Definition - A member of a set of different phones that a language's speakers treat as the same phoneme.

For example, in English the unaspirated [p] in spin and the aspirated [pH] in pin are allophones of the phoneme /p/.

Etymology -
The word was coined by Benjamin Whorf by combining the Greek allo, other or different + phone, sound or voice,

Oxford English Dictionary -
Its first citation is from 1938:
"Allophones or positional variants."
(B. L. Whorf Language, Thought, & Reality (1956), 126)


1. Useful addition perhaps: phones are entities that bear no relation to meaning (i.e. they can be heard, distinguished, and even transcribed, although they might not be a sound in your language). Allophones, however, are phones that are "tied" to a phoneme in a given language.
(Jack Ognistoff)

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