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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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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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60 views

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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73 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
76 views

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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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
162 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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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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43 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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100 views

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
224 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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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
77 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
140 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
67 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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1answer
76 views

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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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
55 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
41 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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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
52 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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489 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
57 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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2answers
75 views

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
44 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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33 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
112 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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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
123 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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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 ...
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1answer
107 views

The difference between [h] and [ħ]

I am trying to tell the difference between [h] and [ħ]. I get the technical difference of pharyngeal vs. glottal, but I don't see how it's possible to control those two regions of your anatomy ...
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2answers
388 views

Why English is missing some phoneme sequences (/aʊv/ or /aʊp/)

Wondering why English is missing some phoneme sequences. By that I mean, I understand English doesn't have some primitive phonemes like χ, but I'm wondering about sequences of phonemes, not sure if ...
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1answer
80 views

What parentheses and tildes mean in IPA / phonology chart

Why some symbols in phonology charts are put in parentheses or brackets, such as (z), or [ɲ], and why there is a tilde ~ in some places, such as dz [dʒ ~ dz]. Wondering what that means exactly, if it ...
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1answer
83 views

Missing IPA symbols

Sometimes phonologies have symbols that I haven't seen in the IPA, such as ᵘa or k͜xʰ. Wondering how I go about finding out what these mean, and/or why they don't use the IPA symbols. Wondering if ...
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224 views

When should I use /ə/ or /ɪ/ and why does it seem like they're not used correctly?

So I'm trying to learn the vowel sounds of the IPA, and I'm looking at the words "temerity" and "moment" in AmE. What is especially confusing is that first word, where wiktionary lists the ...
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1answer
80 views

How these close sounds are distinguished in native language

This is not a comprehensive list but just a few snippets from languages that have a few consonants that sound pretty much the same to me. I wanted to ask how I can learn to hear the difference between ...
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2answers
101 views

The breakdown of the word “strength” or “cheap” or “sheep”

So it turns out that sometimes consonants in a sequence can be called single consonants (e.g. d͡z), or consonant "clusters". But the main reason for calling d͡z a single consonant is because it "...
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2answers
142 views

Germanic Philology: “translate” a word from indoeuropean language to the germanic language

I'm having a philology test next week. One of the questions will be to "translate" an indoeuropean word into a germanic word, like: i.e. Agros -> germanic Akraz (i.e. "g" --> germ. "k" for Grimm's Law,...
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Diagram of all IPA sound places

Wondering if there is a diagram similar to the following one, but that lists all of the mouth configurations such as for ʃ and everything else.
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4answers
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Why d͡z is not considered two consonants

Wondering why d͡z is not considered two consonants. Same with p͡f, t͡s, etc.
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1answer
54 views

Understanding 5-tone register systems

After reading through the Tone Wikipedia page, I get the gist of it. Basically there are register tone systems (like Bantu languages) and contour tone systems (like Mandarin Chinese). In contour tone ...
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3answers
145 views

List of vowel and consonant sequences across languages

Wondering if there is any sort of list either across languages or for individual languages, either complete or partial, that list the sequences of vowels and/or consonants used in that language. If no ...
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1answer
77 views

What exactly is the Japanese 'u' sound?

I've mostly heard that its a ɯ sound. But I've also heard that its an 'endo-labial close back rounded vowel'. By 'endo-labial', I mean that its a rounded vowel that's pronounced without protruding the ...
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2answers
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Can we simulate the pronunciation of sounds that we can't make?

There's certain non-filled places in the IPA chart because we physically can't pronounce them. For example, a velar trill or glottal trill. Using computers, is it possible that we could simulate how ...