Review of Phonetics Speech sounds are decomposable into articulatory primitives (also known as features) Feature differences (e.g., voiced vs. voiceless, nasal vs. not nasal, labial vs. alveolar vs. velar) lead to the diversity of sounds across languages
We seem to perceive speech sounds as discrete units rather than continuous acoustic signals
Further aspects of sound: Cognitive How important is speech to language? The phoneme : the basic, distinctive sounds of a language What it means to be distinctive How words are organized into subparts (syllables and other units) for the determination of stress
Knowledge of language--the internal “grammar” in your mind--will get more and more abstract than the physiological aspects of language
Cross-Linguistic Differences Everyone has encountered a language that contains a speech sound that is not in their native language As a general point, languages differ greatly both in terms of how many phonemes they have and in terms of which phonemes they have Many: Some Khoisan languages, around 140 phonemes
Few: E.g. Hawaiian, 13 phonemes
Being Distinctive We refer to the phonemes above as distinctive because they make contrasts between different words
This can be illustrated for stops by using minimal pairs : a pair of words that differ in only one phoneme:
Lost in Translation
R vs. L Many Korean and Japanese speakers have trouble learning the contrast between R and L in English It is NOT because these sounds are absent in the native language Notice that they are NOT in contrastive positions ( l at the end of a syllable but r at the front) But English uses R and L contrastively: minimal pairs bLue~bRew, Light~Right, maLt~maRt
Phonology is not just about the sound inventory, it’s also about how sounds are put in use
Differences that are not distinctive Some aspects of pronunciation are not distinctive. Example: aspiration (puffing air) The former [p] is aspirated, but the [p] in the latter is not But: the distinction between aspirated and non-aspirated [p] is not distinctive in English (although it is in other languages). That is, in English there are no pairs like [p h It] ‘hole in the ground, etc.’ [pIt] (whatever this might be)
Rule of thumb : come up with minimal pairs as a test for phonemes
Transcribing differences When we transcribe speech sounds using the IPA notation, we may do so in different ways. If we are interested in every phonetic detail, we would indicate effects like aspiration in English, even if it is not distinctive ([p h It]) If we are interested more in the phonological inventory, we would omit the aspiration, as it is not distinctive ([pIt]) For our purposes we will be concentrating on the latter type
Sometimes when we focus on phonology , an abstract representation, we use slashes, e.g. /p/
Phonemes and Allophones Sometimes the same phoneme is pronounced in different ways depending on its context The variants of a phoneme are called allophones of that phoneme When we are talking about such distinctions, the phoneme is in slashes /…/ and the allophones are in square brackets […]
The aspiration of e.g. /p/ is a case of this type; we say that /p/ in English has the allophones [p] and [p h ]
Phonemes and Allophones, cont. So, for instance, the phoneme /p/ appears in each of the following words: How, the first contains the allophone [p h ], while the second contains [p] In fact, the rule for aspiration in English is more general & complex: English voiceless stops (e.g., p, k, etc.) are Aspirated if word initial, or syllable-initial preceding a stressed vowel: Compare récord vs. recórd
b. Otherwise unaspirated.
Phonemes: Nasalized vowels e.g. English speakers have not memorized any nasal vowels but English speakers do make nasal vowels: mat [m ӕ t] vs man [m ǣ n] We have one phoneme that can be realized phonetically as nasal or oral
One phoneme / ӕ / with two allophones [ ӕ ] and [ ǣ ]
Implications for learning words When we learn words, we don’t memorize their pronunciations directly We memorize the abstract phoneme representations (e.g., /pit/ and /spit/) The aspiration rule will turn /p/ in the former to an aspirated [ p h ]
This saves a tremendous amount of memory but involves online computation
Phonemes and Allophones allophone allophone
Finding Phonemes: More in recitation The phonemes differ from language to language. How do we figure out what the phonemes of a language are?
One trick is to look for minimal pairs (p ӕ t b ӕ t)
Finding Phonemes Minimal pairs are two words that have different meanings, but differ in only one sound sip/zip , day/bay, ram / ran / rang Since the difference between the sounds is meaningful, it must be stored in memory. Our minimal pairs above let us conclude that: s/z are distinct phonemes, d/b are distinct phonemes,
m/n/ ŋ are distinct phonemes
Finding Phonemes Sometimes it isn’t possible to find minimal pairs for all sounds, but speakers can tell whether a contrast would yield a distinct possible word, even if it’s not a real word.
e.g. “ bat” vs “ bap” : I know that “ bat” is a word and that “ bap” isn’t, and that “ bap” is a possible word. So /t/ /p/ are distinct phonemes.
Finding Phonemes Same procedure with vowels e.g. beat/bit/bait/bet/bat/but/boot/boat/bought
When working on phonological problems, first look for minimal pairs. Yes = phonemes
Rules of Pronunciation [vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal consonant] the kind of sound that changes in this rule, it’s vowels
Note: m an and c an and t an and s an(k)
Rules of Pronunciation
[vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal consonant]
Rules of Pronunciation [vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal consonant] Notice: I didn’t put [nasal vowel]--I don’t have to put vowel b/c that doesn’t change
Only put what changes = simpler, less to remember
Rules of Pronunciation
[vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal consonant]
Rules of Pronunciation [vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal consonant] This is the environment that causes the change The underlining shows the position of the sound that’s changing
Here: before a nasal consonant
Rules of Pronunciation To show “after a nasal consonant”, we could have done this: To show “between a nasal consonant and a nasal consonant”, we would have done this:
[nasal consonant] ___ [nasal consonant]
Rules of Pronunciation So, English speakers unconsciously know the following rule: [vowel] [nasal] / __ [nasal, consonant] “ vowels become nasal when before a nasal consonant” This is a rule of assimilation , making sounds more similar.
Rules of dissimilation (making sounds less similar) also exist, but are less common
Phonemes and their distributions Other cases of distinctive features lead to some interesting observations These phonemes are distinct at the end of the word; but, [ng], unlike the other two, has the property that it never occurs word-initially in English
In order to understand these patterns, we have to move from the phonemes to the principles by which phonemes are organized into words and other units.
The Syllable A familiar notion is that of the syllable : as in, ‘Philadelphia’ has five syllables Newborns perceive speech in terms of syllables Basically, each vowel corresponds to a syllable A refined set of hypothesis about the syllable is important for many linguistic generalizations Onset: the beginning of the syllable Nucleus: vowel in the middle of the syllable
Coda: consonant(s) at the end of a syllable
Syllable Structure Legislator: le-gi-sla-tor; four syllables ( σ ) σ Onset Rhyme k Nucleus Coda æ t Monosyllabic cat :
Onsets and Speech Errors Spoonerisms (Rev. Dr. W. A. Spooner, 1844-1930) Target: d ear old qu een Output: queer old dean Target: You have w asted the whole t erm Output: You have tasted the whole worm. Target: You m issed my h istory lectures. Output: You hissed my mystery lectures.
Further aspects of the syllable English normally allows two consonants. [s] can be added initially in many cases as well, resulting in onsets with three consonants (e.g. splash ) All sounds can occur in this position with the exception of [ng]. Thus the subdivision of the syllable is crucial for stating this generalization.
English normally allows two consonants, although again there are cases where more stack up (e.g. belts)
Syllables and well-formedness Conditions on syllable structure define a set of (phonologically) possible words in a language; for instance Actual words: brick, true, free, crab, etc. Non-words that are possible words of English: blick, clee, flork Impossible words: *bnick, *fnee, *dmay Words in which historical change has made an initial consonant silent: knee, knight, gnat
Another reason that we don’t just memorize words but form generalizations over them
Differences across languages Languages differ in terms of the constraints they impose on syllable structure: Maximum of one consonant per onset E.g. Polish: many consonant clusters at the beginning of words that are impossible in English: bzdura "nonsense" grzbiet [gzhbyet] "back"
marnotrawstw [mar-no-trafstf] "of wastes"
Infixation: more on this next week Suffix: Attached to the end of a word (work- ed ) Prefix: Beginning ( un -important) Infix: Inside a word What is an example of an infix in English? There is at least one phenomenon with the relevant properties. this illustrates the basic principle that larger linguistic units are built out of smaller ones
Expletive infixation Expletive Infixation is not something that our English teachers instruct us in; yet we know a great deal about it – what’s the rule? Go home and try with your friends & Tas It has to do with stress patterns of language inde - f*cking - pendent unrea - f*cking - listic * indepen - f*cking - dent * unreali - f*cking - stic