Glossary of Linguistic Terms



Phonology is the study of how sounds are organized and used in natural languages.


The phonological system of a language includes

  • an inventory of sounds and their features, and
  • rules which specify how sounds interact with each other.

Phonology is just one of several aspects of language. It is related to other aspects such as phonetics, morphology, syntax, and pragmatics.

Here is an illustration that shows the place of phonology in an interacting hierarchy of levels in linguistics:


(Phonology and phonetics)

Phonetics …

Phonology …

Is the basis for phonological analysis.

Is the basis for further work in morphology, syntax, discourse, and orthography design.

Analyzes the production of all human speech sounds, regardless of language.

Analyzes the sound patterns of a particular language by

  • determining which phonetic sounds are significant, and
  • explaining how these sounds are interpreted by the native speaker.

Glossary Hierarchy