What is phonotactic ? How can we describe this term briefly and clearly ?

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

Phonology describes a branch of the study of linguistics, focusing specifically on the organization of the system of sounds in spoken language. Within the study of phonology, there is a more specific branch called phonotactics. Phonotactics specifically deals with the guidelines and restrictions in an individual language with regard to...

Unlock
This Answer Now

Start your 48-hour free trial to unlock this answer and thousands more. Enjoy eNotes ad-free and cancel anytime.

Start your 48-Hour Free Trial

Phonology describes a branch of the study of linguistics, focusing specifically on the organization of the system of sounds in spoken language. Within the study of phonology, there is a more specific branch called phonotactics. Phonotactics specifically deals with the guidelines and restrictions in an individual language with regard to the combination of phonemes. Phonemes are distinguishable units of sound.

The phonotactics of a language define the allowable syllable structure, consonant clusters, and vowel sequences. Languages can have very similar or extremely different phonotactics. For example, the consonant cluster “st” is very common in the English language and has a specific sound associated with it. However, in Japanese, the consonant cluster “st” does not appear.

An example of phonotactics in English includes the restriction against geminate consonants. This rule means that the length of time associated with the articulation of a consonant must be aligned with the length of time associated with the articulation of the same type of consonant. This helps new speakers of the language understand the necessary speaking meter.

This study is important because it provides an almost mathematical understanding of each language. This study has also been helpful in understanding ancient and medieval languages and how they have influenced modern languages.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team