I've had 2 phonemic-related questions rattling around my head for awhile now. Take the words "prince" and "prints." Let's see if I can verbalize my question in a way that makes sense. To me, those two words are homophones, because in the word "prince," there's a transition between the voiced-nasal consonant /n/ and the non-voiced consonant /s/, which resembles a /t/. I suppose this is simply just an example of co-articulation. I guess my question is, how does one tell what is phonemic and what is allophonic in the context. Would you phonemically transcribe "prince" as /prIns/ and "prints" as /prInts/? How can one tell if the /t/ is phonemically there?
Onto my 2nd question, my wife and I were talking the other day and she pluralized breakfast as "breakfases." She pluralized the word as if the /t/ wasn't at the end of the word at all. Does this mean that /t/ is not phonemically significant? Has anyone else heard people pluralize breakfast in this manner, especially in careless, tired-as-heck speech?
Man I hope I made sense. I'm on Ambien right now and the risk of me not being clear is rather high :).