Phonotactics

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Phonotactics (in Greek phone = voice and tactic = course) is a branch of phonology that deals with restrictions in a language on the permissible combinations of phonemes. Phonotactics define permissible syllable structure, consonant clusters, and vowel sequences.

For example, in Japanese, consonant clusters like are not allowed, although they are in English. Similarly, the sounds and are not permitted at the beginning of a word in English but are in German and Dutch.

Syllables have the following internal segmental structure:

Both onset and coda may be empty (a vowel-only syllable).

The English syllable (and word) twelfths is divided into the onset , the nucleus , and the coda , and it can thus be described as CCVCCCC (C = consonant, V = vowel). On this basis it is possible to form rules of which representations of phoneme classes may fill the cluster. For instance, English allows at most three consonants in an onset, but phonemes in such an onset are strictly limited as follows:

+ voiceless plosive () + approximant ()

In general, the rules of phonotactics operate around the sonority hierarchy, stipulating that the nucleus has maximal sonority and that sonority decreases as you move away from the nucleus. The voiceless alveolar fricative is lower on the sonority hierarchy than the alveolar lateral approximant , so the combination is permitted in onsets and is permitted in codas, but is not allowed in onsets and is not allowed in codas. Hence slips and pulse are possible English words while *lsips and *pusl are not. There are of course exceptions to this rule, but in general it holds for the phonotactics of most languages.de:Phonotaktik

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