• Phonotactics is a branch of Phonology that
deals with restrictions (official limits) in a
language on the permissible combinations of
• In other words, Phonotactics are the rules that
govern the combinations and ordering of
phonemes in a syllable or a word.
has a correlation with the syllable
structure (including the
consonant clusters and vowel
sequences) by means of
Dealing with the syllable, there are some basic
internal segmental structure as follows:
The nucleus is obligatory, usually the
vowel in the middle of a syllable;
The onset is the optional sound or
sounds occurring before the nucleus; and
The coda is the optional sound or sounds
that follow the nucleus.
Thus, in the word cat /kæt/, for example, /k/ is the
onset, /æ/ is the nucleus, and /t/ is the coda.
C V C
In the pattern of consonant cluster, the English
syllable twelfths [twelfθs], for instance, is
divided into the onset /tw/, the nucleus /e/, and
the coda /lfθs/, and its phonotactic can be
described as CCVCCCC
twelfths [ twelfθs ]
CC V CCCC (phonotactic)
O N C (syllable structure)
In addition, commonly, in English and most
other languages, a word that begins with a
vowel is automatically pronounced with an
initial glottal stop, whether or not a glottal
stop occurs as a phoneme in the language.
Example: up /ʌp/ is supposed as /ʔʌp/
Thus, in the initial-vowel word above, the glottal
stop /ʔ/ is called a null onset.
One phoneme pattern V I [aɪ], oh [əʊ]
Two phoneme pattern
On [ɒn], it [ɪt]
Be [bi:], see [si:]
Three phoneme pattern
Dog [dɒg], cat [kæt]
Tree [tri:], ski [ski:]
Its [ɪts], eats [i:ts]
Four phoneme pattern
Slab [slæb], bread [bred]
Desk [desk], fist [fɪst]
Five phoneme pattern
Street [stri:t], stress [stres]
Six phoneme pattern
Strand [strænd], sprint [sprɪnt]
Seven phoneme pattern
Here are some examples of phonotactics of the English words:
Coarticulation is the overlapping of adjacent
Coarticulation is the influence of the target phoneme on
-(Linda I. House, 1998:141)-
In other words, coarticulation is the secondary
articulations of a phoneme.
In English, actually, many consonants
have unique qualities.
However, we will only discuss about the
following particular consonants in detail:
a. / ɹ /
b. / l /
c. / ŋ /
“R” varies more in
pronunciation than any
other consonant in the IPA.
During the Old English period (449 – 1100 A.D),
the /r/ was used by most speakers. This sound
was carried into Middle English (1066 A.D) and is
still used in British-English nowadays.
• In American-English, according to IPA (1949), the
R with right tail / ɽ / or the lowercase R (/r/) were
used by most speakers. Those symbols were
transcribed in broad transcription (the transcription
that is often used to draw a transcription that uses
a simple set of symbols) as / r /.
NOTE: (A.D stands for Anno Domini (Latin) means “the time of our Lord”--in the
Christian calendar, means since the birth of Jesus Christ.
The / ɹ / becomes voiceless in a CCV
syllable when preceded by a voiceless
stop such as:
/ p / in „pry‟ [ pɹaɪ ] ;
/ t / in „trim‟ [ tɹɪm ] ; or
/ k / in „crow‟ [ kɹəʊ ]
The / ɹ / also becomes voiceless in a CCV
syllable when preceded by a voiceless
fricative such as:
/ f / in „free‟ [ fɹi: ] ;
/ ʃ / in „shrink‟ [ ʃɹɪŋk ] ; or
/ θ / in „thread‟ [ θɹed ]
Variation of /ɹ/ in the Syllables
Consist of Diphthong /aɪ/ or /aʊ/
When the diphthongs /aɪ/ and /aʊ/ are
combined with / ɹ /, there are two kinds of
The word „fire‟, for example, could be
[faɪə(r)] or [faɪɹ], and „flower‟ as [flaʊə(r)] or
[aɪ] or [aʊ] + [ɹ])
The vowel /i/ variations and /e/ can be
combined with the /ɹ/ by changing the /ɹ/
into /ɚ/ (rhetoric sound) and placing an
approximant /j/ between the vowel and
the “r” variation.
„player‟ [plejɚ] → [plejɹ] → [pleɪə(r)]
„dear‟ [dɪjɚ] → [dɪjɹ] → [dɪə(r)]
OTHER “r” PHONEMES
Symbols: Kinds of Articulation Types: Used in:
/ r / voiced alveolar trill LOWER-CASE R Spanish
/ R / voiced uvular trill SMALL CAPITAL R French
/ ɾ / voiced alveolar tap FISH-HOOK R Spanish
/ ɽ / voiced retroflex tap R WITH RIGHT TAIL Nigerian
/ ʁ / voiced uvular fricative
/ ɹ / voiced alveolar/retroflex approximant TURNED-LEGGED R
Note: In general English pronunciation, /ɹ/ is transcribed in broad transcription as /r/.
The / l / phoneme is the only lateral approximant
consonant, and it varies significantly based on its
position in the word.
The voiced lateral approximant / l / is pronounced
clearly when it is close to the beginning of the syllable,
such as in „light‟ [laɪt], „leaf‟ [li:f], „black‟ [blæk], „lose‟
When the / l / is close to the end of the syllable, it is
not pronounced clearly (often called a “dark l”), as in
„milk‟ [mɪlk], „full‟ [fʊl], „pool‟ [pu:l].
When vowels /i/, /u/ variations and diphthongs /eɪ/,
/aʊ/, /aɪ/, and /ɔɪ/ are combined with the final /l/,
the word can often be pronounced as monosyllabic
or supposed as bisyllabic by the adding of the
approximant /j/ or /w/ plus schwa (/ə/).
„feel‟ [fi:l] → [fi:jəl]
‘cool’ [ku:l] → [ku:wəl]
„fail‟ [feɪl] → [fejəl]
„tile‟ [taɪl] → [tɑ:jəl]
‘boil’ [bɔɪl] → [bɔ:jəl]
‘fuel’’ [fjʊəl] → [fjʊwəl]
Because of the nasal coarticulation and
phonological rules, the /ŋ/ can only be
combined with the /ɪ/, /e/, /æ/, /ɒ/, and /ʌ/ in
When pronouncing those vowels followed by
the /ŋ/, the quality of the vowels may sound
different than they would in other contexts
because of the influence of nasality.
In the English language, the /ŋ/ is only found in
medial and final positions.