English Allophones

There are few, if any, phonemes in any language that do not have positional variants, or allophones. That is, the phonemes are pronounced in different ways in different places. The differences in sound alternate systematically in a relation known as "complementary distribution." (See O'Grady 3:2.1 and 2.2 [pp. 67–70].) Pinker refers to them as "adjustments."

Your task:

  1. Which of the nine groups below you should do is determined by your given name--the one you use on the exercises you submit: 1. A-B, 2. C-I, 3. Ja-Ji, 4. Jo-Ju, 5. Ka-Ke, 6. Ki-L, 7. M-N, 8. O-S, 9. T-Z. That is, for example, if your name is Alice or Albert, you should do No. 1 below.
  2. Describe the allophones you find for it/them and their distribution, giving examples. Your sources can include your own pronuciation or that of a(nother) native speaker, an introductory textbook, or any other work on English phonetics or phonology. A number are discussed in O'Grady, for example; a few are discussed in Pinker.
  3. One language's allophones are often another language's phonemes. Can you find a language in which your distinction is phonemic? Give your source.
  4. Submit your report by the date due. Be sure to give all your sources.
  5. Be prepared to give a brief report in class.

Phonemes and phoneme groups showing allophonic variation:

  1. diphthongs /ay/ and /aw/: raising
  2. glides: voicelessness
  3. lateral: velarization ("dark" vs. "clear")
  4. liquids: voicelessness
  5. sonorants (except engma): syllabification
  6. stops, velar: place of articulation
  7. stops, voiceless: aspiration
  8. vowels: length
  9. vowels: nasalization