Questions tagged [phonology]

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

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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'...
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8 answers
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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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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3 votes
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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 ...
Teusz's user avatar
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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 ...
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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 ...
magnetar's user avatar
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10 votes
9 answers
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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 ...
9 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
8 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
Pedro Y.'s user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
ERSA's user avatar
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9 answers
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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?
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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 ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
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2 answers
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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 ...
Puco4's user avatar
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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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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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 ...
Anixx's user avatar
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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....
robert's user avatar
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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 "...
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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 ...
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30 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
Peter Olson's user avatar
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24 votes
2 answers
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Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?

Why is /h/ called voiceless vowel phonetically, and /h/ consonant phonologically?
amjad's user avatar
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1 answer
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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 ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
14 votes
1 answer
538 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 ...
unknown_person_1000's user avatar
12 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
Ben Kovitz's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
1k 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 ...
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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 [...
Peter Olson's user avatar
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9 votes
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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/...
Fabien Snauwaert's user avatar
9 votes
1 answer
1k 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.
Harry Anderson's user avatar
8 votes
5 answers
965 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/ ...
Anixx's user avatar
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8 votes
4 answers
352 views

Place feature metathesis

Familiar cases of metathesis involve segments changing places, but metathesis can also operate at the subsegmental level, affecting individual features. I'm specifically interested in metathesis of ...
TKR's user avatar
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7 votes
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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 ...
Mr. Nichan's user avatar
6 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
hippietrail's user avatar
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5 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
Cyclone's user avatar
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5 votes
2 answers
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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 ...
Olive's user avatar
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1 answer
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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] (...
Martha's user avatar
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4 votes
4 answers
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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 ...
tmh's user avatar
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4 votes
1 answer
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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, ...
brass tacks's user avatar
4 votes
1 answer
619 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/ '...
dainichi's user avatar
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2 votes
1 answer
287 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 ...
Lance's user avatar
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-2 votes
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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?
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26 votes
2 answers
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 ...
Phira's user avatar
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26 votes
5 answers
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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 ...
rintaun's user avatar
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21 votes
4 answers
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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/...
Cerberus's user avatar
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19 votes
7 answers
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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 ...
Ron Maimon's user avatar
18 votes
6 answers
849 views

Which phenomena compensate for sound losses in languages?

There is a tendency in all of the world’s languages to drop word sounds, especially unstressed syllables. One example is the word for “winter” in Proto-Algonquian, “peponwi”, which developed into “aa” ...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
17 votes
3 answers
2k 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 ...
Leah Velleman's user avatar
15 votes
3 answers
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 ...
grautur's user avatar
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15 votes
2 answers
643 views

If two syllables in Mandarin have the same vowels but different tones, can the syllables be said to rhyme?

If two syllables in Mandarin have the same vowels but different tones, can the syllables be said to rhyme according to native speakers? I was tempted to ask this question about all tone languages, ...
James Grossmann's user avatar
13 votes
2 answers
800 views

Dental fricatives for Brazilian Portuguese speakers

Whenever I observe my fellow Brazilian countrymen learning to speak English, a clear sound change pattern stands out: [θ] → [f] [ð] → [d], syllable-initial [f], syllable-final So, for example,...
Otavio Macedo's user avatar
12 votes
2 answers
5k views

Are there any languages that only allow CV syllables?

In my research online, I have found a truism that CV is the most basic syllable type cross-linguistically, and is in fact present in all languages. Other syllable types are not present in all ...
DLosc's user avatar
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12 votes
3 answers
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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 ...
robert's user avatar
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11 votes
2 answers
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How does the nonsense word "frabjous" conform to English phonotactics?

I am aware that this question is rather more complex than I am treating it, but I am looking for a few general rules (e.g. basic phonotactic constraints) that would lead to the conclusion that the ...
Rad Anyaz's user avatar
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