Review of Introductory Phonology
|AUTHOR: Hayes, Bruce
TITLE: Introductory Phonology
SERIES: Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics
Gisela Collischonn, Instituto de Letras, Universidade Federal do Rio Grande do
This book is intended as a course book for an introductory course in phonology
for undergraduates. Following the preface, there are fifteen chapters
corresponding to a ten week term course and an appendix presenting some
directions on what to care for when writing solutions for phonology problems.
Each chapter contains a section called ''Further reading'', which includes
references for the languages discussed along with suggestions of advanced
readings, and a set of exercises. Since the bibliography is given in each
chapter, there is no bibliographical list at the end of the book. New terms are
introduced in italics and are referenced in a general index which also contains
the languages discussed. There are plenty of charts and other visual aids to
help clarifying difficult ideas.
The first four chapters focus on fundamentals of phonetics, rules and levels of
representation and features.
The ideal audience of the book should already have taken a general course in
phonetics. Thus, Chapter 1 ''Phonetics'' is intended as a review on articulatory
phonetics. It includes a description on how sounds are produced, their
classification and some orientation on phonetic transcription using symbols of
the IPA. The exercises address transcription practice and the rationale behind
the use of diacritics in transcription, as well as questions related to the
physiological impossibility of sounds.
Chapter 2 ''Phonemic Analysis'' introduces contrast and allophonic relations.
Careful phonemic and phonetic transcriptions of English words and sentences
illustrate levels of representation and the derivations that relate them. On
p.30, the author states that ''derivations form the heart of a phonological
discussion'', and advises the reader ''to inspect rather than skim them'' when
studying an analysis. Some formalism for rule writing is also introduced here,
e.g. the slash indicating environment and the meaning of the square brackets.
In the second part of the chapter, the analytic procedures for depicting
phonemic inventories are laid out and illustrated with the stepwise
identification of the Maasai (Nilotic, Kenya /Tanzania) consonantal
distinctions. This part also introduces the idea that sounds organize into
natural classes. The exercises give the opportunity to apply the methods
outlined in the chapter to new data from English and from Lango, another Nilotic
language, with a pattern of consonantal distinctions very similar to Maasai,
although different in substance.
Chapter 3 ''More on Phonemes'' discusses issues related to the reality of phonemes
(e.g.the reflection of the phonemic principle in writing, the effect of native
phonology on the discrimination of foreign sounds, etc.) and introduces notions
like free variation, contextually limited contrasts and phonotactic constraints.
Chapter 4 ''Features'' introduces binary distinctive features, following mostly
Chomsky and Halle's (1968) feature theory. A section on the use of features in
rules gives orientation on when the use of features is required or recommended
in the formalization of a rule and when it would be more sensible to use full
segments instead. This section also provides some procedures to find the
features needed in a rule and gives reasons for why to include only just as many
features in a rule as needed. The chapter is enriched with elaborate feature
charts, organized according to consonants with single place, consonants with two
places (complex articulation) and vowels. It also includes a chart on diacritics
and the way they are expressed with features (like the superscripted diacritic
[h], whose expression with feature values is [+spread glottis, -constricted
glottis]). The exercise section hints to the use of the software FeaturePad,
developed by Kie Zuraw and available on the author's homepage, which helps to
find out the sounds included in a feature class among other applications. The
exercises address the use of features to express natural classes and rules.
The presentation of the morphology role in phonology is broken down into several
chapters, beginning with fundamental morphological notions required for the
study of phonology (Chapter 5), going through alternations of stems and affixes
which can be explained by single phonological rules applying to the environment
provided by morphological concatenation (Chapter 6), or alternations of
morphemes created by ordered rules applying serially to the output of
morphological concatenation (Chapter 7), until reaching morphophonemic analysis
(Chapter 8). The role of morphology in phonology also provides the background
for the discussion about productivity in phonology (Chapter 9) and about rule
domain definition (Chapter 10).
A brief summary of each of these chapters is presented below.
Chapter 5 ''Morphology'' is intended to give some background on morphological
analysis for the following chapters which develop understanding of the
interaction of morphology with phonological rules. It includes the steps of a
morphological analysis and information on the notation of morphological rules.
The exercises address morphological rules and analysis of regular morphological
paradigms (inflection in Japanese verbs).
Chapter 6 ''Phonological Alternation I'' introduces the idea of a single
underlying form for each morpheme. The idea of ordered components, a lexicon
followed by a morphological component itself followed by a phonological
component is introduced and graphically illustrated. The second part focuses on
neutralization, exemplifying with phrasal stop neutralization in Korean,
consonant/zero neutralization in English (plan(t)er vs. planner) and with
assimilatory neutralization of voicing in Russian. The focus of the discussion
is to illustrate the idea of a lexical contrast that is concealed by the
application of neutralization rules. At the end of the chapter, an issue not
usually discussed in phonology textbooks, near-neutralization, is presented. The
author advises phonologists to learn how to do phonetic measurements and simple
experiments to identify if the apparent neutralization cases they observe are
real. The exercise section contains a series of questions about phonological
alternations in Lango (which language was already the object of exercises in
chapter 2), guiding the student through the steps of problem solving.
Chapter 7 ''Phonological Alternation II'' goes further into neutralization,
considering the role of rule ordering in affecting contrasts. This is
exemplified with interaction of raising and tapping in Canadian English, and
with Chimwiini (Bantu, Somalia) interaction of morphology with the rules of
vowel shortening and lengthening. Chimwiini also exemplifies how to argue for a
specific underlying form. The exercise section builds further on rule ordering
and on the logical steps and inferences involved in phonological analysis.
Chapter 8 ''Morphophonemic Analysis'' shows how apparently complex alternations in
paradigms can be disentangled into a set of phonological rules applied to the
output of morphological rules. The first part focuses mainly on how to set up
underlying representations and presents the steps of an analysis and the
hypotheses which underlie the reasoning. This is then illustrated with
Lardil(Australia). The chapter ends with a presentation of the ordering
relations holding between rules (e.g. feeding, counter-bleeding, etc.). The
exercises include deduction of output forms for Lardil inverted rule ordering
and analysis of paradigmatic alternations from the Australian language Yidi§.
Chapter 9 ''Productivity'' works out the notion of productivity in phonology,
illustrating it with rules of varying degrees of productivity from English and
other languages. The text points out that a rule may be real even though it is
not 100% productive. This is exemplified with /f/ voicing in English: although
there are many exceptions, the rule occasionally extends to new forms, like gulf
or chief, and it is observed to be productive also in nonce-word testing. The
text also touches upon rule vs. memorization and the point of view assumed is
that forms memorized by the speaker may well coexist with a rule that derives
them. The chapter ends discussing the question of how to assess productivity
experimentally and how to decide when some alternation is accounted for by rule
or by the lexicon. The exercises invite students to engage in productivity
testing with the use of internet search engines and wug testing.
Chapter 10 ''The Role of Morphology and Syntax'' addresses mainly the issue of
rule domains defined with reference to morphological or syntactical boundaries.
The exercise section asks students to identify bounding effects and to use them
to justify a specific domain for a rule.
Chapter 11 ''Diachrony and Synchrony'' explains that phonological rules and sound
changes, though related to each other, are not the same. It presents the concept
of phonological restructuring, related to phonemic inventories as well as to
rules. Phonemic restructuring is illustrated with the merger of the voiceless
labial alveolar approximant (as in whale) with its voiced counterpart /w/ in the
majority of American English dialects. The author shows also that opaque rule
interactions may lead ultimately to phoneme creation, as is the case of the
German front rounded vowels. The exercises deal with hypercorrection and
Chapter 12 ''Abstractness'' deals with absolute neutralizations and discusses its
alternatives. The classic case of Polish vowel ~ zero alternations is presented
and two ways to analyze it, the Jer analysis and the epenthesis analysis, are
discussed. Pros and cons of each one are considered in relation to issues of
acquisition and psychological reality, language history and economy of analysis.
Although the discussion seems to be inclined towards the less abstract
epenthesis analysis, it ends with the conclusion that each party has its flaws
and should be improved in order to cope with contrary arguments. The final
section of the chapter gives an idea of Chomsky and Halle's abstract analysis of
English stress. The exercise section includes one exercise on the diphthong ~
monophthong alternations in Spanish, asking the student to propose two
alternative analyses, one with absolute neutralization and one with a less
The last three chapters deal with phonology above the segment, discussing
syllables, stress and intonation
The role of the syllable has been called into question in recent years, but
Chapter 13 ''Syllables'' maintains the position that syllables are supported by
human phonological behavior and are important for understanding the pattern of
application of many rules. The chapter deals with general principles of
syllabification, rules of syllable-segment mapping, the derivation of syllable
structure and word-bounding, and the ways in which syllable structure influences
segmental phonology. Although tree structure is in general avoided in the book,
a two-tiered representation is adopted for the syllable. The exercises deal
with the role of syllables in rules, phonotactic distribution of consonants and
German /r/ allophony.
Chapter 14 ''Stress, Stress Rules, and Syllable Weight'' adopts from metrical
phonology the idea that syllables and not segments are the bearers of stress but
does not adopt the representational devices developed by metrical phonology,
such as feet or other kind of constituents. It starts with the traditional (SPE)
format for stress rules, substituting individual segments with syllables,
however. In order to make the rules able to apply to distinct phonological
expansions, the parenthesis notation in rules is introduced and explained. In
the final part of the chapter, syllable weight distinction is introduced, its
psychological reality is argued for with the exemplification of traditional
poetic meters from Persian and Classical Latin poetry, and its importance in the
account of stress systems is shown with Classical Arabic. At the end of this
chapter, English stress is discussed. The same rule as for Classical Arabic is
taken to account for regular stress in English. Although many exceptions are
recognized, they are not taken as sufficient reason to invalidate the statement
of a rule for the words that follow the general pattern, in line with the
argumentation developed in Chapter 9 on productivity degrees. The chapter ends
with an exposition of how the use of segments instead of syllables would turn
the English stress rule incredibly complex, thus arguing for the syllable as a
phonological element. The exercises address stress assignment by rule and
Chapter 15 ''Tone and Intonation'' introduces the issue of tone in language by
stating briefly the distinction between tone languages, pitch accent languages
and intonation languages. The main part of the chapter is dedicated to English
intonation, and the description is used to present the autosegmental framework
approach to intonation. Some of the better known tunes of English are
identified: the declarative, the emphatic question tune, the regular question
tune and the predictable tune. The final part of the chapter explores further
the idea of tones as autosegments, presenting effects of tone stability and
contour formation in tone languages. The exercise section addresses tune-text
association rules for English, and the formation of contour tones in Etsako
(Benue-Congo, Nigeria) vowel sandhi.
This book does an excellent job in teaching phonology as practiced today without
going into theoretical controversies. The entire set of fundamental notions
combined with the tools for doing phonological analysis is provided along with
reflections on what constitutes knowledge in the field of phonology and how it
may be assessed by the researcher. Even less accessible notions in the field are
made easy to understand by the straightforward manner they are presented and
Every chapter includes detailed exposition of phenomena in particular languages
with accurate transcriptions of the data (including English data!).
Transcriptions consistently adopt IPA symbols and no symbol is used without
being explained. This practice, not usually observed in phonology course books,
is welcome especially for students that are not native English speakers. There
are a few mistakes in transcription, whose correction can be found at the
author's webpage: http://www.linguistics.ucla.edu/people/hayes/IP. (A minor
inconsistency still remains in the symbol used to represent the close-mid back
unrounded vowel; compare the symbol used on the IPA chart, p. 14, with the one
used on the feature chart on p. 98 and in the transcriptions of vocalized /l/ on
The problem sets at the end of each chapter are especially well structured. Most
of them allow students to apply the logic of analysis worked out in the chapter
to additional data of the same language or to data of some different language.
Some allow students to build on and elaborate earlier analyses. The exercises of
the later chapters, e.g. the last exercise, on Etsako tone (p. 313-4), offer
opportunity to the reader to apply knowledge accumulated from previous chapters
and gain experience in formulating rules and establishing underlying
There are also plenty of guidelines on how to get reliable data from native
speakers and how to test the reality of rules and phonemic distinctions.
Discussions on English and other language data exemplify the role of evidence in
argumentation relating to analytical claims and constructs. The author warns
that spelling is not legitimate evidence and makes clear that the analysis has
to rely on the same kind of data children have access when acquiring their
language. Coherent with this position, there is continuous appeal to acquisition
concerns and to issues of phonological borrowing.
There is also a remarkably rich use of language data. An example is the case of
the rule of /f/ voicing, which is discussed in chapter 9, in connection with
productivity (p. 195), and considered again in chapter 11 as an example of a
rule that originated not as a sound change, but as the result of a series of
independent changes that produce together the effect of a sound change (p.
231-2). Another example refers to the discussion of the distinction between
dynamic neutralization and static neutralizations. This distinction is
introduced in chapter 6 and exemplified with English final voicing assimilation
(dynamic neutralization) and with the requirement that final CC sequences must
end in an alveolar stop in English (static neutralization)and is referred back
in chapter 13, when discussing coda neutralization.
When needed, the author points to further knowledge in theoretical phonology in
footnotes, which are no less accessible than the main text. An example is note 1
of chapter 9, where the author hints to the existence of paradigmatical
explanations, in the sense of OT correspondence relations, for apparently
exceptional behavior of rules.
There is a clear option to concentrate on phonological rules and derivations
rather than on phonological representations. Some representational elements of
sub- or suprasegmental structure are never mentioned, like feature geometry, CV
skeleton, and other kinds of devices developed in multi-tiered phonology. On the
other hand, the text is very explicit on rule notation: chapter 2 introduces the
slash and the long underline (/___ ) notations for environment and the use of
square brackets for the representation of feature conjunctions; chapter 6
introduces Greek letter variables in the context of voicing assimilation in
Russian (p. 133); chapter 13 introduces curly brackets notation in the context
of discussion of processes affecting coda segments (p. 259) and discusses
alternatives to it (p.264); finally the chapter on stress (14) introduces
parenthesis notation and the possibility to read a rule in different expansions.
Thus rule formalism is not only presented but the author takes care that the
understanding of its use grows out of the demands presented by the analysis
itself, making it meaningful.
This book has so much to recommend it that it would be impossible to point out
all its positive aspects here. There is, however one weak aspect. As mentioned
above, in chapter 14, stress rules of the SPE format are adopted. As the author
acknowledges in the Further Reading section (p.290), this approach is taken for
pedagogical reasons. Emphasis on the locational aspects of stress and not on
discussing how phonological theories treat them yields as a consequence complete
absence of terms like 'foot' and 'mora'. Thus a rule deriving penultimate
stress, as in Polish, is formulated as 'a syllable becomes stressed if it
precedes a word final syllable'. Alternating stresses are created with the
combined application of a rule like the one above and a secondary stress rule,
which takes primary stress location as its environment formulated as ' a
syllable becomes stressed if it precedes a syllalbe followed by a stressed
syllable'. Weight is incorporated into the rule notation mentioned before by the
use of distinct symbols for light vs. heavy syllables, thus the Classical Arabic
Stress rule sounds like: syll. -> [+stress]/_((light syll.) syll.)]word. The
goal to reduce terminology to a minimum is understandable in an introductory
book, intended not to dwell into theoretical controversies, but still it seems
awkward to me to teach phonology without even mentioning feet. This reduces
stress to rules of [+stress] location, while the idea that stress is based on
prominence relations is entirely lost.
This is a minor weakness in face of the major achievements of this book. I think
it succeeds entirely in its goal of making phonological analysis meaningful for
the undergraduate student. It is especially suited for students of other
countries, for its clearness, its careful presentation, its coherent use of
sound symbols, feature values and rule notation, and its accessible writing style.
| ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Gisela Collischonn is an associate professor at Universidade Federal do Rio
Grande do Sul, Porto Alegre, Brazil. Her research interests include
phonology, morphology, language variation, Optimality Theory, prosodic
phenomena and the Portuguese language.