Minimal pairs

Joel S. Berson Berson at ATT.NET
Fri Oct 17 19:43:20 UTC 2008

At 10/17/2008 01:46 PM, Laurence Horn wrote:
>>"small-business woman" and "small business-woman".
>>(I do actually intend to say the former in conversation today.)
>One difference is that the members of your pair are often pronounced
>(e.g. by me) the same, while the classic one is distinguished
>suprasegmentally.  So that would make yours a minimal pair in its
>morphology and semantics, but not phonologically.

If I pronounce them differently, then there's a phoneme there (as
long as someone else also thinks they're different when he hears
me).  For me -- provided I've thought about the distinction --  it's
"pause", the same as in light house keeper.  (If I say either -- the
small or the light -- too quickly, the pause disappears and so does
the distinction.)

Just because your speech and hearing are lacking, don't deny its
existence.  And you can't snow me with "suprasegmentally" -- I only
took one semester of linguistics, and don't care.


P.S.  I did look it up, and it's what I'm talking about.

The American Dialect Society -

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