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Chapter three Phonology

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1 Chapter three Phonology

2 What is phonology? A definition:
Phonology is the study of sound systems and patterns.

3 Phonology and phonetics are two studies different in perspectives, which are concerned with the study of speech sounds. Phonetics focuses on: How speech sounds are produced? What phonetic features they have? How to transcribe them? Phonology focuses on: What sounds make up the list of sounds that can distinguish meaning in a particular language? What sounds vary in what ways in what context? What sounds can appear together in a sequence in a particular language?

4 Phonemes and allophones
A phoneme is a distinctive, abstract sound unit with a distinctive feature. The variants of a phoneme are termed allophones. We use allophones to realize phonemes.

5 Discovering phonemes Contrastive distribution – phonemes
Complementary distribution – allophones Free variation

6 Contrastive distribution – phonemes
If sounds appear in the same environment, they are said to be in contrastive distribution. Typical contrastive distribution of sounds is found in minimal pairs and minimal sets. A minimal pair consists of two words that differ by only one sound in the same position. Minimal sets are more than two words that are distinguished by one segment in the same position.

7 The overwhelming majority of the consonants and vowels represented by the English phonetic alphabet are in contrastive distribution.  Some sounds can hardly be found in contrastive distribution in English. However, these sounds are distinctive in terms of phonetic features. Therefore, they are separate phonemes.

8 Complementary distribution – allophones
Sounds that are not found in the same position are said to be in complementary distribution. If segments are in complementary distribution and share a number of features, they are allophones of the same phoneme.

9 Free variation If segments appear in the same position but the mutual substitution does not result in change of meaning, they are said to be in free variation.

10 Distinctive and non-distinctive features
Features that distinguish meaning are called distinctive features, and features do not, non-distinctive features. Distinctive features in one language may be non-distinctive in another.

11 Phonological rules Phonemes are abstract sound units stored in the mind, while allophones are the actual pronunciations in speech. What phoneme is realized by what allophones in what specific context is another major question in phonology. The regularities that what sounds vary in what ways in what context are generalized and stated in phonology as rules. There are many phonological rules in English. Take the following ones as examples. [+voiced +consonant] – [-voiced]/[-voiced +consonant]_ [-voiced +bilabial +stop] – unaspirated/[-voiced +alveolar +fricative]_

12 Syllable structure A syllable is a phonological unit that is composed of one or more phonemes. Every syllable has a nucleus, which is usually a vowel. The nucleus may be preceded by one or more consonants called the onset and followed by one or more consonants called the coda.

13 Sequence of phonemes Native speakers of any language intuitively know what sounds can be put together. Some sequences are not possible in English. The impossible sequences are called systematic gaps. Sequences that are possible but do not occur yet are called accidental gaps. When new words are coined, they may fill some accidental gaps but they will never fill systematic gaps.

14 Suprasegmental features
Features that are found over a segment or a sequence of two or more segments are called suprasegmental features. These features are distinctive features: stress, intonation, tone

15 Stress Stress is the perceived prominence of one or more syllabic elements over others in a word. Stress is a relative notion. Only words that are composed of two or more syllables have stress. If a word has three or more syllables, there is a primary stress and a secondary stress. In some languages word stress is fixed, i.e. on a certain syllable. In English, word stress is unpredictable.

16 Intonation When we speak, we change the pitch of our voice to express ideas. Intonation is the variation of pitch to distinguish utterance meaning. The same sentence uttered with different intonation may express different attitude of the speaker. In English, there are three basic intonation patterns: fall, rise,

17 Tone Tone is the variation of pitch to distinguish words.
The same sequence of segments can be different words if uttered with different tones. Chinese is a typical tone language.

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