Allophones and Phonemes

Allophones and Phonemes with explanation

Allophones and Phonemes


Both allophones and phonemes are very much important in the study of linguistics. we will discuss both Allophones and Phonemes with explanation here.

The first meaning that appears in the dictionary of the Royal Spanish Academy ( RAE ) of the term allophone refers to that which is expressed in a different language . It is, in this case, an adjective.

For example: “If from a group of five men, four speak in English and the fifth is allophone, the latter subject will have difficulty understanding the conversations they have in Shakespeare’s language “ , “The team is Dominican but the coach is allophone , that is why he has a translator ” , “ I consider myself an allophone Argentine writer, since I don’t write in Spanish ” .

The concept of allophone, on the other hand, refers to the different variants that may exist of a certain phoneme , according to the location of the phoneme in question in the syllable or in the word or according to the characteristics that the adjacent phonemes present.

Put more simply, allophones are the different sounds that a phoneme can adopt according to the context , without changing its value . In our language, the letters G , D and B can present different allophones by virtue of the particular use.

Take the case of the letter B . You can acquire an occlusive sound , as in the term “combat” , or a fricative sound , as in the word “alba . ” The B , therefore, has two allophones. As you can see, the value of the letter does not change, although the pronunciation of it varies. Allophones mark these alterations that depend on the context in which the letter appears.

Before continuing, it is necessary to briefly define the concepts related to the types of sounds that consonants can produce. An occlusive consonant , in the first place, generates a sound that obstructs the air flow for a fraction of time until it finally releases the passage. If we think again of the letter B in the word “combat”, we will notice that between the end of the M and the beginning of the A there is a small period of time in which the air stops coming out of the mouth.

On the other hand, the concept of allophone is also related to the fricative consonant , that which is generated when the articulatory organs narrow or contract, causing an alteration in the passage of air that manifests as friction, which can acquire various degrees of turbulence .

In the case of the term «dawn», the organs that we narrow to pronounce it are the lips, while to say «seal» we take advantage of the upper teeth and the lower lip to reduce the passage of air and give rise to that characteristic sound of the letter F .

Another case of fricative sound takes place when pronouncing the letter X , and here the soft palate and the back of the tongue come into play; for example, in the word “extra.” Two synonyms for fricative are strident and spicy , although at present they are not so frequent.

Our language has more examples of allophones, although not as many as English or Catalan, for example. However, the fundamental problem in identifying them is not the scarcity but the little force we print in the consonants when speaking Spanish, although this varies according to the accent.

The letter D presents a particular case, in which this difficulty is appreciated: in the term “given”, the pronunciation of the D is not the same in both syllables, although the difference is almost imperceptible. In the first syllable the consonant is occlusive, while in the second it is approximate fricative, since it lets out the air with a friction that can be heard slightly.

Meaning of phoneme

What is Phoneme:

The phoneme is the minimum unit of sound of the phonological system of a language . The phonological system is the inventory that accounts for all the sounds that a language has in its realization in speech.

The word phoneme comes from the Greek φώνημα (phṓnēma), which means ‘sound of the voice’.

The phoneme is, therefore, a minimum unit, that is, it cannot be broken down into smaller units, so we say that the phoneme is the minimum articulation of a sound of a tongue.

Phonemes are divided into two broad categories. On the one hand, there are vowel phonemes , referred to the vowel sounds, and, on the other, there are consonant phonemes , typical of consonants.

Vocal phonemes can be cataloged according to their degree of opening, while consonant phonemes are classified according to their point of articulation in labial, labiodental, coronal, interdental, dental, alveolar, postalveolar, retroflex, palatal, velar, uvular, pharyngeal phonemes and glottal.

Consonant phonemes are also distinguished according to the mode of articulation : occlusive, nasal, simple vibrant, multiple vibrant, fricative, lateral fricative, approximate, lateral approximate, ejective and implosive occlusive.

In addition, consonant sounds can be distinguished from each other if they are loud or deaf . For example, / p / and / b / share point and mode of articulation, but differ in that / p / is deaf and / b / loud. So, it will not be the same to say paw than to say gown .

In this sense, the phonemes also have a distinctive function because they allow us to distinguish words that vary in just one sound, totally changing the meaning. Examples of this would be the minimum saint and song pairs , drama and plot , theme and motto .

In general, each phoneme corresponds to a letter, however, it should be remembered that the phoneme is the sound representation of the letter, which is the graphic representation or grapheme.

Phoneme and grapheme

phoneme is the minimum sound unit that has a distinctive value in the phonological system of a language, that is, it is the representation of each of the sounds that a language possesses. The grapheme , meanwhile, is the written representation of a sound. Thus, for example, we must differentiate between the phoneme / a / and, on the other, grapheme a , which is the graphic representation of the sound referred to by the phoneme.

Both allophones and phonemes are very much important in the study of linguistics. we will discuss both Allophones and Phonemes with explanation here.

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