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date: 22 September 2020

Abstract and Keywords

Historical linguists often turn to phonological representations to model or explain sound change. This article provides an abridged history of theorizing about the phonological feature starting in the 1800s, through the Prague, Geneva, and Moscow linguistic circles, through Chomsky and Halle (1968), to contemporary approaches. The article explicates the Avery and Idsardi (2001) model and combines it with proposals on acquisition and contrast from Dresher (2009) to provide an updated analysis of the distribution of English vowel qualities. Vowels changes are traced from Indo-European to the American English vowel system through the addition and deletion of contrastive distinctive features.

Keywords: distinctive features, contrast, modularity, phonological representations, vowel change, phoneme, phonetics

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