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1

Phonemic analysis overview

- TO Determine which phonetic diffs are significant in distinguishing words in a lang
- Need to know pronunciation captured in PHONETIC TRANSCRIPTION + their MEANINGS

1. Look for which phones present, what phonetic contexts
2. Examine diffs between phones, typically pairwise (to start)
3. Apply tests to establish

2

Test. 1 MINIMAL PAIRS

Clearest evidence that the difference between two phones
differentiates words in a lang

A pair/set of words with distinct meanings that differ in one phone only

Minimal Pairs demonstrate
- the phones contrast
- allophones of DIFF phonemes


eg [pæt] and [bæt] demonstrate that [p] and [b] are allophones of different phonemes in English.

3

Test 2. FREE VARIATION

If 2 phones are always FREELY INTERCHANGEABLE in the same words (with the same meaning), the DIFF NOT SIGNIFICANT in distinguishing words in the lang

eg [hɪt] vs [hɪ̈t] vs [hɪ̟t] vs [hɪ̝t]

allophones of the same phoneme

4

Test 3. COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION

If 2 phones are in COMPLEMENTARY DISTRIBUTION, the DIFF NOT SIGNIFICANT in distinguishing words in lang.

allophones of the same phonemes

caveat...

tendency for allophones of a phoneme to be similar in phonetic terms:

PHONES in COMP DISTRIBUTION analysed as allophones of same phoneme ONLY IF they are PHONETICALLY SIMILAR

*phonetic similarity not well defined

5

Articulatory similarity

IN ENG: [h] and [ŋ] are in complementary distribution:
- [h] only occurs at the beginning of syllables (i.e. before the vowel)
- [ŋ] only occurs in the end of syllables (i.e. after the vowel)

But [h] and [ŋ] are so diff in articulatory terms = taken to be distinct phonemes.

- [h] glottal fricative as /h/.
- [ŋ] voiced velar nasal /ŋ/.
Typically allophones have at least some common properties