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Methods of Phonological Analysis.
What is the aim of the phonological analysis?
Firstly, the aim of it is to establish distinctive differences between sounds, i.e. to establish relevant features.
Secondly, on the basis of this study to create the inventory of the phonemes (the phones?) and establish the phonemic system of a language.
The final aim of phonological analysis is the identification of the phonemes and their classification.
There are 2 main approaches:
1) formally distributional
It is practiced by American structuralists and it pays special attention to the position of the sound in the word or its distribution;
2) semantically distribution (sematic)
It gives special attention to meaning, it’s wildly practiced in this country.
The analysis is conducted through the system of phonological oppositions. It’s based on the following rule:
the phoneme can distinguish meaning when opposed to one another in the same phonetic context. Ex: [dei] – [thei], [ship] – [sheep] (minimal pairs)
To establish the phonemic status of a sound it is necessary to oppose one sound to another in the same phonetic context.
This procedure is called commutation test. We must find the so-called minimal pairs. A minimal pair is a pair of words which differ in once sound only. So we replace one sound by another and try to see if the meaning is the same or different and if the sound belongs to one or different phoneme.
Ex: [pin] – [sin] (1)
[phin] – [pin] (2)
[pin] – [hin] (3)
The commutation test may have 3 results:
(1) the meaning is different, so the opposed sounds belong to different phoneme;
(2) the meaning is the same, so the opposed sounds belong to the same phoneme;
(3) a meaningless word, so we can’t make any conclusion – we can’t identificate the sound
There are different types of oppositions:
the opposed sounds differ in one articulating feature only: [pen] – [ben]
the opposed sounds differ in 2 distinctive features : [pen] - [den]
3) triple (multiple)
the opposed sounds differ in 3 distinctive features: [pen] - [then]
occlusive stop constrictive fricative
To create the system of phonemes the sounds are opposed in 3 positions:
There are some problems - sometimes sounds cannot be opposed:
Ex: [h] is never used in final position;
[n-носовое] is never in the initial position.
In such cases we rely on the knowledge of the native speaker and phonetic similarities or dissimilarities.
There is another interesting case. We have a number of different sounds occur in the same position and phonetic context but the meaning is unchanged. Ex: [калоши] – [галоши], [шкаф] – [шкап].
Such sounds are called free variants. The existence of free variants is explained by regional, stylistic and individual variations. Ex: city [‘sidi – ‘siti], letter [‘ledэ – ‘letэ]
The semantic method of phonological analysis is widely used and it helps to create the system of the sounds of a language.
The application of this method shows that the English language has 24 consonant phonemes and 20 vowel ones. They are grouped into classes according to the distinctive features.
In English the following features are distinctive for consonants:
- place of articulation;
- manner of articulation, type of obstruction;
- presence or absence of voice (force of articulation)
The phonemic feature of vowels:
- quality => 1) stability of articulation, + 2) tongue position (horizontal, vertical)
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