Non-monolithic explanatory principles in phonology


Miren Lourdes Oñederra (University of the Basque Country)



General topic


This paper touches upon highly theoretical issues such as whether or not universal preferences can or cannot be ignored depending on particular data of specific languages. Contradictory sets of principles will be said to be necessary if explanation is our ultimate goal in phonology. Motivation for both simple and complex syllable structure, scarce and highly developed phoneme inventories, perceptually salient and weakening substitutions, articulatorily easy and difficult configurations will be mentioned, the clue being that in phonology only the single process can in each case be liable to (phonetic) explanation.


Specific study


The need for explanation in Natural Phonology and the essential role of phonetic motivation within that framework will be taken as the basis for the ontological separateness between phonology and morphology in the analysis of sound substitutions. This paper shows the great advantage of such a theory for the study of Basque expressive palatalization, which proves to be problematic from the point of view of other theories, unless no explanation is aimed at. Basque expressive palatalization will be shown to be a morpho(no)logical rule and compared to other rules of Basque and other languages. An ongoing study of the subject of Basque palatalization from the point of view of OT will be taken into account as a reference and for the sake of contrast. Empirical data will be drawn from our latest fieldwork (1/UPV/EHU 00033.130-HA-8025/2000) led under the auspices of the Univ. of the Basque Country in the French Basque provinces.


First references


Donegan, Patricia. 2001. Constraints and processes in phonological perception. Constraints and Preferences. Berlin/New York: Mouton de Gruyter, 43-68.


Donegan, Patricia Jane and David Stampe. 1979. The Study of Natural Phonology. Current Approaches to Phonological Theory. Daniel A. Dinnsen, ed. Bloomington: IUP. 126-173.


Hall, T. A. 2002. Against extrasyllabic consonants in German and English.

Phonology 19, 33-75.