Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Computational Linguistics & Phonetics Fachrichtung 4.7 Universität des Saarlandes
Studying Phonetics


Studying Phonetics

[Phonetics & Phonology]   [Study]   [Contact]   

Phonetics and Phonology - what's it all about?

Phonetics & Phonology deal with spoken language. It is asked how something is said, because a large part of our communication depends more on the how than on the what.

Phoneticians examine - based on analytical listening and instrumental measurements on concrete utterances - how language is created in the human organism (physiology and articulation), how language is transmitted (acoustics) and how language is perceived (perception). In addition, phonetics deals with the question how the interpersonal messages that accompany the mere word meaning of an utterance arise "between the words" and are understood.
Speech production and recognition with the computer (speech synthesis and automatic speech recognition) are also important components of the subject.

Phonology is concerned with more abstract aspects of language: Which is the nature of the sound inventory of one or more languages? How are these sounds combined to form words? In which way are words changed when they are brought together in expressions? How is a language prosodically (i.e. by melody and rhythm) structured? Briefly: How does the phonological system of a language looks like? According to which rules and principles is the phonetic structure of one or more language(s) designed at all?

Although an utterance consists of speech sounds or segments the prosody (intonation, rhythmic structure) is important for its meaning. This already shows a close relation of phonetics and phonology to other areas of linguistics - the prosody is able to mark different linguistic features.

The segmental and prosodic context as well as speaker- and situation-specific influences lead to a functional variability in the phonetic realization. Although people usually do not consciously perceive this variability, it is a challenge for computer applications such as dialogue systems.

More information on the subject, the career options and research priorities as well as the research environment at the Saarland University

Slides of an information session on studying phonetics and phonolgy (available in German only)

Studying Phonetics & Phonology at the University of Saarland

The study of Phonetics & Phonology provides knowledge of articulatory and acoustic structures of individual languages and also of the human language in general. At Saarland University special emphasis is placed on the training of analytical listening as well as on the screening of the relationship between what is perceived and the physically measurable.
Other special features of phonetics in Saarbrücken are the research on the prosodic properties of language as well as the focus on voice and speech pathology.

B.A. programs

Phonetics & Phonology can be studied as a supplementary subject within a 2-subject-Bachelor with the degree "Bachelor of Arts (B.A.)" at the Saarland University. Phonetics & Phonology can also be studied as an integral part of the grammar modules in the B.A. program German language and literature. The combination of phonetics with major and minor in linguistics and other related fields is highly recommended because of the insights into the nature of spoken language - our basic form of human communication. Some phonetic courses are also offered in the optional area.

B.A. Language Science

Phonetics can be studied as an elective module within the B.A. Language Science and focuses on phonetic transcription, experimental phonetics, and prosody as well as speech production and speech perception.

B.Sc. Computational Linguistics

Furthermore, it is possible to choose Phonetics & Phonology as a supplementary subject in the B.Sc. Computational Linguistics. In addition, students with a major in B.Sc. Computational Linguistics visit core courses in Phonetics & Phonology and also have the possibility to take elective courses in this subject.

M.Sc. Language Science and Technology

Within the master programs the Phonetics Research Group is currently involved in the M.Sc. Language Science and Technology. On this occasion students can deepen their knowledge in the field of Phonetics & Phonology by the choice of a specialization Phonetics and Speech Technology.

Magister Artium Phonetics

During the transition from the old study regulations (Magister Artium) to the new study regulations (B.A./B.Sc./M.Sc.) the Magister Artium degree continue to be offered for students who began their studies before Octobre 2007. A new registration in the Magister degree program is no longer possible. Here you can find more information on the discontinued Magister degree program (only in German).


There is no need of special knowledge for studying Phonetics & Phonology. The interests of our students are as varied as the subject of phonetics. But they share their common interest in speech and languages and enjoy analyzing or processing of language with the help of computers.


Student Advisor:
Jürgen Trouvain (Bachelor & Master)
Manfred Pützer (Magister)
FR 4.7 Allgemeine Linguistik
Universität des Saarlandes

Visiting address:
Buliding C 7.2, room 4.06
D-66123 Saarbrücken

Phone (Jürgen Trouvain): +49 (0)681 / 302 4694
Phone (Manfred Pützer): +49 (0)681 / 302 4695
Fax: +49 (0)681 / 302 4684
E-Mail: trouvain AT
           puetzer AT