Ad astra per alia porci (paulistano) wrote in linguaphiles,
Ad astra per alia porci
paulistano
linguaphiles

Phonemes

Some background before I ask my question: my wife is deaf and uses a phonemic system called Cued Speech (or Cued Language depending on the context) for communication. It's a pretty neat system, where, using certain handshapes and placement, you "cue" the phonemes of the words you're saying. That said, of course I'm always curious phonemes and phonemic phenomena.

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 :).
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