Topic: Analysing speech

Understanding how genuine spoken language works can help us look at how it is conveyed in written language, so here we look at both. The material here focuses on how spoken language can be used in written texts and how it differs from genuine spoken language.

Phonetics and phonology - Starter

Group discussion questions

You could start the lesson by asking students questions such as:

 

Phonetics and phonology - Terminology

What do phoneticians and phonologists do?

Phonetics and phonology are the branches of linguistics that deals with speech sounds. This broad ranging definition is indicative of the broad type of work that phoneticians/phonologists do:

Phonetics and phonology - The sounds of poetry

Looking at the importance of sound in a literary text

Sound patterns in poetry

Here are two extracts from the poem Digging by Seamus Heaney. In the poem, a son talks openly about his perceived failures in following in his father's footsteps, namely because of his lack of skill with a spade and as a farmer.

Read them out loud:

Under my window, a clean rasping sound   
When the spade sinks into gravelly ground:   
My father, digging. I look down 

Phonetics and phonology - Transcribing spoken language

Transcribing sounds

In this activity, you'll be using your knowledge of articulatory phonetics to transcribe spoken language. To do so, you'll be using the phonetic alphabet - a system designed by linguists to represent speech sounds on the page.

Phonetics and phonology - Vowels

In the starter activity, we asked the question 'How can we write down speech sounds? For example, how can we capture the difference between a northern British accent saying bath and a southern British accent saying bath?

Prepared speech

Using corpora to investigate prepared speeches

One very simple approach to using corpora in English lessons is to pull apart a speech using the programme Wordle, which can be found here. Wordle creates simple but beautiful images made up of words in a text that you can input.

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