Questions tagged [phonology]

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

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43
votes
15answers
474k views

What's the difference between phonetics and phonology?

Having practiced armchair linguistics for some years I should be able to sum up the difference off the top of my head, yet often I don't know which term to use. And looking them up on Wikipedia doesn'...
15
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8answers
4k views

Is the very concept of the phoneme disputed?

I believe there was some important research published in recent decades which brought a fundamental change to the way linguists think about phonemes. Or is it that the concept of the phoneme has ...
3
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1answer
343 views

Eliminating intermediary forms to account for production and perception

If linguistic rules which describe the derivation of surface forms from underlying ones, are meant to account for both production and perception, then it seems that intermediary forms like the two ...
8
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3answers
4k views

Definition(s) of phoneme

What different definitions of phoneme do you know? Please note that I'm not asking for an explanation of what phoneme is but rather for professional definitions. I'm interested in how the issue is ...
13
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9answers
7k views

Textbook suggestions for syntax, semantics/pragmatics and phonetics/phonology

I am coming to linguistics from a completely non-linguistic background; I was a mathematician. Next year I will start taking some serious (Master's level) linguistics courses and I would like to have ...
7
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2answers
772 views

Understanding Voiced Consonants

I've been having some trouble understanding how is it that what differentiates, for example, /p/ from /b/, is the vibration of the vocal chords, present in /b/, but not in /p/. From what I have read ...
9
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3answers
9k views

How to determine which phoneme a group of allophones realizes?

This question is related to this other one, about the difference between Phonetics and Phonology. I can understand the difference between the two subfields as well as what it means to produce ...
11
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5answers
13k views

What is the difference between a diphthong and a glide?

It's easy for me to imagine the difference, but hard for me to conceptualize it. I guess one involves two vowels and the other involves a consonant, right? Am I on the right track, or is there a more ...
9
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4answers
1k views

Does English language stand special in terms of phonology?

I am a native Russian speaker. When I am listening to songs and music in other languages, which I do not know, such as Italian, Romanian, Greek, Bulgarian, and even Japanese, Finnish, Kyrgyz and ...
6
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1answer
1k views

How do sentence intonation and (syllable-based) tone interact in tone languages?

Tone languages use intonation to distinguish words. For example, in Mandarin Chinese mā with a mid tone means mom mǎ with a rising tone means horse Intonation languages do not make such distinctions....
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5answers
2k views

Phonological ambiguity that changes the syntactic structure

I'm looking for two sentences that have phonological/phonetic ambiguity (like John's feat, and John's feet), but with different syntactic structures. For example, "John's feat was a big deal" and "...
3
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1answer
382 views

What explains the sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- ?

abridge (v.) [...] from Old French abregier "abridge, diminish, shorten," from Late Latin abbreviare "make short" (see abbreviate). The sound development from Latin -vi- to French -dg- is ...
63
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10answers
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When should one use slashes or square brackets when transcribing in IPA?

When should one use /fubar/ and when [fubar] when transcribing in IPA? What are the differences?
14
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3answers
12k views

What is a mora?

What is a mora? I tried to read the Wikipedia article that answers this question, but found it difficult to understand. Ditto with the related LSE question: Is the concept of syllables ...
30
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5answers
14k views

Is there a difference between an affricate and a plosive+fricative consonant cluster?

Is there a difference between an affricate and a plosive+fricative consonant cluster? According to wikipedia, there is a difference between a plosive+fricative sequence, as in the following example ...
19
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1answer
873 views

How do tone languages assign phonemic tones to loanwords from non-tone languages?

How do tone languages assign phonemic tones to loanwords from non-tone languages? For example, does such assignment vary according to the phonological context in each loanword? Alternatively, does ...
11
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3answers
12k views

Is a diphthong one phoneme or two, or does it depend?

In Mitch's answer to "What is the difference between a diphthong and a glide?" and its comments it seems more than one of us is at least a bit confused as to how many phonemes a single diphthong ...
13
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3answers
2k views

What's the evidence for and against isochrony?

The question What evidence is currently known that favors or disfavors the hypothesis that a regular beat of some kind—that is, an “isochrony”—plays some important role in languages? I've run across ...
8
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4answers
6k views

Correct syllabification in (American) English

I need to figure out what the proper syllabification of words in American English is and why. PLEASE NOTE: I am interested in syllabification from a phonetic point of view, not in terms of hyphenation/...
13
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1answer
316 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 ...
11
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2answers
1k views

Why don't minimal pairs like “быть” and “бить” prove that /ɨ/ and /i/ are separate phonemes in Russian?

In analyses of Russian, there's a dispute about whether the vowels /ɨ/ and /i/ (typically represented in the orthography as "ы" and "и", respectively) are separate phonemes, or if [...
8
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5answers
786 views

What evidence supports labialized velars in PIE?

Traditional reconstruction gives the following velars in PIE: */ḱ/, */ǵ/, */ǵʰ/ */k/, */g/, */gʰ/ */kʷ/, */gʷ/, */gʷʰ/ I wonder what evidence is there to consider velars */kʷ/, */gʷ/, */gʷʰ/ ...
6
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2answers
208 views

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 ...
6
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2answers
2k views

Is the “ll” in Albanian like the sounds in other languages?

Albanian has a digraph letter "ll" which is described as being similar to English "dark l". But how similar is it and how different? My native Australian English has dark l and to me it tends to turn ...
5
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3answers
1k views

What is the phonetic reason for the occurence Sun and Moon letters in Arabic?

In Arabic, letters (or more accurately phonemes) are categroised into two categories: Sun letter and Moon letter in regard to what happen if we add Al (the) to them. Moon letters don't cause any ...
4
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1answer
529 views

Is the concept of syllables pronunciation-relevant in languages with mora-based pronunciation?

Japanese pronunciation is mora-based (correct me if there is a better word), i.e. each mora is pronounced with equal length. Still I sometimes see the concept of syllables used, e.g. 疲労 /hirō/ '...
4
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4answers
2k views

How many of all possible English words are actually in use (have meaning)?

If we consider that there are phonological observations as to what is an English word and what probably isn't, one could come up with a dictionary of "all possible" English words, i.e. all words that ...
9
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1answer
644 views

Does the French R-sound come from Germanic influence?

Unless I'm mistaken, it is the same sound as the R in German, Yiddish, Danish,and Swedish.
8
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5answers
1k views

What's weird about Proto-Indo-European Stops?

I was reading Wikipedia, and it maintains that it's unusual for a language to have a voiceless-voiced-breathy distinction (without a voiceless aspirated), but that the Sanskrit 4-way distinction is ...
5
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2answers
751 views

Can a vowel be a consonant?

So, I know there are certain consonants in the IPA that have vowel-like properties, and can therefor be used as vowels, such as [n], [m], and [l]. Examples include [pnt], or [ʒlf]. So, in the loosest ...
5
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1answer
233 views

What were allophone rules for [r] in Old English and Middle English?

I gather that [r] (trill) was realized as [ɹ] in different dialects of Old English and Middle English, but when [r] was used, was it an allophone? In other words, did [r] vary predictably with [ɹ] (...
4
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1answer
147 views

What are current perspectives on analyzing word-final /i/ in English words like “potency” as synchronically derived from /j/?

I have encountered, I believe mostly in works from Generativist phonological traditions along the lines of Chomsky and Halle's The Sound Pattern of English, the idea that words like potency, latency, ...
1
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1answer
198 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 ...
-2
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1answer
73 views

What is the difference between tense vowel and vowel with diacritic “:”?

I'm learning the vowel part of phonology. It says the cardinal vowel "i" is tense. But what is the difference between this cardinal "i" and "i:"? They are both tense, right?
20
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2answers
32k views

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?
26
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2answers
1k views

Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone?

In German, calling someone's two-syllable name is tied very strongly to the minor third. In languages that like to have a stressed last syllable, I would expect the last syllable to be higher than ...
10
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2answers
644 views

Do voiceless approximants exist? What is the consensus among phoneticians/phonologists?

Voiceless sounds that are produced with supralaryngeal configurations that would be considered approximants if voiced are attested in languages (i.e. [j̊], [l̥], etc.), but none are found to contrast ...
8
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2answers
1k views

How languages compare with the number of different syllables from all words?

Note: I am not a linguist, please provide any corrections for terminology. I would like to find some approximate data (if it exists) comparing several languages with the number of different syllables ...
21
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4answers
3k views

Where did Spanish get its /x/? Arabic influence?

Most Romance languages don't have /x/ (like the j in hijo), nor did Latin. Where did Spanish /x/ come from? Internal development, Arabic influence, or something else? Since Moroccan Arabic also has /x/...
17
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7answers
2k views

What about the sound change initial n -> initial l?

While learning (a little) Cantonese, I was annoyed by the fact that every initial [n] was converted to [l], so that the word "you", written néih hóu in guidebooks is universally pronounced léih ...
15
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3answers
3k views

What does Optimality Theory explain that rule-based phonology doesn't?

I understand how basic Optimality Theory (as applied to phonology) works, but I've never understood how it came into popularity. I'm guessing, though, that there are good reasons why it arose. So ...
10
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3answers
706 views

How seriously do modern linguists take the idea of phonesthemes?

When we English speakers say phrases like "King Kong" and "delicate daffodil," some of us can't help but think that the "k" sound is rough-and-tumble and the "d" sound is mild-mannered. Apparently ...
5
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4answers
47k views

Differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions

As far as I know, there are three main differences between phonemic and phonetic transcriptions: Phonetic transcriptions deal with phones or sounds, which can occur across different languages and ...
26
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5answers
2k views

Is the seeming relation between the sound /n/ and negativity purely coincidental?

I have noticed that in many languages, words for "no", negative verb forms, etc. often begin with the sound /n/. Although I understand it is by no means universal, is there any relationship between ...
11
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3answers
6k views

Common problems in second language pronunciation

Transfer of some phonetic/phonological features from the first language to a second language is common in second language acquisition. For example, aspiration is not phonemic in English. Voiceless ...
2
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4answers
360 views

Why d͡z is not considered two consonants

Wondering why d͡z is not considered two consonants. Same with p͡f, t͡s, etc.
17
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3answers
1k views

How did the Arabic word “allah” come to have an /lˤ/ (“emphatic l”)?

In Modern Standard Arabic, phonemic /lˤ/ (a.k.a. "emphatic l") only occurs in one native word: Allah /ʔalˤˈlˤaːh/. (According to the linked article, it also occurs in a few loanwords.) This seems ...
9
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2answers
2k views

Is the concept of 'long vowel' still relevant in modern English phonology?

It seems to me that despite the fact that Middle English long vowels have long since shifted dramatically, their descendants still pattern like long vowels in modern English. Since there's really very ...
9
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5answers
3k views

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 ...
8
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1answer
506 views

What is the approximate time of the loss of the intervocalic /s/ in Greek?

Teachers of Ancient Greek at my university have always been emphasising the importance of being aware of the loss of the intervocalic sigma in the language's history, because it helped to understand ...