Where Have All the Evidentials Gone?—The case that they are now in case—R.M.W. Fillmore SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 4 Contents Language Evolution and the Acacia Tree—Sean Geraint
Augmented 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 20th 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 one appeared in the last 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

  • (+voice) + (-voice) leads to short vowels.

  • (+voice) + (+voice) leads to long vowels.

  • The long vowels focus on voiced sounds whereas short vowels focus on the word-end sounds.

  • [u] and [] are both voiced, labial and fricative.

  • The words form a minimum pair.

  • Rule: vowel height: high or close.

  • Words that end with a voiceless phoneme are short vowels.

  • Rule: the vocal tract is variously modulated by different configurations of the tongue and lips.

  • Only voiced vowels are long vowels in word-initial position are aspirated.

  • A long vowel always results in a change in the phoneme following the long vowel and results in a minimal pair.

  • Voiced symbols after a vowel symbol will be a long vowel.

  • The long vowels end with a voiced consonant. For the short vowels, all the words end with a consonant.

  • Long vowels involved the pulling back of the tongue, short vowels pushed the tongue forward.

  • Short vowels are usually plosives and aspirated and bilabial, while short vowels are non-plosives and unaspirated and labial.

  • The vowels are regular and have constant meanings.

  • The words with [ˑ] are voiceless.

  • The rule is minimal pair.

  • Long vowels are denoted by [ˑ] after the vowels.

  • The long vowel [ˑ] only occurs if the consonant after it is a (+voice) voiced.

  • Vowels which precede voiced consonants are to be longed.

  • Rule: long vowels include a (ˑ) symbol after the vowel sound.

  • {vowels} preceding voiceless consonants are short.

  • If the following phonetic symbol is voiced, the vowel is long.

  • Words with vowels preceding a voiced consonant are pronounced as long vowels.

  • [+voice [ˑ] +voice]. This rule is only to differentiate the part where the long and short vowels are. The beginning is a plosive.

  • Single words that contain long vowels do not end with aspirated voiceless plosives.

  • Voiced plosives and fricatives have long vowels.

  • Rule: they are all voiced, and all non-labial, except [u] and [].

  • Long vowels are always accompanied by a voiced phoneme.

  • Those last sounds of [-voice] will have short vowel.

  • In the words given, the words with long vowel have vocal cord vibration, so words with vocal cord vibration have long vowels.

  • The elongated and short vowels are phonetically identical.

  • They are all plosive words (+stop).

  • The manner of articulation for long vowels are plosive and fricative. They are also voiced. The manner of articulation for short vowels are also plosive and fricative. They are voiceless too.

  • Long vowels are [+voice] at the end sound of words.

  • [-voice] vowels, [p s t k f], do not have long pronunciations.

  • Words ending in plural forms or words ending with a voiced consonant tend to be pronounced in a longer manner.

  • The words that end in plosives do not have a long vowel.

  • A voiceless consonant at the end of the sound constitutes a short vowel.

  • The vowels differ in that the former is voiced and the latter not.

  • Rule: homophones.

  • Rule: they are voiceless, bilabial and plosive.

  • Single voiceless plosives are aspirated.

  • When long vowels are transcribed from short vowels, the sound at the end is changed from voiceless to voiced.

  • Voiced consonants cause long vowels.


Answers—Question 2

  • Phonemes, we replace e.g. [b] with [p].

  • They are allophones because they occur in the same context (middle of the word).

  • Phonemes. They are not pronounced differently because they refer to the same words.

  • Allophones: there are similarities in the words. The vowels share articulatory features in front.

  • Phonemes, there are alternations of long and short vowels.

  • We can’t tell phonemes or allophones, because the data give no minimal pairs. Besides, the consonants following the vowels are different.

  • It’s impossible to study phonemes, as the data have no minimal pairs.

  • They are allophones because the symbol [ˑ] occurs in complementary distribution.

  • They form minimal pairs which are also instances of allophones. If they are phonemes they do not distinguish word meanings.

  • [ˑ] occurs in different contexts, so the vowels are allophones.

  • Allophones of the phoneme {ɑ}.

  • They are phonetically unsimilar, hence phonemes, where long vowels exclude nasal.

  • Phonemes. The two groups of words can exist in the same context.

  • The vowels are the same phoneme (or referent).

  • Yes, they are different phonemes or allophones of the same phoneme.

  • They are allophones because they are indicated in square brackets.

More to come...

Where Have All the Evidentials Gone?The case that they are now in caseR.M.W. Fillmore
Language Evolution and the Acacia TreeSean Geraint
SpecGram Vol CLXII, No 4 Contents