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What is phonetics?

In a nutshell, phonetics is the study of speech sounds. Based on its focus, phonetics can be classified into three categories: articulatory phonetics, auditory phonetics, and acoustic phonetics.

Articulatory phonetics studies how speech sounds are articulated, that is, how speech sounds are produced by human. Auditory phonetics is focused on how speech sounds are heard by others. Acoustic phonetics investigates the physical properties of speech sounds such as the amplitude and the frequency of speech sound waves. Voice recognition and synthesis by computers relies on the research advancement of acoustic phonetics.

In the following pages I will talk about each of these subfields of phonetics. First, let's find out how speech sounds are produced by human.

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