In phonology, an allophone ( // ; from the Greek ἄλλος, állos, "other" and φωνή, phōnē, "voice, sound") is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds, or phones , or signs used to pronounce a single phoneme in a particular language. For example, in English, [ t ] (as in stop[stɒp]) and the aspirated form [ tʰ ] (as in top[ˈtʰɒp]) are allophones for the phoneme /t/, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in some languages such as Thai and Hindi. On the other hand, in Spanish, [ d ] (as in dolor [doˈloɾ] ) and [ ð ] (as in nada [ˈnaða] ) are allophones for the phoneme /d/, while these two are considered to be different phonemes in English.
The specific allophone selected in a given situation is often predictable from the phonetic context, with such allophones being called positional variants, but some allophones occur in free variation. Replacing a sound by another allophone of the same phoneme usually does not change the meaning of a word, but the result may sound non-native or even unintelligible.
Native speakers of a given language perceive one phoneme in the language as a single distinctive sound and are "both unaware of and even shocked by" the allophone variations that are used to pronounce single phonemes.
The term "allophone" was coined by Benjamin Lee Whorf circa 1929. In doing so, he placed a cornerstone in consolidating early phoneme theory.The term was popularized by George L. Trager and Bernard Bloch in a 1941 paper on English phonology and went on to become part of standard usage within the American structuralist tradition.
Whenever a user's speech is vocalized for a given phoneme, it is slightly different from other utterances, even for the same speaker. That has led to some debate over how real and how universal phonemes really are (see phoneme for details). Only some of the variation is significant, by being detectable or perceivable, to speakers.
There are two types of allophones, based on whether a phoneme must be pronounced using a specific allophone in a specific situation or whether the speaker has the unconscious freedom to choose the allophone that is used.
If a specific allophone from a set of allophones that correspond to a phoneme must be selected in a given context, and using a different allophone for a phoneme would cause confusion or make the speaker sound non-native, the allophones are said to be complementary. The allophones then complement each other, and one of them is not used in a situation in which the usage of another is standard. For complementary allophones, each allophone is used in a specific phonetic context and may be involved in a phonological process.
In other cases, the speaker can freely select from free variant allophones on personal habit or preference, but free variant allophones are still selected in the specific context, not the other way around.
Another example of an allophone is assimilation, in which a phoneme is to sound more like another phoneme. One example of assimilation is consonant voicing and devoicing, in which voiceless consonants are voiced before and after voiced consonants, and voiced consonants are devoiced before and after voiceless consonants.
An allotone is a tonic allophone, such as the neutral tone in Standard Mandarin.
There are many allophonic processes in English: lack of plosion, nasal plosion, partial devoicing of sonorants, complete devoicing of sonorants, partial devoicing of obstruents, lengthening and shortening vowels, and retraction.
Because the choice among allophones is seldom under conscious control, few people realize their existence. English-speakers may be unaware of the differences among six allophones of the phoneme /t/: unreleased [ t̚] as in cat, aspirated [tʰ] as in top, glottalized [ʔ] as in button, flapped [ɾ] as in American English water, nasalized flapped [ɾ̃] as in winter, and none of the above [t] as in stop. However, they may become aware of the differences if, for example, they contrast the pronunciations of the following words:
A flame that is held before the lips while those words are spoken flickers more for the aspirated nitrate than for the unaspirated night rate. The difference can also be felt by holding the hand in front of the lips. For a Mandarin-speaker, for whom /t/ and /tʰ/ are separate phonemes, the English distinction is much more obvious than for an English-speaker, who has learned since childhood to ignore the distinction.
Allophones of English /l/ may be noticed if the 'light' [l] of leaf[ˈliːf] is contrasted with the 'dark' [ɫ] of feel[ˈfiːɫ]. Again, the difference is much more obvious to a Turkish-speaker, for whom /l/ and /ɫ/ are separate phonemes, than to an English speaker, for whom they are allophones of a single phoneme.
These descriptions are more sequentially broken down in the next section.
Peter Ladefoged, a renowned phonetician, clearly explains the consonant allophones of English in a precise list of statements to illustrate the language behavior. Some of these rules apply to all the consonants of English; the first item on the list deals with consonant length, items 2 through 18 apply to only selected groups of consonants, and the last item deals with the quality of a consonant. These descriptive rules are as follows:
There are many examples for allophones in languages other than English. Typically, languages with a small phoneme inventory allow for quite a lot of allophonic variation: examples are Hawaiian and Toki Pona. Here are some examples (the links of language names go to the specific article or subsection on the phenomenon):
Since phonemes are abstractions of speech sounds, not the sounds themselves, they have no direct phonetic transcription. When they are realized without much allophonic variation, a simple broad transcription is used. However, when there are complementary allophones of a phoneme, the allophony becomes significant and things then become more complicated. Often, if only one of the allophones is simple to transcribe, in the sense of not requiring diacritics, that representation is chosen for the phoneme.
However, there may be several such allophones, or the linguist may prefer greater precision than that allows. In such cases, a common convention is to use the "elsewhere condition" to decide the allophone that stands for the phoneme. The "elsewhere" allophone is the one that remains once the conditions for the others are described by phonological rules.
For example, English has both oral and nasal allophones of its vowels. The pattern is that vowels are nasal only before a nasal consonant in the same syllable; elsewhere, they are oral. Therefore, by the "elsewhere" convention, the oral allophones are considered basic, and nasal vowels in English are considered to be allophones of oral phonemes.
In other cases, an allophone may be chosen to represent its phoneme because it is more common in the languages of the world than the other allophones, because it reflects the historical origin of the phoneme, or because it gives a more balanced look to a chart of the phonemic inventory.
An alternative, which is commonly used for archiphonemes, is to use a capital letter, such as /N/ for [m], [n], [ŋ].
In rare cases, a linguist may represent phonemes with abstract symbols, such as dingbats, to avoid privileging any particular allophone.
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of breath that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. In English, aspirated consonants are allophones in complementary distribution with their unaspirated counterparts, but in some other languages, notably most Indian and East Asian languages, the difference is contrastive.
In phonetics, a nasal, also called a nasal occlusive or nasal stop in contrast with an oral stop or nasalized consonant, is an occlusive consonant produced with a lowered velum, allowing air to escape freely through the nose. The vast majority of consonants are oral consonants. Examples of nasals in English are, and, in words such as nose, bring and mouth. Nasal occlusives are nearly universal in human languages. There are also other kinds of nasal consonants in some languages.
In phonetics, a plosive, also known as an occlusive or simply a stop, is a pulmonic consonant in which the vocal tract is blocked so that all airflow ceases.
Non-native pronunciations of English result from the common linguistic phenomenon in which non-native users of any language tend to carry the intonation, phonological processes and pronunciation rules from their first language or first languages into their English speech. They may also create innovative pronunciations for English sounds not found in the speaker's first language.
The phonology of Standard German is the standard pronunciation or accent of the German language. It deals with current phonology and phonetics as well as with historical developments thereof as well as the geographical variants and the influence of German dialects.
Voice or voicing is a term used in phonetics and phonology to characterize speech sounds. Speech sounds can be described as either voiceless or voiced.
The phonology of the Irish language varies from dialect to dialect; there is no standard pronunciation of Irish. Therefore, this article focuses on phenomena that pertain generally to most or all dialects, and on the major differences among the dialects. Detailed discussion of the dialects can be found in the specific articles: Ulster Irish, Connacht Irish, and Munster Irish.
In phonetics and phonology, a sonorant or resonant is a speech sound that is produced with continuous, non-turbulent airflow in the vocal tract; these are the manners of articulation that are most often voiced in the world's languages. Vowels are sonorants, as are nasals like and, liquids like and, and semivowels like and. This set of sounds contrasts with the obstruents.
Esperanto is a constructed international auxiliary language. The creator of Esperanto, L. L. Zamenhof, illustrated Esperanto pronunciation by comparing its sounds with their equivalents in several major European languages.
The phonology of Japanese features about 15 consonant phonemes, the cross-linguistically typical five-vowel system of, and a relatively simple phonotactic distribution of phonemes allowing few consonant clusters. It is traditionally described as having a mora as the unit of timing, with each mora taking up about the same length of time, so that the disyllabic ("Japan") may be analyzed as and dissected into four moras,, ,, and.
The phonological system of the Polish language is similar in many ways to those of other Slavic languages, although there are some characteristic features found in only a few other languages of the family, such as contrasting retroflex and palatal fricatives and affricates, and nasal vowels. The vowel system is relatively simple, with just six oral monophthongs and two nasals, while the consonant system is much more complex.
This article describes those aspects of the phonological history of the English language which concern consonants.
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Unlike many languages, Icelandic has only very minor dialectal differences in sounds. The language has both monophthongs and diphthongs, and many consonants can be voiced or unvoiced.
Debuccalization or deoralization is a sound change or alternation in which an oral consonant loses its original place of articulation and moves it to the glottis. The pronunciation of a consonant as is sometimes called aspiration but in phonetics, aspiration is the burst of air accompanying a stop. The word comes from Latin bucca, meaning "cheek" or "mouth".
The phonology of Welsh is characterised by a number of sounds that do not occur in English and are rare in European languages, such as the voiceless alveolar lateral fricative and several voiceless sonorants, some of which result from consonant mutation. Stress usually falls on the penultimate syllable in polysyllabic words, while the word-final unstressed syllable receives a higher pitch than the stressed syllable.
This article is about the sound system of the Navajo language. The phonology of Navajo is intimately connected to its morphology. For example, the entire range of contrastive consonants is found only at the beginning of word stems. In stem-final position and in prefixes, the number of contrasts is drastically reduced. Similarly, vowel contrasts found outside of the stem are significantly neutralized. For details about the morphology of Navajo, see Navajo grammar.
In phonology, voicing is a sound change where a voiceless consonant becomes voiced due to the influence of its phonological environment; shift in the opposite direction is referred to as devoicing or desonorization. Most commonly, the change is a result of sound assimilation with an adjacent sound of opposite voicing, but it can also occur word-finally or in contact with a specific vowel.
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This glossary gives a general overview of the various sound laws that have been formulated by linguists for the various Indo-European languages. A concise description is given for each rule; more details are given in their articles.
...An allophone is the set of phones contained in the intersection of a maximal set of phonetically similar phones and a primary phonetically related set of phones....
... The ordinary native speaker is, in fact, often unaware of the allophonic variations of his phonemes ...
...always found that native speakers are clearly aware of the phonemes of their language but are both unaware of and even shocked by the plethora of allophones and the minutiae needed to distinguish between them....
...When the occurrence of one allophone is predictable when compared to the other, as in this case, we call this complementary distribution. Complementary distribution means that the allophones are 'distributed' as complements....