Change the place of articulation of a nasal consonant so that it agrees
with the place of articulation of the following consonant
Notice that in many cases this does nothing. For example, before a vowel:
This is correct.
Homorganic means “in the same place.” The nasal changes so that it is in the same place as the following consonant.
Compare our plural and past tense rules. Both morphemes changed so that they had the same voicing as the previous consonant.
English nasal vowels
English vowels become nasalized in front of nasal consonants.
This is a normal “phonetic” process that doesn’t change our understanding of the words.
Some more examples:
This sound change can be explained by a kind of laziness. In order to make
a nasal consonant the velar flap must drop down:
Consonants I This opens the passage between the nasal cavity, allowing the sound
to resonate differently. It is easy for the velar flap to lower a little
early, which causes the vowel to nasalize.
We say the English vowels have nasalized allophones, phonetic variants that occur in certain environments. An allophone of the phoneme /ae/ is [, an allophone of the phoneme / is , and both allophones occur before nasal consonants. We write the phoneme in slashes /…/ and the allophone in square brackets […].
Aspiration of stops.
Say the word “pin” and hold your hand about 2 inches in front of your mouth.
You will feel a puff of air. This puff is called aspiration. You can hear it’s
affect on pronunciation as a delay in the onset of the following
vowel. It is subtle but is it there.
Here’s how to write down what’s happening:
In fact, English has almost no pure voiceless stops. They are aspirated in
almost every context. One exception is after the sound “s”
(as in in “pig sty”)
The other places where voiceless stops don’t aspirate is at the end
of the words or in front of other consonants (the “t” in “hat” and “strap”),
but don’t worry about that now. Let’s just pretend the only place you don’t get aspirated stops ios after [s].
We say the English voiceless stops have aspirated allophones. An allophone of
/p/ is [p]. An allophone of /t/ is [t]. An allophone of /k/ is [k].
English flap rule.
We noted last week that “t” and “d” could sound an awful lot alike
in words like “writer” and “rider”
The “t” and “d” both become a sound written which is called a flap. The
“:” represents the fact that vowel is slightly longer in “rider”.
Of course sometimes t and d don’t become flaps. When do they? They become
flaps between vowels. If we abbreviate vowel as “V” we might write this:
V __ V
V __ V
The part before the “\” tells you WHAT happens and the
part after tells you WHERE it happens.
The phonemes /t/ and /d/ both have as an allophone.
In each of the 3 cases we’ve discussed a phoneme of English takes a different shape in a predictable environment. The environment is phonetic. We can characterize it entirely in terms of sounds. It’s not a matter of saying, it happens in this word and not
in that one. You just look at the sounds.
after anything that‘s not “s”. Similarly a vowel becomes nasalized before a nasal consonant. Again the environment is predictable and phonetic. We say there
is an allophonic rule that predicts the occurrence of the allophone.
Minimal Pairs/Contrasting Sounds These rules are specific to English. For example, Thai does not have allophonic
aspirated stops. Why not?
The reason is that in Thai aspirating a stop can change the meaning of a word:
Pairs of words that have different meanings but differ in just one sound are called minimal pairs. Minimal pairs are used to show something: They show that the sounds the two words differ in are contrastive. That is, they can be used to make
meaningful contrasts in the language. The table above shows that aspirated versus unaspirated stops are contrastive in Thai.
When two sounds appear contrastively in the same environment that shows that that environment cannot be used to predict which of the two sounds will occur. There is
no rule in Thai like the English rule “Voiceless stops will be aspirated except after s.” In
Thai voiceless stops can occur anywhere they please and make meaningful contrasts.
Just as Thai has no phonetic environment predicting voiceless aspirated stops, so English has no word pairs that contrast a voiceless stop with a voiceless unaspirated stop.
In English, unlike Thai, that contrast is not meaningful.
This raises a question: How does a linguist tell the two kinds of situations we’ve just seen apart? On the one hand the case where a contrast between aspirated and unaspirated stops is meaningful, on the other, where the two sounds are allophones,
and there’s an allophonic rule telling you when you get which allophone.
So here’s a chain of reasoning. Pay attention:
If two sounds occur in a minimal pair then we know they are contrastive.
If two sounds are contrastive they MUST be different phonemes (and not allophones).
If two sounds NEVER occur in a minimal pair then we have reason to suspect they might be allophones of a single phoneme. [But we can’t quite be SURE]
Here’s some definitions:
Distribution: The set of sound environments that a phoneme occurs in is called its
distribution. Example: The distribution of the phoneme /p/ includes:
and so on.
Complementary: When two sets share NO members we say they
Complementary distribution: Two sounds are in complementary distribution
when they never occur in the same environment.
Example: The distributions of aspirated [p] and [p] (aspirated p and unaspirated
p) are complementary. [p] occurs after s and [p] occurs everywhere else.
So saying two sounds are in complementary distribution is just a way of saying they share no environments, which means they will never occur in a minimal pair.
Example: Although [p] and [p] are in complementary distribution in English,