Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast
Results 1 to 10 of 11
  1. #1
    yousrati is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Algeria
      • Current Location:
      • Algeria
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    89
    Post Thanks / Like

    Post Phonemes and Allophones

    Hello,
    Would you please help me to know the differences between: Phonemes and allophones?
    What I knew is that:
    Phoneme: Are the smallest contrastive unite in sound system of language. It is called so because:
    1. It is articulated differently.
    2. It occurs in the same environment.
    3. The change affects the meaning. That is to say any substitution of sound by another leads to a change in meaning.

    In the other hand: Allophone
    It is the phonetic variety of phoneme in a particular language. They are:
    1. Articulated differently.
    2. Never occurs in the same environment.
    3. Do not change the meaning of the word.

    So would you please explain for me case nį 1-2-and 3. For both: Phonemes and Allophones with examples if itís possible for best understanding ?

    I will be very thankful and do appreciate your help.

  2. #2
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    I can't make a choice between the options you have given because I don't understand them. I will try to explain the difference between phonemes and allophones.

    A phoneme, as you correctly say, is the smallest contrastive unit in the sound system of a certain language. A phoneme is the smallest part of an utterance that cannot be changed if we want to retain the meaning. For example,

    I see.

    is a correct English utterance. Its phonemes are: /aɪ/, /s/, /i:/.

    If we change the second phoneme to the phoneme /p/, we will get

    I pee.

    which has a different meaning.

    If we change the first phoneme in the original utterance to the phoneme /p/, we will get

    Psee.

    which doesn't mean anything.

    This explains that changing phonemes changes the meaning. Changing allophones, on the other hand, doesn't change the meaning. Let's take the original utterance again.

    I see.

    When a British person says it, they are more likely to pronounce the last phoneme (/i:/) longer than an American would. (It's a generalization. It's only for the sake of explanation.) We denote the British version of the phoneme as [i:]. We denote the American version as [i]. Note the use of square brackets ("[" and "]") instead of slashes ("/"). We change the sybols because we no longer want to talk about phonemes. We want to talk about allophones now and the change of notation helps us distinguish between the two things.

    Allophones are realizations of phonemes. Every person pronounces words in their own specific way. The sounds we make when we say I see aren't exactly the same. We "mean" the same sounds (that is phonemes) but in reality we produce different sounds (allophones).

  3. #3
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Further to BC's answer.

    If you get a native speaker to hold a candle close to their mouth and say the words 'pin' and 'spin', you will see that the flame flickers when they say 'pin', but not when they say 'spin'. This is because the /p/ in 'pin' is aspirated, which basically means that it is released with a sharp puff of air; the /p/ in 'spin' is not.

    Most native speakers are not even aware of these different allophones of the phoneme /p/, but for speakers of other languages they might be different phonemes.

    Similarly the initial sound of /lip/ is different from the final sound of /pill/, but they are different allophones, not different phonemes. If a native speaker were to begin /lip/ with the allophone we use at the end of /pill/, it would sound a little strange, but it would not be heard as a different word.

  4. #4
    lauralie2 is offline Senior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • Canada
      • Current Location:
      • China
    Join Date
    Dec 2009
    Posts
    775
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Hello Yousrati,

    I would like to try as well.


    Phon- of Phoneme means sound. All languages have a sound inventory, an alphabet of sounds, and some of those sounds have variations called allophones (See Allophone below).

    refuse, r[i]fuse (verb) to decline to accept
    refuse, r[ɛ]fuse (noun) trash, garbage

    1. The sounds represented by the letter <e>, above, are articulated differently: one is pronounced [i], the other is pronounced [ɛ]. They represent different sounds.
    2. They occur in the same environment: after <r> and before <f>, which tells us they are not variations (allophones), that they are distinct sounds and part of the language's sound inventory.
    3. Change the [i] sound of refuse to [ɛ] and the meaning of the word changes to that of a noun r[ɛ]fuse meaning trash, garbage.


      • Phonemes are not predictable. They can occur in any environment and in any position, initial, internal, final:
        • tan (sun-exposed skin)
        • ant (insect)






      • Allophones are predictable: they occur in obvious phonetic environments. For example, Banff (place in Canada) has two pronunciations, Ba[n]ff and Ba[m]ff. If you were a linguist hearing this language for the first time, how would you write down the word, with an <n> or an <m>? That is, which phoneme would you choose, /n/ or /m/? The answer is in the phonetic environment, predictability: both [m] and [f] are pronounced with the lips. The two sounds [m] and [f] share articulatory features. That's the 'obvious phonetic environment' I mentioned above. The word is Banff, with an /n/. The phonetic rule: /n/ is pronounced as [m] before /f/ in the word <Banff>. We can't predict phonemes that way as they are unpredictable and "free", and when they change because of their phonetic environment, and they will and do, they become allophones, predictable variations.

    Allo- of Allophone means variation.
    cat[s]
    dog[z]



    1. Plural -s is articulated differently according to its environment. When Plural -s occurs after a voiceless sound (as in cats), it is pronounced [s], voiceless cat[s], and when -s occurs after a voiced sound (as in dogs), it is pronounced [z], voiced dog[z].
    2. Plural [s] never occurs after a voiced sound. It is always occurs after a voiceless sound. When it occurs after a voiced sound it changed to [z], voiced. Plural [s] always occurs in the same environment; Plural [z] always occurs in the same environment.
    3. Plural -s ([s] and [z]) means plural no matter how many sound variations it has. The change in sound doesn't change its meaning because speakers know that Plural -s always occurs in the same environment: after a plural noun. (Note that, because Plural -s is a morpheme, its variations [s] and [z] are called allomorphs, not allophones; nevertheless, they are allo-, variations.)

      • Phonemes, on the other hand, can occur anywhere, which is why meaning changes when the phoneme changes (e.g., fu[s], fu[z]; bu[s], bu[z])


  5. #5
    birdeen's call is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Polish
      • Home Country:
      • Poland
      • Current Location:
      • Poland
    Join Date
    Jul 2010
    Posts
    5,099
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    Phonemes are not predictable. They can occur in any environment and in any position, initial, internal, final:



        • tan (sun-exposed skin)
        • ant (insect)


    I find your explanation very good, I learned new things. I only want to point out that the quoted part of your post is not entirely true. There can be some limitations on phonemes' position or environment in some languages.

    For example, the Polish phoneme /ɨ/ never occurs word-initially.

  6. #6
    BobK's Avatar
    BobK is offline Harmless drudge
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • English
      • Home Country:
      • UK
      • Current Location:
      • UK
    Join Date
    Jul 2006
    Posts
    15,574
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    The 'pin/spin' case that 5jj gave must be one that we're all taught; I would have given it as an example too! Recently I observed another one happening in real life - in a not very good joke that involved a politician talking about 'peace talks' ( /pi:s tɔ:ks/) and someone asking 'Why should we care about pea stalks?' (/pi: stɔ:ks/). The phonemes are the same. How do we hear the different placing of the word space? It's not - as many people think - because there's a perceptible gap in the sound*; well, in fact there is - but after the /t/ in 'talks'. That allophone, like the one in 'pin' is folllowed by a little puff of air.

    b
    PS There is in the punchline to the joke, as there is in carefully enunciated speech. But in casual use there's not.

  7. #7
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Quote Originally Posted by BobK View Post
    [...] a not very good joke that involved a politician talking about 'peace talks' ( /pi:s tɔ:ks/) and someone asking 'Why should we care about pea stalks?' (/pi: stɔ:ks/). The phonemes are the same. How do we hear the different placing of the word space? It's not - as many people think - because there's a perceptible gap in the sound*; well, in fact there is - but after the /t/ in 'talks'. That allophone, like the one in 'pin' is folllowed by a little puff of air..
    Bob is talking here about juncture. His post is more than adequate for most purposes, but if you want more details:

    "Ö the phonemic sequence /piːsɔːtks/ may mean pea stalks or peace talks according to the situation of the word boundaries (i.e /iː+stɔː/ or /is+tɔː/) In this case, if the boundary falls between /s/ and /t/, the identity of the words peace and talks may be established by the reduced /iː/ (in a syllable closed by a voiceless consonant) and by the slight aspiration of /t/; on the other hand, if the boundary occurs between/iː/ and /s/, this may be signalled by the relatively full length of /iː/ (in an open word-final syllable) and by the unaspirated allophone of /t/ (following /s/ in the same syllable), as well as by the stronger /s/. Such phonetic difference depends upon the speakerís consciousness of the word as an independent entity."

    Cruttenden, Alan(2001) Gimsonís Pronunciation of English, London: Arnold


    The words I have underlined are quite important, in my opinion.

  8. #8
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Quote Originally Posted by birdeen's call View Post
    I find your explanation very good, I learned new things. I only want to point out that the quoted part of your post is not entirely true. There can be some limitations on phonemes' position or environment in some languages.

    For example, the Polish phoneme /ɨ/ never occurs word-initially.

    In English,
    /ŋ/ never appears word-initially, and /h/ is never word-final; /ʒ/ appears at the beginning of words only in a tiny number of comparatively recent borrowings of French words such as genre (for some people)

  9. #9
    5jj's Avatar
    5jj is offline VIP Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Retired English Teacher
      • Native Language:
      • British English
      • Home Country:
      • England
      • Current Location:
      • Czech Republic
    Join Date
    Oct 2010
    Posts
    28,168
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Quote Originally Posted by lauralie2 View Post
    [...] Banff (place in Canada) has two pronunciations, Ba[n]ff and Ba[m]ff. If you were a linguist hearing this language for the first time, how would you write down the word, with an <n> or an <m>? That is, which phoneme would you choose, /n/ or /m/? The answer is in the phonetic environment, predictability: both [m] and [f] are pronounced with the lips. The two sounds [m] and [f] share articulatory features. That's the 'obvious phonetic environment' I mentioned above. The word is Banff, with an /n/. The phonetic rule: /n/ is pronounced as [m] before /f/ in the word <Banff>.
    It seems to me that a phonetic rule for one word is not particularly helpful. /n/ is the pronunciation in all the other words I can think of with /f/ following a post-vovalic /n/.

    Could it be that the primary pronunciation is, or was /n/, with the bilabial variation (which one could perhaps regard as an allophone here) an originally local variation? 'Correct' pronunciation depends upon the speaker's consciousness of the local pronunciation, rather than any rule. Those of us without such knowledge would pronounce it as a straightforward /n/
    .
    Indeed, several sources (just google Pronunciation of Banff) note the pronunciation as /m/ or even /mp/ , suggesting perhaps that no rule can be assumed; it is necessary to show the 'correct' pronunciation.

  10. #10
    yousrati is offline Junior Member
    • Member Info
      • Member Type:
      • Student or Learner
      • Native Language:
      • Arabic
      • Home Country:
      • Algeria
      • Current Location:
      • Algeria
    Join Date
    Jan 2011
    Posts
    89
    Post Thanks / Like

    Default Re: Phonemes and Allophones

    Thank you very much for your help and full clear explanation. Now I did understand better.
    Thank you again.

Page 1 of 2 1 2 LastLast

Similar Threads

  1. phonemes
    By Unregistered in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 09-Feb-2009, 23:39
  2. allophones
    By GlendaCS in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 14-Dec-2008, 15:02
  3. allophones
    By kirimaru in forum Pronunciation and Phonetics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 23-Mar-2008, 16:37
  4. Phonemes
    By frankdalves in forum Ask a Teacher
    Replies: 2
    Last Post: 22-Feb-2008, 01:15
  5. allophones
    By yanny in forum Pronunciation and Phonetics
    Replies: 1
    Last Post: 01-Sep-2006, 20:10

Posting Permissions

  • You may not post new threads
  • You may not post replies
  • You may not post attachments
  • You may not edit your posts
  •