36

It is kind of convention to assign the phonemic value /p/ to the p in spin, since there is no minimal pair /p/:/b/ in this environment (words like *sbin don't exist). Now comes the fun part: In English, there is a double contrast between /p/ and /b/ in initial position: The p is voiceless and aspirated [ph], the b is voiced and not aspirated [b]. The p in ...


29

A good question, and a very basic one that illustrates an important difference between Phonetics and Phonology (or, as it used to be called, Phonemics): They use different criteria for what's a vowel and what's a consonant. First, an important caveat: This is only true of English; i.e, it's the English phoneme /h/ we're talking about. (This is not, for ...


29

No, it is not. The English sound transcribed as "schwa" (ə) is known to be quite variable. There are a number of things that affect how it sounds. In American accents, it's common for a "schwa" to be more similar to an an [ɪ] sound (the "i" in "trick") when it's in the middle of a word. For many American English speakers, there is no consistently ...


29

You mention the pronunciation /ˈfɹæb.dʒəs/ in the comments; this is how I would pronounce it too. Phonotactics are usually explained in terms of constraints ("you can't do this"), so the short answer is that it doesn't violate any of those constraints. If we look at all the parts individually: /fɹ/ is a valid onset, as in "frog" /æb/ is ...


27

As jlawer says, English "fire" doesn't actually come from Greek pŷr. "Pyre" does, but that's a borrowing (via Latin), and it's pretty clear how it happened. Instead, English and Greek share a common ancestor (Proto-Indo-European), which split into Pre-Proto-Germanic and Proto-Hellenic (and many other branches) several thousand years ago. One of the ...


25

English fire is not derived from Greek πυρ. Both fire and πυρ come originally from the Proto-Indo-European root *paəwr̥. Greek simplified the *aəw vowel sequence to /ū/, but kept the consonants. Proto-Germanic was *fūr, similar to Greek, but all Germanic voiceless stops like *p became homorganic fricatives like *f as part of the group of consonant changes ...


22

The term is loanword adaptation. It happens every time someone tries to use a word from a different language when speaking another. It's because every language has a different set of sounds that can be recognized as part of that language. A tongue click can be part of ordinary words in some languages in southern and eastern Africa just like any other ...


20

It depends on what you mean by "/a/", "/i/". First, slash brackets refer ambiguously to "phonemes" or "underlying forms". Only phonetic forms, notated with square brackets, have directly-observable phonetic properties. A propos that point, there is a high back vowel phoneme in Japanese, which is pronounced more like [ɯ] than like [u], and on that grounds you ...


16

Semitic languages don't always preserve consonants perfectly. In fact, I don't think that there is any Semitic language without multiple classes of conjugation to account for irregularities. All Semitic languages have collapsed at least some phonemes, which makes some originally separate roots homophonous. For example, *θ merges with /ʃ/ in Hebrew, but with ...


16

Yoon Mi Oh's 2015 thesis (pages 44-45) provides estimates of the number of syllables for various languages, gathered by taking the 20,000 most frequent words in a corpus of each language and counting the different syllables that show up. Ordering them by increasing number of syllables: Japanese: 643 Korean: 1104 Mandarin: 1274 Cantonese: 1298 Basque: 2082 ...


15

Because that is precisely what separates consonants from vowels: consonants are sounds produced with a partial closure of the vocal tract. Depending on what type of closure the speaker does (in combination with other factors), a different consonant will be pronounced. And, as you have already seen, consonants can be analyzed according to several features: ...


15

I'm going to start by going through some more detailed definitions of the various rule orderings, with examples: If rule A creates the environment for rule B to apply, then rule A feeds rule B, e.g. A: ɣ → ∅ / V_V B: e → i / _e /teɣe/ A: tee B: tie [tie] If the order A B is a feeding order, then the order BA is a counterfeeding order, i.e. ...


15

This is a well-written argument, but I think it's mistaken to conclude that they are the same phoneme; or, more to the point, I think this is a case that highlights a limit of phoneme/allophone analysis. Indeed, the same argument can also be used to show that /ə/ and /ʊ/ are allophones of the same phoneme: there cannot be a minimal pair because of the ...


15

When I pronounce this vowel, I would say it is the only one where there is absolutely no contraction of any muscle (except vibrating vocal chords) or any change in the mouth/throat/larynx/pharynx, and the tongue is simply relaxed. I just open the mouth and it's the sound that comes naturally. So I suppose it is justified that it has the central place in ...


15

First, there is a lot of variation in English, so don't expect the facts to be the same for all speakers. Second, it's unclear what you mean by "really". There is phonological analysis, and there is acoustic analysis. The standard mostly-phonological analysis is that "pin" has aspirated [pʰ] and "spin" has unaspirated [p], but they reflect a single phoneme /...


14

TL;DR The notion that sounds carry inherent meanings certainly figures in folk ideas about language; it somehow matches many people's intuitions. But a non-arbitrary connection between sound and sense obviously violates some principles of modern linguistics. There is lots of research being done right now, but it often involves an acknowledgement that the ...


14

This is a framework-dependent question. My guess is that he is referring to the representation of schwa, and the premise that it is "featureally empty". That is, front vowels have a frontness property, back vowels have a backness property, and round vowels have a rounding property. Schwa has none of these. That brings us down to the central unrounded vowels [...


13

In Old and Middle English, the two sounds commonly written with 'a' were much more similar, being short and long versions of the same vowel: to a considerable degree they alternated depending on whether they were in an open or closed syllable. During the Great vowel shift, the long vowels in most dialects of English went waltzing round the mouth to end up ...


12

It came about like this. (Details about Greek here) When Greeks adopted the Punic abjad into an alphabet, they changed a lot of the letters, and added some new ones. The Punes hadn't needed vowel letters, for instance, due to the nature of the language, but the Greeks did. On the other hand, the Greeks didn't need the post-velar and emphatic consonants of ...


12

I think this question may be trickier to answer than you realize--it largely depends on your definition of vowel and consonant. If you take a structural phonological approach to defining those terms (i.e., if whether something is a vowel or a consonant depends on where it occurs in the syllable), then they are by definition in complementary distribution, so ...


12

That Akkadian word-final -u is the Nominative case ending, the other case endings being -a for Accusative and -i for Genitive. Thus, the case forms of the noun bētu 'house' are: Nom.: bētu Acc.: bēta Gen.: bēti Exactly the same case endings are still present in Literary Arabic (Modern Standard Arabic), although in most spoken Arabic dialects they are ...


12

The linguists describing the language. As user6726 mentioned, phonemes are a theoretical construct. We can't actually take quantitative measurements that prove that this is a /k/ and this is a /t/, unlike in e.g. articulatory phonetics. So there are some linguists who claim Mandarin has only two vowels /ə a/, and some who claim it has five, /i y u ə a/, and ...


11

In principle I would suggest using capital C for consonants and capital V for vowels. This is the way syllable templates are discussed in phonology texts. Brackets are used for phonetic transcription, so [v] refers to the particular consonant called voiced labiodental fricative. Perhaps you could use something like b(V)(C) or bVC, but of course you should ...


11

The diphthongization of front and back mid vowels that's referred to here is an historical process moving from Classical Latin to Vulgar Latin to Castilian Spanish, over about a millennium. This is the way it works: Classical Latin (ca 0 CE) had long and short vowels. Vulgar Latin (ca 0-1500 CE) lost the Classical vowel length distinction. Vulgar Latin ...


11

Regarding "why", it's believed that most languages will go for "maximal dispersion" and try to have vowels as acoustically distinct as possible (or, as easily learnable as possible). So if they choose three vowels, it will very often be /a,i,u/ ; /i,u/ are easier to distinguish than /y,ɯ/ or /u,o/ (ref). Of course, there are always oddities; Ubykh had ...


11

Unfortunately, there is no straightforward syllabification method that is accepted by a majority of linguists. As you pointed out, different dictionaries provide different syllabification methods. Usually, syllabification is considered from a phonological point of view (a phonetic perspective is possible but less common, see below). Most linguistics can ...


11

One proposed name for a reversed affricate is "suffricate".1 Whether suffricates exist seems to depend on what you think of as the defining characteristic of an affricate. As far as I know, there have been proposals for analyzing certain sounds as such, but usually another analysis exists that is plausible enough that there is no unanimous ...


11

You should not be surprised if I tell you that the process is highly variable. Very roughly speaking, you start by eliciting a bunch of words and writing them down. Linguists have varying degrees of experience with phonetic symbols and what they stand for, and this introduces the first layer of variability. The ideal is that there is a set of standard ...


11

The only sensible interpretation of that claim that I can see is that having two instances of r in a word poses a special articulatory challenge. However there is no evidence to support that claim. A more plausible explanation is that the cause is perceptual. First, we may assume (there is some evidence) that r has a subtle long-distance effect in words, ...


11

Whispering excludes voicing from the linguistic inventory. Quite naturally, the decrease of the ability to comprehend a whispered speech depends on the language's original set of phonetic tools. Marc Ettlinger, linguistics PhD at Berkeley, shows that languages that intensively use voicedness and lexical tones are the most difficult to whisper in (from the ...


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