This article looks at what is referred to as the tense/lax contrast in English and proposes that members of the two sets of vowel have the same basic structure but differ in how part of that structure is made use of by its neighbours. The proposal forms part of a general theory of the representation of vowel height within the framework of Government Phonology 2.0.
This article argues that vowel reduction can be insightfully understood by reinterpreting openness as structural instead of melodic (i.e., mediated by an element). This allows for a unified account of various reduction phenomena in different languages and also extends to lenition in consonants. The proposal made here is couched within Government Phonology 2.0, a further development of Government Phonology.