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Review of  Introducing Phonetics and Phonology

Reviewer: Alex Ho-Cheong Leung
Book Title: Introducing Phonetics and Phonology
Book Author: Mike Davenport S. J. Hannahs
Publisher: Oxford University Press
Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Subject Language(s): English
Issue Number: 22.2915

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AUTHORS: Mike Davenport and S. J. Hannahs
TITLE: Introducing Phonetics and Phonology
SUBTITLE: Third edition
SERIES TITLE: A Hodder Arnold Publication
PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press
YEAR: 2011

Alex Ho-Cheong Leung, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics,
Newcastle University, U.K.


This book, which introduces the basics of phonetics and phonology, is primarily
intended for (but not limited to) students who are beginning their degrees in
linguistics or related fields of study. It provides a step-by-step guide to
understanding phonetics and phonology.

Following the introduction, the book discusses the fundamentals of speech sounds
from articulation apparatus (chapter 2), consonants (chapter 3) and vowels
(chapter 4) to acoustic phonetics (chapter 5), and syllables and other
supra-segmental structures (chapter 6). Upon equipping users with the basic
conventions and terminologies, the book gradually proceeds to the area of
phonology (chapters 7-12). Chapter 7 lays out details about features. Chapter 8
talks about phonemic analysis, minimal pairs and alludes to phonological rules,
a topic elaborated in the following chapter alongside concepts related to
phonological alternations and processes. Various previously introduced
phonological structures such as syllable, foot, and mora are incorporated into
the discussion about models of phonological representations in chapter 10.
Derivational analysis is illustrated through the discussion of English noun
plural formation in chapter 11. Chapter 12 summarizes constraint-based analysis,
Optimality Theory (OT) and readdresses phonological processes that have been
dealt with from a derivational perspective in previous chapters in light of OT.
The book concludes by highlighting the need to constrain phonological models and
stating outstanding issues in relation to that. Exercises are given in relation
to materials covered in each chapter. This offers an opportunity for readers to
practice and consolidate what they have learnt from the text.


Substantial additions and modifications have been made since the book's first
appearance in 1998 (which was then reviewed by Deterding (1999)). Subsequent to
the addition of the chapter on supra-segmental structures (chapter 6) in the
second edition of the book, this edition has been further expanded to cover the
latest developments in phonological theories; elaborations have also been made
on notions such as unary features (pp. 157-159), and transparent and opaque
segments in the autosegmental model (pp. 164-166).

Among all the additions, the new chapter on the constraint based model
Optimality Theory (OT) will be commented on first. The beginning section
(p.198-202) of the chapter is devoted to outlining the key building blocks of
OT, e.g. Evaluator (Eval), Generator (Gen), Optimal Candidate, etc. It then
discusses briefly how OT differs from traditional derivational analyses (pp.
202-203). Through discussing OT's take on phonological processes such as
assimilation, deletion, metathesis, etc., readers are provided with case studies
on how OT operates and the mechanism involved in it (pp. 203-208). Likewise, via
revisiting plural noun formation with respect to English (pp. 208-212), readers
are shown how a tableau is formulated and how the rank of respective constraints
is established. Laying out details about OT in such an incremental manner
facilitates readers' understanding of Optimality Theory and its mechanics, which
can be complex and difficult to digest at times. This approach allows readers
who are still grappling with the brand new concept of constraints, ranking,
optimal candidate, etc. to take things on board one step at a time without
feeling overwhelmed. This chapter thus provides a very easy-to-read synopsis of OT.

The glossary list is another welcome addition. Beginning students -- the
intended audience of the book -- often find it daunting when confronted by an
immense amount of new terms; glosses which provide quick reference to key
concepts are therefore handy tools for them. However, the glossary list has to
be better integrated with the main text in order for it to function fully. For
example, an in-text statement of how to utilize the list will be helpful.
Without such a statement, a logical assumption would be to look for anything in
bold and italics. Though these highlighted materials correspond to the gloss in
the list on most occasions, some concepts such as metathesis (p.144) and
reduplication (p.145) are glossed but were, nonetheless, not in italics. This
overlaps with the use of bold for general emphasis and stressed syllables (e.g.
PA.rrot, ra.CCOON on p. 78 (the bold is replaced by capitals here due to the
limitation in formatting)). Even more problematic still are the appearance of
important constructs which were either not highlighted (or italicized) in the
first instance or were completely left out from the glossary list. For instance,
''phonotactic(s)'' (without bold/ italic font) first appears on p. 77 in relation
to syllabification, but remains undefined until p. 170 where it is in bold and
italics. Relevant to that is the principle of ''onset maximization'' which was not
included in the list. ''Underlying representation'' which appeared repeatedly is
another concept central to phonology that was excluded from the glossary.

The feature table (table 7.1 on p. 112) is another improvement that this edition
has added. The inclusion of the respective classes enables readers to make
better sense of this complicated table. On a related note about tables, the
chapter on vowels (chapter 4) could perhaps benefit from the inclusion of a
summary table similar to the one given for consonants in chapter 3 on pp. 36-7
(table 3.3), where relevant words are given along with the consonants. Aligning
the vowels with exemplifying words such as those listed in the standard lexical
set by Wells (1982) would provide readers with mnemonics to remember the
International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols.

In spite of the few suggestions for improvements made earlier, this is, by and
large, a very well written and meticulously structured book for readers who are
just embarking upon their linguistics odyssey. In a clear and easy-to-follow
manner, key concepts with respect to phonetics and phonology are introduced.
With the enrichment this latest edition contains, the book is undoubtedly a
valuable addition to ones' book shelf.


Deterding, D. (1999). ''Review of 'Introducing Phonetics and Phonology'''.
Linguist List
10.989. []

Wells, J. C. (1982). ''Accents of English''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Alex Ho-Cheong Leung is an IPhD student in English Language and Linguistics at Newcastle University, UK. He is a tutor for the courses 'Introduction to phonetics and phonology' and 'Introduction to English Historical Linguistics'. His primary research interest is on child second language acquisition and phonology. He is also interested in topics related to sociolinguistics, bilingualism and historical linguistics. His latest publication, titled 'I know [pɪlɪpɪno] but i say [fɪlɪpɪno]: an investigation into Filipino foreign domestic helpers' influence on Hong Kong Chinese's L2 English phonology acquisition', appeared in Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 47 (2011).

Format: Paperback
ISBN: 144410988X
ISBN-13: 9781444109887
Pages: 604
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