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.
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
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)
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
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.