Phonemic [ʔ] in some varieties of English?

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Phonemic [ʔ] in some varieties of English?

Postby choc_pud » Fri 20 Feb 2015 9:43 pm

In some varieties of English, including my own, [ʔ] is a very common allophone of [t] in certain positions, namely midvocalic and syllable-final. As it is an allophone in complementary distribution it has not previously been referred to as a phoneme in its own right.

But the fact that, at a supramorphemic level, a distinction can be (and is) made, for example the difference between the phrases "great ape" [ɡrɛɪʔɛɪp] and "grey tape" [ɡrɛɪtʰɛɪp], would imply that [ʔ] could veraciously be introduced as the seventh phonemic English plosive (in certain accents).

This is my own opinion; I haven't yet asked any other linguist but am interested to hear what the rest of you have to say about such an idea. (And I apologise for this not really being in the right category, I couldn't think which would be better than "language learning" out of the ones provided).

Þu forstanden myccel gód Ængliscum!
Du forstår mal godt dansk!
Du verstehest sehr gut Deutsch!
Vous comprendez très bonne, la français!
Вы знат очынь хорошо па-Русский!
Folchen þeo meor goð Sursðk!
Du farstanden rijt gut Norslandich!

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Joined: Sat 18 Apr 2009 5:25 am

Re: Phonemic [ʔ] in some varieties of English?

Postby Dan_ad_nauseam » Sat 21 Feb 2015 11:37 pm

Not as crazy as it sounds. I've seen John McWhorter make a similar comment in a series of Great Courses lectures.

Dan, ad nauseam

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