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General linguistics. The rules of phonology


Class ELT Methodology: #27
By: Nguyen Minh Ngoc
Date of birth: 23rd of October, 1991
For: Assoc Prof Tran Xuan Diep
Date due: 2nd of January, 2018


Class ELT Methodology: #27
By: Nguyen Minh Ngoc
Date of birth: 23rd of October, 1991
For: Assoc Prof Tran Xuan Diep
Date due: 2nd of January, 2018
I certify that this essay is entirely my own work. I have provided fully
documented references to the work of others. The material in this essay has
not been submitted for assessment in any other formal course of study.


The essay elucidates the phonological rules as part of the study of how sounds
are organized and used in natural language. Move on to its features, types and
functions to learn more about these fascinating branches of the subfield of
linguistics. Finally, it focuses on conclusion that reaches at.
Key words: Phonological rules, Assimilation, Dissimilation, Deletion,
Insertion, Metathesis.
Phonological rules are part of communication through language, whether
spoken or written, and knowing what they are and why they exist can help us
better understand our world. Understanding phonological rules is considered
an important aspect in teaching English or working with people who have
speech problems.
1.2. Research question:
What can the phonological rules in English help language learners?
Theory research
2.1. Definition of Phonology
There are various definitions of phonology. According to Akmajian et al,
2010:110, phonology refers to the sub eld of linguistics that studies the
structure and systematic patterning of sounds in human language. Yuke
(2006:43) defines phonology as the essentially description of the systems or
patterns of speech sounds in a language. Generally, Phonology studies how
sounds are organized in particular languages and tries to discover the
psychological patterns and underlying organization of sounds shared by


native speakers of a certain language. Phonology abstracts from the physical
data provided by phonetics.
Phonological Rules
In the lexicon of a language, each word is represented in its underlying, or
basic, form, which discounts all of the alternations in pronunciation that are
predictable by phonological rules. In order to understand the purpose of
phonological rules, we need to understand what a phoneme is. According to
the traditional phonological theories, a phoneme is the minimal unit in the
sound system of a language ( Crystal,1997:287) . The phoneme of a language
is the segment that contrasts in the underlying forms. The variants of
phonemes that occur in phonetic representations of sentences are known
as allophones. Phonological rules describe how phonemes are realized as their
allophones in a given environment (Environment in phonology typically
refers to neighboring phonemes) .They may be considered to be generated as
a result of applying the phonological rules to the phonemes in underlying
forms. For example, there is a phonological rule of English that says that a
voiceless stop such as /P/ is aspirated when it occurs at the beginning of a
word (e.g., in pin), but when it occurs after a voiceless alveolar fricative (i.e.,
after /S/), it is not aspirated (e.g., in spin). Thus the underlying phoneme /P/
has an aspirated and an unaspirated allophone, in addition to other allophones
that are generated as a result of other rules that apply in other circumstances.
Allophones are conventionally written inside brackets—e.g., [p] or aspirated
John Golden Smith (1995) defines phonological rules as mappings between
two different levels of sound representation in this case, the abstract or
underlying level and the surface level. Bruce Hayes (2009) estimates that
phonological rules describe how a speaker goes from the abstract


representation stored in their brain to the actual sound they articulate when
they speak. In general, phonological rules start with the underlying
representation of a sound (the phoneme that is stored in the speaker's mind)
and yield what the speaker actually pronounces. For example, the English
plural -s may be pronounced as[s] (in "cats"),[z] (in "cabs"), or as [ iz] (in
"buses"); these forms are all stored mentally as the same -s, but the surface
pronunciations which are derived through a phonological rule are different.
Kinds of Phonological Rules
Different languages have different rules, however there are some some
typical kinds of rules that are can be best understood through the following
phonological processes:
In general, assimilation is a process by which a sound becomes more like
a nearby sound. Hyman (1952:221-3) states that assimilation refers to all
adaptive modifications of a segment in a chain of segments by a neighboring
segment. According to Driven (2004:119), assimilation is a process whereby
one sound causes an adjacent sound to be “more similar” to itself.
Sounds become more like neighboring sounds
[n] ➝ [m]/__ [+bilabial]
Assimilation can be conditioned by preceding or following sounds.
From the point of view of the distribution of change, assimilation can
be progressive or regressive. When the change involves the following sound,
it is called "regressive assimilation" and when it involves a preceding sound it
is called "progressive assimilation".
The nasal is realized as:
(i) [m] before bilabial consonants (e.g. when one of [p b m] follows)
(ii) [n] before alveolar consonants (e.g. when one of [t d n s] follows)


(iii) [ɲ] before palatal consonants (e.g. when one of [c J ɲ follows)
(iv) [ŋ] before velar consonants (e.g. when [k or g] follows)
- Progressive assimilation can be seen in the following cases :
1. the / -s/ morpheme of the plural becomes / -z/ when preceded by a voiced
consonant, e.g. , bag + s / bagz /, pencil + s / 'penslz/ .
2. /-d/ becomes /-t/ when preceded by a voiceless consonant: e.g., kick + ed
b- Regressive assimilation can be seen in the following patterns:
1- /n/ becomes /m/ under the influence of a labial consonant that follows. For
example, ten minutes / tem'minits/.
2- /d/ becomes /t/ when followed by a voiceless consonant. For example, used
to /'ju:st tu/.
3-/z/ becomes /s/ when followed by /p/ or /t/ , for example: newspaper
4- /n/ becomes /ƞ/ when followed by /k/ as in income /'iƞkʌm/.
5- /v/ becomes /f/ when followed by /p/or /t/. Examples: five pence /faif pens/,
have to /haft u/ , fifth /fifƟ/.
6- /s/ becomes /ʃ/ when followed by /ʃ/. Example: horse shoe /ho: ʃ ʃu:/.
7- Sometimes two sounds merge into one as in standpoint
From the point of view of distinctiveness and stability of change,
assimilation patterns manifest three sub- types:
1..Assimilation of place:
It is most clearly observable in some cases where a final consonant with
alveolar place of articulation is followed by an initial consonant with a plae of
articulation that is not alveolar. For example, the final consonant in "that”
/ is alveolar t. in rapid, casual speech the t will become p before a


bilabial consonant, as in “ that person” /ðæpˈpɜː.sən/ /, light blue /laɪp blu:/.
/ m/ can assimilate to /f/ → [M] (bilabial → labiodental) input [mp], bonbon
[mb] ‘candy’ – bit [I] vs. bin [˜I] – /I/ assimilates to the following /n/ (nasal)
→ [˜I] – because you [bIkOZju]– /z/ can assimilate to /j/ (palatal) → [Z]
2..Assimilation of manner:
It is only found in the most rapid and casual speech; the tendency is again for
regressive assimilation and the change in manner is most likely to be towards
an “easier “ consonant one which makes less obstruction to the airflow. In one
particular case we find progressive assimilation of manner when a word –
follows a plosive or nasal at the end of a preceding word: it is very
common to find that the initial consonant becomes identical in manner to the
final consonant but with dental place of articulation. For instance: in the / in
ðə / becomes /innə /; get them /getðəm
/ becomes / gettern /.
3..Assimilation of voice is also found but gains only in a limited way.
2.3.2 Dissimilation
This kind of rule refers to processes whereby two neighboring
sounds become less similar, usually to make the two sounds more
distinguishable. This type of rule is often seen among people speaking a
language that is not their native language where the sound contrasts may be
difficult so the rule is applied for ease of production and perception.
An example is the rule of fricative dissimilation. Consider how hard it is for
Vietnamese people to produce the th sound because of its absence in
Vietnamese pronunciation. For instance, the numbers fifth and sixth present a
pronunciation challenge in this regard. It is difficult to pronounce two
fricatives next to one another when one of them involves the th sound that
doesn’t exist in one’s language. Fifth is pronounced as [ fift ] and sixth as [


sikst]. The second fricative becomes a stop, which makes it more dissimilar
and easier to pronounce.
2.3.3 Deletion
Deletion occurs when a phoneme is not pronounced in certain
environments or When a sound, such as a unstressed syllable or a weak
consonant, is not pronounced; for example, most American English speakers
do not pronounce the [d] in "handbag", [n] in "condemn", [k] in " know" .
So, it is a process by which a sound present in the phonemic form is
removed from the phonetic form in certain environments for ease of
2.3.4 Insertion
In this kind of process, a sound is added that is not present in slow
pronunciation or spelling. For example, when we pronounce the word
hamster at a regular speed, most of us will say and hear hampster with a p.
this can be confusing when teaching spelling, especially to non- native
speakers who don’t have a history of reading and hearing English words and
their spelling.
Nathan (2008:82) also asserts that not only can segments be deleted;
sometimes they can be inserted instead. There seem to be two basic reasons
for insertion: preventing clusters of consonants that violate syllable structure
constraints in the language, and easing transitions between segments that have
multiple incompatibilities.
A particularly strange, but well-known kind of insertion is the famous
‘intrusive/linking r’ of British and some dialects of [American English]. In
these dialects a historical /r/ has been deleted in word-final coda position, but
when the word is followed by vowel initial words under complex and not-


completely-understood circumstances, the /r/ reappears,
an example of
‘intrusive r’ is:
idea is [aIdiərIz]
idea [aIˈdiə]
All of the examples we have seen so far involve insertion of vowels to
break up sequences of consonants that violate syllable structure constraints. In
other cases the /r/ reappears even when there was never an /r/ there in the first
place (this is known as ‘intrusive r’). Typical examples of ‘linking r’ are
rear [riə]
rear end [rirεnd]
2.3.5 Metatheses
Phonological process that changes the order of phonemes
Lass (1984: 188) states that in old English there are interchanges of /p/
and /s/ , as shown in spelling variants: /ps/ --- /sp/ in waspe 'wasp' , /sp/---/ps/
in apse aspe 'aspen' , cosp cops 'cope' , wlips 'lisping'. He adds that the
metathesized forms wasp, copse are now standard. Another metathesis
involves nasal sequences, specially /m/ and /n/: emnity for enmity, anemone
for amenone.
A phonological rule is a method for describing the way in which
individual sounds are produced in spoken languages. These rules are written
out in a specialized notation that codifies the way in which a sound or group
of sounds is altered by appearing in a specific linguistic context. Phonological
rules vary between languages and dialects, and they reflect the common
pronunciation habits of various linguistic groups. By studying the way that a
particular phonological rule operates in a spoken language, linguists are able
to determine the physiological and neurological mechanisms that translate
mental language into spoken language.


Due to the lack of time and the framework of an essay, the writer hopes that
there will be more profound and particular about separate types of
phonological rules in a near study
Crystal, D. (1997) A Dictionary of Linguistics and Phonetics. Blackwell
Publishers. Ltd.
Dirven, R. (2004) Cognitive Exploration of Language and Linguistics.
University of Duisburg.
Hyman, L. (1952) Phonology Theory and Analysis. Holt, Rinehart and
Katamba, F. (1989) An Introduction to Phonology. Longman and New York.
Lass, R. (1984) Phonology. CUP.
Nathan, G. (2008) Phonology. A Cognitive Grammar Introduction. USA.
McMahon,A.(2000) Lexical Phonology and The History of English.
Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sited Webs
(1) www.eric.ed.gov/ERICWebPortal/search/detailmini.jsp?_&ERICExt.
(2 )http://www.ehow.com/info_12142585_purpose-phonologicalrules.html#ixzz2AmjSHQya
(3 )www.writework.com/essay/significance-function-phonological-rules
(4) coral.lili.uni-bielefeld.de/.../Summer04/HTHS/Salffner/phonrules.html
(5) www.tutorgigpedia.com/ed/Phonological_rule
(6) pediaview.com/openpedia/Phonological_rule.
(7) en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phonological_ rule.
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