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 --- "Mark J. Reed" <[log in to unmask]> wrote: > On Thu, Jul 17, 2003
at 08:09:05PM +0100, Ian Spackman wrote:
> > >Mostly true.  But in some speakers, including myself, there are a
> few
> > >words that don't follow the pattern.  For example, I use [VI] in
> > >"fire", where it is not followed by a voiceless consonant.
> However, I
> > >use [aI] in "wire" and most or all other "-ire" words, so "fire"
> and
> > >"wire" etc. don't rhyme in my speech.  I've also observed
> informally
> > >that Canadians who use [VI] in "fire" can hear the difference
> between
> > >[VI] and [aI] fairly easily, while those who use [aI] in "fire"
> usually
> > >can't ear the difference.
> >
> > I didn't know that it was phonemic for anyone.  Interesting, but
> perhaps
> > not surprising.
>
> Hearing a distinction doesn't make it phonemic.  Show me a minimal
> pair. :)
> -Mark

Well, as someone hinted before, there are things which look rather like
minimal pairs, but can be explained by ordered rules.  A good example
is "writer" [rVI4@r] vs "rider" [raI4er] (the [r]s are English "r"s),
where flapping eliminates the distinction between /t/ and /d/, but the
diphthong still distinguishes which consonant it precedes.  Also,the
point of the "fire" vs "wire" pair is that, while it's not a minimal
pair, the difference cannot be associated with the following
environment, which is otherwise the conditioning factor.

Estel

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