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Phonological Typology

Ed. by Hyman, Larry M. / Plank, Frans

Series:Phonology and Phonetics [PP] 23

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Publication Date:
April 2018
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Formal and empirical issues in phonological typology

Kiparsky, Paul


The word level in the sense of Lexical Phonology and Stratal OT, here referred to as the l-phonemic level, is a linguistically significant level of representation, which captures what was right about the structural phonemic level without inheriting its well-known problems. It does so in virtue of encoding non-contrastive but distinctive as well as contrastive but non-distinctive phonological properties. I show that phonological systems which appear marginal or aberrant from the perspective of structural phonemics and generative phonological underlying representations are normalized at the l-phonemic level, and that certain phonological universals become exceptionless only at this level. Dramatic instances include putative vertical and one-vowel systems such as those of Arrernte and Kabardian, and apparently syllable-less languages such as Gokana. I further argue that “external evidence” from change, dispersion, poetic conventions, and language games supports l-phonemic representations rather than classical phonemic representations. The larger methodological point is that there are no theory-neutral grammars, and consequently no theory-neutral typology. In terms of Hyman’s (2008) distinction, there are no “descriptive” universals of language. All universals are “analytic”, and their validity often turns on a set of critical cases where different solutions can be and have been entertained. Therefore the search for better linguistic descriptions, more illuminating typologies, and stronger cross-linguistic generalizations and universals must go hand in hand.

Citation Information

Paul Kiparsky (2018). Formal and empirical issues in phonological typology. In Larry M. Hyman, Frans Plank (Eds.), Phonological Typology (pp. 54–106). Berlin, Boston: De Gruyter. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110451931-003

Book DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110451931

Online ISBN: 9783110451931

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/BostonGet Permission

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