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Sonorants and obstruents and the features ±voice and ±cont

This section argues that the features ±voice and ±cont are not distinctive within the class of sonorants, but only in the class of obstruents.


Within the class of the sonorants, neither the feature ±voice nor ±cont is distinctive. All sonorants are +voice. The nasals are -cont. The liquid (rhotic) /r/ is +cont. The ±cont status of the liquid (lateral) /l/ is unclear (see the liquids; but this feature is never distinctive with respect to the one lateral consonant there is. The upshot of this is that ±voice and ±cont are only distinctive within the class of the obstruents.