Update: 2012-11-24 05:23 PM +0630


TIL Grammar Glossary


Compiled by U Kyaw Tun (UKT), M.S. (I.P.S.T., U.S.A.), and staff of TIL (Tun Institute of Learning, http://www.tuninst.net ), from various sources. Prepared for students of TIL Computing and Language Center, Yangon, Myanmar. Not for sale.

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Grammar Glossary - P (divided into 2 files 080821)

• palindrome • paragraph • parallelism • paraphrase • parataxis • parenthetical citation • parenthetical expression • participle • participial phrase • particle • parts of speech or lexical categories • pasquinade • passive • Passive Index • passive voice • past continuous • past participle • past perfect • past perfect continuous • past perfect tense • past simple • path • patterns of development • perfect • perfect aspect • perfect tense • periodic sentence • person • personal pronoun • personification • philologist • phone • phoneme • phonetic alphabet • phonetics • phrasal verb • phrase • pidgin • plagiarism • plain case • plain form • planning • plot • plural
UKT Notes
• parataxis • participial phrase • particle • phoneme

• pocket dictionary • poetry • point of view • polysemy • polysyllabic • portmanteau word • positive degree • possessive • possessive adjective •  possessive case • possessive pronoun • postmodifier
• precedent • predicate • predicate adjective (predicative adjective) • predicate noun (predicate nominative) • prefix • premise • premodifier • preposition • prepositional phrase • prescriptive grammar • present continuous • present participle • present perfect • present perfect continuous • present perfect tense • present simple • present tense • pretentious writing • primary source • principal clause • principle parts • problem-solution organization • process analysis • progressive aspect • progressive tense • pronominal • pronoun • pronoun case • proofreading • proper adjective • proper noun • prose • prosody • protocol • punctuation • purpose
UKT notes: • Preposition and postposition • Voice communication phonetic alphabet

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From UseE
A palindrome is a word or phrase that is spelt the same way forwards or backwards.
[E.g.], Madam is an example.

palindrome n. 1. A word, phrase, verse, or sentence that reads the same backward or forward. For example: A man, a plan, a canal, Panama! 2. A segment of double-stranded DNA in which the nucleotide sequence of one strand reads in reverse order to that of the complementary strand. [From Greek palindromos running back again, recurring palin again; See k w el- 1 in Indo-European Roots. dromos a running]

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From LBH
Generally, a group of sentences set off by a beginning indention and developing a single idea. That idea is often stated in a topic sentence. (See Chapter 4.)

From UseE  
A paragraph is an organisational feature of written English, and many other languages as well. It is a group of sentences, or possibly a single sentence, separated from the rest of the text by a space above and below it or by indenting the first line (leaving a space between the margin and the first word). A paragraph usually contains sentences that deal with one topic, and a new paragraph signals a change of topic.

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From LBH
Similarity of grammatical form between two or more coordinated elements:

Rising prices and declining incomes left many people in bad debt and worse despair.

(See Chapter 25.)

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From LBH
The restatement of source material in one's own words and sentence structures, useful for borrowing the original author's line of reasoning but not his or her exact words. Paraphrases must always be acknowledged in source citations. (See pp. 679–81.)

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See on more of parataxis in my notes.

parataxis n. 1. The juxtaposition of clauses or phrases without the use of coordinating or subordinating conjunctions, as It was cold; the snows came. [Greek a placing side by side from paratassein to arrange side by side para- beside; See para- 1 tassein to arrange]

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parenthetical citation 

See • citation

From LBH
In the text of a paper, a brief reference, enclosed in parentheses, indicating that material is borrowed and directing the reader to the source of the material.

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parenthetical expression 

From LBH
A word or construction that interrupts a sentence and is not part of its main structure, called parenthetical because it could (or does) appear in parentheses:

Childe Hassam (1859–1935) was an American painter and etcher. The book, incidentally, is terrible.

(See p. 525.)

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See • dangling participle • past participle • present participle

From LBH
A verbal showing continuing or completed action, used as an adjective or part of a verb phrase but never as the main verb of a sentence or clause. (See p. 270.)

• A present participle ends in -ing

My heart is breaking
(participle as part of verb phrase).

I like to watch the rolling waves
(participle as adjective).

• A past participle most commonly ends in -d, -ed, -n, -en :
[e.g.] wished / shown / given
but sometimes changes the spelling of the verb :
[e.g.] sung / done / slept

Jeff has broken his own record
(participle as part of verb phrase).

The closed door beckoned
(participle as adjective).

From UseE
There are two participles in English: the present participle and the past participle. They can both be used as adjectives.
The present participle is formed by adding -ing  to the base form. It is used in:

• Continuous or Progressive verb forms:
   I'm leaving in five minutes.

• as an adjective:
   a dying man

The past participle is formed by adding -ed  to the base form, unless it is an irregular verb. It is used:

• as an adjective:
   a tired group

• with the auxiliary verb 'have ' to form the perfect aspect:
   They've just arrived.

• with the verb 'be ' to form the passive:
   He was robbed a couple of days ago.
UKT: was  is the past form of verb 'be'.

1. A form of a verb that in some languages, such as English, can function independently as an adjective, as the past participle baked in:

We had some baked beans.

and is used with an auxiliary verb to indicate tense, aspect, or voice, as the past participle baked in the passive sentence:

The beans were baked too long.

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participial phrase 

See • verbal • verbal phrase

From LBH

A word group consisting of a participle plus any objects or modifiers.


From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Participial_phrase 080701

A participial phrase is a participle and its accompanying word or words. A participle phrase modifies a noun or a pronoun. It may contain a direct object and an adverb that modifies the participle. Below are some examples:

1. Sitting in his office, he rereads the instructions.
-- "Sitting in his office" is the participial phrase.

2. Thomas Edison, experimenting with different materials in his laboratory, eventually improved the light bulb.
-- "Experimenting with different materials in his laboratory" is the participial phrase. 

Participial nominalization
The participial nominalization of a sentence is a noun phrase describing the state of affairs reported by the sentence. The main noun of the noun phrase is the participial form of the main verb of the sentence in simple sentences. Thus the participial nominalization of "Socrates is sitting" is "Socrates' being seated". It is harder to form the participial nominalization of a complex sentence such as "If Jones is a woman, then Jones is human", and one typically resorts to "Its being the case that" constructions: "Its being the case that if Jones is a woman, then Jones is human".

What the referents of participial nominalizations of true sentences are whether they are entities that exist is a deep philosophical question.

A participle itself is any verb form that functions as an adjective. For example, if one were to say, "I was aching when I crossed the finish line," the verb 'aching' modifies 'I', just as an adjective would. If we were to take out the word 'aching' and insert an adjective, the sentence would make just as much sense: "I was pale when I crossed the finish line."

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See • phrasal verb • two-word verb

From LBH

A preposition or adverb in a two-word verb, e.g. look up , catch on [UKT: I have underlined the particle.]
(See pp. 316–17.)

From UseE

A particle is a word that does not fit into the conventional grammatical categories. The word 'to ' can act as a preposition describing direction;

€ She's gone to Antwerp.

When to is used with a verb in the infinitive, to abide , to do  etc., it is a particle, satisfying a grammatical function but without an easily defined meaning. The term is also often employed for the words that make up a phrasal verb. This is because words that are familiar as prepositions, which link words, are functioning in a different manner:

€ The plane took off an hour late.

off  changes the meaning of the verb but is not linking words or expressing direction, location, time or possession, which it would if it were acting as a preposition. Hence many people prefer to call words like this particles in phrasal verbs.


1. An uninflected item that has grammatical function but does not clearly belong to one of the major parts of speech, such as:

up  in look up  or
in English infinitives.

2. In some systems of grammatical analysis, any short function word, including articles, prepositions, and conjunctions.

From Wikipedia

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Grammatical_particle 080817

In linguistics, the term particle is a word lacking a strict definition but has the function of changing the relation of the parts of the sentence to one another, and is therefore called a function word. It does not change its form by adding affixes and does not reflect gender, tense or person (has therefore no inflections) and is thus an uninflected word.[1]

Further definitions
Depending on its context, the meaning of the term may overlap with such notions or meanings as "morpheme", "marker", or even "adverb" (another catch-all term). Like many linguistic concepts, the precise content of the notion is very language-specific.

Other languages (other than English)
Under the strictest definition, which demands that a particle be an uninflected word, English deictics like this and that would not be classed as such (since they have plurals), and neither would Romance articles (since they are inflected for number and gender).

Different types of particles in English

Articles, infinitival, prepositional, and adverbial particles
• The definite article the (the indefinite article a or an cannot really be classed as uninflected, due to their inherently singular meaning disbarring them from plural usage)
• the infinitive to, as in to walk
• prepositions, such as over as in I went over the hill
• adverbs, such as even as in even the youngest of them; or phrasal verbs, such as put off as in we put it off too long

Interjections, sentence connectors, and conjunctions
Sentence connectors, tags or tag questions, and conjunctions connect to what has been said in a previous clause or sentence. These three types of grammatical particles (similarly to modal particles in some other languages) also reflect the speaker's mood and attitude toward what has come before in the conversation, or is likely to follow later. A particle may be defined simply as an invariable word, in that interjections are to be classed as particles[5][6]. Because of their similar functions, interjections, sentence connectors, and conjunctions should be grouped together:

More in the Wikipedia article.

From Lonsdale 1899 p.037

56. Particles. -- These are words which have little or no power to stand alone, and to represent an independent meaning. They form prefixes and affixes which serve to convert Radicals into different parts of speech, and to mark various notions and relations. These particles, most of which still contain a meaning in themselves, were, no doubt, originally independent words. Several of them such as {mya:}, {pri}, {pri:}, etc., are still so employed.
57. Burmese words are not inflexional as those of most other languages; and the various relations and meanings of a word simply expressed by affixing certain particles, (alluded to above), without in any way changing the form of the word itself. For example, in English we have man --> men ; I --> me ; break --> broken . In these examples the words are actually changed to express their different relationships and meanings. In Burmese, however, words corresponding to man, I , and break , would suffer no change whatever ; affixes only would be added as {lu --> lu-to.}, {nga --> nga.ko} ; {kyo:thζΡ --> kyo:pri}.
58. In like manner, the same notions can be expressed in Pali and Latin by changing the form of the words: -- Pali {ma.noath~tha. --> ma.noath~tha} ; {a.hδn --> mδn}.
59. All these changes or modifications are inflexions, and Pali and Latin are called inflexional languages, but Burmese, owing to the absence of such changes, is called non-inflexional. Synthetic and analytic are alternative terms used for inflexional and non-inflexional respectively.

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parts of speech or lexical categories

From LBH
The classes into which words are commonly grouped according to their form, function, and meaning: nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, conjunctions, prepositions, and interjections. See separate entries for each part of speech.

UKT: the classification of a word as a noun, pronoun, verb, etc. depends on how it is used in a particular phrase, clause, or sentence.
See •  particle.

1. One of a group of traditional classifications of words according to their functions in context, including the noun, pronoun, verb, adjective, adverb, preposition, conjunction, and interjection, and sometimes the article.
2. A word considered as a part of speech.

UKT: Compare each pair:
noun  –>  nominal
verb   –>  verbal

Excerpt from Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lexical_category 080620
Different languages may have different lexical categories, or they might associate different properties to the same one. For example, Japanese has at least three classes of adjectives where English has one; Chinese and Japanese have measure words while European languages have nothing resembling them; many languages don't have a distinction between adjectives and adverbs, or adjectives and nouns, etc. Many linguists argue that the formal distinctions between parts of speech must be made within the framework of a specific language or language family, and should not be carried over to other languages or language families. [This is a point to note for Myanmars like me who are translating Burmese into English and vice versa. -- UKT 080620]

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 n. 1. A satire or lampoon, especially one that ridicules a specific person, traditionally written and posted in a public place. v. tr. pasquinaded pasquinading pasquinades 1. To ridicule with a pasquinade; satirize or lampoon. [French from Italian pasquinata after Pasquino , nickname given to a statue in Rome, Italy, on which lampoons were posted]

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From UseE
FORMATION: 'TO BE' + Past Participle
It occurs in most aspects and tenses and changes the emphasis:

My roof was damaged by the storm.
(The storm caused the damage, but the cause is less important to me than the damage to my roof, because I will have to repair it.)

It is also called the Passive Voice

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Passive Index

From UseE 
This is a readability test designed to show how easy or difficult a text is to read. The Passive Index gives the percentage of sentences that contain passive verb forms.

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passive voice 

See • active voice • passive • voice

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past continuous

From Use
FORMATION: Past Simple of TO BE + -ING
It is used for actions and states that were unfinished at a certain time in the past.

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past participle 

See • participle • present participle

From UseE  
A. The Past Participle is used for ALL perfect forms of the verb:

1. I have taken -- Present perfect
2. I had taken -- Past perfect
3. I will have taken -- Future perfect
4. I would have taken -- Conditional perfect or the 3rd Conditional

B. The Past Participle is used in the Passive with the verb 'To Be ' in most aspects and tenses.
NOTE: The Past Participle may also be used as an adjective .

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past perfect 

See • present perfect

From UseE  
FORMATION: 'HAD' + Past Participle
For actions that happened before related past events or times.

When she arrived, all the tickets had gone.
I'd never heard of it until last week.

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past perfect continuous

From UseE
The Past Perfect Continuous is used for actions that were unfinished when another action, etc., took place.

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past perfect tense

See • tense

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past simple

See • present simple

From UseE
The Past Simple tense, also called the Simple Past, is used for past actions that happened either at a specific time, which can either be given by a time phrase (yesterday, last year, etc.) or understood from the context.
• Regular Verbs add -ed to the base form, or -d if the verbs ends with -e.
• Irregular verbs can change in many different ways.
The verb form is the same for all persons:
[E.g.]: • I liked • you liked • he/she/it liked • we liked • they liked

NOTE: After the auxiliary verb, Did/Didn't, it returns to the base form:
   Did you take it?
   She didn't like it.

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See • uniform resource locator (URL).

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patterns of development 

From LBH
Ways of thinking that can help you develop and organize ideas in essays and paragraphs.
(See pp. 26–28 and 95–104.)

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See • Past Perfect • Present Perfect • Future Perfect • Conditional Perfect

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perfect aspect

From UseE
The perfect aspect is formed with the auxiliary verb 'to have' + the past participle. It is used for finished actions that are relevant to the time referred to or ones that continue up to the time referred to:

She's worked here for donkey's years.
(this continues up to now)

I've lost my keys.
(a past action that is relevant now as I can't open the door)

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perfect tense 

See • tense.

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periodic sentence 

From LBH
A suspenseful sentence in which modifiers precede the main clause, which falls at the end:

Postponing decisions about family while striving to establish themselves in careers, many young adults are falsely accused of greed.

Contrast • cumulative sentence. (See p. 421–22.)

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From LBH
The form of a verb or pronoun that indicates whether the subject is speaking, spoken to, or spoken about. In English only personal pronouns and verbs change form to indicate difference in person.

In the first person, the subject is speaking:
   I am
[or We are] planning a party.

In the second person, the subject is being spoken to:
   Are you coming?

In the third person, the subject is being spoken about:
   She was
[or They were] going.

From UseE  
[UKT: I have rewritten the original entry from the point of view of syntax SVO (Subject-Verb-Object) -- 080612]
Person is a way of organising the pronouns used as the subject (S) of a verb (V) in a sentence. Each person can be either singular or plural:

I / we -- First person
This pronoun is used when the subject is the speaker or the group with them.

you / you -- Second person
This is used when the speaking is talking about the person or people they are speaking to. In English, you is used for both singular and plural.

he / she / it / they -- Third person
This is used when the speaker to referring to an individual or thing that is outside the conversation or communication. In the singular, we distinguish between male, female and objects, but not in the plural.

1. Any of three groups of pronoun forms with corresponding verb inflections that distinguish the speaker (first person), the individual addressed (second person), and the individual or thing spoken of (third person).
2. Any of the different forms or inflections expressing these distinctions.

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personal pronoun 

See • pronoun.

From UseE
I, you, he, she, it, we and they are the subject personal pronouns used in English. They are used to substitute the names of the people or things that perform actions. In English, we make no distinction between singular and plural forms of "you".

She took the bus last night.
[She is the subject.] She substitutes the name of the person who took the bus.

Me, you, him, her, it, us and them are the object personal pronouns used in English. They are used to substitute the names of the people or things that are affected by an action.

John took it.
[It is the object.] It substitutes the name of the thing that John took.

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See • figurative language.

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From UseE
A philologist studies language scientifically through tracing developments over time or by comparing languages or varieties of a language, etc.

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From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phones 080701

Within phonetics, a phone is:

• a speech sound or gesture considered a physical event without regard to its place in the phonology of a language
• a speech segment that possesses distinct physical or perceptual properties
• the basic unit revealed via phonetic speech analysis

Phonetic symbology is always set off within [square] brackets.

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See: phoneme in my notes.

From UseE
A phoneme is the smallest sound in a language. The English phonemes are represented in the Phonetic Alphabet.

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phonetic alphabet

From UseE 
The Phonetic Alphabet is a system of letters and symbols that are used to represent the individual sounds of a language.

phonetic alphabet n. 1. Linguistics A standardized set of symbols used in phonetic transcription. 2. Any of various systems of code words for identifying letters in voice communication.
[UKT : AHTD's entries #1 and #2 can lead you astray as they did to me at one time. For #1, look under "IPA" where it listed:]

International Phonetic Alphabet n. Abbr. IPA I.P.A. 1. A phonetic alphabet and diacritic modifiers sponsored by the International Phonetic Association to provide a uniform and universally understood system for transcribing the speech sounds of all languages.

[For #2, see Voice communication phonetic alphabet in my notes.]

Voice communication phonetic alphabet
A person spelling out an English word over the telephone or wireless uses a system of words where the first letter represents a letter of the alphabet. For example, "Able", "Baker", and "Charlie" stand for A, B, and C. Such systems are regularly used by the police and the military in English speaking countries.
- written by UKT with reference to: Phonetic Alphabets as of March 2001, http://montgomery.cas.muohio.edu/meyersde/PhoneticAlphabets.htm

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From UseE
Phonetics is the study of the sounds of spoken language.

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phrasal verb

See • particle • two-word verb

From UseE   
A phrasal verb consists of a verb and a preposition or adverb that modifies or changes the meaning; 'give up' is a phrasal verb that means 'stop doing' something, which is very different from 'give'. The word or words that modify a verb in this manner can also go under the name particle.

1. An English verb complex consisting of a verb and one or more following particles and acting as a complete syntactic and semantic unit, as look up in:

She looked up the word in the dictionary.
She looked the word up in the dictionary.

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See • absolute phrase • prepositional phrase • verbals and verbal phrases • verb phrase.

From LBH
A group of related words that lacks a subject or a predicate or both and that acts as a single part of speech.

From UseE
A phrase is a group of words that go together, but do not make a complete sentence.

1. A sequence of words intended to have meaning.
2. A characteristic way or mode of expression.
3. A brief, apt, and cogent expression.
4. A word or group of words read or spoken as a unit and separated by pauses or other junctures.
5. Two or more words in sequence that form a syntactic unit that is less than a complete sentence.

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See • creole • dialect

From UseE
A pidgin is a language that develops when groups speaking different languages have regular contact and need to communicate with one another. It usually has a restricted vocabulary and a simplified grammar.

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From LBH
The presentation of someone else's ideas or words as if they were one's own. Whether accidental or deliberate, plagiarism is a serious and often punishable offense. (See pp. 686–92.)

From UseE
The use of quotes or ideas taken from a source without crediting them is plagiarism, which is regarded as a form of cheating in universities.

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plain case 

See • case.

From LBH
Another term for the subjective case of nouns.

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plain form 

See: • dictionary form • verb forms.

From LBH
The dictionary form of a verb: [e.g.] • make • run • swivel  

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See • developing (planning).

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From LBH
The pattern of events in a work of literature. (See p. 797.)

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See • number.

From LBH
More than one.

From UseE 
The PLURAL is the form of a verb, pronoun, noun, etc., used when talking or writing about something of which there as more than one:

She arrived yesterday.
She = one person - singular

They are leaving soon.
They = more than one person - plural

Count Nouns have singular and plural forms. The regular plural form is made by the addition of an -s inflection to the end of the word:
[e.g.]: • one day / two days

Nouns ending -ch, -sh, -s, -ge, -x take -es in the plural :

a church / two churches
a smash / two smashes
a bus / two buses

[UKT: It is best to remember that in a word that ends in a syllable of CVC (consonant-verb-consonant) form, -ch, -sh, -s, -ge, -x are fricatives. Myanmars have difficulties with such sounds primarily because the end sounds in Burmese syllables are usually not pronounced. Thus, a Myanmar usually pronounce <sister> as "sic-sa-tah".]

Nouns ending - consonant + y and change the -y to -ie in the plural :
[e.g.]: • a ferry / two ferries •  a lady / two ladies

Nouns ending - vowel + y do not change the -y, forming plurals the normal way :
[e.g.] • a way / two ways •  a play / two plays
[There are] exceptions: 1. Proper Nouns- the Kennedys , 2. Compounds ending with the preposition 'by'; layby / laybys .

Nouns ending -o
Most can have either -os or -oes :
[e.g.]: • cargo –> cargoes / cargos
[UKT: I've added the singular form.]

A noun ending vowel +o or an abbreviation take only -os :
[e.g.]: • radio –> radios • studio –> studios  • kilo –> kilos • photo –> photos
[UKT: I've added the singular form.]

The following nouns take only -oes :
[e.g.]: • echo –> echoes • embargo –> embargoes   • go –> goes • hero –> heroes
• nose –> noses • potato –> potatoes • tomato –> tomatoes • torpedo –> torpedoes  • veto –> vetoes
[UKT: I've added the singular form.]

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UKT notes


From Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parataxis_(grammar) 080716

Parataxis in grammar refers to placing together sentences, clauses or phrases without conjunctions.

In terms of syntax, parataxis may resemble asyndetic coordination, and sometimes it is difficult to draw a distinction between the two.

The term was introduced into linguistics (ptx-fn01) by Friedrich Thiersch in his "Greek Grammar" in 1831. Since these times the conceptions behind the term was expanded and a number of various, often conflicting, definitions are available.

Parataxis may be considered from three different points of view:

• the psychological aspect,
• the linguistic means to express the paratactic relation,
• and the resulting sentence structure.

The underlying idea, important for understanding of the parataxis is that in a connected discourse the complete independence between the consecutive sentence rarely exists. This observation is captured in the expression "train of thought".

Consider the following four examples.

• Sun was shining bright. We went for a walk.
• Sun was shining bright; we went for a walk.
• Sun was shining bright and we went for a walk.
• Sun was shining bright, so we went for a walk.

One may conclude that in the first example the two sentences are independent expressions, while the last example is that of dependence. However the connection of thought in the first examples is just as real as in the last one, where it is explicitly expressed via the syntax of subordination. In fact, putting side by side (without any indication of a separation, e.g., of a pause) of two totally nonrelated sentences usually startles the listeners, who try to figure out whether the train of thought was lost for them. This arrangement is either an indication of a mental disorder of the narrator or of humor (similar to garden path sentence [See garden path sentence in G01.htm]).

In spoken language, this continuance from sentence to sentence is supported by intonation and timing (rhythm, pause): while details may differ among different languages and cultures, generally similar musicality and shortness of pauses indicate the continuation, while, the change of tone and longer pause generally inticates the transition to another connected group of ideas.

The continuance of the "train of thought" may be both that of coordination and subordination.

This psychological understanding is exploited in the notion of parataxis as a rhetorical device.

Wikipedia references

ptx-fn01. Edward Parmelee Morris, "On Principles and Methods in Latin Syntax" (1901), Chapter VI: "Parataxis" ptx-fn01b

Go back parataxis-note-b

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Go back particle-note-b

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From: Wikipedia http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Phoneme 080630

In human language, a phoneme is the smallest posited structural unit that distinguishes meaning. Phonemes are not the physical segments themselves, but, in theoretical terms, cognitive abstractions or categorizations of them.

An example of a phoneme is the /t/ sound in the words tip, stand, water, and cat. (In transcription, phonemes are placed between slashes, as here.) These instances of /t/ are considered to fall under the same sound category despite the fact that in each word they are pronounced somewhat differently. The difference may not even be audible to native speakers. That is, a phoneme may encompass several recognizably different speech sounds, called phones. In our example, the /t/ in tip is aspirated, [tʰ], while the /t/ in stand is not, [t]. (In transcription, speech sounds that are not phonemes are placed in brackets, as here.) In many languages, such as Korean and Spanish, these phones are different phonemes: For example, /tol/ is "stone" in Korean, whereas /tʰol/ is "grain of rice". In Spanish, there is no aspirated [tʰ], but the phone in American English writer is similar to the Spanish r /ɾ/ and contrasts with Spanish /t/.

UKT: In Burmese-Myanmar and Indic languages, plosives (aka stops) such as [t] and [tʰ] are clearly distinguishable because of different places of articulation (POA) in the production of sound. They are represented by different graphemes, e.g.:
• IPA [t] -- {ta.} (Burmese-Myanmar) -- त (Hindi-Devanagari)
• IPA [tʰ] -- {hta.} -- Burmese-Myanmar -- थ (Hindi-Devanagari)

Phones that belong to the same phoneme, such as [t] and [tʰ] for English /t/, are called allophones. A common test to determine whether two phones are allophones or separate phonemes relies on finding minimal pairs: words that differ by only the phones in question. For example, the words tip and dip illustrate that [t] and [d] are separate phonemes, /t/ and /d/, in English, whereas the lack of such a contrast in Korean (/tʰata/ is pronounced [tʰada], for example) indicates that in this language they are allophones of a phoneme /t/.

In sign languages, the basic elements of gesture and location were formerly called cheremes (or cheiremes), but general usage changed to phoneme. Tonic phonemes are sometimes called tonemes, and timing phonemes chronemes.

Some linguists (such as Roman Jakobson) consider phonemes to be further decomposable into features, such features being the true minimal constituents of language. Features overlap each other in time, as do suprasegmental phonemes in oral language and many phonemes in sign languages.

Background and related ideas
In ancient India, the Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini (c. 520–460 BC) [UKT: in akshara: पाणिनि (Devanagari) {pa-Ni.ni.}} (Myanmar)], in his text of Sanskrit grammar, the Shiva Sutras, originated the concepts of the phoneme, the morpheme and the root. The Shiva Sutras, traditionally prefaced to the Aṣṭādhyāyī  [UKT: in akshara: अष्टाध्यायी (Devanagari)], presents a system of phonemic notation in fourteen terse aphorisms. This notational system introduces different clusters of phonemes that serve special roles in the morphology of Sanskrit, and are referred to throughout the text.

Around the 1st century CE, the definitions of phoneme (oliyam) and alphabet (ezuththu) were discussed in the Tolkāppiyam concerning the Tamil language.

The term phonθme was reportedly first used by Dufriche-Desgenettes in 1873, but it referred to only a sound of speech. The term phoneme as an abstraction was developed by the Polish linguist Jan Niecisław Baudouin de Courtenay and his student Mikołaj Kruszewski during 1875-1895. The term used by these two was fonema, the basic unit of what they called psychophonetics. The concept of the phoneme was elaborated in the works of Nikolai Trubetzkoi and other of the Prague School (during the years 1926-1935), as well as in that of structuralists like Ferdinand de Saussure, Edward Sapir, and Leonard Bloomfield. Later, it was also used in generative linguistics, most famously by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle, and remains central to many accounts of the development of modern of phonology. As a theoretical concept or model, though, it has been supplemented and even replaced by others.

Some languages make use of pitch for phonemic distinction. In this case, the tones used are called tonemes. Some languages distinguish words made up of the same phonemes (and tonemes) by using different durations of some elements, which are called chronemes. However, not all scholars working on languages with distinctive duration use this term.

Usually, long vowels and consonants are represented either by a length indicator or doubling of the symbol in question.

In sign languages, phonemes may be classified as Tab (elements of location, from Latin tabula), Dez (the hand shape, from designator), Sig (the motion, from signation), and with some researchers, Ori (orientation). Facial expressions and mouthing are also phonemic.

A transcription that only indicates the different phonemes of a language is said to be phonemic. Such transcriptions are enclosed within virgules (slashes), / /; these show that each enclosed symbol is claimed to be phonemically meaningful. On the other hand, a transcription that indicates finer detail, including allophonic variation like the two English L's, is said to be phonetic, and is enclosed in square brackets, [ ].

The common notation used in linguistics employs virgules (slashes) (/ /) around the symbol that stands for the phoneme. For example, the phoneme for the initial consonant sound in the word "phoneme" would be written as /f/. In other words, the graphemes are <ph>, but this digraph represents one sound /f/. Allophones, more phonetically specific descriptions of how a given phoneme might be commonly instantiated, are often denoted in linguistics by the use of diacritical or other marks added to the phoneme symbols and then placed in square brackets ([ ]) to differentiate them from the phoneme in slant brackets (/ /). The conventions of orthography are then kept separate from both phonemes and allophones by the use of angle brackets < > to enclose the spelling.

The symbols of the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) and extended sets adapted to a particular language are often used by linguists to write phonemes of oral languages, with the principle being one symbol equals one categorical sound. Due to problems displaying some symbols in the early days of the Internet, systems such as X-SAMPA and Kirshenbaum were developed to represent IPA symbols in plain text. As of 2004, any modern web browser can display IPA symbols (as long as the operating system provides the appropriate fonts), and we use this system in this article.

There are 2 published set of phonemic symbols for sign language: SignWriting and Stokoe notation. SignWriting is capable of writing any sign language and is currently used in over 38 countries. People in these countries use SignWriting on a daily basis as a natural writing system for education and recreation. Stokoe notation is used for linguistic research and was originally developed for American Sign Language. Stokoe notation has since been applied to British Sign Language by Kyle and Woll, and to Australian Aboriginal sign languages by Adam Kendon.

Examples of phonemes in the English language would include sounds from the set of English consonants, like /p/ and /b/. These two are most often written consistently with one letter for each sound. However, phonemes might not be so apparent in written English, such as when they are typically represented with combined letters, called digraphs, like <sh> (pronounced /ʃ/) or <ch> (pronounced /tʃ/).

UKT: In comparing English-Latin and Burmese-Myanmar, <ng> in <sing> can be considered to be a digraph. In IPA, <ng> is represented by /ŋ/ and is described as a velar-stop (aka plosive) on account of the POA at which this consonantal sound is produced. In Burmese-Myanmar it is represented by {nga.}, and in Hindi-Devanagari by ङ . Similarly <th> in <thin> is a digraph which was represented by Old English <ώ> 'thorn'. In Burmese-Myanmar it is represented by {tha.}.

To see a list of the phonemes in the English language, see IPA for English.

Two sounds that may be allophones (sound variants belonging to the same phoneme) in one language may belong to separate phonemes in another language or dialect. In English, for example, /p/ has aspirated and non-aspirated allophones:aspirated as in /pɪn/, and non-aspirated as in /spɪn/. However, in many languages (e. g. Chinese), aspirated /pʰ/ is a phoneme distinct from unaspirated /p/. As another example, there is no distinction between [r] and [l] in Japanese; there is only one /r/ phoneme, though it has various allophones that can sound more like [l], [ɾ], or [r] to English speakers. The sounds [z] and [s] are distinct phonemes in English, but allophones in Spanish. The sounds [n] (as in run) and [ŋ] (as in rung) are phonemes in English, but allophones in Italian and Spanish.

An important phoneme is the chroneme, a phonemically-relevant extension of the duration a consonant or vowel. Some languages or dialects such as Finnish or Japanese allow chronemes after both consonants and vowels. Others, like Italian or Australian English use it after only one (in the case of Italian, consonants; in the case of Australian, vowels).

Restricted phonemes
A restricted phoneme is a phoneme that can only occur in a certain environment: There are restrictions as to where it can occur. English has several restricted phonemes:

• /ŋ/, as in sing, occurs only at the end of a syllable, never at the beginning (in many other languages, such as Swahili or Thai, /ŋ/ can appear word-initially). [There are many words in Burmese-Myanmar that begins with /ŋ/, e.g. {nga:} (IPA /ŋaː/) meaning <fish>.]
• /h/ occurs only before vowels and at the beginning of a syllable, never at the end (a few languages, such as Arabic, or Romanian allow /h/ syllable-finally).
• In many American dialects with the cot-caught merger, /ɔ/ occurs only before /r/, /l/, and in the diphthong /ɔɪ/.
• In non-rhotic dialects, /r/ can only occur before a vowel, never at the end of a word or before a consonant.
• Under most interpretations, /w/ and /j/ occur only before a vowel, never at the end of a syllable. However, many phonologists interpret a word like boy as either /bɔɪ/ or /bɔj/.

Biuniqueness is a criterial definition of the phoneme in classic structuralist phonemics. The biuniqueness definition states that every phonetic allophone must unambiguously be assigned to one and only one phoneme. In other words, there is a one-to-one allophone-to-phoneme mapping instead of a one-to-many mapping.

The notion of biuniqueness was controversial among some pre-generative linguists and was prominently challenged by Morris Halle and Noam Chomsky in the late 1950s and early 1960s.

Neutralization, archiphoneme, underspecification
Phonemes that are contrastive in certain environments may not be contrastive in all environments. In the environments where they don't contrast, the contrast is said to be neutralized.

In English there are three nasal phonemes, /m, n, ŋ/, as shown by the minimal triplet,

/sʌm/ <sum> ; /sʌn/ <sun> ; /sʌŋ/ <sung>

UKT: These 3 nasal phonemes should be compared to Burmese-Myanmar five {ma. na. Na. ρa. nga.} all clearly distinguished by their different POAs: bilabial, dental-alveolar, retroflex, palatal, and velar, respectively.

{sϋm:} ; {sϋn:} ; ... ; {siρ:} ; {sing:}
Notice the change in vowel sounds. The non-Burmese-speaker is advised to get a Myanmar-born ethnic Burmese to pronounce the Burmese-Myanmar words. The non-Burmese-speaker should also note that the English-speakers pronounce <s> as the Burmese-Myanmar {hsa.} (IPA [sʰ]) and not as {sa.} (IPA [s]). He should further ask the Burmese-speaker to pronounce the following:

{hsϋm:} ; {hsϋn:} ; ... ; ... ; {hsing:}

However, with rare exceptions, these sounds are not contrastive before plosives such as /p, t, k/ within the same morpheme. Although all three phones appear before plosives, for example in limp  /lɪmp/, lint / lɪnt/, link  /lɪŋk/, (UKT: IPA transcriptions from DJPD16) only one of these may appear before each of the plosives. That is, the /m, n, ŋ/ distinction is neutralized before each of the plosives /p, t, k/:

• Only /m/ occurs before /p/,
• only /n/ before /t/, and
• only /ŋ/ before /k/.

UKT: Why the above restriction applies should be considered from the respective POAs: /p/ and /m/ are bilabial; /t/ and /n/ are dental-alveolar: /k/ and /ŋ/ are velar. A POA missing in English is the palatal. I am attributing this to the notion that English does not palatal /c/. However, in English words such as <success> /sək'ses/, the first <c> can be considered to be palatal /c/ instead of velar /k/. It should be noted that this position of mine has been challenged on the internet forum -- http://www.antimoon.com/forum/t9649.htm . (latest date of access: 080701)

Thus these phonemes are not contrastive in these environments, and according to some theorists, there is no evidence as to what the underlying representation might be. If we hypothesize that we are dealing with only a single underlying nasal, there is no reason to pick one of the three phonemes /m, n, ŋ/ over the other two.

(In some languages there is only one phonemic nasal anywhere, and due to obligatory assimilation, it surfaces as [m, n, ŋ] in just these environments, so this idea is not as far-fetched as it might seem at first glance.)

In certain schools of phonology, such a neutralized distinction is known as an archiphoneme (Nikolai Trubetzkoy of the Prague school is often associated with this analysis). Archiphonemes are often notated with a capital letter. Following this convention, the neutralization of /m, n, ŋ/ before /p, t, k/ could be notated as |N|, and limp, lint, link would be represented as |lɪNp, lɪNt, lɪNk|. (The |pipes| indicate underlying representation.) Other ways this archiphoneme could be notated are |m-n-ŋ|, {m, n, ŋ}, or |n*|.

Another example from American English is the neutralization of the plosives /t, d/ following a stressed syllable. Phonetically, both are realized in this position as [ɾ], a voiced alveolar flap. This can be heard by comparing writer with rider (for the sake of simplicity, Canadian raising is not taken into account).

[ɻaɪˀt] write
[ɻaɪd] ride

with the suffix -er:

[ˈɻaɪɾɚ] writer
[ˈɻaɪɾɚ] rider

Thus, one cannot say whether the underlying representation of the intervocalic consonant in either word is /t/ or /d/ without looking at the unsuffixed form. This neutralization can be represented as an archiphoneme |D|, in which case the underlying representation of writer or rider would be | 'ɻaɪDɚ|.

Another way to talk about archiphonemes involves the concept of underspecification: phonemes can be considered fully specified segments while archiphonemes are underspecified segments. In Tuvan [language], phonemic vowels are specified with the features of tongue height, backness, and lip rounding. The archiphoneme |U| is an underspecified high vowel where only the tongue height is specified.

height backness roundedness
/i/ high front unrounded
/ɯ/ high back unrounded
/u/ high back rounded
|U| high

Whether |U| is pronounced as front or back and whether rounded or unrounded depends on vowel harmony. If |U| occurs following a front unrounded vowel, it will be pronounced as the phoneme /i/; if following a back unrounded vowel, it will be as an /ɯ/; and if following a back rounded vowel, it will be an /u/. This can been seen in the following words:

-|Um|     'my' (the vowel of this suffix is underspecified)
|idikUm| [idikim] 'my boot' (/i/ is front & unrounded)
|xarUm| [xarɯm] 'my snow' (/a/ is back & unrounded)
|nomUm| [nomum] 'my book' (/o/ is back & rounded)

Not all phonologists accept the concept of archiphonemes. Many doubt that it reflects how people process language or control speech, and some argue that archiphonemes add unnecessary complexity.

Phonological extremes
Of all the sounds that a human vocal tract can create, different languages vary considerably in the number of these sounds that are considered to be distinctive phonemes in the speech of that language. Ubyx and Arrernte [languages] have only two phonemic vowels, while at the other extreme, the Bantu language Ngwe has fourteen vowel qualities, twelve of which may occur long or short, for twenty-six oral vowels, plus six nasalized vowels, long and short, for thirty-eight vowels; while !Xσυ [language] achieves thirty-one pure vowels — not counting vowel length, which it also has — by varying the phonation. Rotokas [language] has only six consonants, while !Xσυ has somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy-seven, and Ubyx eighty-one. French has no phonemic tone or stress, while several of the Kam-Sui languages have nine tones, and one of the Kru languages, Wobe, has been claimed to have fourteen, though this is disputed. The total phonemic inventory in languages varies from as few as eleven in Rotokas to as many as 112 in !Xσυ (including four tones). These may range from familiar sounds like [t], [s], or [m] to very unusual ones produced in extraordinary ways (see: Click consonant, phonation, airstream mechanism). The English language itself uses a rather large set of thirteen to twenty-two vowels, including diphthongs, though its twenty-two to twenty-six consonants are close to average. (There are twenty-one consonant and five vowel letters in the English alphabet, but this does not correspond to the number of consonant and vowel sounds.)

UKT: The above remark "The English language itself uses a rather large set of thirteen to twenty-two vowels, including diphthongs ..." should be noted by the Burmese speaker. In the English-Latin alphabet, these vowels are represented by only FIVE graphemes: <a, e. i, o, u>. Before I got myself entangled in linguistics and phonetics, I used to say that the English language has only five vowels whereas the Burmese has 12. And the my American friends (in the 1950s) had remarked that surely Burmese is more complicated than English!

The most common vowel system consists of the five vowels /i/, /e/, /a/, /o/, /u/. The most common consonants are /p/, /t/, /k/, /m/, /n/. Very few languages lack one of these: Arabic lacks /p/, standard Hawaiian lacks /t/, Mohawk and Tlingit [languages] lack /p/ and /m/, Hupa [language] lacks both /p/ and a simple /k/, colloquial Samoan [language] lacks /t/ and /n/, while Rotokas and Quileute [languages] lack /m/ and /n/. While most of languages missing sounds have very small inventories, Arabic, Quileute, and Hupa have quite complex consonant systems.

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