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This page last updated March 22, 2001 at 10:45 p.m. MDT by Daniel Roundy, dqr@ttt.org


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Definitions for Phonetics (Linguistics 420)

Allophone: Various realizations of a phoneme, generally in complementary distribution.

Allophonic Variation: Allophones of the same phoneme occur in complementary distribution to each other. The allophone that occurs in any given environment will also occur in other instances of that environment, but will not occur in an environment in which another allophone of the same phoneme occurs.

Alveolar Ridge: The part of the hard palate that is just behind the top front teeth.

Articulatory Phonetics: The area of phonetics which studies how sounds are articulated and produced.

Complementary Distribution: Refers to different allophones of a phoneme not occurring in the same environment as one another. For example, ph will always occur word initially before a vowel, and will never occur in the middle of a word. [p], if it occurs word initially, will always occur either before r or l, or in a word medial or word final position.

Fricative: A sound produced by placing two articulators close together and forcing air between them to create turbulent airflow. English fricatives include [f, v, s, z].

Geminate: A pair of identical consonants formed when one consonant in a pair of nonidentical consonants is changed to be the same as the other consonant through assimilation.

Geminization (Total Assimilation): A process by which, for ease of pronunciation, one consonant becomes exactly the same as the consonant next to it. The resulting consonant pair is called a geminate.

Nasal: A sound produced by creating an occlusion in the oral cavity and dropping the velum to allow air to pass through the nasal cavity. English nasals include [n, m, ].

Observer’s Paradox (Observer Effect): People speak differently when they know they are being observed. We would like to study how speakers speak when they are not being observed, but the only way we can know how they are speaking is to observe them.

Palatalization: The moving of an articulation of a stop to a more palatal position because of the presence of a front vowel, for example, in the English word "gift" the "g" is palatalized due to the following i.

Phonotactics: The study of what sound sequences are and are not allowed in a given language (for example, in English, "tnl" or "ml" are not acceptable sound combinations within a single syllable, but "fl," "ch," and "tch" are acceptable)

Stop: A consonant sound produced by creating an occlusion in the oral cavity, building up air pressure behind it, and then releasing the occlusion. English stops include [t, k, p, d, g, b] and the glottal stop.

Voiced: A sound is considered voiced if the vocal cords vibrate during its production.

Voiceless: A sound is considered voiceless if the vocal cords do not vibrate during its production.

Voicing:The vibrating of the vocal cords associated with a sound.

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