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The Structure of Language

The study of phonetics is part of the larger study of


language.
Purpose: To show how phonetics fits into the language
system.
Language: Term is used in two related but different ways:
1. A specific language: French, Portuguese, Farsi, Urdu
2. Much broader sense: the general design plan that is
common to all languages. All human languages are built
on the same underlying design plan, but differ in many
details. For our purposes, this 2
nd
one is the more
interesting use of the term language.

Dog analogy: Many differences in detail across breeds
and individual dogs. BUT the deeper truth is that they
are all built on the same body plan and have far more in
common than the superficial differences suggest.

What are some features common to all dogs?

1. Social animals
2. Territorial
3. Omnivorous but with a strong preference
for meat
4. Same basic configuration of skeleton
5. Same number and basic shape of teeth
6. Any dog will breed with any other dog,
regardless of large differences in size and
general appearance
7. (a large number of other features)
The Structure of Language
Language works this way as well. All human
languages are built on the same basic design
plan. The broad design features that all languages
have in common run deeper and are far more
important than the differences in details, as large
as those difference may at first appear.
Languages are defined by their grammars a
collection of rules that allows a speaker (or signer
in the case of a sign language) to generate well-
formed utterances (and the knowledge to
recognize broken utterances when they are
encountered).
Your knowledge of English grammar allows you
to figure out:

Vern went to Memphis. Good
*Vern went Memphis to. Bad

* = ungrammatical
Notes:
(1) A sentence can be perfectly meaningful but still
be ungrammatical:

*This is a four doors car.
*He drove a red big car.
Its perfectly clear what these sentences mean, but
they are ungrammatical.
(2) The word grammatical here does not mean the
same thing that it meant in grade school.
She aint got no crayons.
Where were you at, J ohn. We was waitin on you.
These sentences conform to the grammar of
some dialects of English; they happen not to
conform to the dialect of standard English.
There are two very different uses of the term
grammar:
(1) descriptive grammar: rules that real speakers
actually use, no matter what teachers, parents,
or usage experts say.
(2) prescriptive grammar: rules that English
teachers (and other experts), and sometimes
your parents, believe speakers OUGHT to use.
Examples of prescriptive grammar rules:

Dont end a sentence with a preposition.
Dont split infinitives.
Dont use like like this: So I was, like, Calm
down, man; youre getting all agitated.
Say Betty and I went to the picnic, not
Betty and me went to the picnic.



Violating a rule of descriptive grammar means that the
utterance would be considered ungrammatical to any
mature (i.e., not a little twirp) native speaker of any dialect.
*That book looks alike.
*I Am America And So Can You. (book title, Stephen Colbert)
*Frank seems sleeping.
*Bag garbage no good; ski good.
*I did not know how should I dress. (very common
among non-native English speakers)
*I'll be whatever I wanna do. (Philip J. Fry)
*People said I was dumb, but I proved them.
Philip J. Fry (again)
*Im going to turn you onto a Poindexter. [Poindexter=nerd]
*I am a new tie wearing. (Homer Imposter)
NOTES
(1) All of these sentences would be ungrammatical to
a native speaker in all dialects of English; i.e.,
there is more going on here than someone
speaking nonstandard English. This is what
makes them violations of descriptive rules.
(2) The issue is grammaticality; i.e., utterances can
be easy to understand but still ungrammatical.
The science of linguistics is concerned exclusively
with descriptive grammar, not prescriptive grammar.
So, descriptive grammar is the domain of linguistics,
prescriptive grammar is the domain of (mostly self-
appointed and often not very knowledgeable) usage experts.
More about this later when we discuss dialect.
To do on your own: Which of these sentences violate
English prescriptive rules and which violate descriptive
rules?
Phil has a three-legs cat.
[Its] 5-year mission: to explore strange new worlds,
to boldly go where no man has gone before.
Badges? We don't need no stinkin badges. (The
Treasure of the Sierra Madres)
I wonder who and Frieda went swimming.
Where is Maurice going to?
We was at the liberry when we seen Mildred.
What Myron has done with my star fish?
Answers:
Phil owns a three-legs cat. [descriptive; should read, Phil owns a
three-legged cat.]
to boldly go where no man has gone before. [prescriptive; to
boldly go is a split infinitive, considered by many to be bad form.]
We don't need no stinkin badges. [prescriptive; should read, We
don't need any stinking badges.]
I wonder who and Frieda went swimming. [descriptive; should
read, I wonder who Frieda went swimming with. or the Yalie version, I
wonder with whom Mary went swimming.]
Where is Maurice going to? [prescriptive; should read, Where is
Maurice going?]
We was at the liberry when we seen Mildred. [prescriptive; We
were at the library when we saw Mildred]
What Myron has done with my star fish? [descriptive; What has
Myron done with my star fish?]

One more point: the term grammar is sometimes
used to refer specifically to syntax (word-order
rules), but more recently it refers to all of the
rules of the language, including syntax,
semantics (meaning), morphology (rules for
creating words out of smaller units called
morphemes; e.g., to form walking from walk,
readable from read, etc.), and phonology (sound
pattern rules). More later.


Now, finally, back to the two uses of the word
language:
a specific language (English, Dutch, Hungarian,
etc.)
the general design structure of all human
languages
The 1
st
meaning is simple and obvious, but what
about the 2
nd
? What features do all human
languages have in common? Called the Universal
Grammar its a huge, gimongous list (and
incomplete).
Here a just a few universal rules:
1. Rules are always structure dependent. E.g.,
English question formation:
J ohn will run. [statement]
Will J ohn run? [question: invert subject & predicate]
Question is formed by reversing the order of the
subject & the predicate subject & predicate being
structural properties.
One more:
Hanley is the most stubborn person in the
department. [statement]
Is Hanley is the most stubborn person in the
department? [question]

How about this hypothetical rule: Form a question
by reversing the order of the last two words in the
sentence.
Hanley is the most stubborn person in the
department.
Hanley is the most stubborn person in
department the?

J ohn will pitch on Thursday.
J ohn will pitch Thursday on?
(1) Not a rule of English; (2) not a structure-
dependent rule; and, most important: (3) no rule
remotely like this in any language, yet this rule
would work just fine.
Q: Why is there no rule like this in any of the worlds
~6,000 languages?
A: Because the hypothetical rule violates a rule of the
universal grammar.
Q: Which one? (Hint: Ive only introduced one
universal rule, so its probably that one.)
A: All of the rules of all of languages are structure
dependent. The hypothetic rule (form a question by
reversing the order of the last two words) depends on
serial position, not structure.
(Once again, I have not given you a formal definition of what a
structural property is. A useful way to think about it is that structural
properties are all those English-major things: whether a verb is
transitive or intransitive, parts of speech, independent vs. subordinate
clauses, subjects vs. predicates, etc. All these and many others
are examples of structural properties. Serial position is not.)
One more example:
The soldier that is ill is in the hospital.
How do we make a question of this? Which of the
two instances of is gets moved?

*Is the soldier that ill is in the hospital? (Move the 1
st
one? Not good.)
Is the soldier that is ill in the hospital?
Its the 2
nd
instance of is that gets moved, but why?
Does the rule say move the 2
nd
instance of the
verb if there are 2?
No. The 1
st
instance of is gets passed over because
its buried inside of a NP that is treated as a unit
the NP being a structural property.

No language uses a rule that says, move
the 2nd instance of the verb if there are
2, or move the 1st instance of the verb.
Why? Because it is based on serial
position, not structure.
Since the hypothetical violates a
language universal, you wont see a rule
like this: (a) in English, and (b) in any
language. (Or so goes Chomskys idea.)

No child ever makes the mistake of getting mixed
up about which verb to move.
Why? Because they come into the world knowing
that rules are structure dependent and not
dependent on something like serial position
though serial-position rules would work fine.
More about the significance of this point soon.

2. Nearly all languages have agreement rules.
The box is in my office.
The boxes are in my office.
Subject and predicate agree for number (plural
vs. singular).
Languages vary a lot in what kinds of things there
needs to be agreement on. Not all languages
enforce agreement on number, but all except a
very few languages incorporate lots of agreement
rules.

Spanish (and French and many other languages)
enforce agreement on gender:
los perros (dogs), las casas (houses), los
rboles (trees), las tablas (tables), las flores
(flowers), las montaas (mountains)
Important: Agreement is not a necessary feature.
Its quite easy to imagine a language w/ out
agreement.
My shoes are in the closet.: In English, number
is already specified by the noun (shoes in this
case). Why give exactly the same information by
supplying a plural verb (are) to go along with a
noun that you already know is plural?

Not all languages have this particular form of
agreement, but all except a very few languages
have agreement rules.
Is subject-verb number agreement part of the
universal grammar? [No]
How about agreement for gender as in French
and Spanish? [No]
What is it thats (very nearly) universal?
[Agreement rules]

3. Phonological rules: All languages incorporate
sound-pattern rules called phonological rules.
beed beat
bid bit
league leak
cub cup
cab cap
lag lack
What do you notice about the lengths of the
vowels on the left vs. those on the right? Rule:
Vowels are lengthened when they precede voiced
consonants.

Most languages do not have this particular rule.
However, all languages have large numbers of
sound-pattern rules like this one.
Once again, what is the universal?
1. The English vowel-lengthening rule
2. The presence of phonological rules.
Another rule in English. Look at these plural forms:

walks
lips
rats
tracks
--------------
labs
dogs
awards
doors
What sound is added to form the plural in the 1
st

group vs. the 2
nd
group? Orthographically, its always
an s, but what sound is it? (Note: [lQbs] -- as
opposed to [lQbz] is not impossible to pronounce.)


Languages dont necessarily need to incorporate
phonological rules though all of them do.
They cant be essential to communication:
Nearly every language besides English gets by fine
without the vowel-lengthening rule.
English gets by fine without the very different set of
sound pattern rules in Spanish, Tamil, Hindi, Korean,
etc.
All languages incorporate phonological rules.
Are phonological rules part of the universal grammar?
Is the vowel lengthening rule (e.g., cab vs. cap)
part of the universal grammar?



4. Recursion

All languages exhibit a property called recursion.
Recursion is a general principle that can be seen in
many areas other than language. In general, recursion is
seen whenever things can be embedded inside of
other things, which in turn can be embedded inside of
other things, which can be

Simple example: Russian Nesting Dolls (nesting is
another word for embedding).



Russian Dolls
The embedding idea is very simple here embedded (or
nested) inside the biggest doll is another doll;
embedded inside of that doll is another doll; embedded
inside of that doll is And on it goes. Russian dolls are
an example of recursion things embedded inside of
things which are embedded inside of things which
The branching structure that is seen trees is another clear
instance of recursion: the main trunk divides into large
branches, which further divide into smaller branches,
which further divide into yet smaller branches ... This
branching pattern is exactly what is seen in language (but
with words & phrases instead of tree branches). Well be
there very soon.
Ketchup Squeeze Bottle
This example is a little weird (though not hard
to understand). This is an ordinary ketchup
bottle. But notice that the picture on the bottle
shows a lovely waitress holding a tray with a
ketchup bottle on it.
Imagine the unlikely situation in which the
ketchup bottle on the tray is drawn accurately.
If it is, then the bottle on the tray must have a
picture of a waitress holding a tray with a
ketchup bottle on it.

And what about that ketchup bottle? It should
also have a picture of a ketchup bottle on the
tray, right? How far does this recursion go? It
boggles the mind, doesnt it?
Does this ketchup bottle (under the crazy
assumptions) show recursion? (Hint: Yes)
How so? What, if anything, does the ketchup
bottle have in common with the Russian
Nesting Dolls?

What does this have to do with the universal
grammar?

The idea were heading toward is simple (sort
of): The grammars of all languages differ in
many details, but they ALL exhibit recursion.

One example: A phrase can be embedded
inside of a phrase, which can be embedded
inside of a phrase, which can be embedded

Sound familiar?
An example of recursion in language:

This is the house that J ack built.
Recursion: This is the house branches off into the
phrase that Jack built.
This is the malt that lay in the house that J ack built.

More recursion: This is the malt branches into that lay
in the house which branches into that Jack built.

This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that
J ack built.
Same thing, but still more of it: A phrase branches into a
phrase which branches into a phrase

English shows recursion. What other languages do? All of
them.
Recursion in language is universal.
We have already seen an example of this:
I did not know how I should dress.
In this utterance, a sentence (in this case, a question) is
embedded inside of a sentence.
I did not know. + How I should dress?
I did not know how I should dress.
(For reasons that are not obvious, the subject-predicate inversion rule that
normally applies in questions is blocked when the question is embedded in a
sentence.)
Recursion: Things are embedded inside of other things.
Recursion in language is the same kind of thing as the
Russian Dolls and the crazy ketchup bottle.
Recursion is seen in English. Recursion is seen in all
languages. It is part of the universal grammar.
Another example of recursion in language:

This is the house that J ack built.
Recursion: This is the house branches off into the
phrase that Jack built.
This is the malt that lay in the house that J ack built.

More recursion: This is the malt branches into that lay
in the house which branches into that Jack built.

This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that
J ack built.
Same thing, but still more of it: A phrase branches into a
phrase which branches into a phrase

English shows recursion. What other languages do? All of
them.
Another example of recursion in language:

This is the house that J ack built.
Recursion: This is the house branches off into the
phrase that Jack built.
This is the malt that lay in the house that J ack built.

More recursion: This is the malt branches into that lay
in the house which branches into that Jack built.

This is the rat that ate the malt that lay in the house that
J ack built.
Same thing, but still more of it: A phrase branches into a
phrase which branches into a phrase

English shows recursion. What other languages do? All of
them.

Last example, from a child of about five:

Daddy, what did you bring that book that I don't
like to be read to out of up for?
Pretty crazy sentence, but:
(a) grammatically well formed
(b) insanely recursive

English shows recursion. What other languages
do? All of them.

Is recursion specific to English or is it part of the
universal grammar?

Note: All of the language examples weve looked
at show recursion in syntax. All levels of
language show a branching, recursive tree
structure even at the phonological level. (Youll
have to trust me on that. The idea is not hard, but we have
to move on.)
5. Head First/Head Last
Phrases in all languages contain a special boss word
called the head. The head controls grammatical features
of other words in the phrase.
The fox in socks is in the yard.
*The fox in socks are in the yard.
fox is singular, socks is plural. Why is it that the
verb agrees with the fox rather than socks? Because
its the boss word; i.e., the head of the noun phrase
fox in socks.
Flying out of Kalamazoo on small planes is scary.
*Flying out of Kalamazoo on small planes are scary.
Flying here is the head of the phrase because the
phrase is mainly about flying, not planes, so the verb
agrees with the singular flying, not the plural
planes.
English is a head-first language the head precedes all
other words in the phrase. Many other languages reverse
this.
English: Kazu ate sushi. (Kazu=NP; ate sushi=VP;
ate=head)
Japanese: Kazu sushi ate.
So, Japanese is a head-last language. So, big deal? Heres
the big deal: Every head-first language applies the head-
first rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs. Everything.
Similarly, every head-last language applies the head-last
rule to all of its phrases: NPs, VPs, PPs. Everything.
English: to Tokyo (preposition)
Japanese: Tokyo to (postposition)
There are no languages that mix these up e.g., head-first
for NPs, head-last for VPs and PPs. Also, no head-
middle languages.
There is no reason that languages have to behave
this way.
It is easy to imagine a language that uses Japanese-
like head-last NPs along with English-like PPs:
Kazu sushi ate at home. (head-last NP, head-last PP)
Or the other way around:
Kazu ate sushi home at. (head-1
st
NP, head-last PP)
These mixed rule systems dont happen. Ever. Why?
Its more logical?
I say
You say (formerly Thou sayest)
He says
Anything logical about this system?
One more example that we saw earlier.
He threw the garbage out.
He threw it out. [its ok to substitute a pronoun
for the noun phrase]
He threw out the garbage. [this ordering is ok
too]
*
He threw out it. [here its not ok to substitute the
pronoun]

Is there anything logical about this system?
So, we can rule out the-brain-wants-language-to-
be-logical as an explanation for the head-
first/head-last universal.


1. By coincidence, 6,000 separate human
languages happened to adopt these
regularities without benefit of committee
meetings.

2. Neural circuitry incorporating these
grammatical regularities are built into the brain
just like the neural circuitry that allows a bat
to convert sonar into an image is wired into bat
brains, or the circuitry that allows spiders to
know how to spin a web is wired into spider
brains.

So, how did we get these grammatical
regularities that comprise the universal
grammar?
Why is the concept of a universal grammar
important? Current thinking among most
linguists:
When children acquire language they do not need
to learn the universal grammar at all. They already
know it.
Children do not need to learn that there are
agreement rules; they need to learn what those
specific agreement rules are.
They do not need to learn that rules are structure
dependent; they do, however, need to learn what
those structure-dependent rules are.
Kids do not need to learn that there are sound-
pattern rules; they do need to learn which
particular sound-pattern rules apply to the
language they are learning.
They do not need to learn about the concept of
recursion, but they do need to learn the language-
specific rules that constrain exactly how
recursion occurs. For example, the odd rule that
blocks subject-predicate inversion in
I wasnt sure what I should do.
is specific to English. Recursion is not.
The Modularity of Language
Central feature of language: It is a layered or
modularized system the neural substrate for
language is not a blob of brain tissue that
knows about language. It is a collection of
interconnected specialists that know know a
great deal about just one thing.
Modularity is another term for division of labor
different modules specialize in different jobs.
Modularity
Modularity characterizes all complex systems. A
car is not a mass of metal and plastic that knows
how to go. Cars have specialized modules:

fuel delivery system (carburetor/fuel injector)
combustion chambers
transmission
suspension/steering system
brakes
exhaust system
mp3 player
etc.

The human body is modularized. Its not a blob of
protoplasm that knows how to live its a highly
interconnected system of specialists that each
handle just one kind of job:
Circulatory system (pump, veins, arteries, etc.)
Waste management system (kidneys, liver, poo
disposal)
Central control system (brain, spinal cord, )
Musculo-skeletal system
Sensors (visual, auditory, tactile, )
etc.
The heart does not know how to think, the brain
does not know how to pump, the kidneys do not
know how to secrete insulin. Each specialist has
its own act and they stick to it.
Language is modularized its a highly
interconnected collection of experts, each of
which handles just one kind of analysis.
Major modules of the language system:

Semantics (meaning)
Syntax (structural rules governing word order)
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=d0BuKYiwhVQ
Lexicon (mental dictionary)
Morphology (word-making rules walk, walked,
walking, )
Phonology (sound-pattern rules)
Phonetics (articulation/sound patterns)

The layers of the language system are
interconnected but DISTINCT or AUTONOMOUS
i.e., different from one another.
A few examples:
Syntax and semantics are not the same thing.
*Colorless green ideas sleep furiously. (Chomsky)
syntactically well formed but semantically
anomalous (i.e., all messed up).
conforms perfectly to English syntax but violates
semantic rules. Your syntax module reports that
it checks out; your semantics module reports that
its busted.
Compare:

*Colorless green ideas sleep furiously.
*Green sleep furiously ideas colorless.
Both sentences are ungrammatical, but the 2
nd

sentence is more problematic than the 1
st
.
Both sentences are meaningless, but the 2
nd

sentence also violates rules of English syntax.
This is an illustration of the concept of modularity
your knowledge of language consists of semantics
and syntax modules that are distinct from one
another (autonomous).
*We throwed out it. The lawn we throwed it onto.
Semantics? OK. Syntax? Nope. (Morphology is also
messed up throwed is not formed correctly.)
*You no stupid computers. (Meaning, in context:
Youre not stupid about computers.)
Semantics? Fine. Syntax? Nah.
Moral: Syntax and semantics are not the same
thing; theyre distinct or autonomous. Your
syntax and semantics modules are specialists,
each with their own separate jobs to do.

Humor is often derived from semantic clash.

It's easy to quit smoking. I've done it hundreds of
times. -Mark Twain
Nobody goes there anymore, its too crowded.
-Yogi Berra

Wagners music is better than it sounds.
-Mark Twain

When you come to a fork in the road, take it.
-Yogi Berra

Bart, with $10,000 we'd be millionaires.
-Homer Simpson

The report of my death was an exaggeration.
-Mark Twain

In all of these cases one part of an utterance
contradicts (clashes with) another part, as in
Chomskys Colorless green ideas sleep
furiously, which well discuss soon.

All of these example focus exxplicitly on the
semantic layer of the language system.

(Twain is doing this on purpose. Yogi is doing his
best to make sense.)

Phonology (sound pattern rules) and the lexicon (mental
dictionary) are distinct from one another; e.g.,

brick blick bnick
brick: a word
blick: a non-word, but conforms to English
phonological rules that constrain word shapes
bnick: a non-word that violates an English
phonological rule that constrains sound sequences
These examples prove specialization, or modularity:

brick: Your lexicon specialist tells you this is a word.
blick: Your lexicon specialist tells you this is not a
word, but your phonology specialist tells you it could
be.
bnick: Lexicon specialist: not a word; phonology
specialist: not a permissible word.

This particular type of phonological rule is
called a phonotactic rule.
phono = sound (speech sound in this case)
tactic = arrangement or odering
So, phonotactic rules impose limits on
permissible and impermissible arrangements
of speech sounds.
On my web page, theres a link called
phonotactic rule assignment. Its due one
week from today.
All languages have large numbers of phonotactic
rules. A few others in English:

Words cannot begin with [] ([no] is ok but not [o])
Words cannot begin with [t] ([stp] is ok but not [tp]).
Words cannot end with [, , ] ([be], [bi], and [bu] are
ok but not [b], [b], or [b].

Terminology: The rules above are called
phonotactic phonological rules, or (more often)
just phonotactic rules.

The other kinds that we talked about (e.g., vowels
are lengthened before voiced consonants) well
simply refer to as non-phonotactic phonological
rules. Well discuss many other examples.
Morphology: Rules for word formation (e.g., dog dogs;
walk walking)
If boof were a word, what kind would boofable be (noun,
verb, adjective, etc.)?

How can the word understand (verb) be turned into noun?
He used to live in Pakistan, so he has a good _________
of cricket. (This is a bogus sentence. No one understands cricket.)

What form of understand goes in the blank?
How about making an adjective?
Some of the concepts were unfamiliar to me, but the
teacher made these ideas ________________.
What form of understand goes in the blank?

What module of the language system are you
relying on to answer these questions?

You are applying your knowledge of
morphological rules rules for forming words out
of smaller units called morphemes.

Morpheme: The smallest unit of language that has
meaning. Some examples one word in all cases,
but not always one morpheme:

dog, dogs
read, reading, readable, unreadable
person, personal, personalize
Bound vs. Unbound: Morphemes can be either bound
or unbound (also called free).

Unbound (free): Can stand alone as a separate word
(e.g., dog, walk, park, ). Unbound morphemes are
also called free.

Bound: Must appear in combination with one or more
other morphemes; e.g., suffixes like -s, ed, -ing;
prefixes such as pre-, post-, un-, etc.

premature: pre=bound, mature=unbound
blindness: blind=unbound, ness=bound

Check out the exercise on my web page called
Counting Morphemes.
One more point about morphemes: The concept of a
morpheme is pretty straightforward, but counting them is
not always so simple. A few examples:

How many morphemes in these?

uniform Do speakers realize this word is
derived from morphemes meaning one
form? Maybe, but I doubt it.

agnostic The word gnostic does exist, but do
most speakers know this; i.e., do
speakers treat this as meaning not
gnostic? Maybe, but I doubt it.

atheist Do speakers understand this to mean
not theist? Maybe, but I doubt it.

Last one: A specific sound or sound sequence can
sometimes behave as a morpheme and sometimes not.
worker: er ([]) is a morpheme (er indicates one who works)
player: er ([]) is a morpheme
sitter: er ([]) is a morpheme
splatter: er ([]) is not a morpheme (er does not mean
one who splats)
matter: er ([]) is not a morpheme (er does not mean
one who mats)

preschool: pre ([pri]) is a morpheme; (pre indicates before)
prejudge: pre ([pri]) is a morpheme
predisposed: pre ([pri]) is a morpheme
precaution: pre ([pri]) is a morpheme
pretty: pre is not a morpheme
supreme: pre is not a morpheme
What about:

batter (as in baseball)?
batter (as in pancakes)?

Moral: Its not the sound sequence per se, its the
function that the sound sequence plays in the word.
Phonology and phonetics are not the same thing.
Lets start with an example we know something about.

batter (as in baseball)

/bQt/ (abstract, underlying representation) [bQ] (surface phonetic form)

slashes brackets

There are two distinct (autonomous) layers or language
modules involved in the production of this word:

(1) phonological (abstract) layer or underlying
representation, or phonemic layer) abstract
representation in your head e.g., you think of the
medial sound in batter as a /t/.
(2) phonetic layer or surface phonetic form the
sounds that are actually spoken ([] in the example).


/bQt/

Phonological
Rules


[bQ]
Rule

/t,d/ []
when intervocalic,
(betw two vowels)
but only when the
2
nd
vowel is
unstressed

Translation: /t/ & /d/
are pronounced as
a flap when they
occur between two
vowels and when
the 2
nd
vowel is
unstressed (weak).
phonemic (phonological,
linguistic, underlying
representation)
phonetic (surface
phonetic form)
Phonology and phonetics are not the same thing; for
example, note the /p/ in the following:
[t
h
Ap] (released)
[t
h
Ap|] (unreleased)
[p
h
At] (aspirated)
[spAt] (unaspirated)
These realizations are phonetically distinct but
phonemically or phonologically equivalent; i.e., they
are members of the same broad phonemic category /p/.
Released and unreleased /p/: allophones or allophonic
variants.

Aspirated and unaspirated /p/ are allophones or
allophonic variants.
Other examples:
/g/: geese vs. gone
/t/: tap kitten button eighth fatty
The /g/ of geese and the /g/ of gone are
allophones: Same phonemic/phonological/linguistic
category; different phonetic realizations of the
category.
Compare /l/ of Lee vs. law.

These distinctions vary across languages.
Differences which are allophonic in one language
may be phonemic in another, and vice versa.
How to tell whether two speech sounds are members of
the same or different phoneme class
Are /p/ and /b/ allophones of the same phoneme class, or
are they members of different phoneme classes?

Different. Heres the test: Can we find a pair or words with
different meanings, where this difference in meaning is
conveyed by the /p/-b/ difference? Yes. Many.

pin-bin, pat-bat, pan-ban, pill-bill, pace-base, peek-beak

So, /p/ and /b/ are different phonemes, not allophones of
the same phoneme category.


What about [p
h
] vs. [p]; i.e., the aspirated /p/ in pot
versus the unaspirated /p/ in spot. Can we find a pair of
words in which an aspirated /p/ means one thing while an
otherwise identical word with an unaspirated /p/ means
something else?

The fact that a sound occurs in a language does not mean
that it has the status of a phoneme. Vowel nasalization:

compare the vowels in pad and man (and notice what
youre velum is doing): [pQd] [mQ)) n] (tilde = nasalized)

But, vowel nasalization is predictable in English it
occurs whenever a vowel precedes a nasal consonant.
The presence vs. absence of nasalization never signals a
difference in meaning; i.e., it is not contrastive.

So, in English, [Q] and [Q))] are allophones of one another.




Not true in all languages; e.g., in French, Portuguese, & a
few other languages, differences in word meaning can be
signaled based on whether the vowel is nasalized or not
just as in pin vs. bin in English.

French: beau (good looking; [bo]) vs. bon (good; [bo)) ])

So, in French, are [o] and [o))] allophonic variants of one
another?

In English, are [o] and [o)) ] allophonic variants of one
another?

Central idea: Contrast. Does a distinction serve a
contrastive function? If the answer is yes, then its
phonemic. Otherwise, were talking about allophonic
variation.

Terminology
In English, [o] and [o) )] are:

1. allophonic variants or allophones of one
another
2. phonetically different but phonemically/
phonologically/linguistically equivalent

In French, are [o] and [o) )] both phonetically distinct
and phonemically/phonologically/linguistically
distinct.

Yet another way to say exactly the same thing: In
French, vowel nasalization serves a contrastive
function; i.e., it can serve to distinguish one word
from another. In English, it does not.

Summary

1. A phonemic or phonological type is an abstract
linguistic category that can be phonetically
realized in different ways.

2. These phonetically different but phonologically/
phonemically/linguistically equivalent
realizations of phonemes are called allophones
of the phoneme category.

3. The phonemic/phonological layer of the
language system is a distinct module, separate
from the phonetic module.

Dog
(abstract category, analogous to a phoneme)
Physically distinct but equivalent members of the
abstract category dog. These are analogous to
allophones of a phoneme category.
The mental
concept of
supermanhoo
d
(phoneme)
In complementary distribution: never seen in
the same place at the same time. Allophones!
(from Andrew Carnie,
University of Arizona)
NOT in complementary distribution: can both be present
at the same time: allophones of different phonemes
(from Andrew Carnie)
allowaves
An Important Thing

The wave analogy is useful but imperfect.
Allowaves different realizations of the abstract
category wave are roughly analogous to allophones
of /t/ (or any other phoneme). They are different from
one another but equivalent members of the category.

But heres where the analogy is imperfect: These
different kinds of waves all mean the same thing
Hi. The different allophones of /t/ (or /p/ or /o/ ) are
equivalent, but phonemes, by themselves, never
mean anything. Ever.

Phonemes are capable of signaling or conveying a
difference in meaning. Meaning something and being
capable of conveying a difference in meaning are not
the same thing.
Compare phoneme with morpheme the smallest unit of
language with meaning. This definition suggests that
morphemes have meaning but phonemes do not, and
that is true.

What do these morphemes mean? (rendered here in orthography)

pre- before
anti- against or counter to
-s the root word is plural
-est most (funniest, dumbest, tallest, )

What do these mean?: /t/ /u/ // /d/? The question cant
be answered because they do not mean anything.
But, phoneme differences are capable of signaling
differences in meaning (/pt/-/bt/, /rt/-/lt/, /st/-zt/,
/kt/-/gt/,). Once again, meaning something and being
capable of conveying a difference in meaning are not the
same.
Lesson

Morphemes mean something.

Phoneme differences can convey
differences in meaning (i.e., they serve a
contrastive function).

Allophonic differences do not do either.
/t/
(abstract phoneme type)
Physically distinct realizations of the abstract category
/t/. These are analogous to physically distinct but
equivalent members of the category dog. These are
allophones of /t/.
[p
h
At] [p
h
At|] [t
h
Ap] [stAp] [kIi] [b/n`]
pot pot top stop kitty button
(released) (unreleased) (aspirated) (unaspirated) (flap) (glottal stop,
nasal release)
Last point: Sound types that are allophonic variants of a
single phoneme class in one language may be separate
phoneme categories in another language.
English French

/o/ /o/ /o)/

[o] [o)] Two distinct phoneme classes
boat moan

Nasalized/non-nasalized
allophones of /o/
Final Point about the Modularity Concept

The modularity concept is NOT an arcane, egghead
detail that you can safely forget about once you begin
working as a clinician.

Pretty soon many of you will begin to learn a great
deal about diagnostic methods in speech & language.
Whether the word is used or not (and it usually isnt),
modularity is the central guiding principle underlying
speech & language assessment.
The central idea is to assess a clients abilities
separately in each of these distinct areas of linguistic
knowledge syntax, morphology, vocabulary (i.e., the
lexicon) phonology, etc. Its not possible to
understand diagnostics without appreciating the
modularity concept.
Pragmatics
The module referred to as pragmatics may or may not be
properly viewed as part of the linguistic system, but it
clearly plays a major role in language comprehension.

Customer: Is my prescription ready?
Pharmacist: Yes.
Customer: Can you get it for me?
Pharmacist: Yes.
Customer: Will you get it for me?
Pharmacist: Yes.
Customer: I have a baseball bat. Ill use it.
Pharmacist: I didnt know that.
Customer: Get it for me. Now.
Pharmacist: OK. Why didnt you say so when you first came in?
What aspect of language is the dense pharmacist having difficulty
with? Phonology? Syntax? Semantics?

Grammatically, what type of sentences is the first utterance (i.e.,
declarative, interrogative, imperative, etc.)?
A Short Story
J anie heard the jingling of the ice cream truck. She
ran upstairs to get her piggy bank. She shook it till
some money came out.
Roughly how old is Janie?
Does the money consist of coins or paper
currency?
What is Janie likely to do with the money?

Where in the language of the story do we find the
answers to these questions?

If we dont get this information entirely out of the
language, where does it come from?

A Shorter Story

Tyler brought a six pack to the party. His mother
found out about it.

How would you guess Tyler is?
Six pack of what?
What do you think Moms reaction was?



A Really Short Story
Bill: Im leaving you.
Louise: Who is she?
What is the story underlying this conversation?
What do you think Bill means by leaving?
Running out to gas up his car? Going out to pick
up the dry cleaning?
How are you able to reconstruct a story based on
two 3- to 4-word sentences?
Is it your linguistic knowledge that allows
understand what is going on here?

Language vs. Speech

Last point: Ive been talking about language and speech
as though they were the same thing. Not.
All speech is language, but not all language is speech.
Two major counterexamples:

Written language (different in one major way from
spoken language IT NEEDS TO BE EXPLICITLY
TAUGHT. But its still language.)

Sign language (ASL and all other sign languages)
Sign language is not a stripped down or impoverished
version of spoken language. It conforms to the universal
grammar and contains all of the elements of spoken
language (except sound): structure-dependent rules,
agreement rules, recursion, even movement analogs of
phonological rules and gestural analogs of babbling. It is
full-blown language, not a cheap imitation.