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 Definition In linguistics, the study of the system used to represent language, including sounds in spoken language and hand movements in sign language. [d] [e]
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 Workgroup category Linguistics [Categories OK]
 Subgroup category:  Phonology
 Talk Archive none  English language variant British English


I have a question/comment about the intro paragraph.

Phonology is a subfield of linguistics which studies the system speakers use to represent language; this includes units of sound, letters on a page, hand movements in a sign language, and even the dots and dashes of Morse code. For example, cat can be expressed through the utterance [kæt], the letters c, a and t, or a sign made with the hands.

Do we really want to say that phonology is concerned with orthography and even Morse code? I don't think that's correct, except perhaps to the extent that certain writing systems can reveal something about the phonemic inventory of the language. But I don't think that is what's intended by the paragraph, and if it is, I think the paragraph as written is misleading.

Where did this content come from, anyway? It sounds similar to the intro of the Wikipedia article on phonology, but there's currently no language about writing systems there. Aaron Jacobs 02:08, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

Well don't I feel dumb? I could have sworn that I checked the first revision of this article and that the language about orthography was in there, but I just checked again (or for the first time) and it turns out is was actually added by John Stephenson. I'm still not sure it's correct. Does anyone have any comments? Aaron Jacobs 02:15, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

The composition of signs in sign languages is considered to be analogous to the phonological structure of oral languages, so they certainly belong here. As for Morse Code, I'm not so sure. In fact, I'm not sure that phonology can be ascribed to any written form of a language. --Joe Quick (Talk) 03:11, 25 March 2007 (CDT)

Yeah, that's basically what I'm saying. I'm not disputing that sign languages have a system that is analogous to spoken language phonology. But I don't think that orthography and Morse code (!!) belong in a list of subjects phonology is concerned with. If no one posts any objections within the next day or so, I'll remove the language in question. Aaron Jacobs 13:24, 25 March 2007 (CDT)
Phonology isn't really concerned with orthography, but in some systems, such as English, orthography is concerned with phonology - orthography is another way of representing the same system. Each letter, or combination of letters, represents phonemic information, although there is a morphemic element as well so that we describe the system as 'morphophonemic'. What I was saying was that phonology is not 'brain phonetics' - it's not actually about sounds themselves, but the units used to represent language. These units, i.e. combinations of phonological features, may be spelt out as vibrations in air pressure produced by the vocal organs, or by signs, and effectively by other mechanisms too. Since Morse code uses dots and dashes to represent letters of the alphabet, it follows that it's phonologically-based too.
I don't mind losing the Morse code stuff as it might be confusing, but I was trying to avoid people getting the idea that phonology is about sound. As has been pointed out, e.g. by Davenport and Hannahs (2005: 3), phonetics and phonology are only "accidentally related". John Stephenson 01:36, 31 March 2007 (CDT)
I see what you're saying and I think you're essentially right, but I still disagree with the wording of the paragraph I quoted earlier (specifically the parts I removed from the article). It seems to be saying something different, even if by accident. Aaron Jacobs 02:47, 31 March 2007 (CDT)

History of phonology

Removed this as I'm not able to verify it and am not sure if it's worth including anyway:

In ancient India, the Sanskrit grammarian Pāṇini (c. 520460 BC), who is considered the founder of linguistics, in his text of Sanskrit phonology, the Shiva Sutras, discovers the concepts of the phoneme, the morpheme and the root. The Shiva Sutras describe a phonemic notational system in the fourteen initial lines of the Aṣṭādhyāyī. The notational system introduces different clusters of phonemes that serve special roles in the morphology of Sanskrit, and are referred to throughout the text. Panini's grammar of Sanskrit had a significant influence on Ferdinand de Saussure, the father of modern structuralism, who was a professor of Sanskrit.

The Polish scholar Jan Baudouin de Courtenay coined the word phoneme in 1876, and his work, though often unacknowledged, is considered to be the starting point of modern phonology. He worked not only on the theory of the phoneme but also on phonetic alternations (i.e., what is now called allophony and morphophonology). His influence on Ferdinand de Saussure was also significant.

Prince Nikolai Trubetzkoy's posthumously published work, the Principles of Phonology (1939), is considered the foundation of the Prague School of phonology. Directly influenced by Baudouin de Courtenay, Trubetskoy is considered the founder of morphophonology, though morphophonology was first recognized by Baudouin de Courtenay. Trubetzkoy split phonology into phonemics and archiphonemics; the former has had more influence than the latter. Another important figure in the Prague School was Roman Jakobson, who was one of the most prominent linguists of the twentieth century.


Shall we just restart this from scratch? The only substantive sections in what is otherwise a WP article were added by me. They can be kept, but otherwise we'd get our own article covering this core field, to complement the new syntax (linguistics) article. John Stephenson 07:59, 19 August 2008 (CDT)

Done. I have salvaged all original material. Please add more! John Stephenson 10:13, 20 August 2008 (CDT)