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Re: Allophones Question

From:Muke Tever <mktvr@...>
Date:Thursday, February 20, 2003, 6:25
From: "Christophe Grandsire" <christophe.grandsire@...>
> > << It is advisable to consider as the norm that segment which has > > the least limitation in distribution in the language, and appears to be > > the least affected by surrounding sounds. >> > > > > ...which is why I considered it safe to use the Spanish example. > > And you would be wrong to do so. After all, what is the distribution of the > two allophones of voiced stops in Castillian Spanish? Simple: voiced > fricative in intervocalic position, and voiced stop *everywhere* else! If you > look at limitation of distribution, the fricative allophone is much more > limited in appearance than the voiced stop. Now because of Spanish's simple > syllable structure, you get often intervocalic consonants. But it doesn't > that if you reason in terms of environment, the voiced stop allophone is > freer to appear than the voiced fricative one.
I'm not sure about that. The Spanish I'm familiar with (which is admittedly not that of Castile) has the fricatives everywhere except after certain consonants, and (optionally) utterance-initially.
> Moreover, even if this argument you gave was in your favour, it wouldn't be > enough, because this is *not* the main criterion for deciding what a phoneme > is and how to label it. Why? Simply because of the definition of phonemes > itself: phonemes are abstractions manipulated by the mind of the *speakers*!
Well, phonemes are the significant units of a language. The argument quoted is for when a phoneme has been identified but it i unclear how to choose a representative symbol for it [e.g., when it has allophones in complementary distribution].
> And as such the main criterion to decide what's phonemic is the speakers' > intuition, and any phonemic analysis that disagrees with the speakers' > intuition is probably flawed.
Like /T/ and /D/ in English? :x)
> And that is valid for how to label phonemes too. So now let's look at the > Castillian speakers' intuition. Well, if you ask them, they will > tell you that /d/ is indeed a stop, or that they would put /g/ with /k/ > rather than with /x/. That's already a strong sign.
Yes, but a sign of what? Not necessarily phonemic status. I would associate /g/ with /k/ because of their alternation: an original /k/ splits into /g/ and /s/ (or /T/) in many words, e.g. hago "I do" vs. haces "you do", while /x/ is etymologically unrelated. In any case, an assertion that /d/ is a stop means little, considering that it is often (even if not 'usually') [D].
> Not only that, but if you pronounce "ciudad" ("city") as [Tju"da] instead > of [Tju"Da], the Castillian speaker will think you have an accent, but > won't be able to explain exactly why, and won't misunderstand you. While > if you pronounce [Dar] instead of [dar], the Castillian speaker will > surely interpret this as */Tar/ *"zar" and thus won't understand you at > all (I give this last example because it happened to me. A slip of the > tongue it was), and will ask you to repeat. That's an extremely strong > sign that [d] is considered to be the main sound and [D] is just > unconsciously pronounced between vowels.
Again, not necessarily -- I would interpret that as because [D] could be heard as /T/ anyway and cause confusion (the voiceless fricatives also have voiced allophones, albeit rarely), while [d] is unambiguously the phoneme in question. (<zar> = 'tsar', btw) *Muke! --