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Some of the wording on this page seems queer. For example, there is a line which reads that phonology not only studies phonemic distinction but also how "sounds alternate, for instance the /p/ in English." Perhaps the author intends to refer to the concept of non-distinctive features. In that case, the paragraph in question is not introducing another aspect of phonology, only restating and example of what was cited above, that /p/ can be aspirated or not, but that that feature is not necessarily distinctive. Perhaps it should be mentioned more clearly that each language considers a set of phonetic features to be distinctive, and uses those to differentiate phonemes. In any case, I believe that clarity is lacking and I would love to help with this page if I can. I have a few texts on Phonology so I could perhaps prepare a section on features and feature bundles as a way of describing phonetics. Then, I believe, some morphological concepts will have to be mentioned in order to give a clear idea of what a phoneme is. Also, it struck me that there is no mention of how Phonetics or Phonology relate to the other modules of the grammar (Morphology, Syntax, etc.) nor how they relate to the grammar itself. Joshua Crowgey 12:39, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

But I'd say in English 'August' (name) and 'August' (month) are both ['O g@st], unlike 'result' (noun) ['ri z@lt] vs. 'result' (verb) [rI 'zVlt] where the stress accent positiin is significative. And then, those suprasegmental features are redundant in fact in English, as the change of stress usually implies a change in the quality of the involved vowels. -- Perique des Palottes

Exactly, and there are lots and lots of these; "'record" (noun) vs. "re'cord" (verb), "'progress" (noun) vs. "pro'gress" (verb), etc. You can't say that there "are only few minimal pairs". --Gabbe 18:21 Jan 4, 2003 (UTC)
My english dictionary gives only one pronunciation for all meanings of result: [rI 'zVlt]. But you're right, there are plenty: polish/ Polish. Reading / reading. wound (vb) / wound (noun) -- Tarquin 18:27 Jan 4, 2003 (UTC)
This is a complicated and and controversial issue. If you write down phonetic transcriptions of some of these examples, you'll see that they are not even close to being minimal pairs. E.g., "record" the noun has unaspirated k (or x) followed by unrounded syllabic r, while "record" the verb has aspirated k followed by o. And there are other differences. But what does it matter whether there are minimal pairs? For a generative phonologist, at any rate, what counts is whether the stress is predictable. And even that is unclear for English. In the referenced book, Chomsky and Halle argue that it is, but I doubt many phonologists agree with them. GregLee 01:30, 23 Feb 2004 (UTC)

Linguistics used to say:

In a second layer--in phonology--the smallest elements (phonemes) which may differentiate the meaning of word forms are identified and studied. Phonology also includes the study of larger units such as syllables and phonological words and phrases, with their stress and intonation.

I don't know if anyone wants to integrate this. --Ryguasu 23:46 Jan 8, 2003 (UTC)


Shouldn't we include a little on OT and maybe put a link? 14:22, 13 Oct 2004 (UTC)

Oral Metaphor Construct[edit]

This needs to be here somewhere.

Hardly. How this relates to phonology is opaque at best. It does little to address concerns that interest phonologists. In fact, it isn't even very good. You provide no examples (due to time constraints; although you do tend to engage in meaningless blather). It's barely even readable. Do you have a model? If so, what are its predictions. Moreover, I would be hard-pressed to believe that you are the FIRST individual to posit the metaphor as a distinct unit. How does one go about doing linguistics with OMC? I think I'll hold off on citing your CD until then.

Development of the field[edit]

This entry is shamefully short. Phonology did not start in 1976! Let's go back to Passy, de Courteney, and Saussure, not to mention the Structuralists.

History of phonology would be longer than development of the field. A history would be just that, an attempt to trace just about everything phonological back to the beginning. A development of the field section, however, might attempt to focus on what is most important to understand current phonology, so much shorter.

—Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 00:03, 27 August 2008 (UTC)

Exactly. The phoneme in its modern sense goes back roughly to 1876 actually. Jan Niecislaw Baudouin de Courtenay coined the term fonema during his Kazan period. He and Kruszewski refined the concept in terms of a theory of phonetic alternations. After the Revolution, three major phonological centers grew out of Baudouin's theory: Leningrad, Moscow, and Prague. Trubetskoy, Jakobson, and others represented an expatriate Russian school of phonology that put their own spin on Baudouin's concept of phonology. Trubetskoy kept Baudouin's distinction between phonology and morphophonology, but he split phonology into phonemics and archiphonemics in order to distinguish alternations involving phonetic neutralization. So he kep word-final devoicing as a phonological alternation involving archiphonemes, not a morphophonological alternation. Moscow took a line more faithful to Baudouin--that distinct underlying phonemes could be neutralized in certain phonetic positions. So they treated word-final devoicing as a position where distinct voiced and unvoiced obstruent phonemes could be phonetically neutralized. Leningrad took the position that phonemes could never undergo complete neutralization. So their analysis of word-final devoicing treated the alternation as involving distinct phonemes. --rwojcik 16:45, 9 Apr 2005 (UTC)

Well, I finally took my own advice and expanded this section--after someone else had, thankfully. I also moved the section on Generative Phonology in here. It seemed to fit better as a part of this section than as a stand-alone. If someone wants to incorporate some of rwojcik's comments, please do, though it seems that some of the details might be better put into the article on de Courtenay. Squidley 20:07, 16 November 2005 (UTC)

Sorry but this article is really awful. It recapitulates much of what is covered at the article on 'phoneme' (itself not good), and then makes the bulk of phonology sound like phonemics. First, there is phonology as the thing itself, and phonology as the field that studies that thing. This article didn't even get that much at the outset right. Then it goes on in length mostly about phonemics and jumps into a mish-mash of more modern approaches to phonology, no explained very well. And as if features came out of the 1960s, give me strength!

What does phonology include?[edit]

I would myself like to posit that perhaps a distinction should referenced between Phonetics (descriptions of the phonetic apparatus and its potential) and Phonology (descriptions of how language uses that apparatus).Joshua Crowgey 12:26, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

Does phonology mean only the identification of phonemic differences in a language? That is what this article seems to be saying, especially with claims such as "In some languages, stress is non-phonological." I would say that this is one use of the term.

Should that line, "stress is non-phonological," read: "not distinctive"? Joshua Crowgey 12:26, 19 January 2007 (UTC)

I think there may be a second use of the term which covers the description of the whole sound system of a language, including prosody, phonotactics, processes of assimilation, etc. From Phonotactics: "Phonotactics is a branch of phonology that deals with restrictions in a language on the permissible combinations of phonemes."

Anyone want to comment? Gailtb 05:17, 23 October 2005 (UTC)

I think so too: it treats phonology as if it were largely old phonemics. The phonology vs. phonetics distinction breaks down, and that should affect an article like this profoundly: phonology more and more takes in phonetic considerations that are systematic and language-specific, and phonology is no longer limited to 'contrastive' and/or categorical treatment of segments. It certainly is not an encyclopedic look at the modern field of phonology. As for the history buffs (true of the phoneme as well). Might they better serve their interests by doing two articles: 'history of phonology' and 'phonology'?

Sign Language Phonology[edit]

One branch of phonological study deals with signed, rather than spoken, language. Scholars in this field contend that sign languages have phonology; some would argue this is the same system used in speech.

This article is misleading in that by emphasising 'sounds' it implies that phonology is just 'brain phonetics'. The brief mention of phonology in sign languages needs to be beefed up.

Additionally, "gestures" needs to be replaced (in fact, I'll do it). Typically this is reserved for non-linguistic hand movements, with "signs" used for the sign language modality. The 'gestures' link correctly points to an article on non-verbal communication. Jsteph 12:08, 1 May 2006 (UTC)

This also should not be confused with a branch of phonology that has recently come into focus. That is, articulatory phonology, which posits that the basic unit is not the phoneme nor the feature but the articulatory gesture. See for example the work of Liberman. Or does anyone care at this point? —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 12:46, 17 January 2008 (UTC)


Could someone tell me what ß SOUNDS lIKE!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Um, do you mean the German letter ß or the IPA symbol β? The German letter sounds like the /s/ sound of grass or sand. The IPA symbol is a voiced bilabial fricative which doesn't exist in English. You can make it, though, by making a /v/ sound as in very, and then slowly moving your lower lip from your teeth to your upper lip. When your two lips are very close together and the air is flowing out between them, you're making the β sound. Angr (tc) 23:43, 24 May 2006 (UTC)

Wrong link under J. Kaye in the body of the article "Phonology"[edit]

I would like to call for a correction to be made to the link under Jonathan Kaye in the above mentioned article. The link points now to the homonynous Jonathan Kaye, American Golf Tournament Pro, and not to the distinguished linguist now residing in Girona, Spain. Please do correct that error as I have no idea how to do it myself. Thank you. Cedric

Metrical Phonology[edit]

In an introductory book I read on Linguistics, the section on phonology described theories that it referred to as linear phonology, geometric phonology, then metrical phonology as a compliment to geometric phonology. The author then discusses lexical phonology as another aspect of the theory, then finally opposes all of the above to optimality theory. Are any of these terms to be included here? I'm not an expert. I noticed that someone had requested the article Extrametricality so I created the stub, but then I began to look for places to link it to and I begin to doubt. Any help? Joshua Crowgey 08:25, 13 July 2007 (UTC)

I've never heard of "geometric phonology"; do you mean feature geometry? I'd say OT can be opposed to linear phonology and lexical phonology, while feature geometry and metrical phonology are specific issues in phonological theory that can be explained using any of linear, lexical, or OT, depending on the author. —Angr 12:55, 14 July 2007 (UTC)


See Talk:Phonetics#Phonetics / Phonology. --Eleassar my talk 10:24, 30 September 2007 (UTC)

A comment[edit]


Thank you for your suggestion. When you feel an article needs improvement, please feel free to make those changes. Wikipedia is a wiki, so anyone can edit almost any article by simply following the edit this page link at the top. The Wikipedia community encourages you to be bold in updating pages. Don't worry too much about making honest mistakes — they're likely to be found and corrected quickly. If you're not sure how editing works, check out how to edit a page, or use the sandbox to try out your editing skills. New contributors are always welcome. You don't even need to log in (although there are many reasons why you might want to). —Angr 18:00, 19 July 2008 (UTC)

The problem is wikiediting does not work in many cases. It's just impossible to get people to stop interfering in favor of their own personal views and prejudices. Wiki is good for current events--because of all the links--and little else, except for the fact that most everything else is behind some sort of payment system.

It seems to me Wiki needs to develop a useful, more concise 'micropedia' and then let all the academic putz wannabes play with a macromedia til they drop dead at their keyboards. Also, it needs to keep in mind that the history of a concept is not necessarily the same thing as the explanation of the current understanding of that concept. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 06:56, 2 August 2008 (UTC)

Maybe the Phonology article at the 'Simple English Wikipedia' is what you're looking for.—SuperlativeHors (talk) 14:51, 23 October 2008 (UTC)

No, it isn't. —Preceding unsigned comment added by (talk) 11:52, 6 January 2010 (UTC)

section 2: Representing phonemes[edit]

The 2nd to last sentence in this section is written:

"While the letters between slashes may be based on spelling conventions, the letters between square brackets are usually the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) or some other phonetic transcription system."

2 points: 1) It is not clear what is meant by 'spelling conventions' here; 2) '...or some other phonetic transcription system' also is too general. I'd propose a fix to read:

"While the letters and symbols between slashes may be based on pronunciation keys of individual dictionary publishers, the letters between square brackets are usually the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) with diacritical or other transcription marks added for finer phonetic detail."

Does this seem correct?

--A Fonesby (talk) 12:28, 26 January 2009 (UTC)

A tale of two Geoffreys[edit]

I made a minor correction to the 'Natural Phonology' section--the North American referred to in the article is me, not Geoff Pullum, who is not a phonologist (although he has published on phonetic symbols), whereas I have published extensively on Natural Phonology, including a recent textbook published by Benjamins. Geoffrey S. Nathan (talk) 18:59, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

This is correct. A Google Books search for «natural phonology geoffrey nathan» confirms that Geoffrey Nathan, not Geoffrey Pullum, is a practitioner of Natural Phonology. +Angr 19:31, 14 May 2010 (UTC)
Sorry about the reverts. My mistake. -- Gogo Dodo (talk) 20:37, 14 May 2010 (UTC)

Article development[edit]

Greetings (and in that order). After saving this comment, I'll save a change to the article, comprising the addition of an inline citation.

In developing this article, the first step is to add inline citations. I expect that some, perhaps several (but not all) of the references listed in the bibliography, can be found on the internet. And from those you can create citations, since I presume some of the content is attributable to the bibliographic references. Failing that, it is pretty certain that there are books and articles out there in internetland that can be viewed online, and from which you can create citations.

As to the topic of the article, the title gives the clue: phonology. That is the topic. A useful article on the topic should include a history section. If the whole article pertained to the history of phonology, the title should then be history of phonology. If, because of the knowledge-base or the primary sources of the primary editors, the majority of the article comprises content on the history of phonology, but with a lesser content on what phonology is, then this simply tells you that the article needs further development.

Certainly the first question to be asked and answered is: "what is phonology?". Indeed asking of oneself the sorts of questions a novice might ask (who studies it, and in what fields; what is the relevance of phonology to different fields, both theoretical and practical, specialist and everyday), gives important clues for article development. Just some food for thought. I don't have the time to work through and add citations. But I can at least give some idea of how I'd tackle it if I had the time. And I can provide at least one citation to get the ball rolling, which I've done. I may have a go at finding some urls for some of the references in the bibliography, but it will be up to others to utilise the information. Regards Wotnow (talk) 21:21, 8 January 2011 (UTC)