Phonaesthetics is the claim or study of inherent pleasantness or beauty (euphony) or unpleasantness (cacophony) of the sound
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

  of certain words and sentences. Poetry
Poetry is a form of literary art in which language is used for its aesthetic and evocative qualities in addition to, or in lieu of, its apparent meaning...

 is considered euphonic, as is well-crafted literary prose
Prose is the most typical form of written language, applying ordinary grammatical structure and natural flow of speech rather than rhythmic structure...

. Important phonaesthetic devices of poetry are rhyme
A rhyme is a repetition of similar sounds in two or more words and is most often used in poetry and songs. The word "rhyme" may also refer to a short poem, such as a rhyming couplet or other brief rhyming poem such as nursery rhymes.-Etymology:...

, assonance
Assonance is the repetition of vowel sounds to create internal rhyming within phrases or sentences, and together with alliteration and consonance serves as one of the building blocks of verse. For example, in the phrase "Do you like blue?", the is repeated within the sentence and is...

 and alliteration
In language, alliteration refers to the repetition of a particular sound in the first syllables of Three or more words or phrases. Alliteration has historically developed largely through poetry, in which it more narrowly refers to the repetition of a consonant in any syllables that, according to...

. Closely related to euphony and cacophony is the concept of consonance and dissonance
Consonance and dissonance
In music, a consonance is a harmony, chord, or interval considered stable, as opposed to a dissonance , which is considered to be unstable...


The phrase cellar door
Cellar door
The English compound noun cellar door is commonly used as an example of a word or phrase which is beautiful in terms of phonaesthetics with no regard for semantics...

has some notoriety as the reputedly most euphonic sound combination of the English language (specifically, when spoken with a British accent, sɛləˈdɔː).

From this meaning should be distinguished the closely related but different concept of phonaesthesia, which does not refer directly to aesthetic attributes of sound, but to phonetic elements that are inherently associated with a semantic meaning. The term was introduced by J. R. Firth
J. R. Firth
John Rupert Firth , commonly known as J. R. Firth, was an English linguist. He was Professor of English at the University of the Punjab from 1919-1928...

 in 1930 "The phonæsthetic habits [...] are of general importance in speech." Firth defined a phonaestheme as "a phoneme or cluster of phonemes shared by a group of words which also have in common some element of meaning or function, though the words may be etymologically unrelated."

Sub-phonematic euphony

In most languages, phonetic combinations which are difficult to pronounce will be adapted to allow more flowing speech, for reasons of ease of pronunciation rather than aesthetics
Aesthetics is a branch of philosophy dealing with the nature of beauty, art, and taste, and with the creation and appreciation of beauty. It is more scientifically defined as the study of sensory or sensori-emotional values, sometimes called judgments of sentiment and taste...

. These adaptations will be sub-phonematic
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

 at first, but over several generations will lead to phonematically
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 relevant sound change
Sound change
Sound change includes any processes of language change that affect pronunciation or sound system structures...

s. Most of the euphony or mellifluous design of a formal language is pure coincidence
A coincidence is an event notable for its occurring in conjunction with other conditions, e.g. another event. As such, a coincidence occurs when something uncanny, accidental and unexpected happens under conditions named, but not under a defined relationship...

, yet phonaesthetics relations with meaning
Meaning (linguistics)
In linguistics, meaning is what is expressed by the writer or speaker, and what is conveyed to the reader or listener, provided that they talk about the same thing . In other words if the object and the name of the object and the concepts in their head are the same...

 can arise to frequent use and may even become cliché
A cliché or cliche is an expression, idea, or element of an artistic work which has been overused to the point of losing its original meaning or effect, especially when at some earlier time it was considered meaningful or novel. In phraseology, the term has taken on a more technical meaning,...


See also

  • sandhi
    Sandhi is a cover term for a wide variety of phonological processes that occur at morpheme or word boundaries . Examples include the fusion of sounds across word boundaries and the alteration of sounds due to neighboring sounds or due to the grammatical function of adjacent words...

     ("euphonic" rules in Sanskrit grammar)
  • vowel harmony
    Vowel harmony
    Vowel harmony is a type of long-distance assimilatory phonological process involving vowels that occurs in some languages. In languages with vowel harmony, there are constraints on which vowels may be found near each other....

  • assimilation (linguistics)
    Assimilation (linguistics)
    Assimilation is a common phonological process by which the sound of the ending of one word blends into the sound of the beginning of the following word. This occurs when the parts of the mouth and vocal cords start to form the beginning sounds of the next word before the last sound has been...

  • dissimilation
    In phonology, particularly within historical linguistics, dissimilation is a phenomenon whereby similar consonant or vowel sounds in a word become less similar...

  • elision
    Elision is the omission of one or more sounds in a word or phrase, producing a result that is easier for the speaker to pronounce...

  • epenthesis
    In phonology, epenthesis is the addition of one or more sounds to a word, especially to the interior of a word. Epenthesis may be divided into two types: excrescence, for the addition of a consonant, and anaptyxis for the addition of a vowel....

  • affection (linguistics)
    Affection (linguistics)
    In Celtic linguistics, affection is the change in the quality of a vowel under the influence of the vowel of the following, final syllable. The vowel triggering the change may or may not still be present in the modern language.The two main types of affection are a-infection and i-infection...

  • i-mutation
    I-mutation is an important type of sound change, more precisely a category of regressive metaphony, in which a back vowel is fronted, and/or a front vowel is raised, if the following syllable contains /i/, /ī/ or /j/ I-mutation (also known as umlaut, front mutation, i-umlaut, i/j-mutation or...

  • English and Welsh
    English and Welsh
    English and Welsh is the title of J. R. R. Tolkien'svaledictory address to the University of Oxford of 1955.The lecture sheds light on Tolkien's conceptions of the connections of race, ethnicity and language....

  • inherently funny word
    Inherently funny word
    Words may be considered inherently funny, for reasons ranging from onomatopoeia to phonosemantics. Such words have been used by a range of influential comedians, including W. C...

  • phonosemantics
  • onomatopoeia
  • Japanese sound symbolism
    Japanese sound symbolism
    This article describes sound symbolic or mimetic words in the Japanese language. Most languages have such words; for example, "bang", "zap", "ding", "slither", "pop", etc. in English. Sound symbolic words occur more often in Japanese than in English—they are found in formal as well as vernacular...

  • glossolalia
    Glossolalia or speaking in tongues is the fluid vocalizing of speech-like syllables, often as part of religious practice. The significance of glossolalia has varied with time and place, with some considering it a part of a sacred language...

  • symphony
    A symphony is an extended musical composition in Western classical music, scored almost always for orchestra. A symphony usually contains at least one movement or episode composed according to the sonata principle...

  • harmony
    In music, harmony is the use of simultaneous pitches , or chords. The study of harmony involves chords and their construction and chord progressions and the principles of connection that govern them. Harmony is often said to refer to the "vertical" aspect of music, as distinguished from melodic...

  • Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
    Vilayanur S. Ramachandran
    Vilayanur Subramanian "Rama" Ramachandran, born 1951, is a neuroscientist known for his work in the fields of behavioral neurology and visual psychophysics...

The source of this article is wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.  The text of this article is licensed under the GFDL.