Question about Phonemicization
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I am working on a phonology of a languange called Qiang, and had a question about phonemicization.
This variety of Qiang does not oppose alveolar and alveleo-palatal fricatives or affricates nor does it require a phonemic distinction between the alveleo-palatal series and the retroflex series of consonants.
The alveolar series is in complementary distribution with the alveleo-platal series, with the palatal series occurring before high front vowels and palatal glides while alveolars appear in all other contexts.
Likewise the retroflex series is in complementary distribution with the alveo-palatal series with the palatal series ocurring before high front vowels and glides and palatal glides while retroflex consonants precede all other vowels.
My hypothesis is that the alveolo-palatal consonants [tɕ, tɕh, dʑ, ɕ, ʑ] are the result of a merger of the alveolar consonants /ts, tsh,dz,s, z/ and the retroflex consonants /tʂ, tʂh, dʐ, ʂ, ʐ/ before high front vowels and palatal glides. The alveolo-palatals are in complementary distribution with the alveolar series as well as with with the retroflex consonants, neither of which now occur in a high front environment.
The question then is, how do I know whether to classify the alveolo-palatals as allophones of the alveolar series or as allophones of the retroflex series?
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