LINGUIST List 10.1846

Wed Dec 1 1999

Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Editor for this issue: Karen Milligan <karenlinguistlist.org>


Directory

  1. Jorge Guitart, What exactly are allophones?
  2. Jules Levin, Re: 10.1839, Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Message 1: What exactly are allophones?

Date: Wed, 1 Dec 1999 11:44:07 -0500 (EST)
From: Jorge Guitart <guitartacsu.buffalo.edu>
Subject: What exactly are allophones?

Saying that an allophone is a relation is negated by saying that X is an
allophone of Y in language Z, since X is ***something****. That something 
is one possible physical representative of a mental entity, which is also
***something***, and is part (a discrete segment!) of ***something***
else. What is indeed a relation is the connection between phoneme and
allophone which is the work of a set of rules or of
constraints or whatever that determine both production (pronounce Y as X)
and reception (recognize X as Y). X is an allophone of Y and not of P or Q
or R because Y underlies X: Y is there to begin with as part of a form
that has meaning or grammatical function. As I say to my students, it's
mostly in your head.

Jorge Guitart




From: Dan Moonhawk Alford <dalfordhaywire.csuhayward.edu>
Subject: Disc: What exactly are allophones?


What a bizarre set of postings on this topic! "Grown" linguists treating
allophones as "things," abstract entities just like phones and phonemes!

Gee, I remember long ago learning from Peter Ladefoged and Vicki Fromkin
at UCLA that an allophone (which we have Benjamin Whorf to thank for,
according to John Carroll's Introduction to _Language, Thought and
Reality_) is a RELATION, not a THING. Phone, allophone, and phoneme,
listed, compared, and contrasted as three things, as some posters have
done, makes me fear the type of training our grad students are getting
these days.

I was either taught or learned by experience that "allophone", written by
itself, is a giant "STAR!" The only safe way to use the form is in the
phrase "[X] IS AN ALLOPHONE OF /Y/ IN LANGUAGE Z", as in "flap is an
allophone of /t/ and /d/ in English". So there is no such "thing" as an
allophone, only phones being in ALLOPHONIC RELATIONSHIP to phonemes.

Warm regards,
Moonhawk

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Message 2: Re: 10.1839, Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Date: Wed, 01 Dec 1999 10:44:45
From: Jules Levin <jflevinucrac1.ucr.edu>
Subject: Re: 10.1839, Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

>At 14:39 30/11/99 -0500, Dan Moonhawk Alford wrote:

>>What a bizarre set of postings on this topic! "Grown" linguists treating
>>allophones as "things," abstract entities just like phones and phonemes!

It all depends on your academic perspective. To a quantum physicist, not
even the ferocious hungry full-grown Bengal tiger that just strolled into
your office is a "thing,"--just a bunch of abstract entities popping
(poping?) in and out of existence. But he can still gobble you up!
A species, like a phoneme, is an abstraction, but we still want to save the
whales. Perhaps all abstract entities partake, to greater or lesser
extent, of "thingness". Or maybe we just need to assign them some
fictional thingness in order to "manipulate" them cognitively...

Jules Levin
Comp Lit and Foreign Langs
University of California, Riverside
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