Free variation is the interchangeable relationship between two phones, in which the phones may substitute for one another in the same environment without causing a change in meaning.
Free variation may occur between allophones or phonemes.
In utterance-final position, there is free variation between unreleased and aspirated plosives, as demonstrated below:
In the word ‘data’, there is free variation between the phonemes /eJ/ and /Q/, as demonstrated below:
This page is an extract from the
LinguaLinks Library, Version 5.0
published on CD-ROM by
SIL International, 2003.
Page content last modified: 5 January 2004
© 2004 SIL International