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6 .

Phonology III (Chapter 5)

. The Rules of Phonology


1. Introduction
The relationship between the phonemic representation of a word and its phonetic
representation, or how it is pronounced, is rule-governed.
The phonemic representations are minimally specified because some features or feature
values are predictable.
[+nasal], [+consonantal] [+voiced]
[-low], [+back] [+round]
If Tables 5.4 and 5.5 were strictly phonemic, the round-row for u, , o, and the voicedrow for m, n, would be left blank. Such underspecification reflects the redundancy in the
phonology.

The phonemic representation should include only the nonpredictable, distinctive


features of the phonemes in a word. The phonetic representation, derived by applying the
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phonological rules, includes all of the linguistically relevant phonetic aspects of the
sounds.
Although the specific rules of phonology differ from language to language, the kind of
rules, what they do, and the natural classes they refer to are universal.

2. Assimilation rules
The vowel nasalization rule in English is an assimilation rule, a rule that makes
neighboring segments more similar by duplicating a phonetic property.
For the most part, assimilation rules stem from articulatory processes. There is a
tendency when we speak to increase the ease of articulation.
A phonological rule involves three aspects: the class of sounds affected by the rule, the
phonetic change occurring by applying the rule, and the phonological environment.
For example, the vowel nasalization rule: "Vowels are nasalized before a nasal
consonant within the same syllable."
It specifies the class of sounds affected by the rule: Vowels.

It states what phonetic change will occur by applying the rule: Change phonemic oral
vowels to phonetic nasal vowels.
And it specifies the context or phonological environment: Before a nasal consonant
within the same syllable.

den [d n], deck [d k], dental [d n$tal], denote [di$not]


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6 . Phonology III (Chapter 5)

Any rule written in formal notation can be stated in words and vice versa.
Assimilation rules in language reflect coarticulation the spreading of phonetic features
either in the anticipation or in the perseveration of articulatory processes. The auditory
effect is that words sound smoother.

Other assimilation rules in English


The voiced /z/ of the regular plural suffix is changed to [s] after a voiceless sound.
The voiced /d/ of the regular past-tense suffix is changed to [t] after a voiceless sound.

The negative morpheme prefix spelled in- or im- agrees in place of articulation with the
word to which it is prefixed:
impossible [mphasbl],
intolerant [nthalrnt],
incongruous [khangrus].

3. Dissimilation rules
Languages have dissimilation rules, in which a segment becomes less similar to another
segment.
In some varieties of English, there is a fricative dissimilation rule which changes
sequences /f/ and /s/ to [ft] and [st] as in fifth and sixth.
Dissimilation rules are also for ease of articulation.
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6 . Phonology III (Chapter 5)

Though dissimilation rules are rarer than assimilation rules, they are nevertheless found
throughout the world's languages.

4. Feature-changing rules
The assimilation and dissimilation rules we have seen may all be thought of as featurechanging rules.
In some cases a feature already present is changed. The /z/ plural morpheme has its
voicing value changed from plus to minus when it follows a voiceless sound.
The addition of a feature is another way of feature change. The English vowel
nasalization rule is a case in point. Phonemically, vowels are not marked for nasality;
however, in the environment specified by the rule, the feature [+nasal] is added.

Some feature-changing rules are neither assimilation nor dissimilation rules.


The rules in English that aspirates voiceless stops at the beginning of a syllable simply
adds a nondistinctive feature.
Generally, aspiration occurs only if the following vowel is stressed. The /p/ in pit and
repeat is an aspirated [ph], but the /p/ in inspect and compass is an unaspirated [p].
Even with an intervening consonant, the aspiration takes place so that words such as
crib [khrb], clip [khlp] and quip [khwp] all begin with an aspirated [kh].
The affricate // is subject to the rule: chip [hp].

We can now state the rule:


A voiceless, noncontinuant has [+aspirated] added to its feature matrix at the beginning of
a syllable containing a stressed vowel with an optional intervening consonant.

5. Segment insertion and deletion rules


Phonological rules may add or delete entire segments. These are different from the
feature-changing and feature-adding rules, which affect only parts of segments. The
process of inserting a consonant or vowel is called epenthesis.
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The rules for forming regular plurals, possessive forms, and third-person singular verb
agreement in English all require an epenthesis rule.
Insert a [] before the plural morpheme /z/ when a regular noun ends in a sibilant, giving
[z].
/ [+sibilant] ____ [+sibilant]
Insert a [] before the past-tense morpheme when a regular verb ends in a non-nasal
alveolar stop, giving [d].
/ [nasal, +alveolar, continuant] ____ [nasal, +alveolar, continuant]
Segment deletion rules are commonly found in many languages and are far more
prevalent than segment insertion rules.
The silent g in such words as sign and design is a case of segment deletion.

This rule might be stated as: "Delete a /g/ when it occurs before a syllable final nasal
consonant."
This rule is even more general: gnostic [nastk] and agnostic [ gnastk].
This more general rule may be stated as: "Delete a /g/ word initially before a nasal
consonant or before a syllable final nasal consonant."
Given this rule, the phonemic representation of the stems in sign/signature,
design/designation, and so on will include a /g/, which will be deleted by the regular rule if
a prefix or suffix is not added.

6. Movement (metathesis) rules


Phonological rules may also reorder sequences of phonemes, in which case they are
called metathesis rules.
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Children's speech shows many cases of metathesis: aminal [ mnl] for animal.
The verb ask was aksian in Old English. A historical metathesis rule switch the two
consonants, producing ask.

7. From one to many and from many to one


Phonological rules that relate phonemic to phonetic representations have several
functions, among which are the following:

Rarely is a single phoneme realized as one and only one phone.


One phoneme is often realized as two or more phones: e.g., voiceless stops (from one
phoneme to many phones).
The same phone may be the realization of several different phonemes (from many
phoneme to one phone). For example, all English vowel phonemes are realized as [] in
unstressed syllables.

8. The function of phonological rules


The function of the phonological rules in a grammar is to provide the phonetic
information necessary for the pronunciation of utterances.
The input to the P-rules is the phonemic representation. The P-rules apply to the
phonemic strings and produce as output the phonetic representation. The application of
rules in this way is called a derivation.
It is common for more than one rule to apply to a word, as illustrated below:

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9. Slips of the tongue: evidence for phonological rules


Slips of the tongue, or speech errors, show phonological rules in action.
Consider the following speech errors:

In the first error, we see the application of the vowel nasalization rule.
In the second error, we see the application of the aspiration rule.

. Prosodic Phonology
1. Syllable structure
Words are composed of one or more syllables. A syllable is a phonological unit
composed of one or more phonemes.
Each syllable has a nucleus, which is usually a vowel (but which may be a syllabic liquid
or nasal).
The nucleus may be preceded and/or followed by one or more phonemes called the
syllabic onset and coda, respectively.
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The nucleus + coda constitute the subsyllabic unit called a rime. (The term rime is
related to the word rhyme. In rhyming words, the nucleus and the coda of the final syllable
of both words are identical: Jill and hill and down and crown.)
A hierarchical structure of syllable (: the IPA symbol for the phonological syllable)

2. Stress

1. Word stress
Stress is a property of the syllable rather than a segment; it is a prosodic or
suprasegmental feature. To produce a stressed syllable, one may change the pitch
(usually by raising it), make the syllable louder, or make it longer. We often use all three of
these phonetic means to stress a syllable.
In English, one or more of the syllables in every content word (i.e., every words except
for function words like to, the, a, of) are stressed.
Stress can be contrastive in English:
prvert (n) pervrt (v)
s bject (n) subjct (v)
Some words may contain more than one stressed vowel, but exactly one of the stressed
vowels is more prominent than the others. The vowel that receives primary stress is
marked by an acute accent and the other stressed vowels are indicated by a grave accent:
rsigntion, sstemtic, f ndamntal, and rvol tion.
The stress pattern of a word may differ among English-speaking people:
lborat ry [lbrthri] in AmE vs. lab ratory [l brtri] in BrE.
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2. Sentence and phrase stress


Just as there is only one primary stress in a word spoken in isolation, only one of the
vowels in a phrase (or sentence) receives primary stress or accent. All the other stressed
vowels are reduced to secondary stress.
Stress may be predictable from the morphology and syntax.

3. Intonation
English is an intonation language, where pitch plays an important role in the form of the
pitch contour or intonation.
Intonation may reflect syntactic or semantic difference.
-John is going
[falling vs. rising intonation]
-What's in the tea, honey?
[rising vs. falling intonation]

. Sequential Constraints of Phonemes


1. Phonotactic constraint
Your knowledge of English phonology includes information about what sequences of
phonemes are permissible, and what sequences are not.
After a consonant like /b/, /g/, /k/, or /p/, another stop consonant is not permitted at the
beginning of a word: */btn/ (cf. ptomaine /tomen/).
If a word begins with an /l/ or /r/, the next segment must be a vowel: */lbk/.
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No more than three sequential consonants can occur at the beginning of a word, and
these three are restricted to /s/ + /p, t, k/ + /l, r, w, y/: stream /strim/. (There are even
restrictions if this condition is met, e.g., /str/ vs. */stl/.)
The limitations on sequences of segments are called phonotactic constraints.
Phonotactic constraints have as their basis the syllable, rather than the word.
In multisyllabic words, clusters that seem illegal may occur, for example the /kspl/ in
explain / ksplen/. However, there is a syllable boundary between the /ks/ and /pl/: / ks
$ plen/.
All languages have constraints on the permitted sequences of phonemes, although
different languages have different constraints.
2. Lexical gaps
The word brick [brk] is an English word, whereas the form blick [blk] is not a word in
English though it is a possible word.
A possible word contains phonemes in sequences that obey the phonotactic constraints
of the language.
An actual, occurring word is the union of a possible word with a meaning.
Possible words without meaning are sometimes called nonsense words and are also
referred to as accidental gaps in the lexicon, or lexical gaps. (cf. systematic gaps)
Advertising professionals often use possible but nonoccurring words for the names of
new products, e.g., Bic, Xerox [ziraks], and Kodak.

. Why Do Phonological Rules Exist?


- Phonological rules and phonotactic constraints
Why do grammar have phonological rules at all? In other words, why don't underlying or
phonemic forms surface intact rather than undergoing various changes?
Many linguists believe that phonological rules exist to ensure that the surface or
phonetic forms of words do not violate phonotactic constraints. If underlying forms
remain unmodified, they would often violate the phonotactics of the language.
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6 . Phonology III (Chapter 5)

Consider, for example, the two past-tense rules in English. The first inserts a schwa
when a regular verb ends in an alveolar stop (/t/ or /d/), as in mated [metd]. The second
devoices the past-tense morpheme /d/ when it occurs after a voiceless sound, as in
reaped [ript] or peaked [pikt].
The second devoicing rule reflects the constraint that English words may not end in a
sequence consisting of a voiceless stop + [d].
In English, words such as [lpd] and [mkd] do not exist, nor could they exist.
More generally, there are no words that end in a sequence of obstruents whose voicing
features do not match. Thus words such as [kasb], where the final two obstruents are [voiced] [+voiced], are not possible. On the other hand, words like [kasp] are judged to be
possible words.
"Obstruent sequences may not differ with respect to their voice feature at the end of a
word."
The first schwa insertion rule, too, reflects the constraint that English does not generally
permit sequences of sounds within a single syllable that are very similar to each other,
such as [kk], [kg], [gk], [gg], [pp], [sz], [zs], and so on.
Thus the schwa insertion rule separates sequences of sounds that are otherwise not
permitted.
The sequence of /d/ and /d/ in /m nd +d/ becomes [m ndd] mended.
The sequence of /t/ and /d/ in /part +d/ becomes [phartd] parted.

"Sequences of obstruents that differ at most with respect to voicing are not permitted
within a syllable in English." deep - depth, wide width, smooth - *smoothth/smoothness
Thus, phonological rules exist because languages have general principles that constrain
possible sequences of sounds. The rules specify minimal modifications of the underlying
forms that bring them in line with the surface constraints.

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6 . Phonology III (Chapter 5)

Wrap-Up


stress intonation prosodic phonology
Phonotactics

270~282 Exercises
#1. a, b, c, f, I
#8. a ~ f
#12. a ~ c
:

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