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Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research

University of Babylon

College of Education for Human Sciences

Department of English

Neutralization
( A Presentation in Phonetics and Phonology)

By
Noor Dhia' & Noor Othman

Under the Supervision of
Prof. Dr. Fareed Al- Hindawi

and Consonant Clusters 9 -Neutralization of Weak Forms 10 -Neutralization of vowels 11 .Overlapping Neutralization and Phoneme Neutralization 6 -Neutralization through Assimilation 7 -Neutralization and Biuniqueness 8 .References 14 .Neutralization.List of contents 2 -Neutralization 3 -Optimality Theory 4 -Types of Neutralization 5 . Opposition.Neutralization and Archiphoneme 12 -The Conclusion 13 . List of Contents .

The single segment which appears in the position of neutralization may be phonetically similar to one or other of the neutralized segments. but are neutralized after syllable-initial /s/. skin. e.g. of a contrast between two or more segments which is maintained in other positions. ( Trask. /*sgin/. and as a result there are no pairs of words in the language of the type /skin/ v. It can be considered as the outcome of many studies in each field and one of them is phonology which is the field we are studying now. in English. Finally.Neutralization Neutralization is found in many fields of language study. It was introduced and developed by the linguists of the Prague School in the 1930s and especially by the Russian linguist Nikolai Trubetzkoy's theory of 'Neutralization and Archiphoneme'. but this contrast is lost. 2007:186) Neutralization refers solely to phonological process where abstract categories are merged into one under certain conditions resulting in loss of contrast between the two (Barnes. 2008: 151). the contrast between aspirated (voiceless) and unaspirated (voiced) plosives is normally crucial. (McMahon. . speech. 2002: 58). There is no a separate study concerning it. tip v. or it may have a distinctive phonetic form. Crystal(2008: 352) defines neutralization as a term used in phonology to describe what happens when the distinction between two phonemes is lost in a particular environment. as in stop. Trask (1996: 142) defines neutralization as the disappearance. For example. it may be phonetically intermediate. English /p/ and /b/ contrast in most positions. dip. For example. Neutralization is seen as a type of free variation in which two otherwise contrastive sounds are both possible in single word such as /ɛ/conomic or /i/conomic with no change of meaning as the opposition between the two is lost in this context. in a particular position. or neutralized. Also It was introduced in the work and findings of the Optimality Theory in the 1990s by Allan Prince. when the plosive is preceded by /s/.

(Kager. so a sense of well-formedness applies to that utterance which violates the least number or least important constraints.the underlying morphological form (such as cat +-s = cats) while words like buses or dogs do not follow this constraint (the first falls foul of the constraint that prevents the pronunciation of two consecutive /s/ sounds and the second places a /z/ instead of an /s/). CON provides the criteria. In many cases. GEN generates the list of possible outputs. second word normally capitalized by convention) is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints rather than rules. There are three basic components of the theory.Optimality Theory Optimality Theory (frequently abbreviated OT. follow markedness constraints. 1999) Trask (2007: 198) states that Optimality Theory holds that all languages have a set of constraints which produce the basic phonological and grammatical patterns of that particular language. used to decide between candidates. Constraints can be classified in two types: faithfulness and markedness. and EVAL chooses the optimal candidate. These two examples. According to Optimality Theory. The faithfulness principle constrains a word to match its output . but a context-specific ( under certain environment) . Crystal(2008: 326) states that neutralization is used for cases where a feature in an inventory. violable constraints. though. an actual utterance violates one or more of these constraints. The main idea of OT is that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints. so the alternate forms are allowed. McCarthy and Alan Prince. OT assumes that these components are universal. OT has been expanded by John J. or candidates. and in these cases the particular markedness 'scores' higher than the faithfulness constraint. It is proposed by the linguists Alan Prince and Paul Smolensky in 1993.

condition violates the general considerations of faithfulness constrains. neutralization of the voicing contrast in German (and a number of other languages) . e. For example the underlying representation of the word ' write' contains a final segment 'e' even though it is never pronounced. Kula and et. glottalization) can be freely contrasted in syllable onsets. positional and absolute.g. This term was introduced by Paul Kiparsky (1968:14). some pairs of sounds established as phonemes in a context A cannot enter a contrast in context B.: "bunt" and "bund" /bʊnt/. A well- known example of positional neutralization is that some combination of these features (i.g. It occurs when an opposition is neutralized in all environments.al (2011: 148) state that absolute neutralization is a problem for acquisition because the learner is unable to appeal to surface morphophonological alternations to reconstruct the underlying .e. Types of Neutralization According to Crystal (2008:326). voicing.g. e.stops and fricatives in word-final position. The absolute neutralization Trask (1996: 2) defines it as "an analysis which posits an underlying contrast which is never realized phonetically on the surface". This type can be considered context-free since it does not depend on the context unlike the positional neutralization. The positional neutralization is the situation in which the contrast between two phonemes is neutralized in a particular location. there are two types of neutralization. but see their ability to contrast neutralized in syllable codas e. aspiration.

An example of partial overlap is found between /r/ and /t/ in some dialects of English. First. Complete phonemic overlapping implies that some instances of a particular allophone are classified as members of a certain . dowry / daʊri/ or /daʊəri/. changing /æ/ in 'legality' into / ə/ in 'legal'. as in through. The notion was introduced by American structural linguists in the 1940s. This contrast is neutralized before /r/. cow /kaʊ/ cower /kaʊə/. Trubetzkoy (1939) presents what so called positional neutralization in addition to two types. Some varieties of English have a contrast between /au/ and /aʊə/. where both are realized by the tap /ɾ/ in different contexts: /r/ ⇒ /ɾ/ after dental fricatives. their only resource is to the rules. Overlapping Neutralization and Phoneme Neutralization Overlapping is defined by Trask (2007:150) as the relation between two or more phonemes which occur in some. that which is represented by free variation. The overlapping (or ‘intersection’) of phonemes was said to be ‘partial’ if a given sound is assigned to phoneme A in one phonetic context and to phoneme B in another. but not all. Overlapping is a term used in phonology to refer to the possibility that a phone may be assigned to more than one phoneme (phonemic overlapping). For example the English tendency to reduce all vowels to whet so called ' indeterminate /ə/'. and betty. The previous division of neutralization represents Crystal's. The second is that which may be represented by a sound which is distinct from both of the otherwise contrasting phonemes. as in butter. Vowel contrasts are reduced before certain consonants or in unstressed syllables. of the same positions in words. /t/ ⇒ /ɾ/ between vowels. where there may be indeterminate variation between the diphthong and triphthong.representation of the segment.

infatuated are followed by labio-dental /f/ and /v/. which may stand for most occurrences of English stressed vowels. For example. overlap would be ‘complete’ if successive occurrences of the sound in the same context are assigned sometimes to A. the words 'symphony' and 'infant' are pronounced likely with nasal consonant /ɱ/ in rapid speech since /m/ and /n/ are followed by labio- dental /f/ and /v/. /m/ and /n/ in the words emphatic.phoneme category on some occasions and as members of another category in other cases even when all instances occur under the same phonetic conditions. the sound / ɱ/ allocated either to /m/ or /n/ phoneme. . and sometimes to B. In other words. when they occur in unstressed positions (e.(Gonza´lez. For example. giving / ɪɱfætɪk/ and /ɪɱfætʃueɪtɪd/. there is no way (a part from spelling) to know whether/ ɱ/ is /m/ or /n/. as place of articulation. it is the act or process by which a sound becomes identical with or similar to a neighboring sound in one or more defining characteristics. In this case. where the first and third vowels reduce to / ə/). voicing. sounds become more similar to each other. The realization of both /m/ and /n/ may be labio-dental nasal /ɱ/.g. overlapping is an aspect of neutralization since the indeterminacy is a feature of both overlapping and neutralization. Gimson (1970: 48) illustrates the example of having /ɱ/ as phoneme neutralization which is defined as a sound may be assigned to either of the two phonemes with equal validity. An example of complete overlap occurs in the case of /ə/. n. telegraph – telegraphy.d: 451). Accordingly. In other words. Neutralization through Assimilation Carr (2008:16) defines assimilation as a process whereby two. Accordingly. normally adjacent. complementary distribution = allophones of the same phoneme overlapping distribution = allophones of separate phonemes According to Collins and Mees (2008: 72) neutralization is seen as two phonemes may show an overlap in certain phonetic realization. The opposition of /m/ and /n/ has been neutralized.

phonemic oppositions have been neutralized so the sense of an utterance may be determined by the context. (Gimson. where the /n/ of ten tends to assimilate to the place of articulation of the following bilabial stop: /thɛmbɔız/. Here. in one sense or another. 'emphatic' has been tackled by by Gimson and Collins but each one analyzed the occurrence in a different way (see P:6). As always. It should be noticed that alveolar sounds have a relatively high frequency of word final occurrence and are particularly apt to undergo neutralization as redundant oppositions in connected speech. Neutralization is one aspect yet it can be defined differently according to the notion with which it is compared or used.or manner of articulation. The previous example. 1970:295). 'emphatic' and 'infant'. an aspect of neutralization. An example of assimilation for place of articulation can be found in sequences such as 'ten boys' in English. e. . Assimilation is.g. /m/ and /m/ are neutralized to become / ɱ/. For example the assimilation of /m/ and /n/ into the labio-dental nasal /ɱ/ as influenced by the following /f/ as in. 'ran or rang quickly' / raɳ kwikli/.

although it is clearly intended to realize the phoneme /t/ in the first word and /d/ in the second. the same flap sound may be heard in the words hitting and bidding. Neutralization and Biuniqueness Biuniqueness is a principle in which a given phone. An example of the problems arising from the biuniqueness requirement is provided by the phenomenon of flapping in North American English. 2009: 25). Two phonemes may be distinguished in some environment but in others. On these cases is the phenomenon of neutralization where phonetic opposition is suspended or neutralized. wherever it occurs. In other words. For example. the mapping between phones and phonemes is required to be many-to-one rather than many-to- many. This may cause either /t/ or /d/ (in the appropriate environments) to be realized with the phone [ɾ] (an alveolar flap). it can be said that the principle of biuniqueness is violated. must unambiguously be assigned to one and only one phoneme. Accordingly.(ibid). This means that a phone in a given environment must be an allophone of one and only phoneme (Lodge. .

which introduced. t-d is neutralizable in German: in the position of neutralization. (Akamatsu. because removing the voicing mark results in a set of features that is not possessed by any other element of the German system. On the other hand. the concept of the neutralization of opposition. the two are to be recognized as such and must never be confused with each other. This is why neutralization can never be equated with defective distribution. the major two types are. in other words. in certain contexts. Thus in English /k/:/g/ is bilateral since the characteristics (velar) and (stop) are common just to them. According to Trubetzkoy (1939:68) only bilateral oppositions may neutralize. the basis of comparison in multilateral opposition occurs in more than two segments. (Silverman. As regards phonology. in particular. . t-d is a bilateral opposition.1988:158). Neutralization. neutralization is defined as the impossibility of the existence. 2012:43). of opposition between phonemes that are opposed in other positions. the phonological value is neither a voiced stop nor a voiceless stop but an archiphoneme. Opposition forms the central concept in the phonological teachings of the Prague school of linguistics. There are many types of phonological opposition. and indeed. bilateral and multilateral. The basis of comparison in bilateral opposition is restricted to two phonemes only. the theory of neutralization is a corollary of that of oppositions (Martinet 1976:9). Opposition and Consonant Clusters It cannot be overemphasized that without the notion of 'opposition ' the notion of 'neutralization ' is inconceivable. For example in German.

g/ is the energy and aspiration of the voiceless plosives. has. Such neutralization occurs in rapid.d. (Collins & Mees.t. 2013: 294). or 'Ten orˎ under 'Ten areˎ under /ðə/ = unaccented the .t. familiar RP: ( Cruttenden. The unaccented form of these words may be neutralized in isolation. does . Such neutralization generally causes no problem to listeners because of the high rate of redundancy of meaningful cues in English.k/ lose their aspiration and since there is no possibility in English to have clusters like. more precisely. 2008: 72). Neutralization of Weak Forms A number of function words may have different pronunciations when they are accented (stressed or in isolation)and when. there There 'seems a ˎchance The 'seams are ˎcrooked /s/ = unaccented is. It is rarely that the context may allow different interpretation for only one cue supplied by an accented word form. /r/ = unaccented are. then a neutralization will take place. /sd/. or /sg/. When they occur initially after /s/. unaccented. /sb/.k/ from /b. /p. Both neutralization and opposition can be linked to consonant clusters since one of the oppositional characteristics that distinguishes /p.

it is the tendency toward neutral position. This vowel was formerly regarded as /ɪ/ in the description of traditional RP. does 'Where's ('s = has. It is to take account of the neutralization of these vowels that modern transcription system use special symbol /i/. states that neutralization of vowels is found in the final sound in the words happy. It has been noted that in many languages that do exhibit a contrast between long and short vowels. less commonly does) he 'put it? 'Where's ('s = is ) he 'going? Neutralization of Vowels Lehnert-LeHouillier ( 2007: 22) states that vowel neutralization represents a kind of ''centripetal force'' in the vowel system. . on the other hand. so happy is transcribed as /hæpi/. 'What's ('s = does or is ) he 'like? 'What's ('s = has )he 'lost? /z/ = unaccented is. The present RP speakers of NRP realize it either as /ɪ/ or /i:/. Collins and Mees (2008: 72). has. the contrast is neutralized in the final position. toffee.…etc.

An archiphoneme is a phonological unit which expresses the common features of two or more phonemes which are involved in a neutralization. between /eɪ/. /e/ and /æ/. In a phonological representation using the archiphoneme concept. between /ɔ:/ and /oʊ/ and between /u:/ and /ʊ/ when /r/ follows all neutralized. For example. particularly considered the American accent that is the most neutral or lacking in distinctive regional. (Stephan and Michael. 2004:81). the difference between t and d is neutralized in word-final position in German. Neutralization and Archiphoneme There are several different ways of solving the problem of neutralization. the final sounds of words like Rad. One way is the use of archiphoneme as Prague school phonologists suggest. Rat would be transcribed with the symbol /T/ in final position. *Gen= general. In GenAm* the opposition that exists between /i/ and /ɪ/. This symbol . Am= American (General American (commonly abbreviated as GA or GenAm) is a major accent of American English. It is represented by the capital letters.

The distinctive features of /T/ are: +oral +stop +alveolar 0 voice The other way of solving problem of neutralization is by using morphophonemic approach saying that it is the phoneme /t/ which occurs finally in both Germanic words Rad. and phonemes. It can occur in weak forms. Rat not /d/ and /t/. 2. Neutralization is the disappearance of the distinction between two phonemes in certain environment. 1971: 116). (McMahon. The Conclusion The study has reached to the following conclusions: 1. . 2000: 60). vowels.represents an alveolar plosive archiphoneme which is unspecified for voicing. The last way which is proposed by Clark and Yallop(1990: 143) who considered the sound which represent the neutralization as allophone of a phoneme. It means there is neutralization. (Lyons. consonant cluster.

Its solution is by using the Theory of Archiphoneme which is introduced by Trubetskoy N. It violates the principle of both biuniqueness and opposition. Berkeley: University of California Press. Baltaxe from Grundzüge der Phonologie. References — . Principles of phonology. 5. Translated by Christiane A. 1969. . It is similar to overlapping and can be studied through assimilation since assimilation is an aspect of neutralization. (1939) as it is restricted to the position of neutralization and is symbolized by the use of capital letter.3. M. 4.

( 1988). An Introduction to the Pronunciation of English. Beverley S. London and New York: Cambridge University Press. Oxford: Blackwell.Akamatsu. Kate Lodge. Yallop (1990). Alan Cruttenden. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press. Collins. J. The Theory of Neutralization and the Archiphoneme in Functional Phonology. Carr. Park Square: Routledge. An Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. 1970. Beverley S. Clark. A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Gimson. John Benjamins Publishing Company. Oxford: Blackwell. Mees (2008). & Inger M. Introduction to Theoretical linguistics. Edinburg University Press Ltd: Edinburg. Fundamental Concept in Phonology: Sameness and Difference. A. Mees (2008). John Lyons. 2nd edn. (2008). (2008). (1971). London: Edward Arnold. . Philip. A Glossary of Phonology. New York: Routledge. 2nd ed.C. and C. (2013). Practical phonetics and phonology: a resource book for students. T. (2009). Gimson's Pronunciation of English ( 7th ed). 2nd edn. Collins. Daivd Crystal. Practical phonetics and phonology: a resource book for students. New York: Routledge. & Inger M.

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