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6. Self-organization in Phonology

Andrew Wedel

Subject Linguistics » Computational Linguistics
Theoretical Linguistics » Phonetics, Phonology

Key-Topics functional grammar

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184236.2011.00008.x


Structure can arise in a system in many different ways. Self-organization is one general mechanism for structure formation which has relatively recently been explored as a possible contributor to patterns found in language. The aims of this chapter are: (i) to provide an overview of self-organization as a general mechanism for structure formation; (ii) to describe some of the ways that self-organizational processes can interact with other familiar mechanisms for structure formation; and (iii) to review selected work done to date which argues that particular phonological phenomena may arise through the contribution of self-organizational mechanisms. Self-organization has been argued to play a role in a wide variety of phonological phenomena, from the development of a phonological grammar in acquisition through the systemic grammatical changes that occur in language over many generations. A central mechanism in self-organization is feedback, in which the properties of a current state of a system are dependent in some way on those of a preceding state. When such states are linked in a temporal chain, structure can develop in ways that cannot be described in terms of a single set of causal steps. Arguments that phonological patterns can emerge in this way are not new: Lindblom et al . (1984) for example argued that phonological inventories are shaped by interactions between phonological ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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