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The broad phonological characteristics of languages

asked 2015-07-14 06:28:58 -0400

Hi there,

I have a feeling that there is term for the characteristic prosody and phonology of a language - that which makes Hebrew 'Hebrew-y" or French "French-y". Capturing this would enable you to produce a concatenation of syllables with an intonation pattern such that it sounds very much like French but is meaningless.

This film represents an example with English

My recollection is that it's something like "global language environment" or "linguistic habitat" but I could be completely wrong.

Can anyone suggest any contenders?

Very many thanks


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answered 2015-08-05 19:50:10 -0400

wtsano gravatar image

As far as Phonology is concerned, I believe the term you are looking for is 'phonotactics', which refers to the study of how the phonemes of a given language can be arranged.

For instance, the word 'strengths' /strɛŋgθs/ contains two consonant clusters, /str/ and /ŋkθs/, but they are not interchangeable (regardless of whether its meaning is affected), meaning /ŋkθsɛstr/ —or anything starting with /ŋkθs/ or ending with /str/, for that matter— is not an acceptable word.

Other constraints such as sonority scale (which types of consonant may come before/after each other) will also play a role in determining the sequence of phonemes in a cluster.

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Asked: 2015-07-14 06:28:58 -0400

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Last updated: Jul 14 '15