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  • 1. 1English PhonologyLecture 1: Phonemes and Allophones; Describing English SoundsWhat is language? What is it that we know when we know a language?What is it that we know when we know English?I. Phonological Knowledge (roughly):a) Soundsb) Sound PatternsThus, phonologists are concerned with:a. Sound InventoryWhat sounds does the language make use of?Exercise 1: Which ones of the followings are possible sounds of English?a. [!]: as in tut-tut! / tsk-tsk!b. [y]c. []d. []e. []What relationship do these sounds have to each other?Which are used contrastively and which are the variant pronunciations ofcontrastive sounds?Can we predict the different realizations of a contrastive sound?b. Sound patternsWhich sound combinations are allowed?Exercise 1: Which of the followings can be a possible word of English?a. hledb. okc. tlnazd. alae. pkarf. plaskg. talg
  • 2. 2II. The concept of phoneme and allophony: “Same but different”:Aspirated vs. unaspirated stops in Englishpill spilltill stillkill skillPHONETIC FACT: There is a burst or puff of air after the /p/ in pill, till, and kill,that is absent in spill, still, and skill.Aspiration: The period between the release of the closure of a consonant andthe start of the vocal cord activity for the vowel that comes after it. This period isusually felt as a puff of air.pill [phIl] spill [spIl]till [thIl] still [stIl]kill [khIl] skill [skIl]Aspiration Rule in English: Aspiration occurs on all voiceless stops occurringas the first sound in a stressed syllable.• Although aspirated stops and unaspirated stops are physically different ,we consider both to be the same sound.• For English, aspiration is not employed to create a meaning difference.
  • 3. 3• Human mind also ignore other physical/perceptible differences which arenot relevant for particular purposes:shoes
  • 4. 4a a AA a AThe first letter of the alphabet
  • 5. 5II. Same sounds but different representationsTwo or more languages might share the same sound or sounds but this does notmean that those languages organize these sounds in the same way.a. Hindi aspirated stops:[phal] "knife edge"[pal] "take care of"[kapi] "copy"[kaphi] "ample"• Aspiration is "contrastive" in Hindi.• [pal] for "knife edge" instead of [phal] is like saying "shave" instead of"save".• Hindi speakers cannot "overlook" the difference between aspirated andunaspirated stops because they distinguish meaning based it.b. [s] and [] in English and Japanese:Japanese English[imasu] ‘do’ [slæ] ‘slash’English: Can [s] and [] can distinguish meaning?Hint: Look for “minimal pairs”![el] ‘shell’ [mæ] ‘mash’[sel] ‘sell’ [mæs] ‘mass’Japanese: Can [s] and [] distinguish meaning?• Unlike English, these two sounds cannot distinguish meaning in Japanesebecause we cannot find any minimal pairs contrasting these two sounds.• Say [simasu] instead of [imasu]: would the meaning of the word change?
  • 6. 6• You might, at most, be perceived as a foreigner and sound funny.• Try to do the same with: "I [s/]aved my head this morning"• If there is [i] in a word, we will never see the sound [s] before it.• Given [s] and [], what can then precede an [i] in Japanese?Phonological Conclusions:• [s] and [] are contrastive and the occurrence of the two is unpredictable inEnglish.• In Japanese, we can predict their distribution.• In Japanese, [s] and [] are considered to be the "same" sound eventhough they may be phonetically distinct.Phonology deals with the following questions:1. Of all the sounds in a language, which are predictable?2. What is the phonetic context that allows us to predict the occurrence ofthese sounds?3. Which sounds affect the meaning of words?c. English lateral liquid (/l/):leanletlacekneeltellsail
  • 7. 7Articulatory Facts about /l/: An alveolar consonantBut, when saying the first three words (i.e., lean, let, lace):[l]: clear ‘l’ / alveolar lateralTip of the tongue: high, touches the alveolar ridgeBack of the tongue: downSides of the tongue: drawn in so that the air escapes around the tongueBut, When saying the last three words (i.e., kneal, tell, sail):[]: dark ‘l’ / velarized lateralTip of the tongue: may be raisedBack of the tongue: highCenter of the tongue: lowSides of the tongue: curled in• /l/ may be pronounced several different ways. And, we overlook thisdifference when we learn words that contain this sound.What is the distribution?Rule (to be revised in the following lectures):Before a vowel, we say [l], after a vowel we say [].
  • 8. 8Thus, English [l] and [] are in predictable (complementary) distribution.Turkish Scots Gaelic[so] ‘left’ [bala] ‘town’[sol] ‘a musical note’ [baa] ‘wall’d. English voiceless alveolar stop /t/:tipsticklittleAcoustic/ articulatory phonetic facts:FACT #1: AspirationExamples:[phat] vs. [spat] "pot" vs "spot"[thek] vs. [stek] "take" vs. "stake"FACT #2a. Speakers of American English:The /t/ in "little" sounds a lot "softer" (and a bit voiced). In American English, thissound is actually pronounced as a flap ([]).Flap: A flap sound is a consonant in which one articulator strikes the other with asliding motion (as in the Spanish word pero).b. Speakers of (non-Standard) British English:/t/ is pronounced as a glottal stop []• At least at some psychological level, that this word contains a /t/ soundalthough we may not pronounce or hear it as such.
  • 9. 9/t/[t] [th] [r] []_________________________________________________What is a phoneme?A class of speech sounds that are identified by a native speaker as the samesound is called a phoneme.The different phonetic realizations of a phoneme are called allophones.Thus:[ph] and [p] are the allophones of the same phoneme in English; Whereas inHindi, [ph] and [p] are different phonemes.[l] and [] are the allophones of the same phoneme in English; whereas inTurkish and Scots Gaelic, they are different phonemes.
  • 10. 10Phonemes are the psychological (abstract) representations or units of actualphysical realizations of phonetic segments.Remember:If two sounds are separate phonemes, then they are contrastive (in terms ofmeaning).• If the two phones are allophones of the same phoneme, then they arenon-contrastive.• To determine whether a given pair of sounds is contrastive, linguists lookfor minimal pairs.Minimal Pair:A minimal pair is a pair of words with different meanings with exactly the samepronunciation except for one sound that differs.Examples:• [tek] vs. [tep] "take" vs "tape"• [tim] vs [dim] "team" vs "deam"• [kapi] vs [kaphi] "copy" vs. "ample" (Hindi)Do [l] and [r] belong to the same phoneme in English?Look for minimal pairs![lif] "leaf"[rif] "reef"[læk] "lack"[ræk] "rack".Given that we have minimal pairs that contain [l] and [r], we can say that [l] and[r] are contrastive thus they are separate phonemes (i.e. they are NOTallophones of the same phoneme).How about in Korean?[param] "wind"[irim] "name"
  • 11. 11[pal] "foot"[mal] "horse"In Korean, minimal pairs can never be found for [l] and [r] because these soundscan never occur in the same position in words.This set of data shows that [r] occurs between two vowels but [l] never occurs inthe same environment.That is, [l] and [r] are in complementary distribution in Korean. They are mutuallyexclusive. In the same context, you can never find both.Complementary DistributionSuperman and Clark Kent are different "physical realizations" of the cartooncharacter.When Clark Kent is present, Superman is NOT.Dont forget:When sounds are in complementary distribution, they cannot be contrastive. Thereplacement of one sound for the other does not change the meaning of theword.
  • 12. 12III. Phonemes of EnglishCONSONANTSWhen describing a consonant, use the following parameters:VOICE: do your vocal cords vibrate?PLACE: Which cavity is involved? Which articulators are used?MANNER: how is the sound produced?VoicingTry putting a hand lightly on your throat and then say the following words,drawing out the initial sounds.If you feel vibration, this means that your vocal cords are open and the sound inquestion is a voiceless sound. If, on the other hand, you feel some vibration or abuzzing feeling, this is due to the vibration of your vocal cords which are closedtogether. This means that the sound you are making is a voiced sound.feel, vealzip, sipthigh, thygap, capcheap, jeep
  • 13. 13Oral vs. Nasal CavitiesPlace of Articulation
  • 14. 14Note: There are also alveopalatal and palatal sounds in English, for which I don’thave figures. The two articulatory points associated to these sounds are betweenthe alveolar ridge and the velum.
  • 15. 15Manner of ArticulationHow is the airstream modified by the vocal tract to produce the sound?Stops : Sounds that are stopped completely in the oral cavity for a brief period oftime.Fricatives: If the airstream is not completely stopped because of a narrowpassage in the oral cavity that causes friction and turbulance.Affricates: a stop closure + slow release (fricative)Liquids: some obstruction formed by the articulators, but not narrow enough tocause any real constriction.Glides: slight closure of the articulators, they are almost like vowels. Therefore,they are often called semi-vowels.CONSONANTS VS: VOWELS• Consonants are produced with some closure or restriction in the vocaltract as the airstream is pushed through the glottis out of the mouth.• When vowels are produced, there is nothing in the vocal tract that narrowsthe passage such that it would obstruct the free flow of the airstream. Thatis, vowels are produced without any articulators touching or even comingclose together.• Vowels are the most audible, SONORANT (or intense) sounds in speech.• Vocal fold vibration is the sound source for vowels. Therefore, all vowelsare, almost always, VOICED.• Unlike consonants, there is neither place of constriction or closure (placeof articulation), nor a specific manner of articulation.• The shape of the vocal tract determines the quality of the vowel. There areseveral ways in which we can change the shape of the vocal tract:1. raising or lowering the body of the tongue2. pushing the tongue forward or pulling it back3. rounding the lips
  • 16. 16Figure 1: tongue position for [i]Figure 2: Tongue position for [æ]Figure 3: Tongue position for [u]
  • 17. 17We can classify vowels by answering the following questions:1. How high is the tongue?HIGH , MID , LOW2. Is the tongue advanced or retracted?FRONT , CENTRAL , BACK3. Are the lips rounded?ROUNDED , UNROUNDED4. Is the tongue tense?TENSE, LAX• Compare the vowels in ‘beat’ and ‘bit’, or ‘bait’ and ‘bet’.• TENSE vowels ([i],[u],[e],[o]) are produced with greater tension of thetongue muscles than their LAX counterparts (all others). TENSE vowelsare phonetically longer than LAX vowels.Diphthongs‘toy’, ‘loud’, ‘hide’• Diphthongs are two part vowel sounds that consist of a vowel plus a glide(either [j] or [w]) in the same syllable.[j]: as in "rye", "bite", "why"[w]: as in "hour", "brow"[oj]: as in "boy", "coin"Note 1: There may be some variation in the way some of the words given in thevowel section of this lecture are pronounced in English (e.g., the pronunciation ofthe word ‘bait’). Furthermore, different books may employ different phoneticsymbols (e.g., sometimes, you might see the vowel in ‘bite’ being transcribed as[aI]). For consistency, we will stick to the symbols used above.Note 2: The consonant and vowel charts are posted separately. The worksheetfor the tutorials is in the Problems/Solutions folder.