Languages & Cultures of East Asia
Trad 101, Sections
18-19-20-21 Fall 2000
Lecture Outline, 10/30/00 - Phonology
the sound system of a language
What are possible sounds in the language
English /k/, /t/, but clicks?
the patterning of sounds
Whether a sequence of sounds is a possible syllable
spelling and transcription
"taxi" /tęksi /
phonemes: sounds that differentiates words
fine/vine, sip/zip, chunk/junk
/s/ and /z/ can distinguish or contrast words.
They are distinctive sounds in English.
Such distinctive sounds are called phonemes.
It is the presence of contrast that shows the phonemic distinctions.
sip/zip, fine/vine, big/pig
Two different words are identical in every way except for one sound segment that occurs in
the same place in the string
Which feature distinguishes between the two sounds /s/ and /z/?
vowel quality: e.g. heat, hit, hat, hot
stress: e.g. permit
Not all sounds that occur phonetically in a language represent separate phonemes.
top stop little kitten
Speakers feel all of the words have /t/ in them, at the psychological level.
They feel it is the same sound even though there are 4 ways to pronounce it.
allophones of the phoneme /t/.
predictable phonetic variants of phonemes
choice between [th] and 
does not change meaning
If someone says "little" with [th], we would not feel he is saying a
Basic vs. derived allophones
"top" - beginning of word
"stop" - after /s/
"little" - after short vowels and before / r/, / l/, / m/
"kitten" "button" - before / n/
If two sounds are allophones of the same phoneme, they are in complementary
distribution: they never occur in the same environment
Voicing distinguishes words;
e.g. "sip" and "zip"
Aspiration does not distinguishes words
e.g. "little" 
Question: Are two sounds X and Y separate phonemes or allophones of the same phoneme?
Steps to follow:
1. Is there a minimal pair?
If yes--> X and Y are separate phonemes
If no--> Step 2 (they are probably in complementary distribution)
2. Where do X and Y occur?
E.g. If X: before a vowel
Y: anywhere except before a vowel
--> X and Y are allophones of the same phoneme
--> Step 3
3. Where sound, X or Y, occurs in more environments?
If it is X --> X is the basic allophone
--> Y is the derived