Presentation on theme: "The Structure of Language The study of phonetics is part of the larger study of language. Purpose: To show how phonetics fits into the language system."— Presentation transcript:
The Structure of Language The study of phonetics is part of the larger study of language. Purpose: To show how phonetics fits into the language system. Language: Term is used in two related but different ways: 1.A specific language: French, Portuguese, Farsi, Urdu … 2.Much broader sense: the general design plan that is common to all languages. All human languages are built on the same underlying design plan, but differ in many details. For our purposes, this 2 nd one is the more interesting use of the term language.
Dog analogy: Many differences in detail across breeds and individual dogs. BUT – the deeper truth is that they are all built on the same body plan and have far more in common than the superficial differences suggest.
What are some features common to all dogs? 1.Social animals 2.Territorial 3.Omnivorous but with a strong preference for meat 4.Same basic configuration of skeleton 5.Same number and basic shape of teeth 6.Any dog will breed with any other dog, regardless of large differences in size and general appearance 7.… (a large number of other features)
The Structure of Language Language works this way as well. All human languages are built on the same basic design plan. The broad design features that all languages have in common run deeper and are far more important than the differences in details, as large as those difference may at first appear.
Languages are defined by their grammars – a collection of rules that allow a speaker (or signer in the case of a sign language) to generate well- formed utterances (and the knowledge to recognize “broken” utterances when they are encountered). Your knowledge of English grammar allows you to figure out: Vern went to Memphis.Good *Vern went Memphis to.Bad * = ungrammatical
Notes: (1)A sentence can be perfectly meaningful but still be ungrammatical: *This is a four doors car. *He drove a red big car. It’s perfectly clear what these sentences mean, but they are ungrammatical. (2) The word grammatical here does not mean the same thing that it meant in grade school. She ain’t got no crayons. Where were you at, John. We was waitin’ on you.
These sentences conform to the grammar of some dialects of English; they happen not to conform to the dialect of standard English. There are two very different uses of the term grammar: (1)descriptive grammar: rules that real speakers actually use, no matter what teachers, parents, or “usage experts” say. (2)prescriptive grammar: rules that English teachers (and other “experts”), and sometimes your parents, believe speakers OUGHT to use.
Examples of prescriptive grammar rules: Don’t end a sentence with a preposition. Don’t split infinitives. Don’t use ‘like’ like this: “So I was, like, ‘Calm down, man; you’re getting all agitated’. Say “Betty and I went to the picnic,” not “Betty and me went to the picnic.”
Violating a rule of descriptive grammar means that the utterance would be considered ungrammatical to any mature (i.e., not a little twirp) native speaker of any dialect. *That book looks alike. *I Am America And So Can You. (book title, Stephen Colbert) *Frank seems sleeping. *Bag garbage no good; ski good. *I did not know how should I dress. (very common among non-native English speakers) *I'll be whatever I wanna do. (Philip J. Fry) *People said I was dumb, but I proved them. –Philip J. Fry (again) *I’m going to turn you onto a Poindexter. [Poindexter=nerd] *I am a new tie wearing. (Homer Imposter)
NOTES (1)All of these sentences would be ungrammatical to a native speaker in all dialects of English; i.e., there is more going on here than someone speaking nonstandard English. This is what makes them violations of descriptive rules. (2)The issue is grammaticality; i.e., utterances can be easy to understand but still ungrammatical. The science of linguistics is concerned exclusively with descriptive grammar, not prescriptive grammar. So, descriptive grammar is the domain of linguistics, prescriptive grammar is the domain of (mostly self- appointed and often not very knowledgeable) “usage experts”. More about this later when we discuss dialect.
To do on your own: Which of these sentences violate English prescriptive rules and which violate descriptive rules? Phil has a three-legs cat. [Its] 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, … to boldly go where no man has gone before. Badges? We don't need no stinkin’ badges. (The Treasure of the Sierra Madres) I wonder who and Frieda went swimming. Where is Maurice going to? We was at the liberry when we seen Mildred. What Myron has done with my star fish?
Answers: Phil owns a three-legs cat. [descriptive; should read, “Phil owns a three-legged cat.”] … to boldly go where no man has gone before. [prescriptive; “to boldly go” is a split infinitive, considered by many to be bad form.] We don't need no stinkin’ badges. [prescriptive; should read, “We don't need any stinking badges.”] I wonder who and Frieda went swimming. [descriptive; should read, “I wonder who Frieda went swimming with.” or the Yalie version, “I wonder with whom Mary went swimming.”] Where is Maurice going to? [prescriptive; should read, “Where is Maurice going?”] We was at the liberry when we seen Mildred. [prescriptive; We were at the library when we saw Mildred”] What Myron has done with my star fish? [descriptive; “What has Myron done with my star fish? ” ]
One more point: the term grammar is sometimes used to refer specifically to syntax (word-order rules), but more recently it refers to all of the rules of the language, including syntax, semantics (meaning), morphology (rules for creating words out of smaller units called morphemes; e.g., to form walking from walk, readable from read, etc.), and phonology (sound pattern rules). More later.
Now, finally, back to the two uses of the word language: a specific language (English, Dutch, Hungarian, etc.) the general design structure of all human languages The 1 st meaning is simple and obvious, but what about the 2 nd ? What features do all human languages have in common? Called the Universal Grammar – it’s a huge, gimongous list (and incomplete).
Here a just a few universal rules: 1. Rules are always structure dependent. E.g., English question formation: John will run. [statement] Will John run? [question: invert subject & predicate] Question is formed by reversing the order of the subject & the predicate – subject & predicate being structural properties. One more: Hanley is the most stubborn person in the department. [statement] Is Hanley is the most stubborn person in the department? [question]
How about this hypothetical rule: Form a question by reversing the order of the last two words in the sentence. Hanley is the most stubborn person in the department. Hanley is the most stubborn person in department the? John will pitch on Thursday. John will pitch Thursday on? (1) Not a rule of English; (2) not a structure- dependent rule; and, most important: (3) no rule remotely like this in any language, yet this rule would work just fine.
Q: Why is there no rule like this in any of the world’s ~6,000 languages? A: Because the hypothetical rule violates a rule of the universal grammar. Q: Which one? (Hint: I’ve only introduced one universal rule, so it’s probably that one.) A: All of the rules of all of languages are structure dependent. The hypothetic rule (form a question by reversing the order of the last two words) depends on serial position, not structure. (Once again, I have not given you a formal definition of what a ‘structural property’ is. A useful way to think about it is that structural properties are all those English-major things: whether a verb is transitive or intransitive, parts of speech, independent vs. subordinate clauses, subjects vs. predicates, etc. All these – and many others – are examples of structural properties. Serial position is not.)
One more example: The soldier that is ill is in the hospital. How do we make a question of this? Which of the two instances of is gets moved? *Is the soldier that ill is in the hospital? (Move the 1 st one? Not good.) Is the soldier that is ill in the hospital? It’s the 2 nd instance of is that gets moved, but why? Does the rule say – move the 2 nd instance of the verb if there are 2? No. The 1 st instance of is gets passed over because it’s buried inside of a NP that is treated as a unit – the NP being a structural property.
No language uses a rule that says, “move the 2nd instance of the verb if there are 2”, or “move the 1st instance of the verb”. Why? Because it is based on serial position, not structure. Since the hypothetical violates a language universal, you won’t see a rule like this: (a) in English, and (b) in any language. (Or so goes Chomsky’s idea.)
No child ever makes the mistake of getting mixed up about which verb to move. Why? Because they come into the world knowing that rules are structure dependent and not dependent on something like serial position – though serial-position rules would work fine. More about the significance of this point soon.
2. Nearly all languages have agreement rules. The box is in my office. The boxes are in my office. Subject and predicate agree for number (plural vs. singular). Languages vary a lot in what kinds of things there needs to be agreement on. Not all languages enforce agreement on number, but all except a very few languages incorporate lots of agreement rules.
Spanish (and French and many other languages) enforce agreement on gender: los perros (dogs), las casas (houses), los árboles (trees), las tablas (tables), las flores (flowers), las montañas (mountains) Important: Agreement is not a necessary feature. It’s quite easy to imagine a language w/ out agreement. “My shoes are in the closet.”: In English, number is already specified by the noun (“shoes” in this case). Why give exactly the same information by supplying a plural verb (“are”) to go along with a noun that you already know is plural?
Not all languages have this particular form of agreement, but all except a very few languages have agreement rules. Is subject-verb number agreement part of the universal grammar? [No] How about agreement for gender as in French and Spanish? [No] What is it that’s (very nearly) universal? [Agreement rules]
3. Phonological rules: All languages incorporate sound-pattern rules called phonological rules. beed – beat bid – bit league – leak cub – cup cab – cap lag – lack What do you notice about the lengths of the vowels on the left vs. those on the right? Rule: Vowels are lengthened when they precede voiced consonants.
Most languages do not have this particular rule. However, all languages have large numbers of sound-pattern rules like this one. Once again, what is the universal? 1.The English vowel-lengthening rule? 2.The incorporation of phonological rules that vary in details from one language to the next?
Another rule in English. Look at these plural forms: walks lips rats tracks -------------- labs dogs awards doors What sound is added to form the plural in the 1 st group vs. the 2 nd group? Orthographically, it’s always an ‘s’, but what sound is it? (Note: [ ] -- as opposed to [læbz] – is not impossible to pronounce.)
Languages don’t necessarily need to incorporate phonological rules – though all of them do. They can’t be essential to communication: Nearly every language besides English gets by fine without the vowel-lengthening rule. English gets by fine without the very different set of sound pattern rules in Spanish, Tamil, Hindi, Korean, etc. All languages incorporate phonological rules. Is the incorporation of phonological rules part of the universal grammar? Is the vowel lengthening rule (e.g., “cab” vs. “cap”) part of the universal grammar?
4. Recursion All languages exhibit a property called recursion. Recursion is a general principle that can be seen in many areas other than language. In general, recursion is seen whenever “things” can be embedded inside of other “things,” which in turn can be embedded inside of other “things,” which can be … Simple example: Russian Nesting Dolls (nesting is another word for embedding).
Russian Dolls The embedding idea is very simple here – embedded (or nested) inside the biggest doll is another doll; embedded inside of that doll is another doll; embedded inside of that doll is … And on it goes. Russian dolls are an example of recursion – things embedded inside of things which are embedded inside of things which …
The branching structure that is seen trees is another clear instance of recursion: the main trunk divides into large branches, which further divide into smaller branches, which further divide into yet smaller branches... This branching pattern is exactly what is seen in language (but with words & phrases instead of tree branches). We’ll be there very soon.
Mississippi River Watershed (Note the recursive, branching structure.)
Ketchup Squeeze Bottle This example is a little weird (though not hard to understand). This is an ordinary ketchup bottle. But notice that the picture on the bottle shows a lovely waitress holding a tray with a ketchup bottle on it. Imagine the unlikely situation in which the ketchup bottle on the tray is drawn accurately. If it is, then the bottle on the tray must have a picture of a waitress holding a tray with a ketchup bottle on it. And what about that ketchup bottle? It should also have a picture of a ketchup bottle on the tray, right? How far does this recursion go? It boggles the mind, doesn’t it?
Does this ketchup bottle (under the crazy assumptions) show recursion? (Hint: Yes) How so? What, if anything, does the ketchup bottle have in common with the Russian Nesting Dolls? What does this have to do with the universal grammar? The idea we’re heading toward is simple (sort of): The grammars of all languages differ in many details, but they ALL exhibit recursion. One example: A phrase can be embedded inside of a phrase, which can be embedded inside of a phrase, which can be embedded … Sound familiar?
An example of recursion in language: This is the house that Jack built. Recursion: “This is the house” branches off into the phrase “that Jack built.” This is the malt that lay in the house that Jack built. More recursion: “This is the malt” branches into “that lay in the house” which branches into “that Jack built.” This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that Jack built. Same thing, but still more of it: A phrase branches into a phrase which branches into a phrase … English shows recursion. What other languages do? All of them.
Recursion in language is universal. We have already seen an example of this: I did not know how I should dress. In this utterance, a sentence (in this case, a question) is embedded inside of a sentence. “I did not know.” + “How I should dress?” → I did not know how I should dress. (For reasons that are not obvious, the subject-predicate inversion rule that normally applies in questions is blocked when the question is embedded in a sentence.) Recursion: Things are embedded inside of other things. Recursion in language is the same kind of thing as the Russian Dolls and the crazy ketchup bottle. Recursion is seen in English. Recursion is seen in all languages. It is part of the universal grammar.
Last example, from a child of about five: Daddy, what did you bring that book that I don't like to be read to out of up for? Pretty crazy sentence, but: (a) grammatically well formed (b) insanely recursive
Is recursion specific to English or is it part of the universal grammar? Note: All of the language examples we’ve looked at show recursion in syntax. All levels of language show a branching, recursive tree structure – even at the phonological level. (You’ll have to trust me on that. The idea is not hard, but we have to move on.)
5. Head First/Head Last Phrases in all languages contain a special “boss” word called the head. The head controls grammatical features of other words in the phrase. The fox in socks is in the yard. *The fox in socks are in the yard. “fox” is singular, “socks” is plural. Why is it that the verb agrees with the “fox rather than “socks”? Because it’s the “boss” word; i.e., the head of the noun phrase “fox in socks.” Flying out of Kalamazoo on small planes is scary. *Flying out of Kalamazoo on small planes are scary. “Flying” here is the head of the phrase because the phrase is mainly about flying, not planes, so the verb agrees with the singular “flying”, not the plural “planes”.
English is a head-first language – the head precedes all other words in the phrase. Many other languages reverse this. English: Kazu ate sushi. (Kazu=NP; ate sushi=VP; ate=head) Japanese: Kazu sushi ate. So, Japanese is a head-last language. So, big deal? Here’s the big deal: Every head-first language applies the head- first rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs. Everything. Similarly, every head-last language applies the head-last rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs. Everything. English: to Tokyo (preposition) Japanese: Tokyo to (postposition) There are no languages that mix these up – e.g., head-first for NPs, head-last for VPs and PPs. Also, no “head- middle” languages.
There is no reason that languages have to behave this way. It is easy to imagine a language that uses Japanese- like head-last NPs along with English-like PPs: Kazu sushi ate at home. (head-last NP, head-last PP) Or the other way around: Kazu ate sushi home at. (head-1 st NP, head-last PP) These mixed rule systems don’t happen. Ever. Why? It’s more logical? I say You say (formerly Thou sayest) He says Anything logical about this system?
One more example that we saw earlier. He threw the garbage out. He threw it out. [it’s ok to substitute a pronoun for the noun phrase] He threw out the garbage. [this ordering is ok too] * He threw out it. [here it’s not ok to substitute the pronoun] Is there anything logical about this system? So, we can rule out “the-brain-wants-language-to- be-logical” as an explanation for the head- first/head-last universal.
1.By coincidence, 6,000 separate human languages happened to adopt these regularities – without benefit of committee meetings. 2. Neural circuitry incorporating these grammatical regularities are built into the brain – just like the neural circuitry that allows a bat to convert sonar into an image is wired into bat brains, or the circuitry that allows spiders to know how to spin a web is wired into spider brains. So, how did we get these grammatical regularities that comprise the universal grammar?
Why is the concept of a universal grammar important? Current thinking among most linguists: When children acquire language they do not need to learn the universal grammar at all. They already know it. Children do not need to learn that there are agreement rules; they need to learn what those specific agreement rules are. They do not need to learn that rules are structure dependent; they do, however, need to learn what those structure-dependent rules are.
Kids do not need to learn that there are sound- pattern rules; they do need to learn which particular sound-pattern rules apply to the language they are learning. They do not need to learn about the concept of recursion, but they do need to learn the language- specific rules that constrain exactly how recursion occurs. For example, the odd rule that blocks subject-predicate inversion in I wasn’t sure what I should do. is specific to English. Recursion is not. Recursion is part of the Universal Grammar (and an extremely important part of it).
The Modularity of Language Central feature of language: It is a layered or modularized system – the neural substrate for language is not a blob of brain tissue that “knows” about language. It is a collection of interconnected specialists that know a great deal about just one thing. Modularity is another term for division of labor – different modules specialize in different jobs. This is similar in principle to the way a house is built – not by a bunch of people who all know the same thing, but by specialists like plumbers, electricians, carpenters, roofers, masons, roofers, …
Modularity Modularity characterizes all complex systems. A car is not a mass of metal and plastic that knows how to go. Cars have specialized modules: fuel delivery system (carburetor/fuel injector) combustion chambers transmission suspension/steering system brakes exhaust system mp3 player etc.
The human body is modularized. It’s not a blob of protoplasm that knows how to live – it’s a highly interconnected system of specialists that each handle just one kind of job: Circulatory system (pump, veins, arteries, etc.) Waste management system (kidneys, liver, poo disposal) Central control system (brain, spinal cord, …) Musculo-skeletal system Sensors (visual, auditory, tactile, …) etc. The heart does not know how to think, the brain does not know how to pump, the kidneys do not know how to secrete insulin. Each specialist has its own act and they stick to it.
Language is modularized – it’s a highly interconnected collection of experts, each of which handles just one kind of analysis. Major modules of the language system: Semantics (meaning) Syntax (structural rules governing word order) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0BuKYiwhVQ Lexicon (mental dictionary) Morphology (word-making rules – walk, walked, walking, …) Phonology (sound-pattern rules) Phonetics (articulation/sound patterns)
The layers of the language system are interconnected but DISTINCT or AUTONOMOUS – i.e., different from one another. A few examples: Syntax and semantics are not the same thing. *Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. (Chomsky) Syntactically well formed but semantically anomalous (i.e., all messed up). Conforms perfectly to English syntax but violates semantic rules. Your syntax module reports that it checks out; your semantics module reports that it’s busted.
Compare: *Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. *Green sleep furiously ideas colorless. Both sentences are ungrammatical, but the 2 nd sentence is more problematic than the 1 st. Both sentences are meaningless, but the 2 nd sentence also violates rules of English syntax. This is an illustration of the concept of modularity – your knowledge of language consists of semantics and syntax modules that are distinct from one another (autonomous).
*We throwed out it. The lawn we throwed it onto. Semantics? OK. Syntax? Nope. (Morphology is also messed up – throwed is not formed correctly.) *You no stupid computers. (Meaning, in context: You’re not stupid about computers.) Semantics? Fine. Syntax? Nah. Moral: Syntax and semantics are not the same thing; they’re distinct or autonomous. Your syntax and semantics modules are specialists, each with their own separate jobs to do.
Humor is often derived from semantic clash. It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of times. -Mark Twain Nobody goes there anymore, it’s too crowded. -Yogi Berra Wagner’s music is better than it sounds. -Mark Twain When you come to a fork in the road, take it. -Yogi Berra Bart, with $10,000 we'd be millionaires. -Homer Simpson The report of my death was an exaggeration. -Mark Twain
In all of these cases one part of an utterance contradicts (clashes with) another part, as in Chomsky’s “Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.” All of these example focus explicitly on the semantic layer of the language system. (Twain is doing this on purpose. Yogi is doing his best to make sense.)
Phonology (sound pattern rules) and the lexicon (mental dictionary) are distinct from one another; e.g., brick – blick – bnick brick: a word blick: a non-word, but conforms to English phonological rules that constrain word shapes bnick: a non-word that violates an English phonological rule that constrains sound sequences These examples prove specialization, or modularity: “brick”: Your lexicon specialist tells you this is a word. “blick”: Your lexicon specialist tells you this is not a word, but your phonology specialist tells you it could be. “bnick”: Lexicon specialist: not a word; phonology specialist: not a permissible word.
“bnick” violates a particular type of phonological rule is called a phonotactic rule. phono = sound (speech sound in this case) tactic = arrangement or ordering So, phonotactic rules impose limits on permissible and impermissible arrangements of speech sounds. On my web page, there’s a link called phonotactic rule assignment. It’s due one week from today.
All languages have large numbers of phonotactic rules. A few others in English : Words cannot begin with [ŋ] ([no] is ok but not [ŋo]) Words cannot begin with [ ʃ t] ([st ɑ p] is ok but not [ ʃ t ɑ p]). Words cannot end with [ ɛ, ɪ, ʊ ] ([be], [bi], and [bu] are ok but not [b ɛ ], [b ɪ ], or [b ʊ ]. Terminology: The rules above are called phonotactic phonological rules, or (more often) just phonotactic rules. The other kinds that we talked about (e.g., vowels are lengthened before voiced consonants) we’ll simply refer to as non-phonotactic phonological rules. We’ll discuss many other examples.
Morphology: Rules for word formation (e.g., dog dogs; walk walking) If boof were a word, what kind would boofable be (noun, verb, adjective, etc.)? How can the word understand (verb) be turned into noun? He used to live in Pakistan, so he has a good _________ of cricket. (This is a bogus sentence. No one understands cricket.) What form of understand goes in the blank? How about making an adjective? Some of the concepts were unfamiliar to me, but the teacher made these ideas ________________. What form of understand goes in the blank?
What module of the language system are you relying on to answer these questions? You are applying your knowledge of morphological rules – rules for forming words out of smaller units called morphemes. Morpheme: The smallest unit of language that has meaning. Some examples – one word in all cases, but not always one morpheme: dog, dogs read, reading, readable, unreadable person, personal, personalize
Bound vs. Unbound: Morphemes can be either bound or unbound (also called free). Unbound (free): Can stand alone as a separate word (e.g., dog, walk, park, …). Unbound morphemes are also called free. Bound: Must appear in combination with one or more other morphemes; e.g., suffixes like -s, –ed, -ing; prefixes such as pre-, post-, un-, etc. premature: pre=bound, mature=unbound blindness: blind=unbound, ness=bound Check out the exercise on my web page called Counting Morphemes.
One more point about morphemes: The concept of a morpheme is pretty straightforward, but counting them is not always so simple. A few examples: How many morphemes in these? uniformDo speakers realize this word is derived from morphemes meaning one form? Maybe, but I doubt it. agnosticThe word gnostic does exist, but do most speakers know this; i.e., do speakers treat this as meaning not gnostic? Maybe, but I doubt it. atheistDo speakers understand this to mean not theist? Maybe, but I doubt it.
Last one: A specific sound or sound sequence can sometimes behave as a morpheme and sometimes not. worker: ‘er’ ([ ɚ ]) is a morpheme (‘er’ indicates one who works) player: ‘er’ ([ ɚ ]) is a morpheme sitter: ‘er’ ([ ɚ ]) is a morpheme splatter: ‘er’ ([ ɚ ]) is not a morpheme (‘er’ does not mean one who splats) matter: ‘er’ ([ ɚ ]) is not a morpheme (‘er’ does not mean one who mats) preschool: ‘pre’ ([pri]) is a morpheme; (‘pre’ indicates ‘before’) prejudge: ‘pre’ ([pri]) is a morpheme predisposed: ‘pre’ ([pri]) is a morpheme precaution: ‘pre’ ([pri]) is a morpheme pretty: ‘pre’ is not a morpheme supreme: ‘pre’ is not a morpheme
What about: batter [bæ ɾɚ ] (as in baseball) batter [bæ ɾɚ ] (as in pancakes) Is the [ ɾ ] of “He is the next batter.” a morpheme? Is the [ ɾ ] of “pancake batter” a morpheme? Moral: It’s not the sound sequence per se, it’s the function that the sound sequence plays in the word.
Phonology and phonetics are not the same thing. Let’s start with an example we know something about. batter (as in baseball) / / (abstract, underlying representation) (surface phonetic form) slashes brackets There are two distinct (autonomous) layers or language modules involved in the production of this word: (1) phonological (abstract) layer or underlying representation, or phonemic layer) – abstract representation in your head – e.g., you “think” of the medial sound in “batter” as a /t/. (2) phonetic layer or surface phonetic form – the sounds that are actually spoken ( in the example).
/bæt ɚ / Phonological Rules [bæt ɚ ] Rule /t,d/ [ ɚ ] when intervocalic, (betw two vowels) but only when the 2 nd vowel is unstressed Translation: /t/ & /d/ are pronounced as a flap when they occur between two vowels and when the 2 nd vowel is unstressed (weak). phonemic (phonological, linguistic, underlying representation) phonetic (surface phonetic form)
Phonology and phonetics are not the same thing; for example, note the /p/ in the following: t h p (released) t h p (unreleased) p h t (aspirated) sp t (unaspirated) These realizations are phonetically distinct but phonemically/phonologically/linguistically equivalent; i.e., they are members of the same broad phonemic category /p/. Released and unreleased /p/: allophones or allophonic variants. Aspirated and unaspirated /p/ are allophones or allophonic variants.
Other examples: / /:“geese” vs. “gone” / /: “tap” “kitten” “button” “eighth” “fatty” The /g/ of “geese” and the /g/ of “gone” are allophones: Same phonemic/phonological/linguistic category; different phonetic realizations of the category. Compare /l/ of “Lee” vs. “law”. These distinctions vary across languages. Differences which are allophonic in one language may be phonemic in another, and vice versa.
How to tell whether two speech sounds are members of the same or different phoneme class Are /p/ and /b/ allophones of the same phoneme class, or are they members of different phoneme classes? Different. Here’s the test: Can we find a pair or words with different meanings, where this difference in meaning is conveyed by the /p/-b/ difference? Yes. Many. pin-bin, pat-bat, pan-ban, pill-bill, pace-base, peek-beak … So, /p/ and /b/ are different phonemes, not allophones of the same phoneme category.
What about vs. ; i.e., the aspirated / / in “pot” versus the unaspirated / / in “spot”. Can we find a pair of words in which an aspirated /p/ means one thing while an otherwise identical word with an unaspirated / / means something else? The fact that a sound occurs in a language does not mean that it has the status of a phoneme. Vowel nasalization: compare the vowels in “pad” and “man” (and notice what you’re velum is doing ): (tilde = nasalized) But, vowel nasalization is predictable in English – it occurs whenever a vowel precedes a nasal consonant. The presence vs. absence of nasalization never signals a difference in meaning; i.e., it is not contrastive. So, in English, and are allophones of one another.
Not true in all languages; e.g., in French, Portuguese, & a few other languages, differences in word meaning can be signaled based EXCLUSIVELY on whether the vowel is nasalized or not – just as in pin vs. bin in English. French: “beau” (good looking) vs. “bon” (good) (The tilde is a diacritic for nasalized.) So, in French, are (non-nasalized) and (nasalized) allophonic variants of one another? In English, are and allophonic variants of one another? Central idea: Contrast. Does a phonetic feature (nasal- ization in this example) serve a contrastive function (distinguish one word from another)? If the answer is yes, then it’s phonemic. Otherwise, we’re talking about allophonic variation.
Terminology In English, and are: 1. allophonic variants or allophones of one another 2.phonetically different but phonemically/ phonologically/linguistically equivalent In French, are and both phonetically distinct and phonemically/phonologically/linguistically distinct. Yet another way to say exactly the same thing: In French, vowel nasalization serves a contrastive function; i.e., nasalization by itself can serve to distinguish one word from another. In English, it does not.
Summary 1.A phonemic or phonological type is an abstract linguistic category that can be phonetically realized in different ways. 2.These phonetically different but phonologically/ phonemically/linguistically equivalent realizations of phonemes are called allophones of the phoneme category. 3.The phonemic/phonological layer of the language system is a distinct module, separate from the phonetic module.
Dog (abstract category, analogous to a phoneme) Physically distinct but equivalent members of the abstract category dog. These are analogous to allophones of a phoneme category – i.e., they are “allodogs.”
The mental concept of “supermanhood” (phoneme) In complementary distribution: never seen in the same place at the same time. Allophones. (from Andrew Carnie, University of Arizona)
NOT in complementary distribution: can both be present at the same time: allophones of different phonemes (from Andrew Carnie)
An Important Thing The wave analogy is useful but imperfect. “Allowaves” – different realizations of the abstract category “wave” are roughly analogous to allophones of /t/ (or any other phoneme). They are different from one another but equivalent members of the category. But here’s where the analogy is imperfect: These different kinds of waves all mean the same thing – “Hi”. The different allophones of /t/ (or /p/ or /o/ …) are equivalent, but phonemes, by themselves, never mean anything. Ever. Phonemes are capable of signaling or conveying a difference in meaning. Meaning something and being capable of conveying a difference in meaning are not the same thing.
Compare phoneme with morpheme – the smallest unit of language with meaning. This definition suggests that morphemes have meaning but phonemes do not, and that is true. What do these morphemes mean? (rendered here in orthography) pre-before anti-against or counter to -sthe root word is plural -estmost (funniest, dumbest, tallest, …) What do these mean?: /t/ /u/ / ʃ / /d ʒ /? The question can’t be answered because they do not mean anything. But, phoneme differences are capable of signaling differences in meaning (/p ɪ t/-/b ɪ t/, /r ɑ t/-/l ɑ t/, /s ɪ t/-z ɪ t/, /k ɑ t/- /g ɑ t/,…). Once again, meaning something and being capable of conveying a difference in meaning are not the same.
Lesson Morphemes mean something. Phoneme differences can convey differences in meaning (i.e., they serve a contrastive function). Allophonic differences do not do either.
/t/ (abstract phoneme type) Physically distinct realizations of the abstract category /t/. These are analogous to physically distinct but equivalent members of the category dog. These are allophones of /t/. [ “pot” “pot” “top” “stop” “kitty” “button” (released) (unreleased) (aspirated) (unaspirated) (flap) (glottal stop, nasal release)
Last point: Sound types that are allophonic variants of a single phoneme class in one language may be separate phoneme categories in another language. English French / / / / / / Two distinct phoneme classes “boat” “moan” Nasalized/non-nasalized allophones of / /
Final Point about the Modularity Concept The modularity concept is NOT an arcane, egghead detail that you can safely forget about once you begin working as a clinician. Pretty soon many of you will begin to learn a great deal about diagnostic methods in speech & language. Whether the word is used or not (and it usually isn’t ), modularity is the central guiding principle underlying speech & language assessment. The cenmain tral idea is to assess a client’s abilities separately in several distinct areas of linguistic performance – syntax, morphology, vocabulary (i.e., the lexicon) phonology, etc. It’s not possible to understand diagnostics without appreciating the modularity concept.
Pragmatics The module referred to as pragmatics may or may not be properly viewed as part of the linguistic system, but it clearly plays a major role in language comprehension. Customer:Is my prescription ready? Pharmacist:Yes. Customer:Can you get it for me? Pharmacist:Yes. Customer:Will you get it for me? Pharmacist:Yes. Customer:I have a baseball bat. I’ll use it. Pharmacist:I didn’t know that. Customer:Get it for me. Now. Pharmacist:OK. Why didn’t you say so when you first came in? What aspect of language is the dense pharmacist having difficulty with? Phonology? Syntax? Semantics? Grammatically, what type of sentences is the first utterance (i.e., declarative, interrogative, imperative, etc.)?
A Short Story Janie heard the jingling of the ice cream truck. She ran upstairs to get her piggy bank. She shook it till some money came out. Roughly how old is Janie? Does the money consist of coins or paper currency? What is Janie likely to do with the money? Where in the language of the story do we find the answers to these questions? If we don’t get this information entirely out of the language, where does it come from?
A Shorter Story Tyler brought a six pack to the party. His mother found out about it. How would you guess Tyler is? Six pack of what? What do you think Mom’s reaction was?
A Really Short Story Bill: I’m leaving you. Louise: Who is she? What is the story underlying this conversation? What do you think Bill means by “leaving”? Running out to gas up his car? Picking up the dry cleaning? How are you able to reconstruct a story based on two 3- to 4-word sentences? Is it your linguistic knowledge that allows understand what is going on here?
Language vs. Speech Last point: I’ve been talking about language and speech as though they were the same thing. Not. All speech is language, but not all language is speech. Two major counterexamples: Written language (different in one major way from spoken language – IT NEEDS TO BE EXPLICITLY TAUGHT. But it’s still language.) Sign language (ASL and all other sign languages) Sign language is not a stripped down or impoverished version of spoken language. It conforms to the universal grammar and contains all of the elements of spoken language (except sound): structure-dependent rules, agreement rules, recursion, even movement analogs of phonological rules and gestural analogs of babbling. It is full-blown language, not a cheap imitation.