This textbook presupposes no prior knowledge of phonology or phonetics, and takes the learner step by step through the various stages and areas of the discipline without sacrificing rigor or breadth of coverage. The book's extraordinary clarity makes it readily understandable by anyone with a keen interest in phonology.
The substance of phonology is more constant and more general than the limitations inherent in any particular theory or formalism may suggest. The book therefore provides a coherent account for beginner-students, rooted primarily - but by no means exclusively - in the phonology of English. No particular theory or formal apparatus is preferred over another; instead, the essence of phonology is provided in the most neutral possible way, for the maximum benefit of the reader. The book avoids entanglement in doctrinal disputes and formal minutiae, and aims instead for the general and the permanent.
The book reviews all the major advances that have taken place in generative phonology over the past thirty years, including the recent Optimality Theory. Its many pedagogical features encourage interaction with the reader, and include a wealth of check-points, chapter previews and summaries, lists of key points, and exercises for further practice.