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Linguistics 1A03: Phonology.docx

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McMaster University
Anna Moro

Phonology Definition: System of every language that makes its own particular selection from the range of possible speech sounds and organizes them into contrasts and patterns.  Phonological analysis takes place as segments (individual speech sounds)  Segments grouped together into larger syllables, consisting of vowel along with consonants associated with it, such as in speaking (there are 2)  Segments can be broken down into features – corresponding to articulatory and acoustic categories such as voice or nasal Segments  Ex: difference between “n” and “ng”  Ex: less obvious difference between “n” in “one book” (alveolar) and in “one thing” (interdental)  Lengths of same vowels differ in words Minimal Pairs  Consists of two words with distinct meanings that differ by only one segment in same position  Ex: win and wing are minimal because they differ by just last segment in final position Complementary Distribution  Two sounds occur in non-overlapping, mutually exclusive environments  One segment occurs in an environment where the other segment never occurs  Ex: p aspirated vs. normal p Phonemes and Allophones  Phoneme – class of phonetically similar sounds that do not contrast with each other  Allophones – sounds that make up the phoneme  Ex: phoneme /n/ can be written as allophones [n in front of dental consonant, and normal [n] elsewhere  Ex: phoneme /i/ sounds in beat and bead, allophones are [iː] and [i] elsewhere  Phonemes are mental categories that exist in mind to create contrasts between words  Allophones are physical sounds that occur in particular positions when words are spoken – they are produced in the vocal tract as you speak  In English, liquids have voiceless allophones after voiceless stops, and voiced allophones elsewhere. Differences in phonemes across languages  In English, contrast is clear between Ben and ban, but not in others like Turkish  Reversely, for minimal pairs in English with no difference, for Japanese it makes big difference! Things to be careful of  May be difficult to find minimal pairs, so rely on near-minimal pairs  They contain differences other than one involving key contrast, as extra differences don’t involve sounds right next to the contrast  Ex: mission-vision (both “ss” and “s” contrast if actual minimal pairs are not available)  Common for vowels to be nasalized when they occur near nasal consonants  Ex: vibration at side of nose for “on”, but not for “no”  Vowels in English are nasalized when they occur right before a nasal consonant  In Scots Gaelic, vowels are nasalized on both sides of nasal consonant  Vowels are nasalized in Scots Gaelic when they occur right before or right after a nasal consonant. Classes and generalizations in phonology  Not all l’s are identical (blue is voiced, play is not)  Voiceless l occurs after voiceless stops (p, t, k) while voiced l occurs elsewhere Canadian raising: vowel portion of diphthongs /aj/ and /aw/ raise to /ʌ/ in certain positions Phonetic and Phonemic representations  Information about word’s phonetic representation is predictable in English  Phoemic reprsentation corresponds to what is in the head, while phonetic representation corresponds to what comes out of the mouth Mid vowels and glides in English  Sometimes possible to predict not only choice of allophones in phonetic representation, but also appearance of entirely new segments  Ex: mid tense vowels [e] and [o], whicha re diphthongized in most dialects of english: [e] occurs with [j], and [o] occurs with [w].  Choice of glide is not arbitrary: [w] is back and rounded, just like [o], and [j] is non-back and unrounded, like [e]  Therefore, a mid tense vowel in English is predictably followed by a glide that has the same backness and roundness. Syllables Types of Syllable patterns  Languages vary from each other interms of complexity of syllables allowed  Hawaiian and Korean are simpler, English is complicated (allowing 3 consonants at beginning of syllable, like “stream”) Structure of core syllables  Nucleus – constitues backbone of syllable, required in all languages  Korean allows one consonant in onset, French allows 2, English allows 3  Coda – consists of one or more consonants to the right of nucleus, but many ban codas altogether (Hua, Cayuvava)  Sonority requirement: in core syllables, sonority rises before nucleus and declines after the nucleus.  Binarity requirement: within core syllables, each constituent can be at most binary (or branching). Non-core syllables  For some words, syllables have too many consonants in onsets and codas (
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