In describing the sound-system of any language it is necessary to distinguish between speech sounds and what are called phonemes icon

In describing the sound-system of any language it is necessary to distinguish between speech sounds and what are called phonemes



НазваниеIn describing the sound-system of any language it is necessary to distinguish between speech sounds and what are called phonemes
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In describing the sound-system of any language it is necessary to distinguish between speech sounds and what are called phonemes.

A speech-sound is a sound of definite organic formation and definite acoustic quality which is incapable of variation.

A phoneme may be described roughly as a family of sounds consisting of an important sound of the language (generally the most frequently used member sound of that family), together with other related sounds which take its place in particular sound-sequences or under particular conditions of length or stress or intonation...

The K's in the English words «keep», «cool», «call» are three distinct sounds articulated at different parts of the palate; but they are regarded as belonging to the same phoneme, since the use of these different varieties of [k] is dependent solely upon the nature of the adjoining vowel...

On the other hand, sounds of the [n] and [ŋ] types belong to separate phonemes in English, because the use of the two sounds is not dependent upon neighbouring sounds in words, [n] can occur in position which [ŋ] can also occupy, e.g. in the terminations -in, -ing.

The most frequent sound of a phoneme may be called its principal member or norm. It is usually the sound which would be given if a person with unstudied pronunciation were asked «to say the sound by itself». The other sounds belonging to the phoneme are called «subsidiary members». The term «allophone» is used to denote a particular member (principal or subsidiary) of a phoneme.

Phonemes are capable of distinguishing one word a language from other words of the same language. There is an English word [sin] and another English word [siŋ]...

The distinctive elements of language, i.e. the elements which serve to distinguish one word from another are the phonemes (not the sounds). The distinction between two phonemes is significant i. e. capable of distinguishing one word from another; the distinction between two sounds is not necessarily significant. Different sounds which belong to one phoneme do not distinguish one word of a language from another; failure on the part of the foreigner to distinguish such sounds may cause him to speak with a foreign accent, but it will probably not make his words unintelligible.

^ Jones D. An Outline of English Phonetics. Cambr. 1976. P 189—199.


A phoneme is a group of sounds all the members of which are in complementary distribution with one another, or in free variation. The group must contrast with all other groups or more exactly, all members of the group must contrast in some position with the members of all other groups. The members of a phone are its allophones. The allophones of a phoneme normally share a distinctive feature or combination of features not found in the allophones of other phonemes, and overlapping of allophones (identical sounds as members of more than one phoneme) is minimized in rigorous analyses...

From the point of view of all the possible utterances in English, a phoneme is a large class of sounds. In an individual utterance, the situation is different. In a form like [mæp] if we disregard for the time being the phonemes of stress, pitch and juncture, we have an abstracted sequence which we can write [mæp]. There can be a contrast at the beginning with «nap» [næp], in the middle with «mop» [mסp], at the end with «mat» [mæt]. Other contrasts are possible only if something is added, as in «maps» [mæps]. We therefore say that there are only three segments in «map», and allophones of only three phonemes occur in it, except for the phonemes of stress, pitch and juncture, which we have left out of account. It is usual, indeed, to say that there are only there phonemes in «map», but it is more accurate to use the cumbersome statement just given. Obviously, the class does not occur in a given item; only a representative of the class occurs. From this point of view, an allophone can be called the smallest linguistic unit which can be arrived at from the analysis of meaningful forms, and the number of allophones can be identified with the number of contrast point characterizing any utterance. Allophones of phonemes are not the smallest units arrived at by the kind of analysis we have just described. When these units have been arrived at, they may themselves be compared and analysed. The units arrived at by analysis of phonemes — the type of analysis called componental — are the distinctive features. These distinctive features are smaller than the allophones of the phonemes, since any distinctive feature is a part of the allophone which occurs... Allophones, indeed all the allophones of any phoneme, can then be described as bundle of distinctive features, a different bundle occurring with each segment of the utterance.

Archibald H. Introduction to Linguistic Structure. N.Y., 1958. P.54,55.




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