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Unformatted text preview: What is Phonology? Linguistics 101 P. & P. Houghton Spring 2009 1 What is phonology? In the last section, we learned about the smallest unit of language – the tiny pieces of sound that make up every utterance. Taking the first step back from that, we begin to notice that these sounds form patterns. For example, languages differ in terms of which groups of sounds are allowed, or where those sounds are permitted to occur. Sometimes, alternations can be noticed within a language, which provide further evidence for patterning of sounds. The study of these patterns of sound is called phonology . When a language restricts which sounds can occur in certain positions or certain com- binations – or at all in the language! – these restrictions are referred to as phonotactic restrictions . There are a few common types of phonotactic restrictions, described in (1) - (3). (1) Inventory: If a sound is restricted from a language’s inventory, this means it will never occur, under any circumstances. Attempts to include the sound in the language normally involve changing the sound into one that does occur in the language, though other repairs are possible. • Johann Bach [b ¡ x] is the name of a German composer; however, [x] is not a phone in English. When English speakers say his name, they pronounce it as [b ¡ k] – turning the foreign [x] into [k], a sound found in the English inventory. (2) Combination: Sometimes, combinations of sounds are not allowed in a language – even if the two sounds are allowed to occur separately, or in combination with other sounds. Attempts to pronounce non-native sound combinations (of sounds allowed in your native inventory) often involve deletion of one or inserting a vowel between them, though other repairs are possible. • Antonin Dvorak [dv = r ¡ k] is the name of a Czech composer; however, while [d] and [v] are both allowed in English, the combination of the two is not allowed. When English speakers say his name, they pronounce it as [d v =G aek] – adding in a vowel, [ ], to break up the illegal consonant cluster. 1 1 Notice that also the non-English sound [r] has been turned into a sound found in the English inventory – [ G ]. Linguistics 101 What is Phonology? (3) Location: Sometimes, though a sound is permitted in the language, it can only appear in certain positions. For example, a sound might be allowed to occur anywhere in the word except word-finally. We will look at more examples of location-based restrictions later in this section. Attempts to pronounce a native sound in an illegal position often involve deletion of the offending sound, or insertion of another phone to move the offender out of the illegal position, though other repairs are possible....
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- Fall '11
- Vowel, Consonant, Phonotactics, Syllable onset