LINGUIST List 10.1958

Sat Dec 18 1999

Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Editor for this issue: Naomi Ogasawara <naomilinguistlist.org>


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  1. Francisco Dubert, Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?
  2. Larry, Re: Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Message 1: Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 10:03:56 +0100
From: Francisco Dubert <fgdubertusc.es>
Subject: Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

At the beginning of this discussion, Dan Alford mentioned Peter Ladefoged
as the responsible of his interpretation of what allophones are.

In his introduction to Phonetics, Peter Ladefoged (1993, p. 40) writes:

"The variants of the phonemes that occur in detailed phonetic transcription
are known as allophones. They are generated as a result of applying the
phonological rules to the segments in the underlying forms of words. We
have already discussed some of the rules that generate different allophones
of the segment /t/. For example, we know that in most varieties of American
English, /t/ has a voiced allophone when it occurs between a stressed vowel
and an unestressed vowel".


Francisco Dubert Garc�a
Departamento de Filolox�a Galega
Universidade de Santiago de Compostela
Santiago de Compostela
Espa�a
e-mail: fgdubertusc.es
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Message 2: Re: Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Date: Thu, 16 Dec 1999 15:16:38 +0900
From: Larry <be262scn.org>
Subject: Re: Disc: What Exactly Are Allophones?

Dear colleagues,

Has it occurred to you that inspite of the spirited assertions as to the
nature of allophones - now mainly restatements of the options "it is a
thing" and "it is a relationship" - we, collectively, have not come closer
to what one might call a new "working definition"?

I see several problems with our discussion:
- with the exception of one person, all discussion participants appear to
belong to the language culture, hence thought culture, that I will label,
for convenience's sake, "Indo-European": this severely limits our ability
to consider nouns as anything but "things" (material or conceptual) and
also forces us into a dual "either-or" mode of thinking
- the problem that the original question hints at, is in my view, not
sufficiently answered by Dan Moonhawks non-Indo-European suggestions, but
those suggestions clearly indicate to me the severe limitations of the
mental boxes we "Indo-Europeans" are stuck in
- I am not sure whether we have kept in view the original question, the one
that started the discussion (not that that is essential for our learning
process), but by reconsidering that question and addressing it directly we
just *might* escape the loop of argument restatements: in other words, for
the sake of those of us who have been uninvolved in the disucssion but who
are interested, more "brainstorming" and less "shooting down opposing
arguments" would be helpful - I would like to be exposed to a broader
variety of explanations, not just the narrowig focus of "thing" or "not
thing"

Just a few meta-thoughts. :-)

Best regards: Larry
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