Applied phonetics - Fonética aplicada

The Phonics is defined as the part of linguistics that studies the sounds of languages. However, it is important to bear in mind that phonetics is not a merely theoretical science, but rather that its field of action extends to very diverse fields, and the role of phoneticians in all of them can be fundamental. Fortunately, this fact is increasingly taken into account and phonetics makes its way into different fields to make small advances.

Applied phonetics is the study of the characteristics of sounds applicable to a professional field such as the teaching of pronunciation, clinical phonetics, computational linguistics and forensic phonetics.

Didactic use: phonetic correction

By phonetic correction we understand the technique to adjust diction to the standard use of a given language. This technique can be used in learning not only the language itself, but also a second or third of them.

Phonetic correction in one's own language is aimed at all those who work in the world of telecommunications: journalists, commentators, politicians, etc. All those people who, because of their work, are forced to speak publicly should do so in the most correct way possible, and as non-verbal language matters, it can also be interesting to try not to stray too far from a standard use of the language that does not divert listeners' attention to aspects that differ from what we want to convey.

Phonetics in the L2 and L3 learning process

When studying a foreign language, whether in schools, academies or even on your own, there is always an impact on aspects of the language such as syntax, morphology or vocabulary. However, phonetics wrongly acquires a secondary role in this learning process. So that our command of the language will never be complete and when faced with a native, we may not be able to understand him as much and as correctly as if we were reading those same words on a sheet of paper; in the same way that we will not be able to reproduce the sounds of the learned language in the same way that we do with our mother tongue.

This could change if phonetics were to shift from second to foreground. Fortunately, we are becoming more and more aware of this and language courses for foreign languages ​​include oral as a fundamental part. And even so, it constitutes an arduous work, since we adults tend to look for acoustic indices that exist in our language, when speaking a language that is not our mother tongue we tend to do so while maintaining its phonotactic features. In this case, children are more sensitive to multiple phonic differences that they learn as their own language consolidates. For example, when a Catalan mother-speaker speaks Spanish, he tends in principle to pronounce all the alveolar laterals with a certain degree of velarization, especially the implosive ones. [ 1 ]​​

Clinical use: rehabilitation of speech disorders

The tools that phonetics can provide us in the clinical setting can certainly prove useful, however, either due to ignorance of them or to try to achieve greater immediacy, they are not used.

Among the applications of phonetics in life in society, probably the best known is the one that links it to speech therapy. Tradition knows the reeducation of speech problems in people who suffer from language disturbances as orthophony. Currently, the most common is not to refer to this practice as an orthophonic practice, but rather speech therapy.

Within the production disorders, two large groups should be noted depending on the origin of the dysfunction:

Dysglossia or organic dyslalia: if it is of organic origin, that is, due to a congenital malformation in the articulatory organs. This is the case of congenital deafness, which is linked to the nickname "deaf-mute", since children with this disorder have many difficulties when learning to speak.

Dysarthria or functional dyslalia: if, on the contrary, the disorder comes from a functional origin due to neurological causes or due to motor incoordination. Anything that represents an alteration of normal phonic patterns, from the point of view of phonation and articulation or from the point of view of hearing and perception, for whatever reason (including evolutionary changes in speech). acquisition), is the responsibility of the phoneticians and their active participation should not be lacking in both phases of the rehabilitation action: diagnosis and rehabilitation. For which, phonetic transcription is also especially important and it is essential that the specialist knows the AFI symbol table .

Technological use: speech technologies

The use of technologies in our day to day is increasingly frequent and essential, there is no doubt that the development of new technologies and information technology affects and revolutionizes all areas of knowledge and human knowledge and in this case, phonetics could not be less.

The technological use of phonetics is focused on the so-called speech technologies that seek an oral interaction of the human being with the computer, much more efficient and agile than written communication. In this sense, we can differentiate between two new technologies: voice synthesis and automatic speech recognition.

Voice synthesis

It consists of a computer generating artificial speech. The fundamental interest of phoneticians lies in being able to change one or some parameters while keeping the others constant to verify the perceptual effect of the change and, thus, to be able to advance in the search for the most relevant acoustic clues or indices in human perception. There are three types main voice synthesis.

Formant synthesis

It allows to generate sound from the previous specification of the corresponding acoustic parameters of frequency and intensity.A well-known model of this type of synthesizers in the Pattern Playback , which was developed in the fifties and sixties of the last century in the Haskins Laboratories (USA.)

Articulatory synthesis

It aims to emulate the vocal tract, that is, it generates synthetic speech from parameters that describe the position and movement of the articulators. It must be said that the synthetic results obtained so far are not entirely satisfactory.

Synthesis by concatenation

It works by joining together small pieces of sound to generate the complete messages. Also in this case, work is being done to achieve better results.

All these systems have a common problem: the resulting text lacks naturalness, they need, among other things, to be provided with prosodic information. The role of the phoneticians can therefore be very useful at this point.

Automatic speech recognition

It is intended that a computer is capable of automatically recognizing, without human collaboration, a sound input and can act accordingly depending on how it has been programmed. Acoustic models arouse real interest in phoneticians, they consist of extracting from the input signal the acoustic parameters that will allow segmenting the phonic chain, and then identifying the sounds that make it up in order, finally, to arrive and linguistically recognize the message. In the same way as in the field of synthesis, there is still a long way to go, however, this field of linguistic engineering has undergone great advances since its inception.

Judicial use: Forensic phonetics

This application of phonetics links with the police and judicial sphere. The fundamental interest lies in the identification of phonetic features that allow us to discern between two similar voices. Attending not only to an analysis of the voice, but also to the study of the specific sounds that the person uses, their peculiar characteristics such as, for example, a different r, more open or more closed vowels than normal, the intonation that uses or the speed of articulation at which it emits the sentences, etc. As we can see, there are many aspects that we can and must take into account and that also reveal personal data about the person in question, such as their sex or their state of mind, as well as their geographical, dialect and socio-cultural origin. When asked “do they increasingly require your services in court? In an interview with “La Voz de Galicia”, Juana Gil, director of the Phonetics Laboratory of the Higher Center for Scientific Research, responded: “-The cases come to us unexpectedly. Sometimes we have three in a row, during other periods of time only one or none because it is very variable. We intervene in cases related to the comparison of voices in summaries of alleged corruption, but also in others related to registered trademarks whose owners did not want to see emulated by other brands with similar sound, as well as kidnappings ... " Sometimes we have three in a row, during other periods of time only one or none because it is very variable. We intervene in cases related to the comparison of voices in summaries of alleged corruption, but also in others related to registered trademarks whose owners did not want to see emulated by other brands with similar sound, as well as kidnappings ... " Sometimes we have three in a row, during other periods of time only one or none because it is very variable. We intervene in cases related to the comparison of voices in summaries of alleged corruption, but also in others related to registered trademarks whose owners did not want to see emulated by other brands with similar sound, as well as kidnappings ... "[2]​​

In any case, phonetics and the instruments and knowledge available to you are essential if you want to achieve an optimal result in this type of operation.


Bibliography

Fernández Planas, Ana María (2005). "7". This is how it is spoken: fundamental notions of general and Spanish phonetics: notes on Catlán, Galician and Euskara. Horsori. ISBN 84-96108-14-7 .

«Juana Gil:« In judicial phonetics you cannot work with very short samples »».

The sounds of language. Synthesis. ISBN 84-7738-003-8 | isbn = incorrect (help).

References

  1. ^ Fernandez Planas, Ana María (2005). "7". This is how it is spoken: fundamental notions of general and Spanish phonetics: notes on Catlán, Galician and Euskara . Horsori. ISBN 84-96108-14-7 .
  2. «Juana Gil:« In judicial phonetics you cannot work with very short samples »» .