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Questions tagged [phonology]

The study of the abstract aspect of the sounds or *phonemes* in a given language.

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In need of a simple book on English phonology - recommendations? [on hold]

SPE of Chomsky and Halle entails far more than I can handle.
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1answer
78 views

Rhythm of Italian language [on hold]

Just a quick question. Could anybody help me out clarifying to which rhythm language does Italian belong to? Where could I find references on it?
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Why does schwa have a special place among vowels?

What makes schwa so special? On my phonology exam my tutor phrased the question something like: Why is schwa the ruler/king of vowels? I don't know what he meant by this but I suppose it's got ...
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1answer
50 views

What does a long mid-high unrounded back vowel sound like?

I'm trying to figure out what the Livonian character ȱ sounds like. As far as I can tell, it's a long mid-high unrounded back vowel. In IPA it seems to be written as /ɤː/ but that seems to be a non-...
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38 views

What would be the hypothetical phonological range of canines based on their physiology?

There are all kinds of videos showcasing "talking" dogs like huskies jabbering away, but I'm curious: In theory (in a world where dogs could have human brains) what would they physiologically be ...
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1answer
63 views

Complementary distribution and defective distribution

I'm not sure if I understood what complementary distribution and defective distribution mean. I have a definition that complementary distribution is an automatic, i.e. obligatory positional variation ...
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95 views

Advanced book for English Phonology?

pals. Does anyone know any advanced book(s) in Phonology of English and could give me a title/the titles, please? I am studying English Philology (so English is my 2nd language) and we've just ...
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80 views

Phonology: Exemplars vs. Abstract Phoneme Theory

I have come across an essay title asking us to critique the evidence of language being processed as either “abstract phonemes” or “surface exemplars”. (Specifically in phonology) Is this a rewording ...
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*through* vs. *tough*: ME*-ough* /uːx/ > –? How are the sound shifts from ME -ough explained?

How is it explained that the sound sequence /uːx/ -ough has developed so differently in different words? Not-dipthongized in through, shortened and unrounded and retained fricative in tough, lowered ...
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1answer
102 views

Change from labialized velar to labial

Is there a specific auditory reason for which a labiovelar such as "kʷ" becomes a "p" sound?This could also be applied to the change in Latin from "duellum" to "bellum"
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435 views

Development of diphthongs

Is there a specific reason for which diphthongs in German and English words like "mein" and "like" arose? It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon, but somehow it seems to be limited to Germanic ...
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2answers
101 views

Why is phonemic labialization often found only on dorsal consonants?

According to Merritt Ruhlen, over 50% of occurrences of phonemic labialization are applied to dorsal (velar and uvular) consonants, while coronals are usually left out. There are a few families where ...
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What is the difference between ŋ͡͡j and ɲ? [duplicate]

I was thinking about how a "b̃" is the same thing as an "m" and a "s̪" is the same thing as a "θ". Maybe the same applies to ŋ͡͡j and ɲ?
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How are LH words assigned stress in Latin if we assume maximally bimoraic feet?

I recently came across a paper, "The Quantitative Trochee in Latin" (by R. Armin Mester, 1994) that seems to argue that feet in Latin were "strictly" bimoraic. The arguments that Mester gives for ...
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2answers
190 views

How did Latin get its stress pattern?

As far as I know, Latin had a word-initial accent for some time of its history after losing the Indo-European accent. I am wondering why Latin then switched to an ante-/pen-ultima stress pattern.
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Whispering in languages heavily dependent on pitch or phonation distinctions

When whispering in English all (segmental) phonological distinctions can – as far as I am aware – still be made, which may be due to redundancy (or simply because voicing is optional). I even ...
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86 views

What type of stress does French have

So I know that there are on the one hand pitch-accent languages (like South-Slavic languages, Greek, Norwegian, etc.) where the accentuated syllable is indicated by a particular pitch contour/tone ...
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1answer
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What fraction of compound phonemes actually exist in natural language?

Are there phoneme sequences ("pairs") that have not been found in any natural language? I imagine there are some number of sequences that are physically impossible, but also some that are physically ...
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2answers
278 views

Question about nasal vowels in IPA

Probably a silly question, but why are there no nasal vowels in IPA charts? Should we assume that nasal vowels are placed in the same position as the corresponding oral vowels in the vocal chart? So ...
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3answers
185 views

Free variation in French

In French, some speakers differentiate between the pronunciation of maître /mɛ:tʁ/ and mettre /mɛtʁ/ - that is, in the first case the /ɛ/ is long and in the second it's short, but that ...
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4answers
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Why are “two instances of /r/ in one word” awkward?

Why Do Languages Change? (2010) by R. L. Trask. pp. 5-6     Our story moves now to Scotland, where the word grammar underwent a small change of pronunciation to glamour, reflecting the ...
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0answers
46 views

Rhotic gutturalization in French

While reading my tutor's paper I came across a term which I would like to understand better. Uvular trill [R] appears in certain French dialects. That sound often changes into a voiced uvular ...
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Is there a variety of Yiddish where /ɛ/ can be raised to [e]?

Is there a variety of Yiddish where /ɛ/ can be raised to [e]? If not, is it too weird to have /aj/ and /ɛ/ with no [e] or [ej] in between?
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Textbook suggestions for French phonology

I need to write a paper on French phonology for my Phonology class so I was wondering if you could give me some advice on where to start? I'm mainly looking for textbooks either in English or in ...
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2answers
254 views

IPA Pronunciation of Unvoiced Consonants Seems Like Voiced

This might be a trivial question, but it seems to me that certain unvoiced example pronunciations for IPA sounds resemble the voiced one. For example, on this site: http://www....
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Does English have syllabic fricatives (allophonically)?

When speaking rapidly, it doesn't seem that I make a schwa at all when saying a phrase like, say, "the bus." It seems like I'm saying [ð̩.bʌs]. Is this a documented phenomenon?
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98 views

The rule of location of stress in English verbs

There are three sets of verbs to point out the location of stress, which are: (Bold implies stress) A => exit B => exist C => improve, surprise C - consonant / V - Vowel According to this data, ...
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3answers
80 views

Sources on statistics of phonological properties of languages

I am looking for basic linguistic properties of Indo-European languages that provide a purely statistical description of the phoneme-aspect of the language. I am looking for any of the following data: ...
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1answer
151 views

Which dialect/accent of English has the most/least sounds?

My accent is from New York City, yet I wonder which area has the most or least sounds in their phonemic inventory. While one may have the most vowels and another the most consonants, I would like to ...
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1answer
95 views

How to do the Xhosa clicks

So this video explains clearly how to do the 3 Xhosa clicks at the same time as each vowel sound. The Wikipedia page also shows clearly how to produce those 3 clicks as well, independent of any vowel ...
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2answers
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Would anything bad happen if we made our alphabet represent the phonemes more accurately?

Using it to represent phones is of course bonkers, it would make much more likely for an unitary language to be split apart. When we are dealing with phonemes that problem is inexistent in my opinion, ...
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Dataset/Database similar to WALS in Vowel/Phonology

I am wondering if there is any database similar to The World Atlas of Language Structures (WALS)(https://wals.info/). In the case that it is specifically more geared towards phonological aspects of ...
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In what ways does Arabic use letters as orthographic signs without phonetic significance?

ا (alif) and و when used as orthographic signs without phonetic significance are not represented in romanization. fa‘alū فعلوا ulā’ika أوقية ūqīyah أولائك — ALA-LC guide to ...
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268 views

Please describe the environment in which the following sounds occur and write a rule to describe the sound patterns [closed]

A made-up language used for the following examples. Please describe the environment in which the following sounds occur and write a rule (in prose or linguistic notation, whichever you’re more ...
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1answer
60 views

How linguists determine the sounds a speaker is performing

So I see things like: Sharanawa has /ɸ/ instead of /β/, and Shanewana has a labiodental fricative /f/ instead of /ɸ/. where the table shows [β] as the symbol. That, along with other examples like ...
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2answers
45 views

If these superscripts can be considered consonant clusters

So I'm assuming the consonant equivalent of a diphthong is a consonant cluster. I'm wondering if these can be interpreted as consonant clusters. ˀm = ʔm dʰ = dh dʱ = dɦ dⁿ = dn ⁿd = nd ᵑd = ŋd ᶮd = ...
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0answers
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Pronunciation of Fermat in Gascon/Occitan

A math professor mentioned that the final segment of Fermat's name would probably have been pronounced [t] because of "where he was from." She didn't clarify further but I looked up where he's from ...
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1answer
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Is it possible to talk about two different phonemes if they always have the same manifestations?

Both considering L1 speakers and L2 speakers. It becomes a bit tricky involving L2 speakers. While a phoneme is defined as one of the units of sound that distinguishes one word from another in a ...
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3answers
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non-aspirated voiceless stops versus their voiced counterparts before a vowel

Is there a real distinction in say, a spectrogram, between unaspirated voiceless stops and their voiced counterparts before a (voiced) vowel? For example, /ka/ and /ga/. Are they actually different ...
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1answer
62 views

Where the nasal-ness comes in

I understand the basics of what a nasal sound is. I understand that m and n are nasal sounds because you are letting air come out of your nose. But I don't quite get a few other things: What the "...
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1answer
503 views

How linguists select phonemes to construct an alphabet for a language

For languages without written alphabets, wondering how a linguist goes out in the field and determines, "hey, these are the core sounds of the language" and defines an alphabet in terms of those ...
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1answer
61 views

Is the phoneme /a/ in Castilian Spanish pronounced differently in “pan” than in “papa”?

I was taught that the vowels in Spanish are always pronounced the same in contrast to the English language. For this reason, I always pronounced /a/ in "pan" as the same as /a/ in "papa"—this is very ...
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Languages without orthographic stress marks that still have words that differ based on stress

Wondering about languages with stress that don't mark it orthographically. For example, the only two languages I know of that actually mark stress are Ancient Greek and Spanish. It seems that marking ...
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1answer
50 views

Sandhi vs Assimilation?

Sandhi is a common Linguistic feature in many languages, which happens at word boundaries. Assimilation is feature progressively/regressively affecting the other segment boundary. ðɪs ʃɪp becomes ...
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45 views

Fricative Alveolar Trill?

I found an interesting sound myself while trying to speak some German. When I hear German people speak their language the r sound is either uvular or alveolar. While the uvular r seems more common I'd ...
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3answers
122 views

If romanization can be reversed (back to original script) in some languages

So it turns out that pinyin can't be reversed back to Chinese characters. However, I keep seeing images like the ones below for different languages (the images below are for Hindi and Japanese, but ...
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If there is really an /ə/ between /dəɹ/ in “quandary”

In considering words with -er ending like "quandary" /ˈkwɑːn.dəɹɪ/, it seems like to me there is no difference between that IPA /ˈkwɑːn.dəɹɪ/ and /ˈkwɑːn.d.ɹɪ/, or "quand-ree". The [r] is like "rrrr" ...
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5answers
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The difference between a regular consonant and a syllabic consonant

Trying to understand the difference between regular consonants and Syllabic Consonants. Two examples are from Danish. [ð̩] skinnede [l̩] solen To start (for some context), the way I would naturally ...
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3answers
128 views

Are There Any Monophthong [o] Words in English?

Whenever I look up a transcription for a word containing [o], it's either an [oɪ] diphthong or an [oʊ] diphthong. Is it not possible to pronounce [o] without gliding through [ʊ] too? Is it possible, ...
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1answer
82 views

General American English words for IPA vowel sounds

Looking at the Danish vowels, it came up with this translation: a hat ɑ art ɑː father ʌ off ɒ og ɒː dog æ bet æː bed e face ɛ ? eː phase ɛː ? i leaf iː leave o oak ɔ thought ...