Paul Baptist (kaji_sensei) wrote in linguaphiles,
Paul Baptist
kaji_sensei
linguaphiles

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Phonology question

Is there a term for phonemes that are allophones in some cases, and distinct phonemes in others? Using Japanese as an example, /b/ and /v/ are strict allophones, however /f/ is distinct from /h/, and yet it blends sometimes (e.g. coffee = koohii), and I've heard one or two cases where someone singing in Japanese seems to have changed an h into an f. Maybe I just wasn't paying close enough attention, perhaps.

Even if my example is somewhat bad though, is there a name for this phenomenon, or would they be technically considered distinct phonemes since there are times where they create semantic differences?
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