Author Topic: Affricates & Minimal Pairs  (Read 6863 times)

Offline Lilja

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Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« on: April 07, 2014, 01:55:35 AM »
Hello  :) I am an Introductory Phonology student and I am having trouble with a homework assignment. I am meant to give minimal pairs of tʃ and tʃ͡  to show we should be able to transcribe the two differently. I was hoping somebody could help me as I can't seem to find any difference between the two except as affricates and stop fricative sequences. Thanks!

Offline lx

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #1 on: April 07, 2014, 02:29:02 AM »
Hi Lilja,

When asking a question about minimal pairs, probably the most crucial piece of information (besides the phonemes being considered) is the language system it exists within. What language are you referring to? (Welcome to the forum, by the way!)

Offline Daniel

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #2 on: April 07, 2014, 02:36:40 AM »
Yes, we need more information.

That sounds like a very difficult question.

Generally I believe that affricates are considered phonemes due to their phonotactic properties-- where they can go within a syllable/word and what sounds they seem similar to. For example, if the language only allows CVC syllables but you find a [ts] sequence, then you likely can consider that a single C rather than an exception. But I don't see how you can answer this question using minimal pairs.

It's a good question, just not necessarily for an intro class-- what other information do you have? Maybe there's a hint.
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Offline Lilja

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #3 on: April 07, 2014, 03:01:58 AM »
Thanks for the quick replies  :)
The language is English and the only hint we have is to think about stringing words together, but that really hasn't gotten me anywhere  :-\

Offline lx

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #4 on: April 07, 2014, 03:11:17 AM »
Ah, I was thinking in-word and ruled out English automatically for that reason, but it seems what you're being asked to do is over multiple words. In that case just think of words that end with 't' and start with 'sh' but belong to different words.

For instance, in the sentence the cat should eat, if you turned the sequence of [t] and [ʃ] into [tʃ] (when together in the same unit this has the same effect as the tie bar over the symbol to indicate double articulation). How would it sound if there was double articulation? Well, maybe for some people there would be a minimal pair. Probably, amongst all the Englishes we have in the world.

For me, though, that's not a minimal pair and I think I'd be more likely to use [tʃ] and coarticulate those segments anyway. I can't think of any minimal pair between these two phonetic varieties but I'm from a place where affrication has become very embedded in these sorts of clusters.
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:13:39 AM by lx »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #5 on: April 07, 2014, 04:11:18 AM »
Maybe other sounds?

For example /ts/ vs /ts/?

Aside from "pizza" we don't have that "ts" affricate, but we do have sequences like "at seven o'clock".


Still... I'm not getting the idea of a "minimal pair" here.
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Offline lx

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #6 on: April 07, 2014, 04:17:48 AM »
Yeah, that's the issue. We're living at the extreme-almost-unrecognisable point where the prototypical usage of minimal pair as a linguistic tool has been stretched into something meaning more a registerable difference between sounds.

Every sound I can think of with [tʃ] would not be different if you take away the coordination/affrication. It's ruled out at the start of words and it's not present as a discernible difference in the final part of words, so that leaves us with the middle. I can't imagine any words that fit this category.

Are you sure the term is 'minimal pair,' that your teacher is using? Can you quote from your homework assignment?

Let's say we could consider 'ratshit' as one word, then would that perhaps be a minimal pair with 'ratchet'? Perhaps....
« Last Edit: April 07, 2014, 04:23:32 AM by lx »

Offline Daniel

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #7 on: April 07, 2014, 04:27:34 AM »
Quote
Let's say we could consider 'ratshit' as one word, then would that perhaps be a minimal pair with 'ratchet'? Perhaps....
Yeah. Good one. At least in relatively careful pronunciation I would say those differently. :)

But is that just articulation? Does it 'prove' anything? Maybe.
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Offline Lilja

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #8 on: April 07, 2014, 09:58:42 AM »
Thanks for the replies everyone! I thought I must be missing something simple somewhere but it seems others are stumped too! The assignment is from Bruce Hayes (2009) and says:

Find a pair of contrasting examples showing that we need to be able to transcribe [tʃ] distinct from [ tʃ͡ ]. Give IPA transcriptions for your examples. (Hint: try stringing words together.)

I asked my lecturer if that meant finding minimal pairs and she said yes ;D

Offline Daniel

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #9 on: April 07, 2014, 10:02:44 AM »
So basically what lx said?

At shopping malls...
A chopping knife

I still don't see why this is a completely convincing argument though.
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Offline lx

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #10 on: April 07, 2014, 12:44:03 PM »
I see you're not the only one who has brought this question to the internet. I found a rather funny answer here: http://lesserjoke.tumblr.com/post/16526585532/phonology-homework-find-a-pair-of-contrasting-examples

:)

Offline Daniel

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #11 on: April 07, 2014, 02:06:38 PM »
That's amusing, but I'm still far from convinced. This must rely on a specific theory of how sounds are distributed into syllables at word boundaries, and I don't see it as a clear situation in either way:
1. If pronounced quickly, it will be pronounced as a single piece either way.
2. I don't see why a word couldn't start with the sequence /tʃ/ in contrast to a word ending in /t/ followed by another starting with /ʃ/, resulting in the same contrastive pronunciation! Consider "ape light" and "a plight"-- no one would argue that /pl/ is an affricate (or other double articulation). It's just a complex onset.

So while this may be an amusing puzzle to come up with examples for, I think it's a misleading question and inconclusive test...
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Offline Lilja

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Re: Affricates & Minimal Pairs
« Reply #12 on: April 08, 2014, 02:22:52 AM »
I see you're not the only one who has brought this question to the internet. I found a rather funny answer here: http://lesserjoke.tumblr.com/post/16526585532/phonology-homework-find-a-pair-of-contrasting-examples

:)

Ha ha, I think I've seen that example before in a text book which is weird  ;D

I was thinking it must be something simple like using the last sound of one word and the first of the next word, but in phonetic transcriptions aren't words normally written with a space in between? So it wouldn't be /tʃ/ would it then?