LSA 312: Phonological theory

John Harris | six-week course | MW 10:30 – 12:15, 179 Stanley Hall

This course provides an introductory investigation into the design properties of languages' sound systems. It places syllable structure centre stage, focusing on how this mediates between consonant- and vowel-sized segments on the one hand and word structure on the other.

The investigation prompts a rethink of certain widely held assumptions about syllable structure. Some, including the following, turn out to be more problematic than was once thought.

'Languages' syllabic systems can be exhaustively classified into 'CV' and 'CVC' types.'
'Any consonant at the beginning of a word falls at the beginning of a syllable; any consonant at the end of a word falls at the end of a syllable.'
'Some languages allow consonant clusters at the end of syllables.'
'In some languages, a consonant between two vowels belongs to both syllables.'
'Syllabification can be determined on the basis of native-speaker judgements.'
'Restrictions on the distribution of consonants within clusters are conditioned by syllable structure and driven by sonority.'
'All languages have syllables.'

Course participants will be given practice in analysing phonological data sets, drawn from a wide range of languages, which illustrate particular theoretical issues discussed in the lectures.

There is no course text. Recommended readings will be drawn from some of the standard textbooks (placed on reserve in the library) and from electronic versions of papers that can be downloaded from bSpace.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

On reserve at Graduate Services, 208 Doe Library: Edmund Gussmann, Phonology: analysis and theory and Iggy Roca and Wyn Johnson, Course in phonology.

Prerequisites: Basic grounding in phonetics.

Areas of linguistics: Phonetics, phonology, and morphology

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