LINGUIST List 13.621

Thu Mar 7 2002

Review: Phonology: Goldsmith (1999)

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  • Tania Avgustinova, Goldsmith (1999) Phonological Theory: The Essential Readings

    Message 1: Goldsmith (1999) Phonological Theory: The Essential Readings

    Date: Wed, 27 Feb 2002 08:42:31 +0100
    From: Tania Avgustinova <avgustinovaCoLi.Uni-SB.DE>
    Subject: Goldsmith (1999) Phonological Theory: The Essential Readings


    Goldsmith, John A., ed. (1999) Phonological Theory: The Essential Readings. Blackwell Publishers, viii+438pp, paperback ISBN 0-631-20470-9.

    Tania Avgustinova, Saarland University

    This book deals exclusively with the most influential themes in "mainstream American phonological theory". The collection is designed to represent a homogeneous theoretical tradition: it includes classic and contemporary readings on key ideas of autosegmental phonology, syllable structure, lexical phonology, metrical phonology, the phonology-syntax interface, and optimality theory. The papers are not selected simply by their historical interest, but rather on the basis of their direct relevance to issues of contemporary phonological theory.

    In the Introduction (pages 1-16) Goldsmith presents the motivation for this endeavour, as well as the selection criteria applied. The volume contains items which, for different reasons, have not been easily accessible, or as Goldsmith points out in the opening paragraph of his introduction, "[v]irtually all of them are available only in xeroxed form to most people who entered the field in the last few years". Therefore, it is not only helpful but a real pleasure indeed to have all these influential articles reproduced in their original form.

    The 1st item (From "The Sound Patterns of English": Phonetic and Phonological Representation, by Chomsky and Halle, pages 17-21) is a brief passage summarising many of the important principles behind this work which influences most of the papers in the present collection. A basic familiarity with classical generative is assumed. The key idea is to minimise allomorphy by postulating a single underlying phonological representation for each morpheme and accounting for all other phonetic variation by means of phonological rules.

    The 2nd item (On the Role of Notation in Generative Phonology, by McCawley, pages 22-33) takes up the crucial notion of notational convention in Chomsky and Halle's view of phonological theory.

    The 3rd item (From Cyclic Phonology to Lexical Phonology, by Kiparsky, pages 34-62) presents an objection to the generative phonology By simplifying the form of phonological rules so that they bear no explicit marking to show what affixes trigger them, lexical phonology assumes is a major attempt to defend the notion that phonology applies in an automatic fashion. Rule application is divided into lexical and post-lexical, with the former being cyclic.

    The 4th item (The Cycle in Phonology: Stress in Palestinian, Maltese, and Spanish, by Brame, pages 63-82) focuses on an understanding of cyclicity that is different from that developed in lexical phonology. Here, phonological effects on a complex word are motivated for a subpart of the word.

    The 5th item (On Phonotactically Motivated Rules, by Sommerstein, pages 83-90) discusses weaknesses of a derivational approach. In particular, generalisation regarding surface patterns in Latin phonology are important phonologically, but missed in two ways by classical generative treatments.

    The 6th item (Harmonic Phonology, by Goldsmith, pages 91- 101) reviews the relationship between the notion of derivation and of levels in phonology, and the notion of harmonic rule application. The key insight is to think of constraints not as absolute conditions or filters but rather as graded, so that one can speak of the relative well-formedness of any two representations.

    The 7th item (Generalized Alignment, by McCarthy and Prince, pages 102-136) presents an early exploration in the framework of Optimality Theory (OT). A number of familiar typological patterns are reviewed to illustrate how OT allows for a simple statement of these patterns (e.g., stress systems)

    The 8th item (An Overview of Autosegmental Phonology, by Goldsmith, pages 137-161) utilises tier-based autosegmental representations to make the simplicity of an analysis much more transparent and straightforward. A well-formedness condition adds or deletes association links (handling thus a significant part of the dynamic of the work of phonological analysis), if the effect of that change was to improve the well-formedness of the resulting representation.

    The 9th item (A Prosodic Theory of Nonconcatenative Morphology, by McCarthy, pages 162-184) establishes the importance of Semitic studies for mainstream phonological theory. Crucially, much of the complexity of morphology is shown to employ the full mechanisms of phonology. So, morphology is reconsidered in the light of what one knows of phonology.

    The 10th item (From "CV Phonology: A Generative Theory of the Syllable", by Clements and Keyser, pages 185-200) argues in favour of organiseing phonological segments and information into syllables, thus extending autosegmental structure to segmental phonology. In particular, the most of the behaviour of tones that motivate autosegmental representation is claimed to find their counterparts in segmental behaviour.

    The 11th item (The Geometry of Phonological Features, by Clements, pages 201-223) is concerned with developing a universal organisation of phonological features. With each feature being represented on a distinct autosegmental tier, the features are themselves organised hierarchically in a structure.

    The 12th item (Inalterability in CV Phonology, by Hayes, pages 224-237) presents an analysis of an abstract phonological problem in the context of a non-prosodic system using the autosegmental model of chapter 9 above.

    The 13th item (Prosodic Morphology (1986), by McCarthy and Prince, pages 238-288) presents a recent revision of an influential manuscript that treats a range of topics which are equally phonological and morphological.

    The 14th item (On the Role of the Obligatory Contour Principle in Phonological Theory, by Odden, pages 289-302) is cpncerned with an important issue in autosegmental analysis related to the role played in phonology by multiple associations of a single segment. It offers a critical discussion of a principle which has been formulated to unambiguously choose multiple association rather than repetition of an autosegment.

    The 15th item (Phonology with Tiers, by Prince, pages 303- 312) shows that many languages permit a syllable structure where a coda obstruent is permitted only if that obstruent is the first part of geminate consonant. The 16th item (Immediate Constituents of Mazateco Syllables, by Pike and Pike, pages 313-327) is remarkably ahead of its time in arguing that the theory of constituent structure in syntactic analysis can be profitably transferred to the study of syllable structure.

    The 17th item (The Syllable, by Selkirk, pages 328-350) is a detailed study of syllabification in English. It is argued that the syllable is necessary for the most general and explanatory statement of phonotactics and productive rules in phonology. Crucially, the phonological structure is assumed to be needed both below and above the level of the syllable.

    The 18th item (Compensatory Lengthening in Moraic Phonology, by Hayes, pages 351-369) discusses the issue of vowel length in a non-linear framework. A wide range of compensatory lengthening is surveyed in this work. It contains a representational proposal for the treatment of moras, which allows for an account of many of the cases of "otherwise strange" behaviour.

    The 19th item (Syllables, by Fudge, pages 370-391) promotes the syllable as an important element in the inventory of theoretical concepts in phonology.

    The 20th item (On Stress and Linguistic Rhythm, by Liberman and Prince, pages 392-404) deals with stress systems of the type found in English, interpreting them as being based (i) on the prosodic constituency of an utterance and the principles giving rise to that constituency, as well as (ii) the relative prominence of sister constituents in the utterance.

    The 21st item (Relating to the Grid, by Prince, pages 405- 414) is influential in reconsidering what is essential and what is not in the view of metrical structure. The notion of stress clash is considered very important. In particular, the theory ought to have a simple and direct way of assigning prominence on peripheral elements of a domain, which is argued to be a generalisation more fundamental then a constituency-based one.

    The 22nd item (Extrametricality and English Stress, by Hayes, pages 415-425) shows that the notion of extrametrical constituent (employed in the 20th item above) is essential in developing an elegant and coherent theory of prosody that is applicable to a whole range of languages (e.g., English, Arabic, Latin, and Hopi).

    Finally, there is an Index (pages 426-438) of names and terminology.

    The volume is designed not only to complement the Handbook of Phonological Theory (Goldsmith 1995) but also to serve as a primary text for course use. This collection can strongly be recommended both in basic and advance courses in phonological theory and general linguistics. The book will become an important source for scholars, lecturers, and students.

    REFERENCE Goldsmith, John (ed.) The Handbook of Phonological Theory, Oxford: Blackwell, 1995.

    ABOUT THE REVIEWER Tania Avgustinova received her Ph.D. in Slavic and Computational Linguistics at Saarland University. In 1998 she was awarded an individual grant from the German science foundation (DFG) to work on modular language-family oriented grammar design at the Department of Computational Linguistics and Phonetics in Saarbruecken.