Phonological Alternations


Phonological alternations are changes in pronunciation which occur to segments as a result of a differing phonological environment. These changes can occur when morphemes are combined, for example, which results in a new pronunciation (Zsiga, 2013, p. 223). Alternations ensure that the sequence of sounds follows the phonotactic constraints and rules of a language.



Phonological alternations can also occur as a result of autosegmental features, which is discussed by Dyck (2004, p. 39). In this case, the vowels in the word for ‘racoon’ are reduced to a schwa as a result of the syllable stress patterns.

Secwepemctsin: Gibson (1973) provides accounts of multiple alternations which occur in different phonological environments, as is demonstrated in the following example.

This example provides evidence for an alternation that occurs to the phoneme [g] in a syllable-final position (p. 19). It can be seen that the [g] is lost during pronunciation as a result of its position in a syllable (i.e., its phonological environment).