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LINGUIST List 19.999

Tue Mar 25 2008

Books: Phonology/Typology/Ling Theories: Mielke

Editor for this issue: Hannah Morales <hannahlinguistlist.org>


Links to the websites of all LINGUIST's supporting publishers are available at the end of this issue.
Directory
        1.    Jennifer Clark, The Emergence of Distinctive Features: Mielke


Message 1: The Emergence of Distinctive Features: Mielke
Date: 19-Feb-2008
From: Jennifer Clark <jennifer.clarkoup.com>
Subject: The Emergence of Distinctive Features: Mielke
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Title: The Emergence of Distinctive Features
Published: 2008
Publisher: Oxford University Press
                http://www.oup.com/us

Book URL: http://www.oup.com/uk/catalogue/?ci=9780199233373

Author: Jeff Mielke
Hardback: ISBN: 9780199207916 Pages: 304 Price: U.K. £ 60.00
Paperback: ISBN: 9780199233373 Pages: 304 Price: U.K. £ 21.99
Abstract:

This book makes a fundamental contribution to phonology, linguistic
typology, and the nature of the human language faculty. Distinctive
features in phonology distinguish one meaningful sound from another. Since
the mid-twentieth century they have been seen as a set characterizing all
possible phonological distinctions and as an integral part of Universal
Grammar, the innate language faculty underlying successive versions of
Chomskyan generative theory. The usefulness of distinctive features in
phonological analysis is uncontroversial, but the supposition that features
are innate and universal rather than learned and language-specific has
never, until now, been systematically tested. In his pioneering account
Jeff Mielke presents the results of a crosslinguistic survey of natural
classes of distinctive features covering almost six hundred of the world's
languages drawn from a variety of different families. He shows that no
theory is able to characterize more than 71 percent of classes, and further
that current theories, deployed either singly or collectively, do not
predict the range of classes that occur and recur. He reveals the existence
of apparently unnatural classes in many languages. Even without these
findings, he argues, there are reasons to doubt whether distinctive
features are innate: for example, distinctive features used in signed
languages are different from those in spoken languages, even though
deafness is generally not hereditary.

The author explains the grouping of sounds into classes and concludes by
offering a unified account of what previously have been considered to be
natural and unnatural classes. The data on which the analysis is based are
freely available in a program downloadable from the publisher's web site.

Linguistic Field(s): Linguistic Theories
                            Phonology
                            Typology

Written In: English (eng )

See this book announcement on our website:
http://linguistlist.org/get-book.html?BookID=33920





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