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School
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Linguistics Lecture 5October 14th, 2010
Phonemes & Allophones
·Phonemes can be discovered through a minimal pair test
·Allophones are predictable variants of a phoneme
·Mad vs. man are NEAR minimal pairs
·The distribution of allophones is rule-governed (changes in context)
·Allophones usually do not occur in the same phonetic environment (complementary
distribution) when not in complimentary distribution; in different phonemes
Doing a phonology problem?
·Phonemes or allophones?
oMinimal pair?
· If there is no (near) minimal pair, examine the contexts
·The relevant context that determines which variant you will see may be:
oWhat comes before/after the sound
oPosition of stress
oSyllable structure , etc
·Typically, one variant is found in a more well-defined, specifi c context while the
other variant is found elsewhere
·We can use the common variant for the phonemic representation
When allophones belong to separate phonemes, they are:
1.Contrastive/distinctive
2. In unpredictable distribution
3.Easily perceived as different
4.Not necessarily phonetically similar
When allophones belong to the same phoneme, they are:
1.Non-contrastive/rule governed
2. In predictable distribution
3.Not easily perceived as different
4.Always phonetically similar
Rules and Derivations
·Phonemic representations are also called underlying representations while
phonetic representations are also called surface representations
·Underlying representations becomes phonetic representations as a result of being
acted upon by phonological process
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Document Summary

Phonemes can be discovered through a minimal pair test. Mad vs. man are near minimal pairs. The distribution of allophones is rule-governed" (changes in context) Allophones usually do not occur in the same phonetic environment (complementary distribution) when not in complimentary distribution; in different phonemes. If there is no (near) minimal pair, examine the contexts. The relevant context" that determines which variant you will see may be: what comes before/after the sound, position of stress, syllable structure , etc. Typically, one variant is found in a more well-defined, specifi c context while the other variant is found elsewhere. We can use the common" variant for the phonemic representation. When allophones belong to separate phonemes, they are: contrastive/distinctive. In unpredictable distribution: easily perceived as different, not necessarily phonetically similar. When allophones belong to the same phoneme, they are: non-contrastive/rule governed. In predictable distribution: not easily perceived as different, always phonetically similar.

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