in a language, and how they form patterns to
create a word.

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Phonology comprises of assimilatory and
non-assimilatory processes. From each category, stems what is known as
universal and non-universal rules. The universal rules indicate that this rule
will automatically happen in all languages, because it is a process that all
English speakers utilize given in the correct context. For example, nasalization.
In the word “seen” /si?n/, the letter /i/ will always be nasalized because it
is a vowel that occurs before the nasal /n/ in the same syllable. On the other
hand, non-universal rule suggests that this rule does not automatically happen
in all languages. For example, affricatization. The word “tracks” may be
pronounced as ??æks or ???æks. In the case where it is pronounced as ???æks,
suggest that the plosive /t/ is affricatized before /?/, but this is entirely
depended upon the speaker. There are a number of non-universal rules in
phonology. However, in a recording that was done by a Canadian native speaker
of English, four non-universal processes were identified in her speech while
she read a passage and they will be explored, these are; glottalization, metathesis,
apocope deletion, and liquid devoicing.

The first interesting non universal rule in
the phonological process that was identified in the speaker’s speech, was
glottalization. “Glottalization refers strictly to the addition of an
articulatory glottal stop…” Higginbottom, (1964), Esling et al., (2005). This
therefore indicates that voiceless stops, predominantly /t/ are normally
glottalized between vowels, before a nasal or word initial. For example, the
words “butter”, b?t??, “cotton” k?t?n and “mat” mæt would now be
pronounced as b????, k??n? and mæ?. A closer look will show the glottal
at the end of the words, and as a result, has a different sound. This was
evident in the informant’s speech when words such as “pot” p???, “hot” h??
and “dirt” d??? were spoken. The voiceless stop /t/ has been replaced with a
glottal in the word final. Therefore, the /t/ sounds is loss and is not heard. This
may have been because the speaker has an accent, and or due to the rules that
are established in her language.

The second rule identified was metathesis. “Metathesis
is a term used in linguistics to refer to the transposition of elements in a
word or sentence.” Hume, (1998:148). Montler, (1986:55) expresses similar views
as he says, “Metathesis is a sound change that alters the order of phonemes in
a word.” This suggest that it is the reordering of segments in a word or
syllable. An example of such phonological process is seen in the words “film” f?lm
and “flim” fl??m. The first word has the /?/ being the first segment and the
/l/ being the second. However, there is a reverse, as the /l/ is now the first
segment and the /?/ is the second. Hume believes that “where the perspective of
language change is concerned, one order is considered as original input while
the other is considered as the result of metathesis output.” Many word
pronunciations have been metathesized and over time they become standard. In
the informant’s speech as she read the passage, the word “clumsy” k?l??mz?, was
pronounced as k??lmz?. Here, it is clearly seen where the segments have been
reordered. In the initial stage, the /l/ was before the /?/, however, after it
has been metathesized, the /?/ is now first and the /l/ is second. Thompson
& Thompson (1969:40) point out that “Metathesis is a common feature amongst
children when they acquire new words.” This could be a possible reason for
reordering the segments in words when pronouncing them.

Apocope deletion is another
non-universal rule evident in the speaker’s speech.  “Apocope
is the omission of one or more sounds or syllables from the end of a word. It is also
known as end-cut.” Nordquist, (2017). The alveolar
plosives /t/ and /d/ are commonly deleted. It is believed that when /t/ and /d/
are followed by a consonant, they are often deleted rather than if /t/ and /d/
are preceded by a vowel. During the reading of the passage by the informant,
the pronunciation of some of her words indicated evidence of apocope deletion.
Words such as “dust” d?s and “concrete” k????k?i loss the /t/ at the end of
the words, while “and” ??n loss the /d/ at the end. In the case where such
alveolar plosives were loss, could have been due to the fact that the speaker
was either relaxed when pronouncing the words, or this process may have been
strictly grammatically conditioned based, which resulted in apocope deletion.

Liquid devoicing is the final non-universal
rule identified in the speaker’s speech. Liquid devoicing is the process by
which a voiced liquid such as /?/and /l/ become voiceless. There are three
phases involved in the production of speech sounds. These include; initiation
which is the flow of air, phonation which involves the modification of the air
flow, and articulation which is the final shaping of the airstream to produce
particular types of sounds. Most of the speech sounds in languages are produced
when air flows from the lungs, and this is known as pulmonic air. The airstream
is instigated by the lungs. The lungs are deflated as the air flows out then
goes through the larynx and further up the vocal tract. A sound becomes voiced
when the vocal folds are close and the air forces through, causing vibration.
On the other hand, voiceless sounds are produced when the vocal folds are apart
and there is no vibration. Air flows through easier this way, because the
glottis is open. Vowels are known to be naturally voiced, and consonants may be
voiced or voiceless. “Under certain circumstances, voiced and voiceless sounds
can become voiceless or voiced sounds, respectively.” Ladefoged, (1993). In the
informant’s speech, she used the word “place” p?l?es which indicates liquid
devoicing. The small circle below the /l/ in the word is used to show that the
liquid loss its voicing. Based on research and reading done, it can be said
that the voiced liquid that was voiceless in the speech, could be as a result of
characteristics of the speaker and her accent.

In concluding, Phonetics and Phonology are
both concerned with the sounds of language. There are many different varieties
of languages across the world. Each has its own sound that human beings employ
when speaking that particular language. Similarly, it has rules governing the
behaviour of the sounds to be produced. These rules are divided into universal
and non- universal rules of languages. While the universal rules are
automatically employed in all languages, the non-universal rules are not
automatically employed. Hence the reason glottalization, metathesis, apocope
deletion and liquid devoicing were evident in the informant’s speech, as she
read a passage.

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