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phonology definition


This page has two definitions of phonology in English. Phonology is a noun. Also define these 8 related words and terms: linguistics, function, language, phoneme, syllable, stress, accent, and intonation.



From phono- +‎ -logy.



phonology (countable and uncountable, plural phonologies)

  1. (linguistics, uncountable) The study of the way sounds function in languages, including phonemes, syllable structure, stress, accent, intonation, and which sounds are distinctive units within a language.
    • Linguistics definition
      The scientific study of language.
    • Phoneme definition
      An indivisible unit of sound in a given language. A phoneme is an abstraction of the physical speech sounds (phones) and may encompass several different phones.
    • Syllable definition
      A unit of human speech that is interpreted by the listener as a single sound, although syllables usually consist of one or more vowel sounds, either alone or combined with the sound of one or more consonants; a word consists of one or more syllables. (1 of 3 syllable definitions)
    • Stress definition
      A physical, chemical, infective agent aggressing an organism. (1 of 10 stress definitions)
  2. (linguistics, countable) The way sounds function within a given language; a phonological system.
    • 1856, Journal of the Indian Archipelago and Eastern Asia, Mission Press, page 16:
      The Achean, the ancient Malayu and other mixed phonologies possessing a considerable degree of harshness, were thus formed.
    • 1997, Jacek Fisiak, Trends in Linguistics: Studies in Middle English Linguistics →ISBN, Walter de Gruyter, page 545:
      Crucially, the neat separateness of phonologies which my account seems to imply is an abstraction and does not mean that the phonologies represented different regional or social dialects.
    • 2005, Charles W. Kreidler, Phonology, page 219:
      Thus, underlying ‘agtus’ was converted first into ‘āgtus’ by the vowel lengthening rule, and then into ‘āktus’ by the ancient persistent rule. This example has previously been interpreted as indicating that new rules can enter a phonology elsewhere than at depth I.



Derived terms


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See also