It's a bit of a silly question that popped out in my mind as a (quasi-)linguist with a great experience with portuguese (it is also my mother tongue). How should one treat the following alternation in portuguese for example:

ovo (egg) [ˈo.vʊ]

ovos (eggs) [ˈɔ.vʊs]

By known processes, in this case, the [o] is lowered to [ɔ] in the plural. How should one treat it morphologically? As if the lowering AND the -s are an allomorph of the plural marker -s or as if an allomorphic form of the root itself? I guess it is the second one, but I'm not quite sure. Thank you!

PS.: the [ɔ] and [o] are both separated phonemes, thus /ɔ/ and /o/.

  • Have you read any of the papers on the topic such as Harris 1974, Redenbarger 1981, Wetzels 1995?
    – user6726
    Jan 30, 2020 at 2:28

1 Answer 1


It is just a neutralisation case. We cannot determine which phoneme is underlying, then we speak of archiphoneme ( see Troubetzkoy, Prague linguistic circle).

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