The aim of this experiment is to prove the phonemic nature of the phenomenon called ‘aspiration’ in Bangla, which is a distinctive feature when compared to English, where aspiration is allophonic. Dr. Binoy Barman had written an article on “Distinctiveness of Aspiration in Bangla,” [http://dspace.library.daffodilvarsity.edu.bd:8080/] where he had listed 11 minimal pairs but hadn’t proved the distinctiveness through phonetic instrumentation (spectrographic analysis) or by giving the phonetic correlates of the same. Therefore I have taken this up to prove the same by giving the phonetic correlates through instrumental phonetics and laboratory phonetics. By comparing the minimal pairs in Bangla, depending upon the place of articulation, position of the unaspirated/aspirated segments, length and duration of the preceding/following segments (vowels, nasals or other consonants), etc, I wish to prove that there are differences between aspirated & unaspirated segments. On the basis of these differences, I will try to prove that these differences lead to the different measurements in the length, duration of unaspirated/aspirated sounds; their preceding & following sounds, vowel length & formant types, and therefore they are distinct phonemes in Bangla. As we know, in a minimal pair, in the same environment (parallel distribution), substitution of one sound with the other if creates difference in meaning, then those 2 sounds are phonemes. Similarly, I will try to prove with examples & analysis that in a minimal pair, in the same environment the differences between an aspirated & unaspirated sound (in terms of their individual length, duration & length-duration of their preceding & following sounds) makes a contrastive distribution between the two, thereby rendering them as two distinct phonemes.
Aspiration, Distinctiveness, Minimal Pair, Phonemes, Spectrogram.