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Encyclopedia > Allophone

In phonetics, an allophone is one of several similar phones that belong to the same phoneme. A phone is a sound that has a definite shape as a sound wave, while a phoneme is a basic sound that can distinguish words (i.e. changing one phoneme in a word can produce another word); speakers of a particular language perceive a phoneme as a single distinctive sound in that language. Thus an allophone is a phone considered as a member of one phoneme. Phonetics (from the Greek word phone = sound/voice) is the study of speech sounds (voice). ... Phone (Greek φωνή) is a colloquial term for a device to transmit speech. ... In spoken language, a phoneme is a basic, theoretical unit of sound that can distinguish words (i. ... Phone (Greek φωνή) is a colloquial term for a device to transmit speech. ...


Each allophone is used in a specific phonetic context. Not all phonemes have significantly different allophones, but there are always minor differences in articulation from one piece of speech to the next.


For example, p as in pin and p as in spin are allophones for the phoneme p in the English language because they occur in complementary distribution. English speakers generally treat these as the same sound, but they are different. The latter is unaspirated: it sounds a little more like the b of English. This may be noticed by English speakers if they hear the unaspired p without the preceding s. The s is the usual context for the unaspirated allophone. The English language is a West Germanic language that originates in England. ... Complementary distribution in linguistics refers to the relationship between two elements where one element can be found only in a particular environment and the other element can be found only in the opposite environment. ... In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies the release of some stop consonants. ...


Chinese treats these two phones differently and the latter is written as b in pinyin; thus, they are not allophones in Chinese. Pinyin (拼音, pīnyīn) literally means join (together) sounds (a less literal translation being phoneticize, spell or transcription) in Chinese and usually refers to Hànyǔ Pīnyīn (汉语拼音, literal meaning: Han language pinyin), which is a system of romanization (phonetic notation and transliteration to roman script) for Standard Mandarin used in the...


Similarly, English-speaking people may become aware of the difference between two allophones of the phoneme t when they consider the pronunciations of the following phrases:

night rate
nitrate

See also


  Results from FactBites:
 
Allophone - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia (292 words)
In phonetics, an allophone is one of several similar phones that belong to the same phoneme.
Each allophone is used in a specific phonetic context and many times there is some sort of phonological process.
For example, [pʰ] as in pin and [p] as in cap are allophones for the phoneme /p/ in the English language because they occur in complementary distribution.
  More results at FactBites »

 
 

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