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The use of prosodic categories gives a clearer understanding of the intonation of utterances than the syntactic structure that was assumed in SPE. The prosodic hierarchy includes eight categories from the highest (the phonological utterance) through the intermediate cateories (intonation phrase, phonological phrase, clitic group, phonological word, foot, syllable) to the lowest (the mora). Each unit consists exclusively of units of the next lower category, though certain derived structures are possible with nesting, as when a syllable is adjoined to a foot. In that case the original foot is a constituent of the derived larger foot and a sister to the adjoined syllable. Exemplification of segmental rules that apply in terms of each prosodic category from English and other languages. The three highest units can sometimes be restructured, either broken into smaller units or combined into a larger unit. Summary of the postlexical rules.
Basic principles of generative phonology, as codified in SPE, and later developments within this framework, including metrical phonology, lexical phonology, autosegmental phonology, and underspecification theory. The role of cyclicity. The rise of Optimality Theory and the difficulties encountered in this framework in accounting for opaque relationships.
This is the first full-scale discussion of English phonology since Chomsky and Halle's seminal The Sound Pattern of English (SPE). The book enphasizes the analysis using ordered rules and builds on SPE by incorporating lexical and metrical and prosodic analysis and the insights afforded by Lexical Phonology. It provides clear explanations and logical development throughout, introducing rules individually and then illustrating their interactions. These features make this influential theory accessible to students from a variety of backgrounds in linguistics and phonology. Rule-ordering diagrams summarize the crucial ordering of approximately 85 rules. Many of the interactions result in phonological opacity, where either the effect of a rule is not evident in the output or its conditions of application are not present in the output, due to the operation of later rules. This demonstrates the superiority of a rule-based account over output oriented approaches such as Optimality Theory or pre-Generative structuralist phonology.
The parametric approach to stress includes parameters (1) quantity sensitivity, (2) maximally binary or unbounded feet, (3) left or right branching and left or right strong, (4) direction of stress-tree construction, and (5) the word tree as left or right branching, Exemplification of this approach in Maranungku, Latvian, Warao, Eastern Cheemis, and Latin. Application to English as quantity sensitive with maximally binary feet that are left branching and left strong constructed from right to left with a right-branching word tree. It is necessary to allow some segments and syllables to be extrametrical prior to the application of the rules. Destressing rules are also required, with a convention of stray syllable adjunction. Most stress rules apply cyclically on stratum 1 of the phonology, with some noncyclic on stratum 2. Exceptions are to be accounted for by marking some items exceptions to certain rules; there is no need to assume stress in underlying representations.
The detailed phonology of the word level, defined as the last lexical stratum. This is stratum 2 in English, which, like stratum 1 is word bounded, is structure preserving, and has access to word-internal structure assigned at the same stratum, but unlike stratum 1 is not cyclic and is not subject to the Strict Cycle Condition, allowing rules like Vowel Shift and Velar Softening to apply freely in nonderived contexts. Vowek Shift is a chain shift that affects stressed tense vowels by shifting high vowels to low and raising low vowels to mid and mid vowels to high, without creating any mergers. Some additional rules are required to ensure the final vowel qualities. Some tensing rules apply on stratum 1 or this stratum before Vowel Shift, another applies after Vowel Shift. Vowel reduction produces two or three vowels (depending on dialect), not just schwa as in SPE. Rules for consonants include Velar Softening, Palatalization, Spirantization, with interesting and complex ordering relations. Summary of the stratum 2 rules and their ordering.
Umlaut and ablaut as morphological (rather than phonological) processes, affix order and bracketing paradoxes, subcategorization and stratum ordering, critique of Optimality Theory with respect to its ability to account for major phonological patterns in English, as described in rule terms in the preceding chapters. These include stress, vowel shift, and laxing. Special attention is given to opacity. Opacity presents the same problem to Optimality Theory as it does to pre-Generative structuralist phonology, due to its output orientation. Velar Softening is opaque in medicate (underapplication) and in criticize (overapplication). Various patches proposed to deal with this issue have involved the reintroduction of the intermediate derivational stages that Optimality Theory was designed to eliminate. These patches do not allow for Duke of York derivations such as that which appears in English in the derivation of pressure. The device of stratal Optimality Theory, combining level ordering and constraints differently ranked on different strata, can account for some Duke of York derivations but at the expense of making some postlexical processes lexical.
The syllable and the mora as units of utterances, SPE's treatment without an explicit syllable, approaches to syllables including the syllable boundary approach, the autosegmental approach, the constituent-structure approach, and the moraic approach. Conditions on onsets and codas in various languages. Rules for syllabification in English, and some exceptional patterns.