Introduction to the government phonology-natural phonology workshop


Edmund Gussmann (Gdańsk)


In my introductory talk I will try to place in the historical context what I regard as the pervasive issues in phonology. The objective is not to search for predecessors or forerunners but to point out that in one guise or another practically each of the so-called new developments has been present somewhere in past research. In most cases it is just a different combination of old ingredients that is responsible for a new concoction. I will claim that by general consensus there is enough data which is phonological and for which phonological interpretations should be provided;  it is this data that should allow us to evaluate different theories and theoretical issues..


The issues I wish to single out are the following:


1. the relevance or irrelevance of contrast. This is a different way of assessing the role of syntagmatic and paradigmatic considerations in phonology; will the paradigmatic bias continue to dominate the discipline?


2. phonetics in phonology. How much of the phonetic substance should be accounted for by phonological regularities or how seriously should phonetic facts be taken? Are there grounds for claiming that the linguistically interpreted phonetic representation is different from the phonological representation?


3. the statement of phonological regularities. What is allowed or admitted in such statements? What is categorically disallowed?  Is grammatical information valid or permissible in such statements? Are arbitrary diacritics to be admitted? How far – if at all – can we rely on empty categories?


4. morpho(po)nology. Is it just a dumping grounds for whatever cannot be fitted into phonological statements? Is morphophonology the same as phonology but in a crooked mirror? Is it legitimate to describe one without the other?