John Ohala

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John J. Ohala is a Professor Emeritus in linguistics at the University of California, Berkeley. He specializes in phonetics and phonology.

He received his PhD in Linguistics in 1969 from University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA); his graduate advisor was Peter Ladefoged. He is best known for his insistence that many aspects of languages' phonologies (a.k.a. "sound patterns") derive from physical and physiological constraints which are independent of language and thus have no place in the "grammar" of a language, i.e., what speakers have to learn inductively from exposure to the speech community into which they are born.

He has also proposed that ethological principles (that is, Darwinian principles where behavior influences the "fitness" and thus survivability of the species) determine certain aspects of languages' prosodic patterns, sound symbolism, and facial expressions involving the lips.

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