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96. Experimental Approaches in Theoretical Phonology

Shigeto Kawahara

Subject Theoretical Linguistics » Phonology

DOI: 10.1111/b.9781405184236.2011.00098.x


This chapter provides an overview of how experimental work has informed phonological theories, and vice versa. This chapter starts with a historical overview; when phonology was being established as its own area of research, there was a sharp division between phonetics and phonology. This division was called into question, and issues concerning the phonetics-phonology interface are currently being extensively pursued by an approach that is now known as “laboratory phonology”. After this historical overview, I discuss in some detail how phonetic experiments and phonological theories have informed each other. When phonology was being established as its own area of research, it was often assumed that phonology and phonetics were independent of one another. For example, Trubetzkoy (1939 : 11) stated: The speech sounds … possess a large number of acoustic and articulatory properties. All of these are important for the phonetician since it is possible to answer correctly the question of how a specific sound is produced only if all of these properties are taken into consideration. Yet most of these properties are quite unimportant for the phonologist. We still sometimes witness a sharp divide between phonetics and phonology in the current literature: some claim that phonology is an abstract, substance-free computational system, which should be separated out from phonetics: “patterns of ... log in or subscribe to read full text

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