Questions tagged [phonology]

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

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4answers
2k views

Is the schwa sound consistent?

The first syllable in "about" (ə'baʊt) is schwa, so is the second one in the "salad" ('sæləd), but iv'e never heard them pronounced the same way. in salad it sounds more like the i in "trick". ...
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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 ...
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Word meaning as function of the composition of its phonemes

tl;dr Linguists like to claim that the mapping from sounds to word meanings is mostly arbitrary. Can you point out research that supports this claim? Specificllay I am looking for hard evidience in ...
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160 views

At what point did the feminine ending fall silent in Semitic languages?

Hebrew and Arabic both mark feminine nouns with a final consonant in writing, which is pronounced /t/ in certain sandhi-conditioned environments (and is otherwise silent). From what little I know of ...
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1answer
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Is English opposite all other languages?

A German teacher (spoke fluent German and English) stated in high school to our class that “English is opposite every other language.” Is this accurate? What does that even mean?
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Why do some linguists say vowel length isn't contrastive in Italian?

That's what I get in Caillou & Leite (2009) and the article "Main stress in Italian nonce nouns" by Martin Krämer. The latter brings a case where vowel length is proven to be contrastive (ancóra/...
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1answer
168 views

Are mutually counterbleeding and mutually feeding phonological rules possible? Why not?

Since consonants tend to be lost next to other consonants, could all of the consonants of a consonant cluster disappear since each consonant is next to a consonant? (This would be a mutual ...
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What can we say about Classical Nahuatl <z>?

Nahuatl has two sibilant fricatives, now pronounced something like [s] and [ʃ]. The standard orthography was developed by Spanish colonizers, who wrote /ʃ/ as x, and /s/ as c before a front vowel, z ...
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Forced Aligner doesn’t work on denoised sound file

I’m using p2fa to do aligning for a sound file. Because the speaker has some heavy breath that was misinterpreted as words, I used praat to denoise it, and it sounds pretty good. However, p2fa almost ...
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1answer
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Is there any difference between laminal postalveolar ʃ and laminal flat postalveolar ʃ˖

Lithuanian language has laminal flat postalveolar and Maastrichtian Limburgish has laminal postalveolar. Are they any different, or just the same sound
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Are any of the Old Chinese reconstructions for「能」plausible descendants of Proto-Sino-Tibetan /*dɣwjəm/?

(Apologies if this is off-topic.) The Chinese character「能」was originally a picture of a kind of bear. The character was once used to represent a word meaning bear, but this word doesn't appear to ...
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What exactly is the definition of a syllable?

I do not consider myself a linguist. I just teach English to Japanese audience. So please excuse my ignorance if this is too basic a question. What exactly is the definition of a syllable? What I ...
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Word Boundaries and Compounding

I figure any definition for a word boundary is probably somewhat fuzzy. However, I thought, instead of banging my head against the wall trying to come with an ad-hoc solution, I would throw this out ...
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1answer
161 views

Charles Hockett - 'F' article?

In the Guardian, there is an article on cultural determinants of phonological feature choice. A recent article in Science supposedly supports the hypothesis that the existence of labiodental ...
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1answer
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Is morphology always attributable to phonological processes?

I am wondering if you can justify the development of most/all morphemes to regular phonological processes if you argue that diachronically those environments existed and have just been lost in modern ...
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Phonological changes and how they spread

An important part of language change is surely phonological variation. I'd assume that phonological changes happen involuntarily, driven mainly by articulatory mechanisms, and then slowly spread to ...
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How did Ancient Greek 'πυρ' become English 'fire?'

fire is derived from the Ancient Greek πυρ. My question is: how did the plosive become a fricative? I believe pyre is also derived from πυρ; why is it that pyre didn't also undergo this "...
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1answer
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The “th” sound as a plosive in British dialects

I've noticed that the th sound often becomes a plosive sound in Appalachian English. When and how did this phenomenon start?The only case I know where this happens in the british isles is Irish.Does ...
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1answer
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What informative and yet easy-to-read introductory books in English are there for Spanish Phonology?

I had my eyes on The Phonology of Spanish by Iggy Roca but I can't find the book in any store, neither it's ISBN or even it's cover! Evidence indicates that it wasn't even published but it pertained ...
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Do these vowel sounds “slip” in languages such as Spanish and Hebrew?

As far as I can tell based on recordings of languages such as Spanish and Hebrew, the phonemes /e i o u/ or /ɛ ɪ ɔ ʊ/ tend to "slip" freely between being [e i o u] and being [ɛ ɪ ɔ ʊ]. Is this true, ...
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Are there other aspirated phones in English?

It is known that English has a set of aspirated consonants, the allophones [pʰ], [tʰ] and [kʰ] of /p/, /t/, /k/, respectively. Are there other consonants with aspirated allophones? In which cases do ...
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Is it really impossible for two different languages to have the exact same set of phonemes?

Is it really impossible for two different languages to have the exact same set of phonemes? I read that somewhere and wanted to know if it was true.
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Experiment design: forced choise test for auditory recognition

I need help in experiment design. As an analogy, lets take English: I want to test if speakers can distinguish between the the word "red" and "read" if listening to recordings of it. I want to do ...
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Why are allophones called variants of a phoneme?

I initially thought that it was because allophones happened in the physical world in place of phonemes, that couldn't, but that proved to be wrong when I read this: "The segment [pʰ] is an allophonic ...
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1answer
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Pronunciation of final consonants in the history of English

When in the history of the english language did the consonants begin to be pronounced as a glottal stop? I notice this phenomenon is more prevalent in American English at the end of words but ...
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In need of a simple book on English phonology - recommendations? [closed]

SPE of Chomsky and Halle entails far more than I can handle.
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Why does schwa have a special place among vowels?

What makes schwa so special? On my phonology exam my tutor phrased the question something like: Why is schwa the ruler/king of vowels? I don't know what he meant by this but I suppose it's got ...
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1answer
188 views

What does a long mid-high unrounded back vowel sound like?

I'm trying to figure out what the Livonian character ȱ sounds like. As far as I can tell, it's a long mid-high unrounded back vowel. In IPA it seems to be written as /ɤː/ but that seems to be a non-...
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1answer
93 views

What would be the hypothetical phonological range of canines based on their physiology?

There are all kinds of videos showcasing "talking" dogs like huskies jabbering away, but I'm curious: In theory (in a world where dogs could have human brains) what would they physiologically be ...
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1answer
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Complementary distribution and defective distribution

I'm not sure if I understood what complementary distribution and defective distribution mean. I have a definition that complementary distribution is an automatic, i.e. obligatory positional variation ...
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Advanced book for English Phonology?

pals. Does anyone know any advanced book(s) in Phonology of English and could give me a title/the titles, please? I am studying English Philology (so English is my 2nd language) and we've just ...
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Phonology: Exemplars vs. Abstract Phoneme Theory

I have come across an essay title asking us to critique the evidence of language being processed as either “abstract phonemes” or “surface exemplars”. (Specifically in phonology) Is this a rewording ...
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*through* vs. *tough*: ME*-ough* /uːx/ > –? How are the sound shifts from ME -ough explained?

How is it explained that the sound sequence /uːx/ -ough has developed so differently in different words? Not-dipthongized in through, shortened and unrounded and retained fricative in tough, lowered ...
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1answer
182 views

Change from labialized velar to labial

Is there a specific auditory reason for which a labiovelar such as "kʷ" becomes a "p" sound?This could also be applied to the change in Latin from "duellum" to "bellum"
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Development of diphthongs

Is there a specific reason for which diphthongs in German and English words like "mein" and "like" arose? It seems to be a pretty common phenomenon, but somehow it seems to be limited to Germanic ...
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2answers
183 views

Why is phonemic labialization often found only on dorsal consonants?

According to Merritt Ruhlen, over 50% of occurrences of phonemic labialization are applied to dorsal (velar and uvular) consonants, while coronals are usually left out. There are a few families where ...
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0answers
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What is the difference between ŋ͡͡j and ɲ? [duplicate]

I was thinking about how a "b̃" is the same thing as an "m" and a "s̪" is the same thing as a "θ". Maybe the same applies to ŋ͡͡j and ɲ?
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How are LH words assigned stress in Latin if we assume maximally bimoraic feet?

I recently came across a paper, "The Quantitative Trochee in Latin" (by R. Armin Mester, 1994) that seems to argue that feet in Latin were "strictly" bimoraic. The arguments that Mester gives for ...
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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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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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1answer
369 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
207 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
351 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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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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238 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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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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