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Phonology -- The Sound Patterns of Language Made Easy


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Fun Facts About Phonology -- The Sound Patterns of Language

Fun Facts About Phonology -- The Sound Patterns of Language

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  • 1. Phonology: The Sound Patterns of Language
    By Richard Binkney, Ph.D.
  • 2. Phonology is the study of speech sounds
    Phoneme – the basic unit
    of sound
    Semantics – the study of the
    meaning of language
    Morpheme – smallest unit
    of sound to carry
  • 3. Phrenological map of the human brain
    Notice that the area for Language (35) is one of the smallest.
  • 4. Speech sounds can be classified as either consonants or vowels
    Consonants – the air
    does not flow freely
    Vowels – air flows
    freely to create
    different sounds
  • 5. Put your fingers in front of your throat:
    Say the letters “V” & “F”
    What is the difference?
    Now, try these letter
    B/P D/T G/K
    Z/S Discuss findings.
  • 6. The Pronunciation of Morphemes
    Pronounce the plural forms of:
    Child – Ox – Mouse – Criterion – Sheep
    The old spelling rule to add s or es is misleading. These are special plurals that have to be memorized early in the use of English.
  • 7. The old English rule of adding s or esto make a plural word is often misleading. There is no rule to predict how all plural words are formed in English.
    Allomorph is the technical term describing the plural variance. The words may vary in shape or pronunciation, but not meaning. For example, s has 3 allomorphs: the -s sound in hats
    the -z sound in dogs
    the <<z sound in boxes
  • 8. Phonemes are not physical sounds. They are abstract mental representations of the phonological units of a language.
    The process of substituting one sound
    for another word to see if it makes
    a difference is a good way to identify
    the phonemes of a language. These
    words differ only in their vowel:
    beat [bit] [i] boot [but] [u]
    bait [bet] [e] boat [bot] [o]
    bite [bajt] [aj] bot [bat] [a]
    Can you think of any others?
  • 9. Minimal Pairs…
    are two words with different meanings that are identical except for one sound segment that occurs in the same place in each word. Say the following word pairs and determine in which sound segment the difference occurs:
    cab/cap rot/lot had/bad pin/bin zeal/seal
  • 10. The following Minimal Pairs show
    that English /p/ and /b/ contrast
    in initial, medial , & final positions.
    Initial Medial Final
    pit/bit rapid/rabid cap/cab
    Find similar sets of minimal pairs for
    the following consonant pairs:
    /k/ - /g/ /l/ - /r/ /s/ - /z/
  • 11. Morphophonemic Rules
    determine the phonetic form
    of the plural morpheme and
    other morphemes. Like plurals,
    some irregular past tenses
    conform to no particular rule
    and must be learned
    For example: go / went sing / sang
    hit / hit run / ran
  • 12. A Phoneme the basic form of a sound
    Each phoneme has associated with it one or more
    sounds, called Allophones, which represent the actual sound corresponding to the phoneme.
    For example, notice the
    differences as you pronounce:
    Aspiration allophone [p] in pit
    Without aspiration allophone
    [p] in spit
  • 13. Punctuation Marks : phonemes use / / marks – allophones/phones use [ ] marks
    Phonemically the words
    bead and bean are transcribed
    as /bid/ and /bin/
    Phonetically the words are
    transcribed to be pronounced
    as [bid] and [bin]
  • 14. Complimentary Distribution
    Is the relationship between two phonemetically similar segments. The sound is modified by the environment. Which variant occurs is determined by the immediate preceeding letter.
    For example: the letter l has a complimentary distribution in the words glue and blue . What other
    variants do you find in these words?
    sat vat
    mill will
    rack rock
  • 15. - Distinctive Features of Phonemes –
    Phonetics provides the means to describe the phones (sounds) of language, showing how they are produced and how they vary.
    Phonology tells us how various sounds form patterns to create phonemes and their allophones.
  • 16. Phoneme Feature Values
    Voicing and/or Voicelessnessis the presence of a single feature. This single feature may have two values: + = voicing or -- = voicelessness.
    Nasality presence or absence is
    designated as + or -- also.
    Determine the values of:
    feel / veal cap / cab
    m / b
  • 17. Voicing
    When verbs add -edto become
    past tense this ending becomes
    voiced if the preceding sound is
    voiced as in “planned” or
    voiceless if the preceding sound
    is voiceless as in “jumped.”
    Since /t/ is not voiced and vowels
    are voiced, a /t/ between vowels
    often becomes voiced so that
    “latter” and “writer” are
    pronounced like “ladder” and “rider.”
  • 18. Aspiration
    /p/ /t/ and /k/ form the natural class of
    voiceless stops. In English, voiceless
    stops are aspirated if they are followed
    by a stressed vowel and not preceded
    by /s/.
    This makes sense because aspiration
    is a puff of air. This puff would occur
    after a stop. It would occur into a
    stressed syllable. If the consonant
    were voiced or if some of the air had
    leaked out because of a preceding
    /s/, the aspiration would be less
  • 19. Palatization
    When a word that ends with a /t/ is followed by a
    –ual, -ial, or -ion ending, the palatal vowel <y-> changes
    the /t/ sound into a /č/ sound. Examples include:
    addict addiction
    act actual or action
    part partial
    predict prediction
  • 20. 20
    Places of articulation (passive & active):1. Exo-labial, 2. Endo-labial, 3. Dental, 4. Alveolar, 5. Post-alveolar, 6. Pre-palatal, 7. Palatal, 8. Velar, 9. Uvular, 10. Pharyngeal, 11. Glottal, 12. Epiglottal, 13. Radical, 14. Postero-dorsal, 15. Antero-dorsal, 16. Laminal, 17. Apical, 18. Sub-apical
  • 21. Active Articulators
    Bilabial is one of the 5 active
    Put your lips together and say
    the letters –
    B P M
  • 22. Active Articulates
    Labiodentalis another
    example of an active
    Put your lip to your teeth:
    Now say - F V
  • 23. Active Articulates
    The third example of an active articulate is
    Place your tongue on the
    back of your incisors
    Say the letter N
  • 24. Nasality is a nondistinctive feature for English vowels. There is no way to predict that the difference between the words meat and beat. You simply learn the words.
    On the other hand, the nasality feature value of the vowels in bean, mean, comb, and sing is predictable because they occur before nasal consonants. When a feature value is predictable by rule for a sound, the feature is nondistinctive or redundant or predictable (the three terms are equivalent). Thus, nasality is a redundant feature in English vowels, but a nonredundant feature for English consonants.
  • 25. Feature Values : Nasality
    Nasality occurs with a lowering of the soft palate or velum so that air escapes both through the nose and the mouth.
    The presence or absence of nasality is designated as
    [ +nasal ] or [ -nasal ]
    Determine nasality for:
    /m/ /p/
    mother patrol
    parrot milk Can you think of any others?
  • 26. Aspiration of voiceless stops illustrates the asymmetry of the phonological systems of different languages.
    Both aspirated and unaspirated voiceless stops occur in English and Thai, but they function differently. Aspiration in English is not a distinctive feature because its presence or absence is predictable. In Thai, it is not predictable.
  • 27. What is the difference between distinctive and phonemic?
    * The phonetic representation of
    utterances shows what speakers know about the pronunciation of sounds.
    *The phonemic representation of utterances shows what speakers know about the patterning of sounds.
    *The words pot/pat spot/spat have
    identical phonemes (e.g., /p/ )
  • 28. In English, vowel length and consonant length are nonphonemic.
    Prolonging a sound in
    English will not produce
    a different word. In other
    languages, long and short
    vowels that are identical
    except for length are
    In such languages, length
    is a nonpredictable distinctive feature.
  • 29. Natural classes of sounds are those groups of sounds described by a small number of distinctive features.
    One example is where the [-- voiced], [--continuant], which describes /p/, t/, /k/.
    Any individual member of a natural class would
    require more features in its
    description than the class
    itself, so /p/ is not only
    [ -- voiced ], [--continuant]
    but also [ + labial].
  • 30. The Rules of Phonology
    The relationship between the phonemic representations of
    words and the phonetic
    representations that reflect
    the pronunciation of these words is rule-governed.
    Although the specific rules of phonology differ from language to language, the kinds of rules, what they do, and the natural classes they refer to are the same throughout the world.
  • 31. Assimilation Rulesrules make two or more neighboring segments more similar by making the segments share some feature.
    The vowel nasalization rule in English is an assimilation rule, because it involves taking the [+nasal] feature on the segment following the vowel and adding it to the vowel, making the value of [nasal] identical for the two segments. Say the following words and discuss your findings:
    bone/bow bean/bee line/lie hand/hat
  • 32. Dissimulation Rules
    Dissimulation rules make sounds less
    Similar. Sometimes it is easier to articulate dissimilar sounds:
    Say the “tongue twister:”
    The sixth sheik’s sixth sheep is sick.
    Now say,
    The fifth sheik’s fourth sheep is sick.
    Which is easier for you to say? Why?
  • 33. Epenthesis
    Epenthesis is the addition of one
    or more sounds to a word.
    Excrescense occurs if the sound
    added is a consonant.
    Anaptyxis occurs if the sound
    added is a vowel.
  • 34. Excrescense
    An example of
    Excrescense– addition of an
    extra vowel to a word
    Hamp – ster Hamster
    Can you think of other
    examples of Excrescense?
  • 35. Anaptyxis
    An example of
    Anaptysix – addition of
    An extra vowel to a word
    Pic – a – nicbasket
    Can you think of other examples?
  • 36. Epenthesis can also occur as a Poetic Device where the meter of a piece of literature requires extra syllables.
    For example: In “The Umbrella Man” movie/song the word adds a 4th syllable: um – buh – rel – a
    Can you think of others?
  • 37. Metathesis Rules
    Phonological rules may
    also reorder sequences
    of phonemes, as in
    ask/aks nuclear/nucular
    Can you add any others to
    This list?
    Dog lovers have metathesized the Shetland Sheepdog into a sheltie.
  • 38. The more we look at languages, the more we realize that what appears at first to be irregular and unpredictable phonetic forms are actually rule-governed.
    We learn, or construct, these rules when we are acquiring the language as children. The rules form an important part of the sound pattern that we acquire from birth.
  • 39. PhonologicalRules
    The function of the
    phonological rules
    in a grammar is to
    provide the phonetic information necessary for the pronunciation of utterances.
    Input Phonemic representation of words
    Phonological Rules
    Outputt Phonetic representation of words
  • 40. From One to Many – From Many to One
    Rarely is a single phoneme realized
    as one and only one phone.
    Consider the vowels in the
    following pairs of words:
    A - compete B - competition
    medicinal medicine
    solid solidity
    In column A, all underlined vowels are stressed with a variety of vowel phones; in column B, the underlined
    vowels are pronounced as schwa.
  • 41. The Flap Rule
    Flap is a rapid movement of the tongue tip from a retracted vertical position to a horizontal position, during which the tongue brushes the alveolar ridge.
    When /t/ or /d/ occurs between a stressed and an unstressed vowel, they both become a “flap.”
    The following words sound similar:
    auntie/Annie metal/medal
    planter/planner coating/coding
    futile/feudal waiter/wader
    latter/ladder matter/madder
    Can you name any others?
  • 42. Neutralization
    Neutralization is a merger of a contrast in certain contexts or specified environment
    Some examples of neutralization
    Before /g/ are:
    bag egg
    Greg keg
    leg peg
    Can you name any others?
  • 43. Slips of the Tongue
    Unintentional speech errors show phonological rules in action. We all make speech errors, and they tell us something about language and its use. Consider:
    Intended Utterance Actual Utterance
    gone to seed god to seen
    stick in the mud smuck in the tid
    speech pronunciation preach seduction
  • 44. Word Stress
    In many languages, including English, one or more of the syllables in every content word is stressed.
    (the words to, the, of, a are functional/support words). A
    stressed syllable, marked by an accute accent (‘) is more prominent in the following examples:
    Pervert noun as in My neighbor is a pervert.
    Pervert verb as in Don’t pervert the idea. Can you think of other examples?
  • 45. Stress can be shown by placing a 1 over the primary stressed syllable, a 2 over the syllable with secondary stress, and leaving unstressed vowels unmarked. Place the appropriate stress marks on these words?
    fundamental introductory secondary
    Stress is the property of the syllable rather than a segment. To produce a stressed syllable, you may change the pitch, make the syllable louder, or make it longer. We often use all three of these phonetic means to stress a syllable.
  • 46. In English we place primary stress on the adjectival part of a compound noun.
    But, we place stress on the noun when
    the words are a noun phrase consisting of
    an adjective followed by a noun. Consider
    where you would place the primary stress:
    Compound Noun Adjective + Noun
    tightrope tight rope
    redcoat red coat
    hotdog hot dog
    White House white house
  • 47. Pitch and Intonation
    Pitch plays an important role in tone & intonation.
    Say: John is going home.
    What’s in the tea, honey?
    Falling pitch at the end indicates a statement.
    Pitch rising at the end may indicate a question.
  • 48. Phonolactic Constraints are language specific combinations of phonemes.
    In Japanese, the /st/ consonant cluster
    is not allowed – while it exists in English
    In English, the sounds /kn/ and /gn/
    are not permitted at the beginning
    of a new word – however, they do
    exist in both German and Dutch
  • 49. Lexical Gaps
    Advertisers often use possible but
    nonoccurring words for new
    products –
    Xerox Bic Kodak Spam
    Other words like creck and cruck
    are nonsense words found in the lexicon – often called Lexical Gaps
    Can you name some others?
  • 50. Why Do Phonological Rules Exist?
    Because languages have general principles that constrain possible sequences of sounds.
    The rules specify minimal modifications of the
    underlying forms that bring them in line with
    the surface constraints.
    Thus, we find different variants of a particular
    underlying form depending on the phonological
    One example is the English past-tense rule.
    Can you think of any others?
  • 51. Optimality Theory
    This proposal holds that a universal
    set of ranked constraints with
    higher ranked constraints taking
    preference over lower ranked ones,
    exists with the entire system
    governing the phonological rules.
    One example is the plural rule.
    Can you name any others?
  • 52. Phonological Analysis: Discovering Phonemes
    Phonology shows that sounds can
    be grouped into units/phonemes
    Example: There is only one /p/
    phoneme in English – but that
    phoneme has 2 sound variations
    or allophones:/p/ aspirated as in pot
    /p/unaspirated as in soup
  • 53. The phonological rules in a language show that the phonemic shape of words or phrases is not identical with their phonetic form.
    The phonemes are not the actual
    phonetic sounds, but are abstract
    mental constructs that are realized
    as sound by the operation of rules
    described in this chapter. No one
    is taught these rules, yet everyone
    knows them subconsciously.
  • 54. Fun Facts About Phonology
    By first grade most children understand about 10,000 words. (Anglin, 1993,as cited in Siegler, & Akibali, 2005).
    By fifth grade children understand about 40,000 words. ( Anglin, 1993, as cited in Siegler, & Alibali, 2005).  
  • 55. 55
    Parents and adults tend to shape word meaning in children before they shape grammar.
    (Baron, 1992; Brown, Cazden, & Bellus, 1969, as cited in Shaffer,, 2002).
  • 56. Both infants who are deaf and infants
    who can hear babble.
    The babbling of deaf infants matches
    the rhythms of sign language and is
    similar in pattern to the babbling of
    hearing babies.
    (Petitto, Holowka, Sergio,Levy,
    & Ostry, 2004).
  • 57. 57
    Deaf children who are  not exposed to formal sign language (ASL) develop  home sign, which has structures that are similar to the American Sign Language
    (Goldin-Meadow,Mylander,&Butcher,1995,as cited in Siegler,&Alibal,2005).
  • 58. Final Thoughts from Ogden Nash
    The one-l lama,
    He’s a priest.
    The two-l llama,
    He’s a beast.
    And I will bet
    A silk pajama
    There isn’t any Three-l lllama.
    (Fromkin, Rodman, & Hyams, p. 290)
    In response to this poem one wit remarked,
    “A three alarmer is a really big fire.”
  • 59. Phonology Sample Exercise Questions:
    Consider the following data from the Native American
    language – Ojibwa:
    anoki:i: she works nitanok:i: I work
    a:k:osi she is sick nita:k:osi I am sick
    ma:ca she leaves nima:ca: I leave
    wi:sini she eats kiwi:sini you eat
    What forms do the morphemes
    “I” and “You” take; that is, what are
    the allomorphes?
  • 60. Sample Exercise #2:
    In African Maninka, the
    suffix –li has more than one
    pronunciation. It is similar
    to the derivational suffix
    -ing(cook + ing = cooking). Look at these Maninka words:
    bugo “hit” bugoli “hitting”
    dila “repair” dilali “repairing”
    dumu “eat” dumuni “eating”
    gwen “chase” gwenni “chasing”
    What are the 2 forms of the “ing” ending in Maninka?
  • 61. References
    All text materials and quotes from -- Fromkin, Victoria, Rodman, Robert, and Hyams, Nina. An Introduction to Language, 8th ed. Boston: Thomson-Wadsworth, 2007.
    Google.Com (pictures and images)
    “Language Development – Fun Facts”
    Accessed 09/10/2009 http://language
    Nilsen, Don L. F. Accessed 09/10/2009
    (slides 17 – 19)
  • 62. With Appreciation To –
    Google Images
    Dr. Sheila W. Binkney