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Phonology, part 5: Features and Phonotactics

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1 Phonology, part 5: Features and Phonotactics
November 5, 2012

2 The Road Ahead Today: we’ll wrap up the presentation of distinctive features …and also talk a bit about phonotactics and syllable structure. On Wednesday, we’ll wrap up phonology and do some more practice problems. The Phonology Homework will be due on the Wednesday after the break (November 14th). I’ll probably send it out on Wednesday evening.

3 Distinctive Features The features used to describe natural classes of sounds in phonology are known as distinctive features. …because they distinguish between otherwise identical sounds. The distinctions made by features are (almost always) denoted by a [+] or [-] in front of the feature name. For instance, stops and fricatives are distinguished by the feature [continuant]. [s] = [+continuant] (air flows steadily through mouth) [t] = [-continuant] (air does not flow steadily through mouth) (Note: nasals and affricates are also [-continuant])

4 Hitting Bottom Distinctive features are considered to be the basic building blocks of language. Sentences Words Morphemes Phonemes Features The set of features is therefore universal. The distinctive features determine: What contrasts a sound makes with other sounds. What natural classes a sound belongs to.

5 Feature Matrices All of a phoneme’s feature specifications (+ or -) can be lumped together into a feature matrix. For example: [t] = Note: - is the default (unmarked) value. Also note: there are complete feature matrices for all English sounds on pages 88 and 89 of the textbook.

6 Sub-Features, part 1 Note: the place features LABIAL, CORONAL, DORSAL are special in that they are not preceded by either + or - (the textbook puts a ✓ before them) Some features only apply when a particular place feature is also part of a sound’s feature matrix. For instance: only CORONALS can be [strident]. Also: [ANTERIOR] applies only to CORONALS. Is the sound at or in front of the alveolar ridge? Yes: [+anterior] = interdentals, alveolars No: [-anterior] = post-alveolars (=posterior)

7 Sub-Features, part 2 A sub-feature for LABIAL is ROUND.
= are the lips rounded? All rounded vowels are [LABIAL] …and all rounded vowels are [+round] However: LABIAL consonants in English are [-round] …with the exception of [w], which is [+round]

8 Sub-Features, part 3 DORSAL has the following sub-features:
[+back] vowels are (phonetically) back…. [-back] vowels are (phonetically) front. Also: palatal consonants ([j]) are [-back]; Velar consonants ([k], [g]) are [+back] 2. [high] distinguishes high and non-high vowels 3. [low] distinguishes low and non-low vowels (mid vowels are [-high], [-low]) 4. Tense vowels are [+tense], and lax vowels are [-tense] is [+reduced]

9 More Major Features Note: consonants and vowels are distinguished by [consonantal] Two major classes of consonants are distinguished by the feature [sonorant]: [+sonorant] segments resonate when they’re produced they include vowels, glides, liquids and nasals [-sonorant] segments include: stops, fricatives and affricates these sounds obstruct the flow of air in the mouth = “obstruents” In English, only sonorants can be [+syllabic]

10 Laryngeal Features Voiced and voiceless segments are distinguished by [voice] Aspirated consonants are [+spread glottis] also: [h] And “glottalized” consonants are [+constricted glottis] this includes the “glottal stop” ….but otherwise you can ignore this one. Finally: affricates are distinguished from fricatives by [delayed release] Affricates = [+delayed release] Fricatives = [-delayed release]

11 Just for fun: Voice Quality
There are three primary types of vocal fold vibration: modal vocal folds lightly adducted; flow of air causes periodic opening and closing of folds breathy vocal folds slightly apart; flow of air makes folds “wave” in the wind Breathy voice is [+voice], [+spread glottis] 3. creaky vocal folds tensely adducted; low airflow causes irregular, low frequency voicing Creaky voice is [+voice], [+constricted glottis]

12 Random Feature Fun Facts
[nasal] distinguishes oral from nasal segments [m], [n], [ŋ] = [+nasal] [lateral] distinguishes lateral and central segments Basically: [l] Here’s an odd but important fact: Glides ([w], [j]) and Glottal consonants ([h], [ʔ]) are [-consonantal], just like vowels …but they are [-syllabic] Also keep in mind: [r] is [-anterior]

13 The point of it all Phonological rules can (and should) always be expressed in terms of distinctive features. For instance, voicing assimilation (for English plurals): [+voice]  [-voice] / [-voice] ____ [+continuant] [CORONAL] [+strident] On Wednesday, we’ll try to work through a few more practice problems where we’ll express the answers in this (formal) fashion…

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