Phonology
Overview
 
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 to encode meaning in any spoken human language
Human language
A human language is a language primarily intended for communication among humans. The two major categories of human languages are natural languages and constructed languages...

, or the field of linguistics studying this use. In more narrow terms, "phonology proper is concerned with the function, behaviour and organization of sounds as linguistic items". Just as a language has syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 and vocabulary
Vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

, it also has a phonology in the sense of a sound system.
Encyclopedia
Phonology is, broadly speaking, the subdiscipline of linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 concerned with the sounds of language. That is, it is the systematic use of sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 to encode meaning in any spoken human language
Human language
A human language is a language primarily intended for communication among humans. The two major categories of human languages are natural languages and constructed languages...

, or the field of linguistics studying this use. In more narrow terms, "phonology proper is concerned with the function, behaviour and organization of sounds as linguistic items". Just as a language has syntax
Syntax
In linguistics, syntax is the study of the principles and rules for constructing phrases and sentences in natural languages....

 and vocabulary
Vocabulary
A person's vocabulary is the set of words within a language that are familiar to that person. A vocabulary usually develops with age, and serves as a useful and fundamental tool for communication and acquiring knowledge...

, it also has a phonology in the sense of a sound system. When describing the formal area of study, the term typically describes linguistic analysis either beneath the word (e.g., syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

, onset and rhyme
Syllable rime
In the study of phonology in linguistics, the rime or rhyme of a syllable consists of a nucleus and an optional coda. It is the part of the syllable used in poetic rhyme, and the part that is lengthened or stressed when a person elongates or stresses a word in speech.The rime is usually the...

, phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

, articulatory gestures
Articulatory gestures
Articulatory gestures are the actions necessary to enunciate language. Examples of articulatory gestures are the hand movements necessary to enunciate sign language and the mouth movements of speech...

, articulatory feature, mora
Mora (linguistics)
Mora is a unit in phonology that determines syllable weight, which in some languages determines stress or timing. As with many technical linguistic terms, the definition of a mora varies. Perhaps the most succinct working definition was provided by the American linguist James D...

, etc.) or to units at all levels of language that are thought to structure sound for conveying linguistic meaning
Linguistic meaning
The nature of meaning, its definition, elements, and types, was discussed by philosophers Aristotle, Augustine, and Aquinas. According to them 'meaning is a relationship between two sorts of things: signs and the kinds of things they mean '. One term in the relationship of meaning necessarily...

.

Phonology is viewed as the subfield of linguistics
Linguistics
Linguistics is the scientific study of human language. Linguistics can be broadly broken into three categories or subfields of study: language form, language meaning, and language in context....

 that deals with the sound
Sound
Sound is a mechanical wave that is an oscillation of pressure transmitted through a solid, liquid, or gas, composed of frequencies within the range of hearing and of a level sufficiently strong to be heard, or the sensation stimulated in organs of hearing by such vibrations.-Propagation of...

 systems of language
Language
Language may refer either to the specifically human capacity for acquiring and using complex systems of communication, or to a specific instance of such a system of complex communication...

s. It should be carefully distinguished from phonetics
Phonetics
Phonetics is a branch of linguistics that comprises the study of the sounds of human speech, or—in the case of sign languages—the equivalent aspects of sign. It is concerned with the physical properties of speech sounds or signs : their physiological production, acoustic properties, auditory...

. Whereas phonetics concerns the physical production, acoustic transmission and perception
Perception
Perception is the process of attaining awareness or understanding of the environment by organizing and interpreting sensory information. All perception involves signals in the nervous system, which in turn result from physical stimulation of the sense organs...

 of the sounds of speech, phonology describes the way sounds function within a given language or across languages to encode meaning. In other words, phonetics is a type of descriptive linguistics
Descriptive linguistics
In the study of language, description, or descriptive linguistics, is the work of objectively analyzing and describing how language is spoken by a group of people in a speech community...

, whereas phonology is a type of theoretical linguistics
Theoretical linguistics
Theoretical linguistics is the branch of linguistics that is most concerned with developing models of linguistic knowledge. The fields that are generally considered the core of theoretical linguistics are syntax, phonology, morphology, and semantics...

. Note that this distinction was not always made in linguistics, particularly before the development of the modern concept of phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

 in the mid 20th century. Some subfields of modern phonology have a crossover with phonetics in the interface with descriptive disciplines such as psycholinguistics
Psycholinguistics
Psycholinguistics or psychology of language is the study of the psychological and neurobiological factors that enable humans to acquire, use, comprehend and produce language. Initial forays into psycholinguistics were largely philosophical ventures, due mainly to a lack of cohesive data on how the...

 and speech perception
Speech perception
Speech perception is the process by which the sounds of language are heard, interpreted and understood. The study of speech perception is closely linked to the fields of phonetics and phonology in linguistics and cognitive psychology and perception in psychology...

, resulting in specific areas like articulatory phonology
Articulatory phonology
Articulatory phonology is a linguistic theory originally proposed in 1986 by Catherine Browman of Haskins Laboratories and Louis M. Goldstein of Yale University and Haskins...

 or laboratory phonology
Laboratory phonology
Laboratory phonology is an approach to phonology that de-emphasizes the role of phonological theory, and instead emphasizes the importance of careful laboratory studies of human speech...

.

Overview

An important part of traditional forms of phonology has been studying which sounds can be grouped into distinctive units within a language; these units are known as phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s. For example, in English, the [p] sound in pot is aspirated
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

 , while the word- and syllable-final [p] in soup is not aspirated (indeed, it might be realized as a glottal stop). However, English speakers intuitively treat both sounds as variations (allophone
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

s) of the same phonological category, that is, of the phoneme /p/. Traditionally, it would be argued that if a word-initial aspirated [p] were interchanged with the word-final unaspirated [p] in soup, they would still be perceived by native speakers of English as "the same" /p/. However,there are languages where aspiration and non-aspiration distinguish words. Although some sort of "sameness" of these two sounds holds in English, it is not universal and may be absent in other languages. For example, in Thai
Thai language
Thai , also known as Central Thai and Siamese, is the national and official language of Thailand and the native language of the Thai people, Thailand's dominant ethnic group. Thai is a member of the Tai group of the Tai–Kadai language family. Historical linguists have been unable to definitively...

, Hindi
Hindi
Standard Hindi, or more precisely Modern Standard Hindi, also known as Manak Hindi , High Hindi, Nagari Hindi, and Literary Hindi, is a standardized and sanskritized register of the Hindustani language derived from the Khariboli dialect of Delhi...

, and Quechua
Quechua languages
Quechua is a Native South American language family and dialect cluster spoken primarily in the Andes of South America, derived from an original common ancestor language, Proto-Quechua. It is the most widely spoken language family of the indigenous peoples of the Americas, with a total of probably...

, aspiration and non-aspiration differentiates phonemes: that is, there are minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

s word pairs differing only in this feature (two words with different meanings that are almost identical, except that one has an aspirated sound and the other has an unaspirated one).

In addition to the minimal units that can serve the purpose of differentiating meaning (the phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s), phonology studies how sounds alternate, i.e. replace one another in different forms of the same morpheme (allomorph
Allomorph
In linguistics, an allomorph is a variant form of a morpheme. The concept occurs when a unit of meaning can vary in sound without changing meaning. The term allomorph explains the comprehension of phonological variations for specific morphemes....

s), as well as, e.g., syllable
Syllable
A syllable is a unit of organization for a sequence of speech sounds. For example, the word water is composed of two syllables: wa and ter. A syllable is typically made up of a syllable nucleus with optional initial and final margins .Syllables are often considered the phonological "building...

 structure, stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

, accent
Accent (linguistics)
In linguistics, an accent is a manner of pronunciation peculiar to a particular individual, location, or nation.An accent may identify the locality in which its speakers reside , the socio-economic status of its speakers, their ethnicity, their caste or social class, their first language In...

, and intonation
Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation does distinguish words. Intonation, rhythm, and stress are the three main elements of linguistic prosody...

.

The principles of phonological theory have also been applied to the analysis of sign language
Sign language
A sign language is a language which, instead of acoustically conveyed sound patterns, uses visually transmitted sign patterns to convey meaning—simultaneously combining hand shapes, orientation and movement of the hands, arms or body, and facial expressions to fluidly express a speaker's...

s, even though the sub-lexical units are not instantiated as speech sounds. The principles of phonological analysis can be applied independently of modality
Modality (semiotics)
In semiotics, a modality is a particular way in which the information is to be encoded for presentation to humans, i.e. to the type of sign and to the status of reality ascribed to or claimed by a sign, text or genre. It is more closely associated with the semiotics of Charles Peirce than Saussure...

 because they are designed to serve as general analytical tools, not language-specific ones. On the other hand, it must be noted, it is difficult to analyze phonologically a language one does not speak, and most phonological analysis takes place with recourse to phonetic information.

Representing phonemes

The writing systems of some languages are based on the phonemic principle of having one letter (or combination of letters) per phoneme and vice-versa. Ideally, speakers can correctly write whatever they can say, and can correctly read anything that is written. However in English, different spellings can be used for the same phoneme (e.g., rude and food have the same vowel sounds), and the same letter (or combination of letters) can represent different phonemes (e.g., the "th" consonant sounds of thin and this are different). In order to avoid this confusion based on orthography, phonologists represent phonemes by writing them between two slashes: " / / ". On the other hand, reference to variations of phonemes or attempts at representing actual speech sounds are usually enclosed by square brackets: " [ ] ". While the letters between slashes may be based on spelling conventions, the letters between square brackets are usually the International Phonetic Alphabet
International Phonetic Alphabet
The International Phonetic Alphabet "The acronym 'IPA' strictly refers [...] to the 'International Phonetic Association'. But it is now such a common practice to use the acronym also to refer to the alphabet itself that resistance seems pedantic...

 (IPA) or some other phonetic transcription system. Additionally, angled brackets "  " can be used to isolate the graphemes of an alphabetic writing system.

Doing a phoneme inventory

Part of the phonological study of a language involves looking at data (phonetic transcriptions
Transcription (linguistics)
Transcription in the linguistic sense is the systematic representation of language in written form. The source can either be utterances or preexisting text in another writing system, although some linguists only consider the former as transcription.Transcription should not be confused with...

 of the speech of native speaker
Native Speaker
Native Speaker is Chang-Rae Lee’s first novel. In Native Speaker, he creates a man named Henry Park who tries to assimilate into American society and become a “native speaker.”-Plot summary:...

s) and trying to deduce what the underlying phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

s are and what the sound inventory of the language is. Even though a language may make distinctions between a small number of phonemes, speakers actually produce many more phonetic sounds. Thus, a phoneme in a particular language can be instantiated in many ways.

Traditionally, looking for minimal pairs forms part of the research in studying the phoneme inventory of a language. A minimal pair
Minimal pair
In phonology, minimal pairs are pairs of words or phrases in a particular language, which differ in only one phonological element, such as a phone, phoneme, toneme or chroneme and have distinct meanings...

 is a pair of words from the same language, that differ by only a single categorical sound, and that are recognized by speakers as being two different words. When there is a minimal pair, the two sounds are said to be examples of realizations of distinct phonemes. However, since it is often impossible to detect or agree to the existence of all the possible phonemes of a language with this method, other approaches are used as well.

Phonemic distinctions or allophones

If two similar sounds do not belong to separate phonemes, they are called allophone
Allophone
In phonology, an allophone is one of a set of multiple possible spoken sounds used to pronounce a single phoneme. For example, and are allophones for the phoneme in the English language...

s of the same underlying phoneme. For instance, voiceless stops (/p/, /t/, /k/) can be aspirated. In English, voiceless stops at the beginning of a stressed syllable (but not after /s/) are aspirated
Aspiration (phonetics)
In phonetics, aspiration is the strong burst of air that accompanies either the release or, in the case of preaspiration, the closure of some obstruents. To feel or see the difference between aspirated and unaspirated sounds, one can put a hand or a lit candle in front of one's mouth, and say pin ...

, whereas after /s/ they are not aspirated. This can be seen by putting the fingers right in front of the lips and noticing the difference in breathiness in saying pin versus spin. There is no English word pin that starts with an unaspirated p, therefore in English, aspirated [pʰ] (the [ʰ] means aspirated) and unaspirated [p] are allophones of the same phoneme /p/. This is an example of a complementary distribution
Complementary distribution
Complementary distribution in linguistics is the relationship between two different elements, where one element is found in a particular environment and the other element is found in the opposite environment...

.

The /t/ sounds in the words tub, stub, but, butter, and button are all pronounced differently in American English, yet are all intuited to be of "the same sound", therefore they constitute another example of allophones of the same phoneme in English. However, an intuition such as this could be interpreted as a function of post-lexical recognition of the sounds. That is, all are seen as examples of English /t/ once the word itself has been recognized.

The findings and insights of speech perception and articulation research complicates this idea of interchangeable allophones being perceived as the same phoneme, no matter how attractive it might be for linguists who wish to rely on the intuitions of native speakers. First, interchanged allophones of the same phoneme can result in unrecognizable words. Second, actual speech, even at a word level, is highly co-articulated, so it is problematic to think that one can splice words into simple segments without affecting speech perception. In other words, interchanging allophones is a nice idea for intuitive linguistics, but it turns out that this idea cannot transcend what co-articulation actually does to spoken sounds. Yet human speech perception is so robust and versatile (happening under various conditions) because, in part, it can deal with such co-articulation.

There are different methods for determining why allophones should fall categorically under a specified phoneme. Counter-intuitively, the principle of phonetic similarity is not always used. This tends to make the phoneme seem abstracted away from the phonetic realities of speech. It should be remembered that, just because allophones can be grouped under phonemes for the purpose of linguistic analysis, this does not necessarily mean that this is an actual process in the way the human brain processes a language. On the other hand, it could be pointed out that some sort of analytic notion of a language beneath the word level is usual if the language is written alphabetically. So one could also speak of a phonology of reading and writing.

Change of a phoneme inventory over time

The particular sounds which are phonemic in a language can change over time. At one time, [f] and [v] were allophones in English, but these later changed into separate phonemes. This is one of the main factors of historical change of languages as described in historical linguistics
Historical linguistics
Historical linguistics is the study of language change. It has five main concerns:* to describe and account for observed changes in particular languages...

.

Other topics in phonology

Phonology also includes topics such as phonotactics
Phonotactics
Phonotactics is a branch of phonology that deals with restrictions in a language on the permissible combinations of phonemes...

 (the phonological constraints on what sounds can appear in what positions in a given language) and phonological alternation
Alternation (linguistics)
In linguistics, an alternation is the phenomenon of a phoneme or morpheme exhibiting variation in its phonological realization. Each of the various realizations is called an alternant...

 (how the pronunciation of a sound changes through the application of phonological rule
Phonological rule
A phonological rule is a formal way of expressing a systematic phonological or morphophonological process or diachronic sound change in language. Phonological rules are commonly used in generative phonology as a notation to capture sound-related operations and computations the human brain performs...

s, sometimes in a given order which can be feeding
Feeding order
In phonology and historical linguistics, if two rules are in feeding order, rule A creates new contexts in which rule B can apply. It would not have been possible for rule B to apply otherwise...

 or bleeding
Bleeding order
Bleeding order is a term used in phonology to describe specific interactions of phonological rules. The term was introduced in 1968 by Paul Kiparsky....

,) as well as prosody
Prosody (linguistics)
In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

, the study of suprasegmentals and topics such as stress
Stress (linguistics)
In linguistics, stress is the relative emphasis that may be given to certain syllables in a word, or to certain words in a phrase or sentence. The term is also used for similar patterns of phonetic prominence inside syllables. The word accent is sometimes also used with this sense.The stress placed...

 and intonation
Intonation (linguistics)
In linguistics, intonation is variation of pitch while speaking which is not used to distinguish words. It contrasts with tone, in which pitch variation does distinguish words. Intonation, rhythm, and stress are the three main elements of linguistic prosody...

.

Development of the field

In ancient India
Kingdoms of Ancient India
Epic India is the geography of Greater India traditionally around early 10th century BC and later on from the Sanskrit epics, viz. the Mahabharata and the Ramayana as well as Puranic literature ....

, the Sanskrit
Sanskrit
Sanskrit , is a historical Indo-Aryan language and the primary liturgical language of Hinduism, Jainism and Buddhism.Buddhism: besides Pali, see Buddhist Hybrid Sanskrit Today, it is listed as one of the 22 scheduled languages of India and is an official language of the state of Uttarakhand...

 grammarian  (4th century BC) in his text of Sanskrit phonology, the Shiva Sutra
Shiva Sutra
The Shiva Sutras or Māheshvara Sutras are fourteen verses that organize the phonemes of the Sanskrit language as referred to in the of , the foundational text of Sanskrit grammar...

s
, discusses something like the concepts of the phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

, the morpheme
Morpheme
In linguistics, a morpheme is the smallest semantically meaningful unit in a language. The field of study dedicated to morphemes is called morphology. A morpheme is not identical to a word, and the principal difference between the two is that a morpheme may or may not stand alone, whereas a word,...

 and the root
Root (linguistics)
The root word is the primary lexical unit of a word, and of a word family , which carries the most significant aspects of semantic content and cannot be reduced into smaller constituents....

. The Shiva Sutras describe a phonemic notational system in the fourteen initial lines of the . The notational system introduces different clusters of phonemes that serve special roles in the morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 of Sanskrit, and are referred to throughout the text.

The Polish scholar Jan Baudouin de Courtenay, (together with his former student Mikołaj Kruszewski) coined the word phoneme
Phoneme
In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

in 1876, and his work, though often unacknowledged, is considered to be the starting point of modern phonology. He worked not only on the theory of the phoneme but also on phonetic alternations (i.e., what is now called allophony and morphophonology
Morphophonology
Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics which studies, in general, the interaction between morphological and phonetic processes. When a morpheme is attached to a word, it can alter the phonetic environments of other morphemes in that word. Morphophonemics attempts to describe this process...

). His influence on Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure
Ferdinand de Saussure was a Swiss linguist whose ideas laid a foundation for many significant developments in linguistics in the 20th century. He is widely considered one of the fathers of 20th-century linguistics...

 was also significant.

Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy
Nikolai Trubetzkoy
Prince Nikolai Sergeyevich Trubetzkoy was a Russian linguist and historian whose teachings formed a nucleus of the Prague School of structural linguistics. He is widely considered to be the founder of morphophonology...

's posthumously published work, the Principles of Phonology (1939), is considered the foundation of the Prague School of phonology. Directly influenced by Baudouin de Courtenay, Trubetzkoy is considered the founder of morphophonology
Morphophonology
Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics which studies, in general, the interaction between morphological and phonetic processes. When a morpheme is attached to a word, it can alter the phonetic environments of other morphemes in that word. Morphophonemics attempts to describe this process...

, though morphophonology was first recognized by Baudouin de Courtenay. Trubetzkoy split phonology into phonemics and archiphonemics; the former has had more influence than the latter. Another important figure in the Prague School was Roman Jakobson
Roman Jakobson
Roman Osipovich Jakobson was a Russian linguist and literary theorist.As a pioneer of the structural analysis of language, which became the dominant trend of twentieth-century linguistics, Jakobson was among the most influential linguists of the century...

, who was one of the most prominent linguists of the 20th century.

In 1968 Noam Chomsky
Noam Chomsky
Avram Noam Chomsky is an American linguist, philosopher, cognitive scientist, and activist. He is an Institute Professor and Professor in the Department of Linguistics & Philosophy at MIT, where he has worked for over 50 years. Chomsky has been described as the "father of modern linguistics" and...

 and Morris Halle
Morris Halle
Morris Halle , is a Latvian-American Jewish linguist and an Institute Professor and professor emeritus of linguistics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology...

 published The Sound Pattern of English
The Sound Pattern of English
The Sound Pattern of English is a 1968 work on phonology by Noam Chomsky and Morris Halle. It presents a comprehensive view of the phonology of English, and stands as a landmark both in the field of phonology and in the analysis of the English language...

(SPE), the basis for Generative
Generative linguistics
Generative linguistics is a school of thought within linguistics that makes use of the concept of a generative grammar. The term "generative grammar" is used in different ways by different people, and the term "generative linguistics" therefore has a range of different, though overlapping,...

 Phonology. In this view, phonological representations are sequences of segments
Segment (linguistics)
In linguistics , the term segment may be defined as "any discrete unit that can be identified, either physically or auditorily, in the stream of speech."- Classifying speech units :...

 made up of distinctive feature
Distinctive feature
In linguistics, a distinctive feature is the most basic unit of phonological structure that may be analyzed in phonological theory.Distinctive features are grouped into categories according to the natural classes of segments they describe: major class features, laryngeal features, manner features,...

s. These features were an expansion of earlier work by Roman Jakobson, Gunnar Fant
Gunnar Fant
Carl Gunnar Michael Fant was professor emeritus at the Royal Institute of Technology in Stockholm. He was a first cousin of George Fant.Gunnar Fant received a Master of Science in Electrical Engineering in 1945...

, and Morris Halle. The features describe aspects of articulation and perception, are from a universally fixed set, and have the binary values + or −. There are at least two levels of representation: underlying representation
Underlying representation
In some models of phonology as well as morphophonology, the underlying representation or underlying form of a word or morpheme is the abstract form the word or morpheme is postulated to have before any phonological rules have applied to it. If more rules apply to the same form, they can apply...

 and surface phonetic representation. Ordered phonological rules govern how underlying representation
Underlying representation
In some models of phonology as well as morphophonology, the underlying representation or underlying form of a word or morpheme is the abstract form the word or morpheme is postulated to have before any phonological rules have applied to it. If more rules apply to the same form, they can apply...

 is transformed into the actual pronunciation (the so called surface form). An important consequence of the influence SPE had on phonological theory was the downplaying of the syllable and the emphasis on segments. Furthermore, the Generativists folded morphophonology
Morphophonology
Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics which studies, in general, the interaction between morphological and phonetic processes. When a morpheme is attached to a word, it can alter the phonetic environments of other morphemes in that word. Morphophonemics attempts to describe this process...

 into phonology, which both solved and created problems.

Natural Phonology was a theory based on the publications of its proponent David Stampe in 1969 and (more explicitly) in 1979. In this view, phonology is based on a set of universal phonological processes which interact with one another; which ones are active and which are suppressed are language-specific. Rather than acting on segments, phonological processes act on distinctive feature
Distinctive feature
In linguistics, a distinctive feature is the most basic unit of phonological structure that may be analyzed in phonological theory.Distinctive features are grouped into categories according to the natural classes of segments they describe: major class features, laryngeal features, manner features,...

s within prosodic groups. Prosodic groups can be as small as a part of a syllable or as large as an entire utterance. Phonological processes are unordered with respect to each other and apply simultaneously (though the output of one process may be the input to another). The second-most prominent Natural Phonologist is Stampe's wife, Patricia Donegan; there are many Natural Phonologists in Europe, though also a few others in the U.S., such as Geoffrey Nathan. The principles of Natural Phonology were extended to morphology
Morphology (linguistics)
In linguistics, morphology is the identification, analysis and description, in a language, of the structure of morphemes and other linguistic units, such as words, affixes, parts of speech, intonation/stress, or implied context...

 by Wolfgang U. Dressler
Wolfgang U. Dressler
Wolfgang U. Dressler is an Austrian professor of linguistics at the University of Vienna. Dressler is an eminent scholar who has contributed to various fields of linguistics, especially phonology, morphology, text linguistics, clinical linguistics and child language development...

, who founded Natural Morphology.

In 1976 John Goldsmith
John Goldsmith
John Anton Goldsmith is the Edward Carson Waller Distinguished Service Professor at the University of Chicago, with appointments in Linguistics and Computer Science. He was educated at Swarthmore College, where he obtained his B.A. in 1972, and at MIT, where he completed his Ph.D. in Linguistics...

 introduced autosegmental phonology
Autosegmental phonology
Autosegmental phonology is the name of a framework of phonological analysis proposed by John Goldsmith in his PhD thesis in 1976 at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology....

. Phonological phenomena are no longer seen as operating on one linear sequence of segments, called phonemes or feature combinations, but rather as involving some parallel sequences of features which reside on multiple tiers. Autosegmental phonology later evolved into Feature Geometry, which became the standard theory of representation for the theories of the organization of phonology as different as Lexical Phonology and Optimality Theory
Optimality theory
Optimality theory is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints. OT models grammars as systems that provide mappings from inputs to outputs; typically, the inputs are conceived of as underlying representations, and...

.

Government Phonology
Government phonology
Government phonology is a theoretical framework of linguistics and more specifically of phonology. The framework aims to provide a non-arbitrary account for phonological phenomena by replacing the rule component of phonology with a restricted set of universal principles and parameters...

, which originated in the early 1980s as an attempt to unify theoretical notions of syntactic and phonological structures, is based on the notion that all languages necessarily follow a small set of principle
Principle
A principle is a law or rule that has to be, or usually is to be followed, or can be desirably followed, or is an inevitable consequence of something, such as the laws observed in nature or the way that a system is constructed...

s and vary according to their selection of certain binary parameter
Parameter
Parameter from Ancient Greek παρά also “para” meaning “beside, subsidiary” and μέτρον also “metron” meaning “measure”, can be interpreted in mathematics, logic, linguistics, environmental science and other disciplines....

s. That is, all languages' phonological structures are essentially the same, but there is restricted variation that accounts for differences in surface realizations. Principles are held to be inviolable, though parameters may sometimes come into conflict. Prominent figures include Jonathan Kaye, Jean Lowenstamm, Jean-Roger Vergnaud, Monik Charette, John Harris, and many others.

In a course at the LSA summer institute in 1991, Alan Prince
Alan Prince
Alan Sanford Prince is a professor of linguistics at Rutgers University. Prince, along with Paul Smolensky, developed Optimality Theory, which was originally applied to phonology, but has been extended to other areas of linguistics such as syntax and semantics...

 and Paul Smolensky
Paul Smolensky
Paul Smolensky is a professor of Cognitive Science at the Johns Hopkins University.Along with Alan Prince he developed Optimality Theory, a representational model of linguistics...

 developed Optimality Theory
Optimality theory
Optimality theory is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints. OT models grammars as systems that provide mappings from inputs to outputs; typically, the inputs are conceived of as underlying representations, and...

 — an overall architecture for phonology according to which languages choose a pronunciation of a word that best satisfies a list of constraints which is ordered by importance: a lower-ranked constraint can be violated when the violation is necessary in order to obey a higher-ranked constraint. The approach was soon extended to morphology by John McCarthy
John McCarthy (linguist)
John McCarthy is a linguist and professor in the Department of Linguistics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst with a speciality in phonology and morphology...

 and Alan Prince
Alan Prince
Alan Sanford Prince is a professor of linguistics at Rutgers University. Prince, along with Paul Smolensky, developed Optimality Theory, which was originally applied to phonology, but has been extended to other areas of linguistics such as syntax and semantics...

, and has become a dominant trend in phonology. Though this usually goes unacknowledged, Optimality Theory was strongly influenced by Natural Phonology; both view phonology in terms of constraints on speakers and their production, though these constraints are formalized in very different ways. The appeal to phonetic grounding of constraints in various approaches has been criticized by proponents of 'substance-free phonology' .

Broadly speaking government phonology
Government phonology
Government phonology is a theoretical framework of linguistics and more specifically of phonology. The framework aims to provide a non-arbitrary account for phonological phenomena by replacing the rule component of phonology with a restricted set of universal principles and parameters...

 (or its descendant, strict-CV phonology) has a greater following in the United Kingdom, whereas optimality theory
Optimality theory
Optimality theory is a linguistic model proposing that the observed forms of language arise from the interaction between conflicting constraints. OT models grammars as systems that provide mappings from inputs to outputs; typically, the inputs are conceived of as underlying representations, and...

 is predominant in North America.

See also

  • Absolute neutralisation
    Absolute neutralisation
    In phonology, absolute neutralisation is a phenomenon in which a segment of the underlying representation of a morpheme is not realized in any of its phonetic representation. For example, Chomsky & Halle assume that the underlying representation of the word ellipse contains a final segment /e/...

  • Cherology
    Cherology
    Cherology and chereme, sometimes chireme, are synonyms of phonology and phoneme previously used in the study of sign languages....

  • English phonology
    English phonology
    English phonology is the study of the sound system of the English language. Like many languages, English has wide variation in pronunciation, both historically and from dialect to dialect...

  • Morphophonology
    Morphophonology
    Morphophonology is a branch of linguistics which studies, in general, the interaction between morphological and phonetic processes. When a morpheme is attached to a word, it can alter the phonetic environments of other morphemes in that word. Morphophonemics attempts to describe this process...

  • Phoneme
    Phoneme
    In a language or dialect, a phoneme is the smallest segmental unit of sound employed to form meaningful contrasts between utterances....

  • Phonological development
    Phonological development
    Sound is at the beginning of language learning. Children have to learn to distinguish different sounds and to segment the speech stream they are exposed to into units – eventually meaningful units – in order to acquire words and sentences...

  • Phonological hierarchy
    Phonological hierarchy
    Phonological hierarchy describes a series of increasingly smaller regions of a phonological utterance. From larger to smaller units, it is as follows:#Utterance#Prosodic declination unit / intonational phrase...

  • Prosody (linguistics)
    Prosody (linguistics)
    In linguistics, prosody is the rhythm, stress, and intonation of speech. Prosody may reflect various features of the speaker or the utterance: the emotional state of the speaker; the form of the utterance ; the presence of irony or sarcasm; emphasis, contrast, and focus; or other elements of...

  • Phonotactics
    Phonotactics
    Phonotactics is a branch of phonology that deals with restrictions in a language on the permissible combinations of phonemes...

  • Second language phonology
    Second language phonology
    Second language phonology is different from first language phonology in various ways. The differences are considered to come from general characteristics of L2, such as slower speech rate and lower proficiency than native speakers, and also from the interaction between nonnative speakers’ L1 and...

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