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Universit Chouaib Doukali Facult des Lettres et des Sciences Humaines El Jadida

Department of English Studies General Linguistics/S5 Prof. Abdelaziz Boudlal

Phonology is the subfield of linguistics that studies the structure and the principles that determine how speech sounds pattern in a human language. It first refers to a description of the sounds of a particular language and the rules governing the distribution of these sounds (consonants and vowels). Phonology also refers to that part of the general theory of human language concerned with the universal properties of natural language sound systems. 1. Phonemes and Allophones Segments are said to contrast (or to be in opposition or in contrast) when their presence alone may distinguish forms with different meanings that differ only in one segment found in the same position in each form. For example, the English words [tin] and [sin] are referred to as minimal pairs because they have exactly the same sounds except one. The sounds /t/ and /s/ are called phonemes because they contrast in English. Thus two sounds are separate phonemes if they occur in the same environment and if they are contrastive. Consider the following examples for illustration: a. Consonant contrasts in English tip dip /t/ vs. /d/ sip zip /s/ vs. /z/ ship chip // vs. /t/ lip nip /l/ vs /n/ b. Vowel contrasts in English beet bit /i:/ vs. /I/ bet bat // vs // loud lied /aw/ vs. /ai/ caught cut // vs. // In these examples, the substitution of one segment for another would result in a change of meaning since the segments concerned (t/d, s/z, /t, l/n in (a) and i:/I, /, aw/ai and / in (b)) are contrastive. They are thus called separate phonemes and are enclosed between slashes //.

An allophone is a predictable phonetic variant of a phoneme. In English, for example, each of the voiceless phonemes /p, t, k/ has both an aspirated and an unaspirated allophone as shown in the examples below: [phd] [thip] [kht]. pad tip cat [spil] spill [stil] still [skar] scar

In English aspiration is not distinctive since it is predictable. Thus each of the English stop consonants /p, t, k/ has two allophones: one aspirated; the other unaspirated as shown below: [ ph] /p/ [ p] /t/ [t ] [ t h] /k/ [ k] [ kh]

The voiceless aspirated and the voiceless unaspirated stops in English are in complementary distribution; they never occur in the same environment, and the substitution of the aspirated stops for the unaspirated ones does not result in change of meaning. Therefore the aspirated phone and its unaspirated (enclosed between square brackets []) counterpart are allophones of the same phoneme (enclosed between slanted bars). 2. Complementary distribution and free variation Allophones of a phoneme are defined in terms of (i) complementary distribution and (ii) noncontrastiveness. Thus phonetic elements which cannot appear in the same environment and which are meaning-preserving are said to be in complementary distribution. In English the vowels of the words cap and can differ phonetically: that of cap is a plain []; that of can is nasalized, represented by []. The phoneme // thus has two allophones: [] and []. In fact, all English vowels have both nasalized and non-nasalized allophones, a fact which could be accounted for by the following generalization: English vowels are nasalized when they occur before a nasal consonant. Phonetic forms can also be in free variation when they occur in the same environment without resulting in a change of word meaning. Two phones are said to be in free variation if they are two different realizations of the same phoneme and if the substitution of one for the other does not cause a change of meaning. Sadiqi & Ennaji (1992) cited two examples to illustrate free variation. In English the glottal stop [] is a free variant of the sound [t] in words such [litl]/[lil] and [btl]/[bl].

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3. Distinctive Features Distinctive features are the smallest elements of a language. They have three functions: 1. A phonetic function Distinctive features are used to formally describe the different speech sounds of human languages. 2. A phonemic function Distinctive features are used to single out the phonemes (as opposed to allophones) in natural languages. 3. A classificatory function Distinctive features help in the identification of natural classes in phonology. For the purpose of this phonology class, we distinguish four types of features: major class features, cavity features, tongue-body features, and manner of articulation features. A- Major Class Features They define the major classes of sounds that are relevant in phonological analysis. The major classes include consonants, syllabics and sonorants.

a. Consonantal Consonantal sounds are produced with a constriction in the vocal tract, either total obstruction or friction. Vowels, glides and glottals are [-cons]. Stops, fricatives, affricates, nasals and liquids are [+cons]. b. Syllabic Syllabic sounds function as syllabic nuclei. Vowels are [+syll] and so are English /l, m, n/ (e.g. bottle, bottom, cotton). c. Sonorants sonorant sounds are produced with a vocal cavity disposition which makes spontaneous voicing easy. The unmarked state for sonorants is to be voiced. Vowels, nasals, liquids and glides are [+son]. Stops, fricatives and affricates are [-son] B- Cavity Features They refer to place of articulation. They specify where in the vocal tract modifications of the airstream take place in the production of speech sounds. a. Anterior Anterior sounds are produced with a primary constriction located at a point no further back in the mouth than the alveolar ridge. Labials, interdentals and alveolars are [+ant]. b. Coronal
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Coronal sounds are produced with the blade of the tongue raised towards the front teeth, the alveolar ridge or the hard palate. Interdentals, alveolars, palato-alveolars and palatals are all [+cor]. C- Tongue-body Features a. High High sounds are produced by raising the body of the tongue towards the roof of the mouth. The vowels /i, u/, the glides /w, j/, the palato-alveolars, the palatals, the palatalized sounds and velars are [+hg]. b. Low Low sounds are produced by lowering the body of the tongue to a level below the uvula. The English vowels /, / are [+low]. c. Back Back sounds are sounds produced by retracting the body of the tongue towards the rear wall of the pharynx (i.e. from its neutral position). /u, o, /, velars, uvulars, glottals, the glide /w/ and pharyngealized sounds are [+bk].

d. [-hg, -low] Generally in a five-vowel pattern such as that of Spanish /i, u, e, o, a/, the mid vowels /e, o/ are specified as [-hg, -low]. In English, however, the vowels /e, o, / are specified as [+high] [low]; and /, , / as [+low] [-high] e. Rounded [rd] They are produced with a protrusion of the lips. It is applied to rounded vowels such as /u, o, /. D- Manner of Articulation Features a. Continuant Continuant sounds ([+cont]) are produced with a primary constriction which allows the air to flow through the glottis, or the pharynx or through the center of the oral tract. Affricates, laterals, nasals and oral stops are [-cont]. b. Lateral A lateral sound is produced if the airflow through the center of the mouth is blocked and air escapes only over one or both sides of the tongue (e.g. the lateral /l/ in English). c. Nasal The velum is lowered to allow air to escape through the nasal cavity, thus producing nasal sounds such as /m, n, /, which are [+nas]. All other sounds are [-nas].
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d. Strident Acoustically, strident sounds are characterized by more random noise than their non-strident counterparts. The fricatives and affricates sounds /f, v, s, z, , , t, d/ are [+str]; the sounds /,

, j/ are [-str].
e. Delayed Release This feature distinguishes stops which are [-del rel] from affricates which are [+del rel]. In stops the closure is released abruptly while in affricates, it is released gradually. 4. Phonological Processes A. Assimilation Assimilation is the modification of a sound in order to make it more similar to some other sound in its surrounding environment. Consider the examples in (a) and (b) below for illustration: a. Vowel nasalization in English [si:] see [sit] sit [nais] nice [sin] [si] [knt]

sin sing cant

In Engish, vowels are nasalized when they occur before nasal consonants. b. Voicing assimilation [lidz] lids [bts] bats [bgz] bugs [kts] acts [pigz] pigs [strips] strips In English, the plural mopheme must agree in voicing with the final consonant of the stem. B. Deletion Deletion (also referred to as elision) is a process whereby a consonant or a vowel is dropped within or across words. In French the vowel of the definite article le or la is deleted whenever the following word begins with another vowel as shown in the following examples: [l gas] [la fij] the boy the girl [lami] [lab] the friend the tree

C. Insertion Insertion (also referred to as epenthesis) is a process whereby a consonant or a vowel is added within or across words. In Moroccan Arabic, the addition of the definite article prefix {l-} to words beginning with two consonants triggers schwa [] insertion. Thus the schwa is inserted to break up a cluster of three consonants that the language does not allow as shown below:
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[lktab] [lflus]

the book the money

[lbab] [lmus]

the door the knife

D. Vowel reduction It is a process whereby a full vowel is reduced or weakened to a schwa. In English, for example, when a stressed word is suffixed, stress shifts to another syllable within the word, thus causing previously stressed vowels to reduce to a schwa as shown below: [fnldi] [ibl] [futgrf] fnldikl blti ftgrfi phonology/phonological able/ability photograph/photography

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Exercise 1. Do the following sounds contrast in English? Find minimal pairs to support your hypothesis, ideally for initial, medial and final position in the word. Where minimal pairs for all positions do not seem to be available, write a short statement of where the sound in question can and cannot be found. [m - n - p b t d k g l - r] Exercise 2. Phonemes are most easily identified through minimal pairs. Thus Pete [pit] and beat [bit] differ only in that where [pit] has [p], [bit] has [b]. These two words make a minimal pair that shows that [p] and [b] represent separate phonemes in English, which we symbolize as /p/, /b/. For each pair of sounds below, identify a minimal pair that shows that they represent different phonemes. [k][g] [[]] [][] [l][r] [n][ ] [w][j] [a[]a] [f][d] [f][s] [i][] [a[]o] [t][d] [s][] [][] [t][s] [k][] Exercise 3. List the minimal pairs found in the following data from Inuktitut (Native Canadian): [iglumut] [ukiaq] [aiviq] [aniguvit] [aglu] [iglumit] [anigavit] to a house late fall walrus if you leave seals breathing hole from a house because you leave [pinna] [ani] [iglu] [panna] [aivuq] [ini] [ukiuq] that one up there females brother house that place up there she goes home place winter

Exercise 4. The data below are from Micmac, an Algonquian language which is spoken by about 7,000 people in eastern Canada, in places such as Cape Breton Island, New Brunswick, and the Gasp Peninsula of Quebec. In fact, the name Gasp comes from the Micmac word gespeg, meaning "land's end". 1. [pis] 'flea' 2. [sabus] 'pierced' 3. [talsip] 'when' 4. [walpok] 'pool' 5. [ababo] 'thread' 6. [kalibu] 'caribou' 7. [sipsulk] 'to cause trembling' 8. [tibol] 'it falls' 9. [sebai] 'to hunt' 10. [alispei] 'to be wet' 11. [pabi] 'play' 12. [apsem] 'to warm'

Are [p] and [b] separate phonemes in Micmac, or are they allophones of the same phoneme? Give evidence for your answer by either providing a rule for the distribution of the allophones or a minimal pair for the phonemes.
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Exercise 5. Consider the following data from Sindhi, a language spoken in India and Pakistan. Examine the phones [p], [ph] and [b]. Determine if the three are separate phonemes or allophones of the same phoneme. What is your evidence? [pnu] [vdu] [ki] [gdo] [dru] [phnu] leaf opportunity suspicious dull door snake hood [tru] [khtu] [bdu] [bnu] [btu] [ddu] bottom sour run forest be safe judge

Exercise 6. Consider the following data from Spanish. Examine the phones [d], and []. Determine if they are separate phonemes or allophones of the same phoneme. What is your evidence? [drama] [dolor] [dime] [kaa] [lao] [oio] drama pain tell me each side hatred [komia] [anda ] [sueldo] [durar] [toldo] [falda] food beat it compestion to last curtain skirt

Exercise 7. Consider the following pairs and explain what feature distinguishes meaning in each: nut/cut miss/kiss know/low tail/rail cot/got feel/fill Exercise 8. Which segments are: a. [+anterior]: /p, t, d, s, , m/ b. [+coronal]: /, f, n, l, z, d/ c. [+consonantal]: /r, l, m, , k, g/ d. [-syllabic]: /m, a, w, j, l, r, n/ e. [+sonorant]: /, l, r, m, h, n/ f. [+continuant]: /s, z, k, , , f/ g. [+rounded]: h. [-high]:
Phonology: S 5/Abdelaziz Boudlal

/u, o, , , , w/ /e, a, u, , , o/
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Exercise 9. Describe the following sounds in terms of distinctive features: //, /f/, /t/, /d/, /l/, /n/, /w/, /k/, //, /h/ Exercise 10. Indcate the + or value that characterizes each of the segments in the following charts: a. k b w n d e

sonorant anterior coronal continuant strident del rel b. i high low back round 8. Consider the follwing examples from Hanunoo. Note especially that the causative morpheme is the suffix {-i}: a. [upat] four [upati] make it four b. [usa] [tulu] one three [usahi] [tuluhi] make it one make it three a u

Name the phonological process involved in the causative formation of stems ending in a vowel.

Exercise 11. Consider the follwing examples from French. Note especially that the definite article markers are le for masculine nouns and la for feminine nouns:


Indef. noun gas fij

Def. noun l gas la fij

boy/the boy girl/the girl

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Phonology: S 5/Abdelaziz Boudlal


ami ab

lami lab

friend/the friend tree/the tree

What happens to the vowel of the definite article? Name the process.

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