Fundamental Concepts in Phonology: Sameness and Difference

Fundamental Concepts in Phonology: Sameness and Difference

Fundamental Concepts in Phonology: Sameness and Difference

Fundamental Concepts in Phonology: Sameness and Difference

Synopsis

Ken Lodge investigates the basic concepts of phonological theory. He especially focuses on sameness and difference, each a sine qua non of classification. It is assumed that all academic disciplines utilize these two basic concepts in classification. Since phonology deals with the interface between the abstract system of native speaker knowledge and physical entities, the linguistic classification of those physical entities needs a clear and rigorously applied criteria for deciding what constitutes the same sound and what does not. For the past hundred years, linguists have generally assumed that the criteria for classification are found in a segmentalized version of the phonetic continuum of spoken language. This is still largely the case today, even though the system of native speaker knowledge of language is considered to be a highly abstract mental representation of that knowledge. This book questions the basis of such assumptions, in particular segmentation, abstractness, monosystemicity, and derivation.

Excerpt

This book is an attempt to bring together various strands of my work from over the past forty years, both as a researcher and as a teacher. The themes that I have chosen to discuss in some detail here can all be seen as problematical, even though typically they are taken for granted. My experience as a student, and then later as a researcher, taught me to question most things that were presented to me as accepted (and acceptable) dogma. This was the case despite being trained in an essentially structuralist tradition, before the appearance of The sound pattern of English, but I was also lucky enough to be introduced to the Firthian tradition of linguistics as an alternative viewpoint. The Chomskyan revolution, so-called, clearly was just that in the way language was approached as an object of academic investigation, but nevertheless it continued with many of the features of its predecessor, structuralism, especially in the area of phonology.

This book has thus grown out of a long dissatisfaction with the way in which many exponents of phonological theory do not approach their analyses in a consistent and principled way, often at a very basic level. It was quite striking that Goldsmith (1995a) (reviewed in Lodge, 1997) contained many such papers; these papers were claimed to be a selection of mainstream views on the structure of human phonologies. Lodge (1997) looks at a number of key issues which are fundamental to phonological theorizing, but which are treated as though they need not be revisited, despite several calls to that effect over the years. So, I am not so much concerned with whether the Obligatory Contour Principle, for example, is a valid and true statement of a linguistic universal as with whether the basic assumptions that lead to such a claim are valid. What can be said of academic monographs and anthologies can be said equally of introductory textbooks in the field, so I will pay attention to the way issues are presented in some of these. This is particularly significant because today’s students are tomorrow’s phonologists.

In the process of developing my thoughts on phonological theory . . .

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