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Free variation in linguistics is the phenomenon of two (or more) sounds or forms appearing in the same environment without a change in meaning and without being considered incorrect by native speakers.[1][2]

Contents

EffectsEdit

When phonemes are in free variation, speakers are sometimes strongly aware of the fact (especially if such variation is noticeable only across a dialectal or sociolectal divide), and will note, for example, that tomato is pronounced differently in British and American English (/təˈmɑːt/ and /təˈmt/ respectively),[3] or that either has two pronunciations that are distributed fairly randomly. However, only a very small proportion of English words show such variations. In the case of allophones, however, free variation is exceedingly common and, along with differing intonation patterns, variation in allophony is the most important single feature in the characterization of regional accents.[1]

English's deep orthography and the language's wide variety of accents often cause confusion, even for native speakers, on how written words should be pronounced. That allows for a significant degree of free variation to occur in English.[4]

English examplesEdit

See alsoEdit

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Clark, John Ellery; Yallop, Colin; Fletcher, Janet (2007). Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology. Oxford: Blackwell. pp. 110, 116–18. ISBN 1-4051-3083-0.
  2. ^ SIL International, 2004-01-05. What is free variation?. Retrieved 2011-01-26.
  3. ^ "Free Variation in Phonetics: You Say 'Tomato,' I Say 'Tomahto'". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
  4. ^ Ben (2011-10-29). "When Free Variation Isn't So Free". Dialect Blog. Retrieved 2017-08-07.
  5. ^ "Free Variation in Phonetics: You Say 'Tomato,' I Say 'Tomahto'". ThoughtCo. Retrieved 2017-08-06.
  6. ^ "What Is Free Variation? (with picture)". wiseGEEK. Retrieved 2017-08-06.