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CH 3

Phonology is a study which deals with the

sequential and conditioned patterning of sounds in a
language. Therefore, phonological knowledge
permits a speaker to produce sounds which form
meaningful utterances, to recognize a foreign
“accent,” to make up new words, to add the
appropriate phonetic segments to form plurals and
past tenses, to produce “aspirated” and “unaspirated”
voiceless stops in the appropriate context, to know
what is or is not a sound in one’s language, and to
know different phonetic strings may represent the
same “meaning unit.”
Since the grammar of the language represents
the totality of one’s linguistic knowledge,
knowledge of the sound patterns—the
phonological component—must be part of this
I. Phonemes:
The phonological units of language

A. Definition and Examples

Phonemes are the phonological units of

language. They are contrastive segmental units
composed of distinctive features, which
differentiate words. As we know, each word
differs from the other words in both form and
meaning. The difference between sip and zip
“signaled” by the fact that the initial sound of the
first word is s [s] and the initial sound of the
second word is z [z] .
The forms of the two words--that is , their
sounds--are identical except for the initial
consonant. [s] and [z] can therefore distinguish or
contrast words. They are distinctive sounds in
English. Such distinctive sounds are called
B. Minimal pair

To see whether substituting one sound for

another results in a different word is the first rule
to determine the phonemes. If it does, the two
sounds represent different phonemes. If it does,
the two sounds represent different phonemes.
When two different forms are identical in every
way except for one sound segment that occurs in
the same place in the string the two words are
called a minimal pair. Sink and zink are a minimal
pair, as are fine and vine, and chunk and junk.
C. Free variation

Some speakers of English substitute a glottal stop

for the [ t ] at the end of words such as don’t or can’t
or in the middle of words like bottle or button. The
substitution of the glottal stop does not change the
meanings; [dont] and [don] do not contrast in
meaning, nor do [batl] or[bal]. A glottal
stop is therefore not a phoneme in English since it is
not a distinctive sound. These sounds [ t ] and [  ]
are in free variation in these words. So we know
some sounds may occur in the identical
environment without changing the meaning of the
word, then we say they are in free variation.
II. Distinctive Features
A. Definition and Examples

When a feature distinguishes one phoneme

from another it is a distinctive feature ( or a
phonemic feature). When two words are exactly
alike phonetically except for one feature, the
phonetic difference is distinctive, since this difference
alone accounts for the contrast or difference in
meaning. In order for two phonetic forms to differ
and to contrast meanings, there must be some
phonetic difference between the substituted sounds.
The minimal pairs seal [sil] and zeal[zil]
show that [ s ] and [ z] represent two contrasting
phonemes in English. We know that the only
difference between [ s ] and [ z] is a voicing
difference; [ s ] is voiceless and [ z ] is voiced. It
is this phonetic feature that distinguishes two
words. Voicing thus plays a special role in
English (and in any other languages). It also
distinguishes feel and veal [ f ] / [ v ] and cap and
cab [ p ]/ [ b ].
B. Binary valued Features

A feature can be thought of as having two

values, + which signifies its presence and - which
signifies its absence. [ b ] is therefore [+ voiced ]
and [ p ] is [ - voiced ]. Similarly, the presence or
absence of nasality can be designated as [ - nasal ]
or [ + nasal ], with [ m ] being [ + nasal ] and [ b ]
or [ p ] being [- nasal ]. Ass the phonetic features
can be specified in this manner.
C. Phones and Allophones

Phone a phonetic unit or segment. While

allophones are predictable phonetic variants that
are phonetically similar and in complementary
D. Complementary Distribution

When two or more sounds never occur in the

same phonemic context or environment they are
said to be in complementary distribution. When
oral vowels occur, nasal vowels do not occur, and
vice versa. It is in this sense that the phones are
said to complement each other or to be in
complementary distribution.
We may then define a phoneme as a set of
phone t ic all y simil ar sounds whi ch are i n
complementary distribution with each other. Also,
the phones must be phonetically similar, that is,
share most of the same feature values. In English,
the velar nasal [  ] and the glottal glide [ h ] are in
complementary distribution; [] is not found word
initially and [ h ] does not occur word finally. But
they share very few feature values; [] is a velar
nasal voiced stop; [ h ] is a glottal voiceless glide.
Therefore, they are not allophones of the same
phoneme; /  / and / h /are different phonemes.
E. Predictability of Redundant Features

When a feature is predictable by rule, it a

redundant feature.Nasality is a redundant feature
in English vowels, but is a nonredundant
( distinctive or phonemic ) feature for English
consonants. We have to learn that the word
meaning “mean begins with a nasal bilabial stop
[ m ] and that the word meaning ‘bean” begins
with an oral bilabial stop [ b ]. But we do not have
to learn that the vowels in bean and mean and comb
and sing and so on are nasalized since they occur
before nasal consonants and are thus redundantly,
predictably nasal.
III. Sequential Constraints

Some words never occur together in a

language; actually, they determine what are
possible but nonoccuring words in a language,
and what phonetic string are “impossible” or
“illegal.” For example, after a consonant like /b/,
/g/, /k/, or /p/, another stop consonant is not
permitted by the rules of the grammar. If a word
begins with an /l/ or an /r/ , every speaker
“knows” that the next segment must be a vowel.
That is why /lbk/ does not sound like an English
word. It violates the restrictions on the
sequencing of phonemes.
IV. Nature classes

Phonological rules often refer to entire

classes of sounds rather than to individual sounds.
There are natural classes, characterized by the
phonetic properties or features that pertain to all
the members of each class, such as voiceless
sounds, voiced sounds, stops, fricatives,
consonants, vowels, or, using +’s and -‘s, the class
specified as [ - voiced ] or [ + consonantal ] or [ -
continuant ] or [ + nasal ]
V. More on Prosodic Phonology

A. Intonation

In this chapter we have discussed the use of

phonetic features to distinguish meaning. We can
see that pitch can be a phonemic feature in
languages such as Chinese, or Thai, or Akan. Such
relative pitches are referred to phonologically as
contrasting tones. We also pointed out that there
are languages that are not tone languages, such as
In English, syntactic differences may be
shown by different intonation contours. A
sentence which is ambiguous when it is written
may be unambiguous when spoken. For example:
If Tristram wanted Isolde to follow him,.....

(a) Tristram left directions for Isolde to follow.

Tristram left a set of directions he wanted
Isolde to use.
(b) Tristram left directions for Isolde to follow.
The way we have indecated petch is of course
highly oversimplified. Before the big rise in pitch
the voice does not remain on the same monotone
low pitch. Thus pitch plays an important role in
both tone languages and intonation languages,
but in different ways.
B. Word stress

In English and many other languages, one or more

of the syllables in each content word are stressed.
The stressed syllable is marked by in the following

pervert (noun) as in “My neighbor is a

pervert (verb) as in “Don‘t pervert the idea.”
The stress pattern of a word may differ from
dialect to dialect. For example, in most varieties of
American English the word laboratory has two
stressed syllables; in one dialect of British English
it receives only one stress. In fact, in the British
version one vowel “drops out” completely because
it is not stressed.
Just as stressed syllables in poetry reveal the
metrical structure of the verse, phonological stress
patterns relate to the metrical structure of a

Stress is a property of a syllable rather than a

segment, so it is a prosodic or suprasegmental

To produce a stressed a syllable, one may

change the pitch (usually by raising it), make the
syllable louder, or make it longer.
C. Sentence and Phrase Stress

When words are combined into phrases and

sentences, one of the syllables receives greater stress
than all others. That is, 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.
1 1 1 2
tight + rope → tightrope (“a rope for acrobatics”)
1 1 2 1
tight + rope → tightrope (“a rope drawn taut”)
In English we place primary stress on an
adjective followed by a noun when the two words
are combined in a compound noun, but we place
the stress on the noun when the words are not
joined in this way.

Compound Noun Adjective + Noun

White House white house

These minimal pairs show that stress may be
predictable if phonological rules include
nonphonological information; that is, the
phonology is not independent of the rest of the
grammar. The stress differences between the noun
and verb pairs discussed in the previous section
are also predictable from the word category.
VI. The Rules of Phonology

A. Introduction

The relationship between the phonemic

representations that are stored and the phonetic
representations that reflect the pronunciation of
these words is “rule-governed.”

The phonemic representation need only

include the nonpredictable distinctive features of
the string of phonemes that represent the words.
The phonetic representation derived by applying
these rules includes all the linguistically relevant
phonetic aspects of the sounds.
B. Five Rules of Phonology

1. Assimilation Rules

It assimilate one segment to another by

“copying” or “spreading” a feature of a sequential
phoneme on to its neighboring segment, thus
making the two phones more similar.

Assimilation rules are caused by articulatory or

physiological process because we incline to increase
the ease of articulation, that is, to make it easier to
move the articulators when we speak.
Assimilation rules in language reflect what
phoneticians often call coarticulation- the
spreading of phonetic features either in
anticipation of sounds or the perservation of
articulatory process.

The English vowel nazalization rule applies to

the phonemicrepresentation of words and shows
the assimilatiory nature of the rule.
Vowels may also become devoiced or voiceless
in a voiceless environment. In Japaness, high
vowels are devoiced when preceded and followed
by voiceless obstruent; in words like “sukiyaki”
the /u/becomes/u/.
2. Dissimilation rules

A segment becomes less similar to another

segment rather than more similar. A ”classsic”
example of disimilation in Latin and the results of
the process show up in modern day English. There
were a derivational suffix -alis in Lain that was
added to nouns to form adjectives. When the suffix
was added to a noun which contained the liquid / l /
the suffix was changed to -aris, that is, the liquid / l
/ was changed to the liquid / r /.
These words came into English as a adjectives
ending in -al or in its disimilated form -ar as shown
in the following examples.

-al -ar
anecdot -al angul -ar
annu -al annul -ar
ment -al simil -ar
3. Feature Addition Rules

The aspiration rule in English, which aspirates

voiceless stops in certain contexts, simply adds a
nondistinctive feature. The assimilation rules don’t
add new features but change phonemic feature
values, whereas the aspiration rule add a new
feature not present in phonemic matrices
The aspiration rule can apply only to the
voiceless stops / p /, / t /, / k /, because the
specification of the class of sounds on the left of the
arrow is unique to this class, but only when one of
the segments occurs in the environment specified
after the slash, at the beginning of a syllable (/$)
before a stressed vowel.
4. Segment Deletion rules and addition Rules

Phonological rules can delete or add entire

phonemic segment. In French, word-final
consonants are deleted when the following word
begins with a consonant ( oral or nasal) or a liquid,
but are retained when the following word begins
with vowel or a glide.

Eg: /ptit livr/ /pti livr/ “small picture”

/ptit ami/ /ptit ami/ “small friend”
We can state the French rule simply as:
[ +consonantal ]  Ø /  # # [ +consonantal]

“Deletion rules “ also show up as “optional rules”

in fast speech or casual speech in English. They
result in the common contractions changing he is
[hi z] to he’s [hiz] or I will [aj wl] to I’ll [ajl].
In ordinary everyday speech most of us also
“delete” the unstressed vowels, such as we usually
pronounce mystery into mystry, general into genral.
In Spanish, a rule inserts an [ e ] at the
beginning of a word that otherwise would begin
with an [ s ] followed by another consonant, for
example, escuela “school,” estampa “stamp,”
and espina “spine”.
5. Movement (Metathesis) Rules

Phonological rules may also move phonemes from

one place in the string to another. In some dialects
of English, the word “ask” is pronounced [ks],
but the world asking is pronounced [skst]. In
these dialects a metathesis rule “switches” the / s /
and / k / in certain context.
D. From One to Many and from Many to One

1. The same phone may be an allophone of two

or more phonemes, as [ m ] was shown to be an
allophone of both / b / and / m / in Alan.

2. Given the phonemic representation and the

phonological rules, we can always derive the
correct phonetic transcription. / t / and / d / re
both phonemes, but they become a flap [D]
when they occurs between a stressed and
unstressed vowel. From the instance, we can
know that two distinct phonemes may be
realized phonetically as the same sound.
3. There is none to one relation between phonemes
and phones in the all languages.

E. The Function of Phonological Rules

In the broadest sense , any rule which , in some

analysis , is posited as involved in deriving a
pronunciation from an underlying phonological
from an underlying phonological representation.
In this conception, both rules appealing to
phonological and lexical information and purely
phonetic rules are included.
However , this lable has been restricted to some
proper subset of would exclude rules appealing to
morpholexical information like ‘preterite’ or
‘ablauting verb[ while including rules appealing to
Word classes like ‘noun’ or ‘Latinate
vocabulary’ ; others would exclude all such rules;
both groups might include as exclude purely
phonetic (allophonic) rules independently. Some
would exclude purely morphophonemic rules,
while others would apply the term ‘ phonological
rules’ only to such rules, excluding all others types .
In Natural generative phonology , the term is
applied only to phonetic (allophonic) rules , all
other typed being excluded.
F. Slips of the Tongue

Any speech error in which a segment or a

feature occurs in an unintended position : ‘bread
and breakfast’ for bed and breakfast,‘ piss and
stretch” for pitch and stress , ‘ pig and vat’ for big
and fat.
G. The Pronunciation of Morphemes

A phonotactic constraint which is stated for

single morphemes, rather than for entire words. For
example , English has the constraint C →[+ cor] /
au _ for morphemes, but not has wards endowment
H. Morphophonemics

A branch of linguistics which analyses the

phonological on grammatical factors that
determine the form of phonemes; also called
morphophonology , morphonology, and
morphonemics. The basic unit recognized in such
and analysis is the morphophoneme ; for example ,
the notion of ‘plural’ in English nouns includes / s/
( as in cats) , /z/ (as in dogs) , /z/ (as in horses),
zero( as in sheep), and several other forms.
I. More Sequential Constraints

Any statement , in some particular framework

or description , which prohibits some derivation ,
process , structure or combination of elements
which world otherwise be allowed.