Phonology 4: February 2nd, 2005 Basic phonology (consonants) Handout



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Introduction to General Linguistics WS 2004/05

Course author: Hubert Truckenbrodt Course teacher: Arnim von Stechow



Phonology 4: February 2nd, 2005

Basic phonology (consonants) Handout

1 The phonological rule


Backness harmony

V -> [-back] / [-back] C0 ___








'change' 'environment'

one or few only one feature: [G. Umgebung; hier nicht Umwelt]

features: the one that is the sounds that have to sourround

features added; the opposite the sound in question, in order for the

that the feature value is eliminated rule to apply; the 'environment bar' ___

sound has in the sound indicates the position of the sound that

to have in changes.

order for the

rule to apply
Notice: A rule of the form A -> B / X __ Y

could also be written: XAY -> XBY



Notation used in writing rules:
V any vowel

C any consonant

C0 0 or more consonants
(...) an optional element; for example:

A -> B / C (D) ___

is a unification of the two rules:

A -> B / C ___

A -> B / C D ___
+ a morpheme boundary

# a word boundary; for example:

A -> B / # ___

'A becomes B at the beginning of a word.'




2 [C] and [x] in Greek
(1) a. b.

[Cino] 'pour' [xano] 'lose'

[Celi] 'eel' [xali] 'plight'

[Ceri] 'hand' [xori] 'dances'

[oCi] 'no' [xrima] 'money'

[xufta] 'handful'


(2) [C] occurs _______

[x] occurs _______


(3) a. inventory: assume /x/ is in the inventory, but not [C]
b. rule:

[x] -> [C] / ??__?? (please complete the rule)


(4) Compare this with the distribution of [C] and [x] in German in regard to

a. which class of vowels likes to have which sound next to it?

b. position of the relevant vowel relative to [C/x]

What is similar to German, what is different?

similarity: ...

difference: ...


3 More on phonemes and allophones
complementary distribution [G. komplementäre Verteilung]: two sounds A and B are in complementary distribution if they do not occur in the same environment. Often, this means that one of the two sound occurs in one environment only, while the other sound occurs in all other possible environments.
Example: [C] and [x] are in complementary distribution in German:

[x] occurs after back vowels, [C] occurs anywhere else.


The opposite of complementary distribution is contrastive distribution: if two sounds can occur in the same environment. The best way of demonstrating this is by way of minimal pairs. For example:
(5) English: [s] vs. [S]

see [si˘] sew Am. [soU] Br. [s´U]

she [Si˘] show Am. [SoU] Br. [S´U]
Here we want to say that [s] and [S] are both phonemes of English, are both in the inventory of English, and can thus both be used in the lexical entries of words ('underlying forms): /si˘/ for the verb 'see', and [Si˘] for the pronoun 'she'.

A minimal pair like 'see' and 'she' demonstrates in a very clear way that these two sounds cannot be allophones. If they were allophones, they would have to occur in different environments, but never in the same environment. However, in a minimal pair like 'see'/'she', these two sounds occur in exactly the same environment, namely: [#__i˘] .

We can also put this differently, in terms of the explanation for allophones that we have seen: We said when there are two allophones, they are derived from the same underlying sound (phoneme) in such a way that a rule leaves certain occurrences of the sound unchanged, but changes other occurrences of the sound. For example:

"ich" "ach"

UR /IC/ /aC/

FB -- [ax]

PR [IC] [ax]

Here the rule is written to change [C] after back vowels. It therefore leaves [C] in 'ich' alone, but changes [C] to [x] in 'ach'.

Now, if there is a minimal pair, with the two sounds in the same environment, it is impossible to formulate a rule that similarly derives the two sounds from a single underlying sound:

"see" "she" (wrong theory!)

UR /si˘/ /si˘/ (assumed underlying forms with a single phoneme [s]

rule ??? -- [Si˘]

PR [si˘] [Si˘]

But there cannot be such a rule, because the URs would have to be identical, and no rule could distinguish them, and apply in one case, but not in the other.

Therefore, when we have a minimal pair involving two sounds like [s] and [S], we have good evidence that [s] and [S] are different phonemes in the language in question. For example, [s] and [S] are different phonemes in English.

They are also different phonemes in German, compare 'sein' [saIn] and 'Schein' [SaIn].
4 Korean [s] and [S]
Note: [tS] is an afficate, and thus a different sound from [S]. When we consider the distribution of [s] and [S], the affricate [tS] is not directly relevant.
(6) a. b.

[sal] 'flesh' [Si] 'poem'

[tSasal] 'suicide' [miSin] 'superstition'

[kasu] 'singer' [Sinmun] 'newspaper'

[sanmun] 'prose' [tHaksaNSikje] 'table clock'

[kas´l] 'hypothesis' [Silsu] 'mistake'

[tS´Nsonu´n] 'adolescents' [oSip] 'fifty'

[miso] 'smile' [tSaSin] 'shelf'

[susek] 'search' [paNSik] 'method'

[tapsa] 'exploration' [kanSik] 'snack'

[so] 'cow' [kaSi] 'thorn'
(7) [S] occurs before [i]

[s] occurs elsewhere


(8) See if one of the two following hypotheses can be made to work out, by trying

to complete the rules and the example derivations that use these ruls


Hypothesis 1 Hypothesis 2
• /s/ but not /S/ in the inventory • /S/ but not /s/ in the inventory
• rule 1: [s] -> [S] / __ [i] • rule 2: [S] -> [s] / ?? __ ??
• example derivations: • example derivations

"flesh" "poem" "flesh" "poem"

UR /sal/ /si/ UR /Sal/ /Si/

rule 1 -- Si rule 2

PR sal Si PR
(compare the first example each in (6a) and (6b). Can these be derived?)
---------- end of in-class exercise -----
Thus: [s] and [S] are different phonemes in English and in German, but they are allophones of the phoneme [s] in Korean. Thus, if two sounds occur, they may be different phonemes in one language, and allophones of the same phoneme in another language.
5 English aspiration
(9) When we transcribe more precisely, we can distinguish [p, t, k] from their aspirated

versions [pH, tH, kH]. The following examples concern the difference between [p] and [pH].


a. b.

[pHIn] pin [spIn] spin

[pHaI] pie [speIs] space

[pHUS] push [spi˘tS] speech

[pHi˘s] piece [splQS] splash
(10) Using the symbol # for word-boundary (see p.1), write a rule that turns /p/ into [pH]

Aspiration: [p] -> [pH] / ...
(11) Give derivations for two cases, assuming that /p/ but not [pH] is part of the inventory

"pin" "spin"

UR / / UR / /

Aspiration Aspiration

PR PR

(12) Notice: a similar relation holds between [t] and [tH], and between [k] and [kH]:


a. b.

[tHIn] tin [stIN] sting

[tHi˘] tea [sti˘m] steam

[tHç˘l] tall [stçl] stall


[kHIN] king [skaI] sky

[kHu˘l] cool [ski˘] ski

[kHeIk] cake [skIp] skip

(13) Minimal pairs in Hindi


[pal] 'take care of' [t5al] 'beat' [kan] 'ear'

[pHal] 'knife blade' [t5Hal] 'plate' [kHan] 'mine'

[bal] 'hair' [d5al] 'lentil' [gan] 'song'

[bHal] 'forehead [d5Har] 'knife' [gHan] 'bundle'


=> these are all different phonemes in Hindi:

/p, pH, b, bH, t5, t5H, d5, d5H, k, kH, g, gH/


PROBLEM SET
Please also read the script (Sat. morning on our web-site, early afternoon in the Seminarapparat). It will also include some discussion that my be helpful in connection with solving this problem set.
In Mohawk, a Native American language ('Indianersprache'), [t] and [d] are in complementary distribution. Examine the data in (i) to see whether the left or the right context of these sounds allows you to state a generalization that predicts whether [t] or [d] occurs in each case.
(i) [t] [d]

[zahset] 'hide it!' [oli˘de?] 'dove'

[ohjotsah] 'chin' [odahsa] 'tail'

[labahbet] 'catfish' [sdu˘ha] 'a little'

[degeni] 'two'

[desda?n•] 'get up!'


a. Generalization:

[d] occurs ______

[t] occurs ______
b. Postulate an underlying sound (/d/ or /t/) and write a rule to derive the

other sound. The rule should be based on your result in a.


c. Demonstrate how the account in b. works with derivations for [zahset] and for

[oli˘de?].


d. Are [d] and [t] both phonemes in Mohawk, or are they allophones of the same

phoneme? Give your reasoning.


e. [k] and [g] are also in complementary distribution in Mohawk, as are [p] and [b].

The data in (ii) illustrate.


(ii) [k] [g]

[wisk] 'five' [oja˘gala] 'shirt'

[dZiks] 'fly' [ga˘lis] 'sock'

[degeni] 'two'


[p] [b]

[aplam] 'Abraham' [labahbet] 'catfish'


Find a generalization across all three pairs of allphones. Do this by writing

a more general version of a. above:

Generalization: [voiced stops] occur _____

[voiceless stops] occur ____


Illustrate with a word with [k] and a word with [g].
f. Now consider English. In English, [t] and [d] are not allophones,

nor are [k] and [g] allophones, nor are [p] and [b] allophones. For each of these pairs

of sounds, demonstrate this by giving two minimal pairs that show that these are each

separate phonemes. You may want to use a dictionary for this. Be sure to give both the pronunciation and the spelling of your words, and make sure that the minimal contrast is in the pronunciation in each case.





p. , Handout, February 2nd, 2005, Intro Ling.


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