Phonemics (L-451)

An Introduction to Phonological Analysis Part II (4 credit hours)

Phonemics involves intensive practice in the basic principles for developing alphabets and for analyzing the tone structure of any language in the world. The missionary who has studied Phonemics can pronounce words the same way a native would. The missionary can also write each sound with a phonetic symbol.

These phonetic symbols become the basis for a phonemic analysis of the sound system. This analysis enables the missionary to discover which phonetic sounds are heard distinctly by the people and change the meaning of words. These are the sounds that are proven to be phonemic (or phonemes) and must be symbolized in the alphabet.

Phonemics is especially helpful to missionaries who are reducing a language to a written form for the first time. It enables them to make a scientific alphabet based on phonemic principles rather than just guesswork or writing the language using the English alphabet.

A phonemic alphabet makes learning to read much easier because spelling is based on scientific analysis, and there are no exceptions to the rules.