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Minimal pairs and minimal sets in Phonology
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Minimal pairs and minimal sets in Phonology

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  • 1. What is minimal pairs? In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, and have distinct meanings. They are used to demonstrate that two phones constitute two separate phonemes in the language.
  • 2.  Deference between two otherwise identical strings of sound and this difference result in a change of meaning. ex: wet:yet to:do kill:gill park:bark might:night lot:rot Sue:zoo fairy:very
  • 3. Phoneme in minimal pairs If we substitute one segment for another and this result in a change in meaning the two segments belong to two difference phonemes Thus (k) and (m) are realization of two difference phonemes (k) and (m) because substituting one for the other as first element of the string (aet) gives two difference words . (cat) and (mat)
  • 4.  Example: pig:big (p is opposed to b)- /p/ is opposed to /t/ as in (pea:tea)- /p/ is opposed to /j/ as in (peep:jeep)- /p/ is opposed to /d/ as in (Pig:dig)- peep:cheap- Peat:feet- Port:thought- pea:we- rip:ring
  • 5. Minimal set A set of distinct words in a language which differ in only one or a limited number of phonological elements. If there are two words in the set, it is a minimal pair. A minimal set is used to demonstrate that the phonological element under consideration is phonemic—that is, that it has contrastive function in determining meaning.