A Student’s Guide to the History of Linguistics Based on Example Sentences—Franz Neumayer SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 3 Contents Do You Speak English XS?—Advertisement
Fresh Things You Didn’t Know You Didn’t Know
(because they aren’t actually true)

gathered at great personal risk of
psycholinguistic harm from actual student papers

by Madalena Cruz-Ferreira

This 19th collection of students’ pearls of wisdom, laboriously digitised from hand-written papers, demonstrates once again how students new to the study of language speculate about grammar after having imperfectly absorbed what their teachers think they have taught them.

[Editor’s Note: This collection of answers is quite extensive, so we’ve split it into two parts. Part two will appear in the next issue. —Eds.]

Test question

The data below represent common vowel pronunciations in English. Take [ˑ] to indicate extra vowel length.

tap [tæp]     moot [mut]     calf [kɑf]
tab [tæˑb]     mood [muˑd]     carve [kɑˑv]
peace [pis]     cart [kɑt]     back [bæk]
peas [piˑz]     card [kɑˑd]     bag [bæˑɡ]
Question 1. Propose a rule to describe the patterning of long and short vowels that you observe in the data.
Question 2. Explain whether you would analyse the long and short vowels in the data as different phonemes or as allophones of the same phoneme.

Answers—Question 1

  • The ending phonemes for long vowels are voiced.

  • The vowel that comes before a voiced vowel must be voiced.

  • The sound after the vowel changes as the vowel changes from short to long.

  • The words ending with p t s f k do not have the pattern.

  • The words with long vowel have either a voiced or plosive sound.

  • Voiceless plosives are aspirated in word-initial position.

  • Longer vowels are voiced, shorter vowels are voiceless.

  • Long vowels are pronounced due to the fricative sounds made at the end of the sentence.

  • There are long vowels for words with [+voice] and vice versa.

  • [+voice] ending consonants are marked by long vowels and vice versa.

  • Vowels are strong before voiced.

  • Those letters with [+voice] will have long vowels.

  • Consonants with the property [+voice] proceeding the vowel will have long vowels.

  • The symbol [ˑ] occurs before voiced phonemes.

  • [ˑ] precedes word ending positions that are voiced.

  • [ɑ] is replaced by [æ].

  • The last sound of long vowels are voiced consonants.

  • Long vowels tend to end with a voiced speech sound.

  • The patterning is to differentiate the pronunciation of the words.

  • The rule is alternation, because if we replace aspirated with unaspirated sounds we get a strange pronunciation.

  • Before sounds with vocal fold vibration, vowels are subjected to be long vowels.

  • The long vowel has a voice.

  • For short vowels, only the middle sounds are substituted, but for the long vowels, only the beginning sound is not substituted.

  • The words have the same consonant and vowel as the first two phonemes within a pair.

  • The last letter of long vowels is voiced.

  • Voiceless phonemes at the end have short vowels.

  • All words with [+voice] at the end are long vowels.

  • The long vowels are actually short vowels extended with the lowering of the lower jaw, to form low or open vowels.

  • Long vowels precede voiced vowel and short vowels precede voiceless vowel.

  • Vowels voiced before voiced consonant are long.

  • Long vowels are aspirated in the vowel of the word while short vowels are aspirated in word-initial position.

  • Rule: it is the intonation because vowels are the sounds upon which intonation is chiefly modulated. This is one crucial carrier of linguistic meaning and so, the patterns differentiate themselves.

  • Voiced vowels meet voiceless consonants to give short vowels.

  • The length of vowels affects only voiced sounds.

  • Adding ˑ to a short vowel to form a long vowel causes this pair to form a minimal pair.

  • Vowels that occur before plosive consonants are not long vowels.

  • Long and short vowels end either with a plosive or a fricative sound.

  • In all the given examples shown, all the DF for the sound set were the same except for [voice].

  • Long vowels occur for the phonetic symbol which is before the last phonetic symbol if the last phonetic symbol is voiced.

  • Words which are voiced end with a long vowel.

  • There are two types of consonants, aspirated and unaspirated. In this case, there are two kinds of plosives.

  • Long vowels are preceded by aspirated single voiceless plosives in word-initial position whereas short vowels are not.

  • In words with three phonemes, the symbol [ˑ] can only occur on the second phoneme, and only if the third phoneme is +voice.

  • Long and short vowels share articulatory features, e.g. [p] and [b] are both +stop and +labial.

  • A short vowel ends with a voiceless sound.

  • The long vowels are consonants with voiced sounds.

  • Short vowels are plosives, long vowels are non-plosives.


Answers—Question 2

  • They should be phonemes, but they do not.

  • I would use allophones to examine the vowels, because the initial sounds of all the words are phonetically similar.

  • They are different allophemes.

  • They are allophonemes. Their complementary distribution is phonetically similar.

  • Phonemes, because the aspirated and non-aspirated sounds are not identical, e.g. [d] is voiced and [t] is voiceless.

  • Allophones vary according to individual voice in the pronunciation of words.

  • Phonemes because different phonemes have different word meanings that differentiate themselves.

  • The words all belong to the same phoneme.

  • They are different phonemes of the same phoneme because they are minimal pairs and substitution gives a new meaning to the word. Lastly, there is substitution of sound.

  • Since linguistics deals with sounds and their distribution is different, they cannot be analysed as allophones.

  • They do not have the same meaning, so allophones cannot be used to explain.

  • They are phonemes because all words in the data form a minimal pair.

  • They are allophones, e.g. [p] and [ˑb].

  • Phonemes, because in tap and tab we replace p with ˑb.

  • Allophones, one is voiced the other is voiceless. If you voice a phoneme when it is not supposed to be voiced, it becomes another word.

More to come...

A Student’s Guide to the History of Linguistics Based on Example SentencesFranz Neumayer
Do You Speak English XS?Advertisement
SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 3 Contents