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LINGUIST 2L03 Phonetics

Academic Year: Fall 2016

Term: Fall

Day/Evening: D

Instructor: Prof. Daniel Pape


Office: Togo Salmon Hall 511

Phone: 905-525-9140 x 23761

Office Hours: Thursday 1:30pm - 2:30pm room TSH-602

Course Objectives:

This course is a foundational course whose aim is to ensure that students are familiar with the basic approaches and issues in phonetics (the study of the sounds of language and human articulatory capabilities).

By the end of the course, students will be able to:

  • have a thorough understanding of the anatomy of the speech production apparatus (lungs, glottis, vocal tract);
  • distinguish and order all phonemes of English and most other languages and their transcription;
  • transcribe a given text or recording with the IPA transcription
  • understand the methods of phonetic research, the analysis of speech and sound waves;
  • have a basic understanding the human speech perception apparatus (ear and phoneme processing) plus an overview of the main speech perception theories.

The structure of the course will be two 50 minutes lectures, plus a discussion section each week.

Objectives will be met by lectures (instructor) and five assignments where students have to hand in their solutions to phonetic questions and exercises.

Textbooks, Materials & Fees:

TEXTBOOK (required)

The textbook used in this course is “Phonetics: Transcription, Production, Acoustics, and Perception” from the authors Henning Reetz & Allard Jongman, Wiley-Blackwell publishing (R&J).



Katz, William F.(2013), Phonetics for Dummies, Wiley-Blackwell.


Method of Assessment:

The final grade is a weighted average of these grades:

  • One final examination (The final exam includes material from the entire course) is weighted 30% of the final grade. The exam is scheduled by the Registrar during the Final Exam Period.
  • One midterm examination (exam material: week 1 to week 5 of the syllabus) is weighted 20% of the final grade. The date of the midterm examination is October 19 (45 minutes duration).
  • Five written assignments (due at: October 3, October 24, November 14, November 21, November 28) are weighted 50% of the final grade (each assignment counts 10%).

Individual percentages of each task completion (5 assignments, 1 midterm, 1 final) are carried into the weighting procedure. The final grade is then the weighted equivalent percentages of each task completion.



Equivalent Percentages



90 – 100



85 – 89



80 – 84



77 – 79



73 – 76



70 – 72



67 – 69



63 – 66



60 – 62



57 – 59



53 – 56



50 – 52






Policy on Missed Work, Extensions, and Late Penalties:

Late assignments: Assignments submitted within 72 hours of the due date are penalized 10% of the value of the assignment. Being late more than 72 hours on an assignment results in a grade of zero for that assignment. If you submit an MSAF or other approved document (via the office of the Dean of your Faculty), contact Dr. Pape to arrange an alternate due date.

Excused Midterm examination: Tests for which the instructor receives an MSAF or other approved document have their value added to the value of the final exam if not arranged otherwise with Dr. Pape.


Please Note the Following Policies and Statements:

Academic Dishonesty

You are expected to exhibit honesty and use ethical behaviour in all aspects of the learning process. Academic credentials you earn are rooted in principles of honesty and academic integrity.

Academic dishonesty is to knowingly act or fail to act in a way that results or could result in unearned academic credit or advantage. This behaviour can result in serious consequences, e.g. the grade of zero on an assignment, loss of credit with a notation on the transcript (notation reads: "Grade of F assigned for academic dishonesty"), and/or suspension or expulsion from the university.

It is your responsibility to understand what constitutes academic dishonesty. For information on the various types of academic dishonesty please refer to the Academic Integrity Policy, located at

The following illustrates only three forms of academic dishonesty:

  1. Plagiarism, e.g. the submission of work that is not one’s own or for which other credit has been obtained.
  2. Improper collaboration in group work.
  3. Copying or using unauthorized aids in tests and examinations.

Email correspondence policy

It is the policy of the Faculty of Humanities that all email communication sent from students to instructors (including TAs), and from students to staff, must originate from each student’s own McMaster University email account. This policy protects confidentiality and confirms the identity of the student.  Instructors will delete emails that do not originate from a McMaster email account.

Modification of course outlines

The University reserves the right to change dates and/or deadlines etc. for any or all courses in the case of an emergency situation or labour disruption or civil unrest/disobedience, etc. If a modification becomes necessary, reasonable notice and communication with the students will be given with an explanation and the opportunity to comment on changes. Any significant changes should be made in consultation with the Department Chair.

McMaster Student Absence Form (MSAF)

In the event of an absence for medical or other reasons, students should review and follow the Academic Regulation in the Undergraduate Calendar Requests for Relief for Missed Academic Term Work. Please note these regulations have changed beginning Fall 2015. You can find information at If you have any questions about the MSAF, please contact your Associate Dean's office.

Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities

Students who require academic accommodation must contact Student Accessibility Services (SAS) to make arrangements with a Program Coordinator. Academic accommodations must be arranged for each term of study. Student Accessibility Services can be contacted by phone 905-525-9140 ext. 28652 or e-mail For further information, consult McMaster University's Policy for Academic Accommodation of Students with Disabilities.

Academic Accommodation for Religious, Indigenous and Spiritual Observances

Students requiring academic accommodation based on religion and spiritual observances should follow the procedures set out in the Course Calendar or by their respective Faculty. In most cases, the student should contact his or her professor or academic advisor as soon as possible to arrange accommodations for classes, assignments, tests and examinations that might be affected by a religious holiday or spiritual observance.

Topics and Readings:

The syllabus describes the chapter themes for each week. All presentations will be held in class and then the slides will be posted on Avenue2Learn.

The syllabus below is only a rough outline and will be updated on Avenue when needed.




Week 1: September 6

Introduction to phonetics


Week 2: September 12

Articulatory phonetics (R&J, ch. 2)

               the larynx






Week 3: September 19

Phonetic transcription (R&J, ch.3)



               diacritics and other symbols

               transcription practice



Week 4: September 26

Place and manner of articulation (R&J, ch. 4)


               additional manners of articulation


               secondary articulations (co-articulations)



Week 5: October 3

Physiology of the vocal apparatus (R&J, ch. 5)

               subglottal system


               vocal tract


Due date for the first assignment (name: Transcription1)

Week: October 10

Mid-term recess


Week 6: October 17

Airstream mechanisms and phonation types (R&J, ch. 6);


               velaric (clicks)




               common and rare sounds (markedness)



October 19

Mid-term examination (in class 10.30a.m.)


Week 7: October 24

Basic acoustics (R&J, ch. 7)

               sound waves




               phase (sine ~ cosine)

Due date for the second assignment (name: Transcription2)

Week 8: October 31

Analysis methods for speech sounds (R&J, ch. 8)

               digitizing and sampling

               signal types

               Fourier transforms

               spectrograms and other spectral representations



Week 9: November 7

Using PRAAT for phonetic and acoustic analysis


Week 10: November 14

Source filter theory of speech production (R&J, ch. 9)




               source and filter of the vocal organs



Due date for the third assignment (name: WavesSignals)

Week 11: November 21

Acoustics of speech sounds (R&J, ch. 10)



               variability and invariance


Due date for the fourth assignment (name: AcousticsTime)

Week 12: November 28

Hearing and the auditory system (R&J, ch. 12)

               external ear

               middle ear

               inner ear

               basilar membrane

               measurement scales


Due date for the fifth assignment (name: AcousticsFreq)

Week 13: December 5

Speech perception (R&J, ch. 13): Perception of segments, theories and the existence of a speech module



               the motor theory of perception



Other Course Information:

1. Handing in assignments: I do not accept assignments by e-mail.  Written assignments must be handed in HARD COPY at the BEGINNING OF CLASS,  on the assigned due date. 

2. Email: Please ask detailed questions about course material and assignments in person.

3. Laptop Policy: In class lectures, laptops may only be used for taking notes.  Students using laptops for other purposes will be asked to turn their laptops off for the remainder of the course.  Students using laptops are asked to sit in the first three rows of the class.