Overview of Phonetics, Homophones and their Importance in Effective Communication

To emerge as a winner and stand apart from the crowd in today’s fierce competitive world, an individual must have excellent communication skills. Communication is not only interacting with others but successfully conveying the message to the recipients and also get the appropriate feedback.

How do you capture the interest of the listeners? How will you ensure that the listener is with you till the end or not?

Communication is just not using complicated words or terminologies but is also to correctly pronounce them. It is commonly observed that our communication suffers due to our incorrect pronunciations. The alphabets and the words must sound correct to make the communication impressive.

How will one come to know that your pronunciation is correct or not? How will you find out whether you are sounding correct or not?

Here comes the importance of Phonetics.

Phonetics is a part of the English language which helps us to understand sounds of various alphabets. How an alphabet should sound is taught to us with the help of Phonetics.

How a word should sound depends on our tongue movements, vocal cords, lip movements and even our breath.

For example to pronounce the alphabet “B” both our upper and lower lip must touch each other, to pronounce the alphabet “G”, our tongue touches our upper palate. For the correct sound of “O” both our lips should make a complete circle.

Phonetics has three divisions:

  1. Articulatory Phonetics - It includes the movement of our sensory organs like tongue, lips as well as our vocal cords to pronounce a particular alphabet.

  2. Acoustic phonetics - It is concerned with the frequency and wavelength of our speech.

  3. Auditory phonetics - It depends on how our brain and ears perceive the sound.

Phonetics plays a very important role in improving our communication. All the alphabets and the words must sound correctly; else the content as well as our communication will lack lustre and sound unimpressive.

In the same way homophones also play an important role in communication.

Homophones are the words which have different meanings but are pronounced in exactly the same way.

Knew and new are Homophones, where knew is the past tense of know and new is the opposite of old.

“I knew you will fair well in your interview”

“I would prefer to wear my new dress for tomorrow’s party”

Different meanings but exactly the same sound.

Peace and Piece are again examples of Homophones. The sound is exactly the same but there is a huge difference in their meanings. It is essential to understand Homophones for an effective written communication.

“I want a bread peace”

“My head is aching terribly and there is no piece here”

The wrong words have changed the meaning of the sentence completely and they fail to make any sense, however during verbal communication, the words hardly make any difference.

“Their is a bird sitting on the branch”

Peter and David are not serious with there careers”

Again a wrong usage of words. Although there and their have exactly similar pronunciations, but there meanings are completely the different. If an individual doesn’t understand the correct usage of the words, the written communication will be completely screwed up.

There are some homophones which have different meanings but have similar spellings. Such words are called Homonyms or Homographs

Homophones which are spelled differently are called as heterographs. In the above example, peace and piece are heterographs. Bash and Bash are homonyms as their spellings are exactly the same but one bash refers to a good beating and the other means a Party. Rose also means a flower and also is the opposite of rise-another example of homonyms.

Phonetics and homophones are the basics of communication. Unless and until one is clear with phonetics and homophones, his written as well as verbal communication is bound to get hampered. It is important to understand properly what phonetics and homophones are for an effective and impressive verbal as well as non verbal communication.

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