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PHONOLOGY: THE SOUND PATTERNS OF LANGUAGE See also “Phonetics,” “Spelling,” and Writing Systems”. by Don L. F. Nilsen and Alleen Pace Nilsen. MINIMAL PAIRS. CONTRASTIVE DISTRIBUTION: Pronounce the following minimal pairs: “bit,” “beat,” “bet,” “bat,” “bite,” “bought,” “but,” and “bout”

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phonology the sound patterns of language see also phonetics spelling and writing systems

PHONOLOGY:THE SOUND PATTERNS OF LANGUAGESee also “Phonetics,” “Spelling,” and Writing Systems”

by Don L. F. Nilsen

and Alleen Pace Nilsen

18

minimal pairs
MINIMAL PAIRS

CONTRASTIVE DISTRIBUTION: Pronounce the following minimal pairs: “bit,” “beat,” “bet,” “bat,” “bite,” “bought,” “but,” and “bout”

In these words, the vowel sounds are in exactly the same phonetic environment, preceded by a /b/ and followed by a /t/.

Since only the vowel is changing, then the changing of the vowel must be making the difference in distinguishing these different words.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 268)

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complementary distribution
COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION

Now consider these minimal pairs in English: “then-den,” “lather-ladder,” and “breathe-breed.” In English /ð/ and /d/ are in contrastive distribution.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 275-278)

But in Spanish, /ð/ and /d/ are in complementary distribution. /ð/ always occurs between vowels and /d/ never occurs between vowels.

In the Spanish word “duda” for example, the first <d> is pronounced /d/ and the second is pronounced /ð/.

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slide4
In Spanish, these two sounds never occur in the same phonetic environment, never allow there to be contrasting minimal pairs, and never make a real difference.

In Spanish, therefore, the difference between /ð/ and /d/ is said to be “phonetic,” but not “phonemic.”

Notice that in Spanish these two sounds are spelled with the same letter of the alphabet, <d>.

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natural classes of sounds nasals
NATURAL CLASSES OF SOUNDS:NASALS

/m/ /n/ and /η/ are in a natural class called nasals. Natural classes are important so that linguists can make generalizations, like “In English, vowels become nasal in the environment of nasal consonants.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 282-284)

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slide6

ASPIRATION:

/p/ /t/ and /k/ form the natural class of voicless stops. In English, voiceless stops are aspirated if they are followed by a stressed vowel and not preceded by /s/.

This makes sense because aspiration is a puff of air. This puff would occur after a stop. It would occur into a stressed syllable. If the consonant were voiced or if some of the air had leaked out because of a preceding /s/, the aspiration would be less pronounced.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 239-240, 281)

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voicing
VOICING

When Verbs add -ed to become past tense this ending becomes voiced if the preceding sound is voiced as in “planned” or voiceless if the preceding sound is voiceless as in “jumped.”

Since /t/ is not voiced and vowels are voiced, a /t/ between vowels often becomes voiced so that “latter” and “writer” are pronounced like “ladder” and “rider.”

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 238-241)

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palatalization
PALATALIZATION

When a word that ends with a /t/ is followed by a –ual, -ial, or -ion ending, the palatal vowel <y-> changes the /t/ sound into a /č/ sound.

addict  addiction

act  actual or action

part  partial

predict  prediction

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 236-238)

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stops becomes continuants
STOPS BECOMES CONTINUANTS

Because /k/ is a stop, and vowels are continuants, an affix beginning with a vowel often changes /k/ to /s/.

critic  criticize or criticism

fanatic  fanaticism

romantic  romanticism

This ability of the <c> to have two different pronunciations allows us to spell these words the same way even though they are pronounced diffently. The benefit of this is that it helps us to see that these words are in the same word-family even though the <c> part is pronounced differently.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 284-288)

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consonant assimilationfor ease and speed
CONSONANT ASSIMILATIONFOR EASE AND SPEED

VERB 3rd sing pres ind: sings, hits

VERB past: buzzed, jumped

VERB past part: popped, killed

NOUN plurals: cats, dogs

NOUN possessives: Mike's, Fred's

ADJ substantive: its, ours

PREFIX: (NOTE: im- assimilates as follows): illegal, immature, impotent, indelicate, irreligious

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 284-288)

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consonant dissimilation for clarity
CONSONANT DISSIMILATION: FOR CLARITY

VERB 3rd person singular present inddicative: buzzes

VERB past tense: heated

VERB past participle: spotted

NOUN plural: horses

NOUN possessive: Max’s

NOUN: belfry

ADJ: ignoble

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 288-289)

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more consonant assimilations
MORE CONSONANT ASSIMILATIONS

MODAL PLUS "HAVE" ASSIMILATION: coulda, mighta, shoulda, woulda

MODAL PLUS "TO" ASSIMILATION: gonna, hafta, hasta, supposta, useta

CONTRACTIONS: *ain’t, can’t, couldn’t, won’t, wouldn’t, shan’t, shouldn’t, *mayn’t, (mightn’t, mustn’t)

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 284-288)

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dissimilation again
DISSIMILATION AGAIN

“-al” is a suffix that changes a Noun into an Adjective, but when the Noun ends in /l/, dissimilation occurs:

“anecdotal” but “angular”

“penal” but “perpendicular”

“spiritual” but “similar”

“venal” but “velar”

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 288-289)

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vowel reduction and assimilation
VOWEL REDUCTION AND ASSIMILATION

BRITISH VOWEL REDUCTION: aluminum, laboratory, secretary

LONG AND SHORT GRADES: do-done, go-gone, nation-national, obscene-obscenity, punitive-punish, sign-signature, soup-supper

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2011] 257)

18

vowel reduction and word stress
vowel reduction and word stress

When a suffix changes a word from one Part of Speech to another, this suffix affects which syllables are stressed, and which are unstressed and can change to different vowel grades like schwa or short grade:

18

historic phonology reflected in spellings
HISTORIC PHONOLOGY REFLECTED IN SPELLINGS

TRACES: ic-ich-I, knight, hostel-hôtel- hotel, scribere-écrire-scribe

DOUBLETS: chief-chef, dish-discus, hotel-hostel, ship-skiff, shirt-skirt

GRIMM'S LAW: courage-hearty, corn-horn, decade-ten, dozen-twelve, dent-tooth, pedestal-footnote, padre-father, plate-flat, pyre-fire

18

more historic phonology reflected in spellings
!MORE HISTORIC PHONOLOGY REFLECTED IN SPELLINGS

GERMANIC UMLAUT: child, goose, man, mouse, woman (cf. book-beech)

GREEK RHOTOCISM: genus-generic; opus-opera

ENGLISH: schwa and silent e

ACRONYMS AS WORDS: AID, AIDS, BIRP, CREEP, GASP, MANURE, MASH, NOW, NUT, SAG, VISTA, ZIP

18

foreign influences on phonology spelling
!!FOREIGN INFLUENCES ON PHONOLOGY & SPELLING

BORROWINGS: chaise longue, cole slaw, frankfurter, hamburger, lingerie, rouge, schnitzel, wiener

BILINGUAL COGNATES: actual, embarazada, grocería, libraria, molestar, principio, (cf. blanket [white], porpoise [pig fish], puny [puis né], walrus [whale horse])

INDO-EUROPEAN ABLAUT: sing-sang-song

MODAL PAST-SUBJUNCTIVE: can-could, may-might, shall-should, will-would

18

final thoughts from ogden nash
!!!FINAL THOUGHTS FROM OGDEN NASH

The one-l lama,

He’s a priest.

The two-l llama,

He’s a beast.

And I will bet

A silk pajama

There isn’t any Three-l lllama.

(Fromkin Rodman Hyams [2007] 290)

In response to this poem one wit remarked, “A three-alarmer (three-l lllama) is a really big fire.”

18

slide21
References:

Clark, Virginia P., Paul A. Eschholz, and Alfred F. Rosa, ed. Language: Readings in Language and Culture, Sixth Edition. Boston, MA: Bedford, St. Martins, 1998.

Eschholz, Paul, Alfred Rosa, and Virginia Clark. Language Awareness. Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2009.

Fromkin, Victoria, Robert Rodman, and Nina Hyams. “Phonology: The Sound Patterns of Language.” An Introduction to Language, 9th Edition. Boston, MA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2011, 266-323.

Have, Paul ten. Doing Conversation Analysis: A Practical Guide. London, England: Sage Publications, 2007.

Nilsen, Alleen Pace, and Don L. F. Nilsen. Encyclopedia of 20th Century American Humor. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 2000.

Nilsen, Don L. F., and Alleen Pace Nilsen. Pronunciation Contrasts in English, 2nd Edition. Long Grove, IL: Waveland Press in 2010.

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