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I'm having a problem analyzing the phonemes of a language.  The sound 
[e] only appears before voiceless consonants, while [i] can appear in 
any other environment.  This leads me to think that they're allophones 
of each other, except for the following problem.  Voiceless fricatives 
become voiced between vowels, yet the [e] in such cases remains unchanged:

   - [nef] > [neva]
   - [niv] > [niva]

Among words with the "-a" suffix, this [e] vs. [i] distinction is the 
only thing showing the difference between words like [neva] and [niva].  
Are these minimal pairs?  Are [e] and [i] separate phonemes?

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