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Writing Assignment #1

Phonetics and Phonology

Write a short essay (minimum 2 pages, 12 point Times New Roman font, 1 inch margins).

Topic: Using the following data, demonstrate your understanding of the concepts of phoneme,
allophones, and contrastive and complementary distribution.

Data set 1
Examine these sounds: [r] voiced trill [r̻] voiceless trill [ɾ] voiced flap

a. [ærteʃ] ‘army’ j. [tʃar̻] ‘four’

b. [farsi] ‘Persian’ k. [tʃedƷur̻] ‘what kind’
c. [qædri] ‘a little bit’ l. [ʃir̻] ‘lion’
d. [rah] ‘road’ m. [ahaɾi] ‘starched’
e. [ris] ‘beard’ n. [bæɾadær̻] ‘brother’
f. [ruz] ‘day’ o. [beɾid] ‘go’
g. [ahar̻] ‘starch’ p. [biɾæŋg] ‘pale’
h. [behtær̻] ‘better’ q. [tʃeɾa] ‘why’
i. [hærntowr̻] ‘however’ r. [daɾid] ‘you have’

Do the three sounds in question belong to one, two, or three different

phonemes? If they belong to different phonemes, give the pairs of forms which
show this. If they are allophones of one (or two) phonemes, state the rule for
their distribution. Which one would you choose to represent the phonemic
form, and why?

Data set 2
Modern Greek
Examine these sounds:
[x] voiceless velar fricative
[k] voiceless velar stop
[ç] voiceless palatal fricative
[c] voiceless palatal stop

a. [kano] ‘do’ g. [çeli] ‘eel’ l. [xrima] ‘krima’

b. [xano] ‘lose’ h. [ceri] ‘candle’ m. [krima] ‘shame’
c. [çino] ‘pour’ i. [çeri] ‘hand’ n. [xufta] ‘handful’
d. [cino] ‘move’ j. [kori] o. [kufeta] ‘bonbons’
e. [kali] ‘charms’ ‘daughter’ p. [çina] ‘goose’
f. [xali] ‘plight’ k. [xori] ‘dances’ q. [cina] ‘china’
Which of these sounds are in contrastive distribution, and which are in
complementary distribution? State the distribution of the allophones.

How to organize your essay:

Introduction: Begin your essay by explaining the definitions of and differences between
phonetics and phonology. Talk about phonemes and allophones. Tell the reader that you will
provide examples of the sound system of the two languages by demonstrating phonemic analysis.

The data: Introduce the languages (where they are spoken, how many speakers, what language
family) and the data in paragraph form and by providing tables. Tell the reader what to expect
(whether the sounds in question are in contrastive distribution, are allophones of the same
phoneme, etc.)—this is your thesis statement.

Analysis: Proceed to explain how to solve the phonological problems, the logical steps, and how
you arrived at your conclusions. You may use further tables, but the reader should not have to
deduce your conclusions from the tables. Be sure to explain in words what your tables show.

Conclusion: Restate the main conclusions regarding the data. Explain how these data show that
language is an organized system, especially in the relationships among its sounds.

Make sure your paper has a snappy title (no boring titles!) that relates to the main point of the
essay. Put your name and section # on the paper as well as your TA’s name to help us sort
papers into sections.

Criteria for Grading

Clear Thesis
5 Easily identifiable, plausible, novel, sophisticated, insightful, crystal clear. Connects well with paper title.
4 Stated and on topic, identifiable, plausible, intelligent, clear, promising but unoriginal, or offers relatively little that is new
3 Mostly clear—may be general or contains vague vocabulary; stated and on topic, but provides little around which to structure
the paper. Paper title and thesis do not connect well or title is unimaginative.
2 Difficult to identify at all; may be bland restatement of obvious point
1 no thesis

Clear discussion of problem

5 Author clearly relates evidence to "mini-thesis" (topic sentences are key elements of problem); analysis is fresh and exciting
and relevant to linguistics. Work displays critical thinking and avoids simplistic description or summary of information.
4 mostly clear and effective discussion of key elements and some relevance to linguistics; Evidence often related to mini-thesis,
though links perhaps not very clear. Some description; some critical thinking.
3 Some clear discussion of key elements and relevance to linguistics; each paragraph seems to have some general point though it
may not be clear with a topic sentence; balance of description and critical thinking may be off
2 Discussion of key points and their relevance to linguistics is occasionally evident. There is a weak mini-thesis to support, or
analysis offers little. Balance between critical thinking and description is off.
1 No discussion of key elements of problem; off topic; no support of general argument; no statement of relevance to linguistics;
no topic sentences.

Clear and accurate steps to phonemic analysis

10 Well-worded, concise, and accurate description process to arrive at correct phonemic analysis
8 accurate and clear description of phonemic analysis; may be worded in less concise or academic style
6 description of phonemic analysis is there, but unclear or incomplete description. Little connection to the larger line of
4 discussion of phonemic analysis somewhat there, but may be inaccurate, unclear, and/or incomplete. Some statements may be
inappropriate or incorrect.
2 Consistently unclear, inappropriate, incomplete, or incorrect.

Clear and appropriate use of academic language and writing style

5 Academic writing style is clearly mastered—appropriate introduction of concepts, verb tenses, description of methods, standard
grammar. Evident, understandable, appropriate for thesis. Excellent transitions from point to point. Paragraphs support solid
topic sentences.
4 Academic writing style is good—concepts are introduced well, generally appropriate verb tenses used to describe methods,
vocabulary appropriate to describe analysis; standard grammar. Generally clear and appropriate, though may wander
occasionally. May have a few unclear transitions, or a few paragraphs without strong topic sentences.
3 Academic writing style is emerging—analysis is introduced, though perhaps not always appropriately; vocabulary and verb
tenses to describe analysis emerging; mostly standard grammar. May have a few unclear transitions, or a few paragraphs without
strong topic sentences.
2 Academic writing style needs improvement—analysis is inconsistently introduced, and vocabulary and verb tense appropriate
for describing analysis is inconsistent or inappropriate; grammar is only sometimes standard. Lacking transitions, and many
paragraphs may lack topic sentences.
1 Unclear writing in a colloquial style with many deviations from standards grammar and usage.