Phonology between theory and data
Marc Van Oostendorp
August 2013

One interesting aspect of the field of phonology at the beginning of the 21st century, is that it is becoming more and more interdisciplinary. A rich tradition of approximately 100 years of theoretical research into synchronic sound systems in natural language is combined with experimental methods, corpus research, insights from historical study and several other disciplines. Our most important task is to integrate all the new types of data that are nowadays being unearthed into the carefully designed theories of our predecessors. We should be sufficiently conservative – our theories have proven themselves right when checked against a large number of data – and at the same time we should not be too reactionary – more data are available to us now than ever before, and it is unlikely that all of our theories will stand their test. There is also a canonical core of insights, ideas and concepts that belong to the theoretical baggage of any serious modern student of phonology: it seems incontestable that everybody needs to know about phonemic analysis and minimal pairs, everybody is aware of the fact that consonants and vowels are grouped into higher ordered, (sub)syllabic constituents, but that there is also evidence that vowels and consonants themselves are composed of smaller units. This brief paper considers the state of phonology in the light of these developments.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/001872
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Stephen R. Anderson e.a. (eds.) L'interface langage-cognition / The language - cognition interface. Genève-Paris: Libraire Droz. pp. 289-306
keywords: phonological theory, state of the art, theory building, phonology
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