Questions tagged [phonology]

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

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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/...
3
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2answers
700 views

What caused some IE languages to have consonant inventory sizes different from PIE?

The WALS chapter on consonant inventories shows that the distribution of inventory sizes across languages follows a normal curve, with average size inventories (22 ± 3 consonants) being the most ...
3
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1answer
264 views

Do infants deliberately change the words when they omit the sounds and these words are minimal pairs?

While I was studying an infant's transcript, I realized that he deleted the [l] sound in "alma" [alma], a word in Turkish meaning "do not take". When he deleted the sound, the word became [a:ma]. ...
5
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1answer
293 views

Are there any papers about the calling contour (minor third, vocative chant) in Italian?

As indicated in the answers to "Is it common to use the minor third for calling someone?", "many European languages" use this type of chanted falling contour, but the examples all come from English, ...
6
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1answer
392 views

Cents symbol in phonology

In examining Chol's phonology, I came across the (old?) cents symbol ¢ (with a slanted line) as a phoneme symbol. I have not been able to track what it corresponds to in IPA terms, but I suspect it's ...
7
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2answers
236 views

Is voicing a gradient scale?

In one online linguistics community, I read the statement that "voicing is not all-or-nothing and that it is a gradient scale." This got me thinking: is this statement true or false? I guess it may be ...
12
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1answer
368 views

Why do onsets not count for syllable weight in phonological processes?

Whether a syllable has a heavy or light rime is often important in whether it will participate in phonological processes, and whether it will receive stress. For example, in Latin, stress is on the ...
17
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4answers
847 views

Why do rhotics pattern together?

Looking at the IPA, many different types of sounds are given symbols based of of the Latin R,r: approximants, trills, taps/flaps; both coronal and uvular segments. Sometimes, these sounds are ...
10
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4answers
877 views

Is there a comprehensive account of the development of laryngeal theory?

The laryngeal theory proposes that Proto-Indo-European contained a number of consonants that are absent in (almost) all daughter languages. Their existence was proposed (by Saussure, under the term ...
6
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2answers
4k views

Where does the term “segment” fit in in relation to “phone” and “phoneme”?

In a recent question seeking to clarify how diphthongs relate to phonemes, another term popped up in the comments, segment. This made me wonder if "segment" is some kind of synonym for either "phone" ...
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 ...
10
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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 ...
4
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2answers
539 views

What's going on when I hear people pronounce Georgian “ვ” like “w” instead of like “v” as it always seems to be defined?

The sixth letter of the Georgian alphabet is ვ and all the resources I have describe it as being like English v or IPA [v]. But especially in the common word ნახვამდის (goodbye) the ვ sounds a lot ...
14
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2answers
3k views

Is the “principle of least effort” a real factor behind language change?

I have heard and read several times that one of the forces that drive language change is the so called "principle of least effort". According to this account, several changes are caused by an economy ...
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 ...
8
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2answers
540 views

What evidence is there against “nonsegmental” phonology?

What's the best evidence against a position like that expounded by e.g. Bob Port (or Ken Lodge, for you UK-based phon*ists), which essentially states that phonology (or whatever you want to call the ...
7
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6answers
2k views

How exactly do the sounds of Arabic “ﻕ” and Georgian “ყ” differ?

The Arabic letter ﻕ and the Georgian letter ყ are often described as being similar, also they are both transliterated using q. ... the Georgian letter ყ is difficult for most Westerners to ...
10
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1answer
2k views

Automatic/Computational Language Detection in Speech

Are there any packages that do much the same thing for audio/speech that the langid component/corpus of NLTK does for written text? The langid corpus/tool makes surprisingly accurate guesses about a ...
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4answers
951 views

What is the term for how close a phonetic expression is to its meaning?

In some cases, the cognates of onomatopoetic sounds are highly similar even across unrelated languages. In these cases, the sounds of words seem to be an attempt to echo naturally occurring sounds. ...
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 ...
16
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2answers
2k views

How could one generate gibberish that mimics a specific language?

If given a list of languages the listener was able to understand or classify, how would you generate textual output using a standard phonetic alphabet, for example IPA, that would sound like a ...
6
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1answer
371 views

How could the Sumerian cuneiform impose constraints on some languages?

It is said that the adoption of Sumerian cuneiform by Akkadian and other languages in the Middle East imposed constraints on those languages (due to the limited number of sounds represented in ...
10
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2answers
1k views

Why do languages have different syllable complexity from each other?

Assuming human vocal tracts are similar and equally capable of articulating different syllable structures, why is it that languages develop different syllable complexity? Why is it that it is not ...
7
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1answer
594 views

How do you determine the phonemes in small phonemic inventories?

Languages with small phoneme inventories such as Pirahã often encourage different constructions of the phoneme system. In the case of Pirahã, it either lacks phonemic velars or phonemic nasals. Are ...
18
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3answers
994 views

Is it possible to predict language changes?

The comparative method is used to reconstruct unattested languages from the attested ones. By comparing different sounds for the same words in various sister languages, it is possible to infer some ...
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 ...
8
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6answers
6k views

Is the sound “ř” unique to Czech?

Czech has special sound which to me seems to be a voiced trilled r. It is written as "ř". Wikipedia describes it a different way: A raised alveolar trill, and uses the IPA notation [r̝]. Czech ...
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 ...
63
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10answers
88k views

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?
6
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2answers
6k views

What is the primary phonological difference between dialects, vowels or consonants?

Not considering things like vocabulary or syntax (if that is possible), what phonological differences make the most telling distinction between two dialects, is it the vowels or the consonants? ...
15
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2answers
1k views

In Japanese, why do certain consonants change depending on the vowel?

I was wondering why in Japanese, certain consonants change depending on the vowel. For example: Consonants that do not change: ka / ki / ku / ke / ko na / ni / nu / ne / no Consonants that do ...
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 ...
8
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4answers
452 views

What is the name of the phoneme produced in an upper-class Briton's pronunciation of the word “Duke”? What's different in the articulation?

This question has been copied directly from English Language & Usage where it received plenty of interest but the answers had lots of flaws and no resolutions was reached. It was originally asked ...
43
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15answers
473k 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'...
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 ...
9
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2answers
1k views

Distinguishing dialects objectively: lexical sets in non-English settings

The concept of lexical set is a useful technique for differentiating accents or dialects within a language. A lexical set is a set of all words/syllables that are pronounced with the same vowel. These ...
43
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6answers
5k views

How do linguists place the vowels of a language precisely on the vowel trapezoid?

Since vowels in human speech are a continuous spectrum rather than a discrete set, many descriptions of languages I’ve seen — not only on Wikipedia — place the vowels of a language as dots in a two-...
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 ...
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 ...
18
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6answers
734 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” ...
25
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5answers
1k views

Are consonant mutations in Indo-European languages specific of the Celtic group?

Consonant mutations are a strong characteristic of the Celtic languages. An example in Breton would be: Khaz /kaz/: cat Ar c'haz /aʁ.xaz/: the cat The /k/ is altered to /x/ after ar. According ...

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