While the previous two chapters concentrated on how speech sounds are produced in the mouth, this chapter focuses on how speech sounds are organized in the mind. While two different languages might contain the same speech sounds, the mental grammar of each language could treat those sounds very differently. The challenge to studying mental grammar is that we can’t observe the mind directly, so in this chapter, we’ll learn how we can observe language behaviour to draw conclusions about mental grammar.
When you’ve completed this chapter, you will be able to:
- analyze language data to determine if segments contrast phonemically,
- identify the phonetic environments that lead to allophonic variation in a language,
- group speech sounds into natural classes according to the properties they have in common.