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Review of  Coarticulation

Book Title: Coarticulation
Book Author: William J Hardcastle Nigel Hewlett
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Issue Number: 12.1877

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Hardcastle, William J., and Nigel Hewlett, eds. (1999) Coarticulation:
Theory, Data and Techniques. Cambridge University Press, ISBN:
0-521-44027-0, xiv+386pp, $69.95.

Reviewed by Martin J. Ball, Department of Communicative Disorders,
University of Louisiana at Lafayette.

[A previous review of this book is posted at --Eds.]

The study of coarticulation has lead to the most important advances in
our understanding of speech production and perception, and it is
fitting that we now have a collection dedicated to this topic edited by
two leading speech and language scientists and containing contributions
from many of the main researchers in the field. Bill Hardcastle is, of
course, well-known in phonetics for his impressive body of work ranging
from the anatomy and physiology of speech production through to
experimental work in normal and disordered speech, and for his work in
promoting and developing electropalatography as a research tool for
speech scientists and a therapeutic tool for speech-language
pathologists. His colleague at Queen Margaret University College
Edinburgh, Nigel Hewlett has, perhaps, a lower profile, but is a well-
regarded clinical phonetician and linguist who has worked with a
variety of speech and language disorders. The Department of Speech and
Language Sciences at Queen Margaret UC has clearly emerged over the
last decade as one of the leading research centers in clinical
linguistics and phonetics.

The book is divided into four parts: theories and models, research
results for different components of the speech production process,
wider perspectives (including implications for phonology), and
instrumental techniques. This last part of seven chapters dealing with
different aspects of instrumental speech analysis might be considered
redundant as there have been several relatively recent collections
dealing with instrumental phonetics. Nevertheless, the chapters in this
section do have a specific focus on coarticulation, so I feel they do
earn their place.

In Part I, the opening chapter (by Kuehnert and Nolan) is deliberately
ambiguous, as the authors claim that 'the origins of coarticulation'
can mean the reason coarticulation exists, the history of the study of
this area, and the development of coarticulation in child language, and
this chapter covers these three areas. The fact that the acquisition
aspect accounts for only four of this chapter's 24 pages is indicative
of the amount of work that still needs to be done in this area.

Chapter 2 (Farnetani and Recasens) is a comprehensive yet concise
survey of the main theoretical approaches to coarticulation from
Ohman's work in the 1960s through to the present day with work by
Lindblom, Keating, and Saltzman and Munhall, for example. This is an
extremely valuable contribution to the book, as it allows the reader to
situate the work reported elsewhere in terms of competing theoretical

Part II contains five chapters that survey results of studies on
coarticulation linked to specific articulators. Chapter 3 (by
Chafcouloff and Marchal) deals with velopharyngeal coarticulation, that
coarticulation linking the oral and nasal sub-systems. In a similar
manner to the other chapters in this Part, the authors review what
kinds of coarticulation occur (e.g. anticipatory and perseverative),
the effects found in different languages, and various kinds of
measurements (acoustic, physiological and perceptual) that have been
utilized in the study of this area. Chapter 4 (by Recasens) covers
lingual coarticulations, and as one might expect for an area with such
wide possibilities, this is the longest chapter of this Part. Chapter 5
deals with laryngeal coarticulation, and is split into two sections:
the first on devoicing authored by Hoole, and the second on vowel
voicing dependent on consonantal context by Gobl and Ni Chasaide. This
separation doesn't really work, both in terms of how the other chapters
structure and because of inevitable repetition that such a division
provides. I don't really see why the authors couldn't have produced a
unified chapter along the lines of the cooperations seen elsewhere in
the book. Labial coarticulation, in the sense of lip-rounding, is the
focus of Farnetani in Chapter 6, while Fletcher and Harrington in the
final chapter of this Part deal with lip and jaw coarticulation both in
terms of timing and degree of opening.

Part III deals with the wider perspectives of cross-language studies
and implications for phonology. Manuel deals with cross-linguistic
aspects of coarticulation in Chapter 8, dealing first with the role of
contrast in coarticulation. Here is argued that the amount of variation
allowed in the realization of a specific phonological unit is related
to the number of segmental contrasts a language has. The more contrasts
a language possesses, the less variation (including coarticulation) is
available, as the phonetic space between units is less. She goes on to
discuss prosodic coarticulation, particularly the effect of stressed
versus unstressed vowels. She relates these differences to different
prosodic types of language (stress-timed versus syllable timed), though
we do have to be wary about how grounded in measurable phonetic
behaviors this distinction is. She concludes with a discussion on vowel
harmony, which may be thought to be a more extreme form of the vowel to
vowel coarticulatory behavior that seems to occur cross-linguistically.

Chapter 9 (Beckman) treats three main topics in her discussion of the
phonological implications of coarticulation. The first concerns the
relationship between phonetics and phonology (in other words is
coarticulation part of phonological planning or an artifact of phonetic
implementation). Secondly, coarticulation raises questions concerning
the nature of phonological units: in particular the segment. Gestural
models of phonology have moved away from the notion of the segment with
'coarticulatory edges' to a separate treatment of phonetic gestures.
Finally, she discusses the implication of coarticulation for
phonological acquisition.

Part IV, as noted earlier, provides the reader with a series of surveys
(seven in all) of instrumental techniques useful in the study of
coarticulation, and some exemplars in each case. The techniques are
Palatography (Chapter 10, Gibbon and Nicolaidis), Imaging (Chapter 11,
including ultrasound, MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), x-ray systems
and computed tomography) by Stone, Electromagnetic Articulography
(Chapter 12, Hoole and Nguyen), Electromyography (Chapter 13,
Hardcastle), and Acoustic analysis (Chapter 16, Recasens). Two chapters
are somewhat different, in that instead of dealing with a specific
technique they deal with a specific phonetic component and the range of
techniques that can be applied to it. So, Chapter 14 (Chafcouloff)
examines velopharyngeal function, and includes aerometry,
electromyography, acoustics, x-rays, endoscopy, photodetection,
mechanical devices (such as the velotrace), ultrasound, MRI, and
electromagnetic articulography. Clearly there has been overlap here,
and it might have been better to have assimilated the discussion here
into the other chapters. The final chapter (15, Techniques for
investigating laryngeal articulation), like Chapter 5, is split between
Hoole and Gobl and Ni Chasaide. Much of the work reported derives from
acoustic analysis so, apart from the odd splitting of the chapter, it
is arguable that this could have been part of the acoustics chapter,
with other techniques put together with items from the previous chapter
into one dealing aerometry and other flow measurement techniques.

Despite these few quibbles on organization, this is an excellent
collection of work on an important area of phonetics. It pulls together
what has been done, and points forward to what still needs to be done.
Clearly a volume required on the shelf of all phoneticians and speech

Biographical statement
Dr Martin J. Ball is Hawthorne-BoRSF Distinguished Professor,
Department of Communicative Disorders, University of Louisiana at
Lafayette. Dr Ball has authored and edited nearly twenty books, over 20
contributions to collections and over thirty refereed articles in
academic journals. He is co-editor of the journal Clinical Linguistics
and Phonetics. His main research interests include clinical phonetics
and phonology, and the linguistics of Welsh. He is currently President
of the International Clinical Phonetics and Linguistics Association.