Phonology by xiangpeng


 The  idea of feature systems that we
  have been talking about in relation to
  phonetics also lends itself quite
  handily to the description of natural
  classes of sounds.
 Phonetic natural classes are groups
  of sounds in a language which share
  some articulatory or auditory feature.
 Inorder for a group of sounds to be a
 natural class, it must include all of
 the sounds that share a particular
 feature or group of features, and not
 include sounds that don’t.
 We   have already talked about
  several natural classes of sounds,
  such as stops, fricatives, nasals,
  affricates, etc.
 To talk fully about phonetic natural
  classes, however, we need to clarify
  a few other features.
 Some  sound classes are based on
  articulation or production:
 For example, both labio-dental and
  bilabial involve the lips.
 Therefore, we can group them together
  under the term labial.
 In English, these sounds are [m, b, p,
  f, v, w]
 In English, the sound [w] doesn‟t
  occur after any of these sounds.
 We can use the term labial to
  simplify the description: [w] doesn‟t
  occur after labial sounds.
 Other  natural classes are based on sound
  quality, or auditory properties.
 One example of a natural class based on
  auditory properties is Sibilants.
 Take a look at the pronunciation of the
  plural suffix in English, which we will
  label -s
 This suffix is pronounced in three
  different ways, depending on the last
  sound in the noun to which it is added.
 If the noun ends with a voiced sound the
  phonetic form is [z].
 If the noun ends in a voiceless sound the
  phonetic form is [s].
 However, after such words as rich, bush,
  kiss, garages, rouge, and maze, (in other
  words, [s, z, , , t, d,]) the form is
 This group of sounds all differ in respect
  to voicing, place, and manner of
 However, they do have an auditory
  property in common: a high pitched
  hissing sound.
 These sounds, therefore, form a natural
  class called sibilants.
 So  using this natural class, we can
  state a generalization:
 + plural       [z] / after a
 This rule states that the sound occurs
  in a general context, rather than
  having to specify for each individual
 Other classes include:
 Obstruents, which are sounds produced with
  an „obstruction‟ of air flow, namely stops,
  fricatives, affricates.
 Sonorants, which are consonants produced
  with a relatively open passage for the air flow,
  including nasals, approximants and others (or
  nasals, liquids, glides, and others).
Distinctive Features
 In every language, certain sounds are
  considered to be the “same” sound, even
  though they may be phonetically distinct.
 For example, native speakers consider
  the [l] in lay to be the same sound as that
  in play, even though the former is voiced
  and the latter voiceless.
Distinctive Features
 Liquids and glides in English are
  ordinarily voiced, but when they follow a
  voiceless obstruent in speech, they are
  pronounced as voiceless consonants.
 proof [pruf]       sleep
                     
 quick [kwk]
Distinctive Features
 Native  speakers overlook the fact
  that the [p] in pat and spat are
  phonetically different and just
  consider them both to be /p/.
 Hindi speakers, however, can‟t
  ignore the difference.
Distinctive Features
 Take  the following data, for example:
 [kl] „wicked person‟
  [kl] „yesterday‟
 [kapi] „copy‟
  [kapi] „ample‟
 [pl] „fruit‟
  [pl] „moment‟
  [bl] „strength‟
Distinctive Features
 In general, speakers will attend to
  phonetic differences between two (or
  more) sounds only when the choice
  between the sounds can change the
  meaning of a word, - that is, can cause a
  distinction in meaning.
 Such sounds are said to be distinctive
  with respect to one another.
Distinctive Features
 So, how do we determine when two
  sounds are distinctive?
 One way to determine whether two
  sounds are distinctive is to identify a
  minimal pair - a pair of words that differ
  only by a single sound in the same
  position - and which have different
  meanings - but which are otherwise
Distinctive Features
 Some   examples from English are:
 tot     vs. hot
 tap     vs. top
 tap     vs. tab
 Let‟s take a second to go back and
  look again at the examples from
Distinctive Features
 [kl]„wicked  person‟
  [kl] „yesterday‟
 [kapi] „copy‟
  [kapi] „ample‟
 [pl]„fruit‟
  [pl] „moment‟
  [bl] „strength‟
Distinctive Features
 What  must be considered minimal
  pairs in Hindi?
 What sounds do Hindi speakers
  consider distinctive?
Distinctive Features
 Before   we proceed any further, we need
  to discuss some definitions:
 The first definition we need to consider
  is that of a Phone, which is simply an
  individual speech sound.
 The second definition to consider is that
  of a Phoneme, which is a class of speech
  sounds which are identified by a speaker
  as the same sound.
Distinctive Features
 The  members of these classes are
  called Allophones.
 Thus, an allophone is a phone that
  has been classified as belonging to
  some class (phoneme).
Distinctive Features
 In English, p in pat and spat are
  allophones of the same phoneme in
 In Hindi, these sounds are
  allophones of different phonemes.
Distinctive Features
 Symbols   representing phonemes are
  written with slash marks instead of
 So, in English, we would have one
  phoneme labeled /p/, with allophones
  labeled [p] and [p]
 But in Hindi, we would have two
  separate phonemes, labeled either /p/ or
Distinctive Features
 By  giving a description like this,
  linguists are attempting to show that the
  phonological system of a language has
  two levels.
 The more concrete level involves the
  physical reality of phonetic segments
  (which is what phonetics looks at).
 Phonemes are more on the psychological
  level; they are more abstract.
Distinctive Features
 Allophones    are physical units of
  linguistic structure.
 Phonemes are psychological units of
  linguistic structure.
 Phonemes are not directly
 observable; allophones are.
Distinctive Features
 Writing   systems also reflect this
  reality. In English, we don‟t make
  the orthographic distinction between
  [p] and [p]. In Hindi, they do.
 In general, alphabetic writing
  systems tend to be phonemic rather
  than phonetic.
Distinctive Features
 To  find out which sounds are thought of
  by a native speaker as the same sound,
  and which sounds are distinctive to one
  another, it is important to look at where
  these sounds occur in a language.
 In other words, linguists try to discover
  what the phonemes of a language are by
  examining the distribution of that
  language‟s phones.
Distinctive Features
 The  Distribution of a phone is „the set
  of phonetic environments in which it
 Two speech sounds in a language will
  either be in overlapping distribution or
  complementary distribution with
  respect to one another.
Distinctive Features
  Overlapping    distribution occurs when
   the sets of phonetic environments in
   which the sounds occur are partially or
   completely identical.
  For example, consider [p] and [b]:
  „bait‟        [bet]     „date‟   [det]
  „lobe‟        [lob]     „load‟   [lod]
  „knobs‟       [nabz] „nods‟ [nadz]
Distinctive Features
  Sincethe sets of possible phonetic
  environments overlap, we say that [b]
  and [d] are in overlapping distribution
  in English.
Distinctive Features
  Most   sounds that are in overlapping
   distribution are contrastive with respect
   to one another, which is another way of
   saying they are distinctive sounds.
  Consider [b] and [d] above: they form
   minimal pairs.
  Since the difference between [b] and [d]
   can result in contrastive meaning, we say
   that [b] and [d] are in contrastive
Distinctive Features
  These   two distinctive phones are
   classified as being allophones of two
   separate phonemes.
  Thus, [b] is an allophone of /b/ and
   [d] is an allophone of /d/.
Distinctive Features
  Some  other phones that are in
   overlapping distribution are in free
   variation. As an example:
    Leap      [lip]    leap [lip ]
    Soap      [sop]    soap [sop ]
    Troop [trup] troop [trup ]
    Happy [haepi]           *[haep i]
Distinctive Features
  These  sounds are in overlapping
   distribution, because they share some of
   the same environments: they both appear
   at the end of words.
  Unlike [b] and [p], however, there are no
   minimal pairs.
  In other words, although they contain the
   same sounds but one, these words do not
   contrast in meaning.
Distinctive Features
  These sounds are interchangeable in
   word-final position.
  So we say that they are allophones of
   the same phoneme.
  For example, [p] and [p ] are
   allophones of /p/
Distinctive Features
  Complementary      Distribution is just the
   opposite of overlapping distribution.
  To understand this, think of the term
   „complementary.‟ Two complementary
   parts make up a whole.
  People in this class, for example, may be
   divided up into those who wear glasses
   and those who don’t.
Distinctive Features
  These  two sets of people
   complement each other.
  They are mutually exclusive. That is,
   they are non-overlapping, but
   together they make up the whole
Distinctive Features
  As  an example, consider the sounds
   [p] and [p]
     Spat     [spt] pat        [pt]
     Spool [spul] pool          [pul]
     Speak [spik] peek          [pik]
Distinctive Features
  As  you can see, [p] and [p] are not
   in overlapping distribution.
  In other words, they do not occur in
   the same phonetic environment.
  In fact, they are in complementary
Distinctive Features
  First: There are no minimal pairs
   involving the [p] vs.
  Second: [p] occurs after [s] but not word
   initially. [p] occurs word initially, but
   not after [s].
  Since these sounds appear in different
   phonetic environments there can be no
   pair of words composed of identical
   strings of sounds except for [p] in one
   and [p] in the other.
Distinctive Features
  Phones   that are in complementary
   distribution are allophones of a single
  In this case, [p] and [p] are allophones
   of the phoneme /p/.
  The appearance of one allophone or the
   other is predictable when those
   allophones are in complementary
Distinctive Features
  Recall that phonemes and allophones
   belong to different levels of structure in
  Phonemes are mental entities.
  Allophones/phones are physical events.
  So what is the connection between the
   two levels?
  The mapping between phonemic and
   phonetic elements is accomplished using
   phonological rules.
Phonological Rules
 A   speaker‟s knowledge of
   phonological rules allows him or her
   to “translate” phonemes into actual
  Knowledge of these rules forms part
   of a speaker‟s linguistic competence.
Phonological Rules
  The following is a representation of
  the process:
            Phonemic form
             phonetic form
Phonological Rules
  In other words, phonological rules apply
   to the phonemic form to produce the
   phonetic form.
  To accept this is to accept the notion that
   there is something called an underlying
  In the linguistic literature, this
   underlying form is called the
   Underlying Representation or UR.
Phonological Rules
  There  are several different ways that we
   can classify phonological rules.
  One of the most common types of
   phonological rules is called
  Rules involving assimilation cause a
   sound to become more like a
   neighboring sound with respect to some
Phonological Rules
  In other words, the segment affected by
   the rule assimilates or takes on a feature
   from a nearby (usually adjacent) sound.
  For example:.
  I can ask          [ay kæn æsk]
  I can bake         [ay kæm bek]
  I can go           [ay kæŋ go]
Phonological Rules
  Another  type of assimilation is
   dental assimilation, as in the
   following examples:
  width            [wdθ]
  health           [hεlθ]
  unthinkable      [nθŋkbl]
  in   this      [ns]
Phonological Rules
  Another  example is vowel
  pit[pt]      pin [pn]
Phonological Rules
  Other phonological rules involve
   dissimilation. Rules involving
   dissimilation cause two neighboring
   sounds to become less alike with
   respect to some feature.
  Dissimilation rules are less common
   than assimilation rules, at least in
Phonological Rules
  One   example of a dissimilation rule is
   fricative dissimilation:
  /θ/ changes to [t] following another
  fifth    phonemically             [ffθ]
  phonetically often realized as    [fft]
  sixth    phonemically
  but often realized as             [skst]
Phonological Rules
  Another   classification is insertion
   (also called epenthesis).
  Rules of insertion cause a segment
   not present at the phonemic level to
   be added to the phonetic realization
   of a word.
Phonological Rules
  One  example of an insertion rule is
   voiceless stop insertion. Between a nasal
   and a voiceless fricative, a voiceless stop
   with the same place of articulation as the
   nasal is inserted.
     strength /strεŋθ/ → [strεŋkθ]
     hampster /hæmster/→ [hæmpster]
Phonological Rules
  Another   classification is Deletion.
   Deletion rules eliminate a sound. Such
   rules apply more frequently to unstressed
   syllables and in casual speech.
  /h/ - deletion: /h/ may be deleted in
   unstressed syllables.
  In the sentence, „He handed her his hat,‟
   the UR is:
  /hi hændd hz ht/
Phonological Rules
  but is often represented on the
   surface as:
     [hi hændd r ht]
Phonological Rules
  The final type of rule that we will
   concern ourselves with is called
  These rules change the order of
Phonological Rules
  For example, for many children, the
   word that is normally pronounced
  [spgi] ([spki])
  gets pronounced as
  [psgi] ([pski])
  How about animal?
Phonological Rules
  The  Format for representing
   Phonological Rules
  The basic format for specifying
   phonological rules is as follows:
  A →       B/ C __ D
  This format is meant to be read as
   “A becomes B in the environment
   following C and preceding D.”
Phonological Rules
  For  example, here are the formulations
   for two of the rules we have discussed so
  Vowel         → + nasal/ ___ nasal
  Alveolar      → + dental/ ____ dental

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