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Social Sci LibreTexts

4.4: Natural Classes

  • Page ID
    9654
  • It’s possible to describe an individual speech segment in terms of its phonetic features. It’s also possible to group sounds that share features into natural classes. Natural classes of sounds tend to behave similarly because they have features in common. We can distinguish obstruents, sonorants, glides, and vowels using the major class features, and distinguish in more detail within these major classes using features for place and manner of articulation.
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    Check Yourself

    1. In the set of segments listed below, which segment must be excluded to make the remaining segments constitute a natural class?

    • [i]
    • [e]
    • [æ]
    • [o]
    • [u]

    2. In the following set of segments, which segment must be excluded to make the remaining segments constitute a natural class?

    • [p].
    • [f].
    • [t].
    • [k]

    3. This set of segments constitutes a natural class: [i ɛ æ]. Which segment could you add to the set while still preserving the natural class?

    • [ɪ].
    • [ɔ].
    • [ə].
    Answers