Re: phonemes (was: 'noun' and 'adjective')
|From:||R A Brown <ray@...>|
|Date:||Sunday, March 5, 2006, 20:33|
John Vertical wrote:
>> Andreas Johansson wrote:
>>> Quoting "Mark J. Reed" <markjreed@...>:
>>>> Also, the idea that there are phoneticians who dispute the very
>>>> existence of phonemes blows my mind. :)
>>> Our very own And Rosta is one of them, unless he's changed opinion
>>> without telling me.
>> Well, they don't exist, do they? As I understand it, they are strictly
>> language-dependent abstractions. While the phoneme theory is quite
>> useful in describing the way sounds are related in an individual
>> language they by no means IMO tell the whole story.
> AIUI, the concept of "allophone" / "reoccuring sound" is meanwhile quite
> sound (pun not intended), isn't it?
The concept of "allophone" does not, I think, make sense without the
concept of "phoneme". "Reoccurring sound" could, I guess, find a place
in other theories besides the phonemic theory.
Personally, I do not think that suprasegmental features are well
analyzed phonemically. But there are systems of phonology which do
without the concept of 'phoneme' entirely; e.g. Prosodic Phonology (a
theory proposed by J.R. Firth) and Distinctive Feature Phonology.
Also those schools of linguistics that do accept the phonemic theory are
by no means in complete agreement over the definition of "phoneme."
I find nothing surprising in this. As advances are made in any science
new theories are formed, old theories reworked or abandoned. Just think
how ideas in physics had changed from the beginning of the 20th century
to the beginning of the 21st century. Linguistics will not be immune to
similar process as knowledge advances.
In the meantime, I take a pragmatic approach. I used "phoneme' with the
sort of 'rule of thumb' meaning we use for the term on this list when it
is useful for describing segmental features. I will use other ideas if
they seem more appropriate.
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