Phonology is the framework that is concerned with sound. In some areas, we will want to make precise comments about sounds used (e.g. in describing children’s speech or accents), but often in textual analysis, we’re looking at effects created by sound patterns.
It’s really important to think specifically about sounds (phonemes) rather than letters: I often see students claiming that, for example, there is alliteration in “crispy chocolate” when the sounds are clearly entirely different.
Key phonological terms:
alliteration, assonance, rhyme
puns using homophones or collocational clashes
plosive sounds: pin, ball, ten, dog, car, girl
fricative sounds: see, zoo, she, leisure, thin, though, fat, van
Ways to use phonological knowledge:
ANALYSIS OF TEXTS - there may be phonological effects to comment on. Remember to use labels accurately, to provide evidence (a quotation) and to either explain the effect/purpose of each feature, or to connect it to context (mode, audience, purpose, genre).
CHILD LANGUAGE - detailed phonological knowledge is useful in explaining children’s early mispronunciations. You should also be comfortable with terms like “deletion”, “substitution”, “assimilation” and “cluster reduction”. You may also remember that plosives are the easiest consonants for toddlers to produce, and that approximants (yellow, red, welly, long) are usually the last to be mastered.
VARIATION - the more detailed you can be phonologically in describing accent features, the better. Knowledge of the IPA is not required, but it is rewarded. Clearly labelling replacement of the fricative in “the” with the plosive “de” is much better than simply stating “de” is used instead of “the” in Black British English.