LINGUISTICS & CULTURE
|Data:||05/ABR/2007 10:13 PM|
there is no relevant difference between the two sounds.
These sounds are within a continuum (being /i/ a vowel and /j/ a palatal approximant) but just because they are so close it doesn't mean that the difference is irrelevant, if it was,one would pronounce ear and year the same way, the distinction would be orthographic only, the former has this approximant segment before the /i:/ segment.
About perceiving things, I think only an experient phonetician or phonologist would spot (more) precisely whether there is a difference or not, for example, the region I live in Brazil has two different approximant sounds for the grapheme <r> in coda position, one alveolar and the other retroflex and only people who live round here notice this difference
the others fail to make the distinction.
On the other hand, I've never heard that the distinction would only be a matter of convention, I thought only after a vowel we would have a conventional choice between an approximant or a non-syllabic vowel, anyway I'll search more on the matter and by no means those lines are my last words on the matter.
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