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Spanish Language: Phonology and Phonetics Investigating

Linguistics is the study of languages while the language is a medium for communication. The study of phonology and phonetics comprises of three aspects of language namely the form, meaning, and the context of language (Roach 14). The research will be based on the following research question: what is the significance of phonology and phonetics of Spanish language? The study will involve understanding of the rules applied during the use of Spanish language. To determine the significance, the Spanish language the grammar, meaning and gestures used in Spanish will be analyzed. A language may be in different forms such as sound, meaning, and gestures (Marina 32).

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In order to establish the significance of the phonetics and phonology of Spanish language, inclusive description of sound classes will be explored and related. Phonetics shows the general mechanisms of the respiratory and its characteristics during the production of speech. The obstruction of air passage in the respiratory system leads to the production of sounds. The obstruction usually occurs as the air pass in and out of the lungs along the mouth, pharynx, and larynx.

To prove the existence of articulated Spanish phonetics and phonology, articulatory phonetics will be used. Articulatory Phonetics refers to a section of linguistics, whose function is associated with the human sounds. Human vocal, on the other hand, refers to the kit that can produce countless types of sounds (Durand 18). This paper, as such, will seek to provide insight regarding phonology and phonetics in Spanish language.

Investigating the Phonology and Phonetics of Spanish Language

Brief History of Spanish Language

The origin of Spanish language dates back to the 5th century. The development of the language started Western Roman Empire Collapsed. As a result, Latin significantly influenced the spoken Spanish language. In the period spanning between thirteen and sixteen century in the cities of Toledo and Madrid, the first standard written Spanish language was developed. The standard written Spanish language later spread to different regions. Today, the language is used as an official language in over 21 countries and it is included as an official United Nations language (Dalbor 12).

Spanish Phonology and Phonetics

Phonetics refers to the study comprising of features that are necessary in the speech as well as in non-speech synthesis. There are three basic variables of the classification of phonetic of speech sounds (Dalbor 11). They include the behavior of the larynx activity or non-activity during the voiced or voiceless sounds. Secondly, classification depends on the place of the maximum point of articulation, which is the overall constriction in the pharynx. Thirdly, it depends on the type of mechanism used to modify sound mouth or pharynx. Manner articulation is the mechanism used to modify sounds.

Articulation is the process of modifying sounds by the use of various organs called the articulators (Clements 13). The articulators may be either movable or non-movable. During sound production, the moveable articulators approach the non-movable articulators in order to shape the required sound.

There are two parameters used during the classification of consonants used in Spanish language namely the anterior and coronal. The forward portion of the mouth lying between lips and alveolar ridge forms the anterior sounds. On the other hand, the tongue blade forms the coronal sounds when it makes contact with parts of the oral cavity. In coronal articulations, there are the dental propers, which include t, d, and n. Alveolar, include, s, z, and retroflex consonants formed by the retraction of the tip of the tongue. In the anterior articulations, there are labial consonants and are classified as bilabials and thy include p, b, and m, while the labio-dentals consonants include f and v (Colina 10).

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The coronal classes comprise the velars and palate alveolars. The coronal articulation uses the tongue blade. The velar class includes the non-anterior and non-coronal articulations consonants such as k, g, and h. Another class produced when the tongue is at its high point and the front part is the palatal consonants such as vowel, u (Colina 10).

In the production of vowels, there is no impending of the air stream to the respiratory system. There also lacks the contact of the tongue with either upper or lower articulators. Synthesis involves change of the tongue position, which modifies the shape of the oral cavity. The vowel nasalization occurs after lowering the velum allowing the air to passes through the nasal cavity. Other secondary articulations include lip rounding, nasalization, and the length of duration. The tongue height and position describes the vowels.

The following tongue positions describe the vowel produced. Production of vowel (i) is achieved by aligning the tongue at a high front position. At the position of mid front, the vowel (e) is produced. (e). vowel (a) is made when the tongue is positioned centrally. Production of vowel (o) takes place by placing the tongue at mid back location. At the high back position, it produces vowel (u).

Syllables are the basis for the description of the phonological system of Spanish language. There are several rules that determine the syllabic division of different words. Those words with more than one vowel separated by one consonant, then the consonant goes with the second syllable. In cases of two or three-consonant cluster groups beginning with a Spanish letter then, the word can begin with a syllable. If the syllable has two vowels together, they can form a diphthong and three vowels together can form a trip thong. A diphthong is formed in cases of existence of consonants that have strong ‘a’, ‘e’ & ‘o’ vowels accompanied by ‘u’ or ‘i’ vowels that are weak. The shortest as well as the weakest of the syllables at times tend to appear before or at other times; they can appear after the given vowel. For instance, in the Spanish language, boina, aire,seis, ciudad, bien, adiós and hacia are some of the common diphthongs.

There exist various classes of Spanish phonemes according to the manner of articulation and the allophonic variations. Regarding the manner of articulation, there are bilabial, labio dental, inter-dental, dental, alveolar, palatal, velar, bilabio-velar, and glottal phonemes. For instance, the bilabio phonemes include p, b, and m. Velar phonemes include k, g, and x. The alveolar phonemes include n, l, and r (Colina, 10).

The consonant phoneme /s/ (similar to /n/ and /r/ in syllable-final or word-final position) may have phonological processes occurring for inner word syllable-final position. Such scenarios are possible since the deletion or retaining of letter s in particular words is possible. In such a case, as simulation occurs when one sound changes its characteristic features to be more like a neighboring sound. The use of different Spanish phonemes varies from one region to another. Phonemes that have notable changes depending on geographical region are (h) and (s) (Glodsmith 17).


Anyone interested in learning the Spanish language, ought to be aware of the Spanish phonological system as well as the articulatory phonetics. Phonological processes have been cited as occurring mostly in formal circumstances. However, research indicates that phonological process can as well be affected by geographical regions. Additionally, Spanish speakers are at will to decide which sounds to use. A number of factors can influence one’s decision regarding the pronunciation of particular words. A native speaker has the ability of producing the Spanish sounds right. However, a learner in this language ought to be aware of the phonetic patterns that are used so that they can ensure flawless speeches. As such, one can be said to have learned the language if they are able to differentiate between practice utterances and sounds. Evidently, phonetics and phonology play an important role in any language.

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Works Cited

Clements, George. The Internal Organization of speech sounds. London: Evans, 2008. Print.

Colina, Sylvester. Spanish Phonology: A syllabic perspective. Washington, Georgetown University Press, 2012. Print.

Dalbor, Jackson. Spanish Pronunciation: Theory & Practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart &Winston. 2011. Print.

Glodsmith, Hume. The Handbook of Phonological Theory. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell. 2006. Print.

Durand, Jacques. Phonetics, Phonology, and Cognition. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2002. Print.

Marina Claudia. Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press 2009. Print.

Roach, Peter. English Phonetics and Phonology. Cambridge, U.K.: Cambridge University Press, 2000. Print.

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