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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 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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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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65 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

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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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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37 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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257 views

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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58 views

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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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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460 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
50 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
33 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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24 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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100 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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770 views

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
111 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
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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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375 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
50 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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75 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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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
70 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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89 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
134 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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Why d͡z is not considered two consonants

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

If these letter pairs are used to distinguish two words in any language

Wondering if there are languages in which there are 2 words, 1 containing letter (a) and the other containing letter (b), such that they sound pretty much the same, yet they mean different things. The ...
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The anatomy of the L sound

Starting to learn the IPA and having a few questions. One is about the L sound. Here are the L sounds I've seen: l l̥ ɬ (No language uses this). ɫ: both velarization and pharyngealization lˠ (...
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Types of Sound Variations (Like Accents and Tones) in Languages

So in Spanish and other languages there are accents like: café tú And in Chinese there are tone shifts as in this graphic: The tones are accounted for in English / Romanization by adding accent ...
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The language with the most sounds or variation

Trying to get a sense of what a complicated language sounds like, all the different pronunciations possible. Wondering if one could link to one of the most complicated spoken languages today. I just ...
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1answer
118 views

Why did German <d> and <t> flip over?

I speak English and Norwegian and a little German and a little Dutch and I discovered a pattern while thinking about words which are obviously cognate. The pattern is wherever English, Norwegian and ...
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1answer
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Are contour tone system and complex consonant clusters compatible in phonotactics?

Are there any language that have both of these characteristics? I am not sure but I assume that contour tone is unnecessary and uneconomical to be used in every syllable of a language with complex ...
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243 views

PIE *kom 'with, side by side' or PIE *ḱóm?

wiktionary: Proto-Indo-European/ḱóm - Etymology Perhaps from *ḱe. Adverb *ḱóm beside, near, by, with AHD-IER: kom Beside, near, by, with Is the initial consonant a plain k ...
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96 views

Phonological rule for realizations of Italian /s/

It seems that realization of Italian /s/ is not fully systematic and there are some exceptions. Is there any phonological rule for possible realizations of Italian /s/
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Dental and labiodental fricatives with different relative positions of the articulators

Are there distinct phonemes for labiodental fricatives articulated with the upper teeth touching the lower lip from the inside (like in English /f/) and ones that are articulated with the tip of the ...
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152 views

Why do I speak more accurately in English rather than my native language?

I have a diction/vocal issue from birth so I can not speak on the "right rhythm" of my tongue. My speech seems always slow and boring at my native language so that I have a huge difficult to verbally ...
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/l/ environments in English and Introductory Phonology by Bruce Hayes

Note: I am on my phone, so linguistic symbols are not intuitive to type, so I typed out phone names in prose Hello, apologies if this is a dumb question, but I'm reading through Bruce Hayes' "...
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73 views

How does optimality theory handle opacity?

Optimality theory is a theory of phonology that drops Chomskyan replacement rules in favor of a set of ranked constraints. It can lead to much more elegant analyses in some cases. However, I don't ...
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Looking for minimal pairs showing lenis/fortis distinction (preferably for German pronunciation)

I have read many descriptions of the lenis/fortis distinction, but they don't make any sense to me. I have searched in vain for minimal pairs (preferably with audio/vidoe) illustrating the difference ...
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2answers
536 views

Trying to make sense of “…but voiced obstruents are not always voiced”

I came across the following phrase in a description of German pronunciation: The basic rule is that voiceless obstruents are always voiceless, but voiced obstruents are not always voiced. ...which ...
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1answer
36 views

Difference between sounds and segments

I have always wondered whether there is a clear distinction between (speech) sounds and segments. The two words appear to be used interchangeably in some places while in others they are considered to ...
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What’s a good example a language phenomena in which f0 is NOT correlated to pitch?

It’s standard doctrine that “pitch is perceived f0”, and that f0 is phonetic and corresponds to pitch which is phonological ... no problem there. (Even if this is a simplification) But I wonder if ...