By Sari Pietikäinen, Alexandra Jaffe, Helen Kelly-Holmes, Nik Coupland
Sociolinguistics from the Periphery "presents a fascinating book about change: shifting political, economic and cultural conditions; ephemeral, sometimes even seasonal, multilingualism; and altered imaginaries for minority and indigenous languages and their users"
Review of Phonological Representations, Their Names, Forms and Powers
A) John Coleman, 1998, Phonological Representations. Their Names, Forms and Powers, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge et al., xii + 345 pages.
B) Stefan Ploch, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London)
Coleman's monograph (`CLM') looks at phonological representations from the perspective of declarative phonology (DCP). In other words, the purpose of Coleman's investigation is to provide further support for the claim (already made in Coleman 1995, Scobbie 1993, and Scobbie, Coleman and Bird 1996) that underlying representations, derivations and rewriting rules are unnecessary. The main advantages of DCP's formal rules over generative approaches are, in Coleman's view, "explicitness, transparency of expressive power, logical completeness and consistency" (CLM:9), on the one hand. For example, Coleman argues that the clear differentiation between notation and denotation can help phonologists to be more aware of the restrictiveness of their respective frameworks (CLM:6). On the other hand, certain general parsing algorithms for context-free grammars can be used to determine syllable structure or the ill-formedness of some string of segments (CLM:9) without having to stipulate a series of derived levels of representation.
After an introduction and overview in chapter 1, Coleman starts off his discussion of phonological representations with an investigation of a series of notation types that are (more or less) commonly employed by phonological theories (chapter 2). The main part of this chapter looks at form (notation) and content (denotation) of the IPA. However, Coleman also provides a (de)notational comparison between the IPA, Sweet's Organic Alphabet (Henderson 1971), feature-matrix representation and of a strict, a relaxed and a superweak segmental interpretation of componential representation. (These three types of interpretations of componential representation are frequently employed in acoustic, articulatory and coarticulatory studies (respectively).) Another interesting aspect of this chapter (and CLM in general) is that, in line with the fact that Coleman's approach to representations distinguishes between (syntactic) notations and (semantic) denotations, he also makes use of model-theoretic semantics. In this way, analyses can be made to relate to a model M which determines a class of possible (speaker- and utterance-independent) sound type sequences for all IPA expressions and a sequence of sound tokens for a given phonetic expression, speaker and occasion of utterance (CLM:31).
In his analysis of the semantics (denotation) of the IPA, a segmental phonetic notation system, Coleman (CLM:37f.) finds that each member of the set of IPA symbols denotes the intersection of a set of physical properties while a diacritic denotes a function from denotations of basic expressions, i.e. the members of the set of all elements/symbols of the IPA alphabet (with or without diacritics) (CLM:26), to denotations of basic expressions. Furthermore, concatenation denotes temporal adjacency - cocatenation, temporal overlap. Using a model of coarticulation that is based on temporal overlap, Coleman accounts for hard coarticulation and epenthesis as non-phonological phenomena that find their motivation in the overlap of phonetic components. The main advantage of this phonetic account, says Coleman, is that it makes a phonological explanation unnecessary (CLM:45).
In chapter 3, Coleman investigates phonemic and transformational-generative phonology. This part of the book is particularly noteworthy because it contains a practical overview over the historical development of notations and denotations in phonemic and transformational phonology, of features, types of oppositions and transformations, and rule types. Coleman is particularly interested in the major flaws of transformational approaches: in the invertibility problem (i.e. the difficulty in deciding whether, in a given transformational grammar with deletion rules, underlying forms are derivable from surface forms by inverse transformations), the rule ordering problem (i.e. the difficulty in formulating a unique rule order such that all universal phonetic rules follow language-specific phonological rules) and the excessive power of transformational grammars (often caused in a theory by SPE-ancestry). The usage of context-sensitive rules with deletion results in unrestricted rewriting systems whose symptoms are excessive power, unlearnability or both. Since these flaws are intrinsic to such approaches and since even a theoretical preference for general (rather than specific) rules has in Coleman's view "not been shown to appropriately restrict the class of languages that can be defined'' (CLM:89), he concludes that transformational grammars need not be improved upon.
He then goes on to provide a method for the determination of declarative statements (as opposed to transformational rules). Subsequently, Coleman provides evidence for his claim that unification-based phrase-structure grammars ('UPSGs') are a useful phonological tool in that they allow cross-categorial generalisations and exhibit less redundancy in the formulation of rule schemata than 'classical' phrase-structure grammars ('PSGs').
In chapter 4, Coleman looks at the representational mechanism employed by non-linear theories, i.e. by autosegmental, metrical and dependency phonology. He finds that the rule formalisms used by these frameworks are, like their predecessors, far too unconstrained. In a discussion of the well-formedness constraints of autosegmental phonology ('AP'), Coleman argues that a decade of autosegmental research exhibits little improvement in relation to the avoidance of language-specific rewriting rules over earlier frameworks; association conventions and the no crossing constraint ('NCC') are flawed in that proposed autosegmental spreading mechanisms are unnecessary and the NCC is only a constraint on diagrams (i.e. it is a notational constraint) , not on AP representations.
In addition to that, Coleman claims that Dresher & Kaye's (1990) computational learning model for metrical phonology "benefits from formalisation using the resources of unification-based grammar" (CLM:17). Dresher & Kaye set up eleven parameters (in relation to metrical structure), e.g. 'The word-tree is strong on the [Left/Right]' or 'Feet are [Binary/Unbounded]'. Using the formalism of UPSG , Coleman can successfully reformulate ten of these eleven parameters as context-free rules ('principles' without parameters), e.g. Dresher & Kaye's P(arameter) 5 'Feet are quantitative-sensitive [Yes/No]' as '(syllable) --> O R'. (There is no space here to discuss P9 'A weak foot is defooted in clash [No/Yes]', the only parameter that Coleman could in his opinion only formulate in UPSG terms if he was more familiar with this particular topic in metrical phonology.)
In chapter 5, Coleman provides an introduction to basic concepts employed in DCP: In opposition to the phonological mainstream, which attempts to find a formalism that is able to account for a given set of data and, subsequently, to check whether this formalism is constrained enough, DCP selects a formally constrained formalism first and then to adapt it to phonological problems. Phonological relations are expressed in the representations rather than in the rules (CLM:165) via context-free immediate dominance and linear precedence constraints. Rules are not formally distinct from representations (as in e.g. Chomsky 1957) but are partial representations. Due to the elimination of rule ordering and the existence of only one level of representation, DCP is computationally simpler than transformational models. Furthermore, DCP (supposedly) maintains a strict distinction between phonetics and phonology: phonological descriptions have no phonetic content. DCP 'interfaces' with phonetics by the assumption of two (separate) levels of description: a phonological and a phonetic one. So there is no unity between phonological labels (that are terminologically phonetically motivated, e.g. 'voice' (CLM:171)) and the phonetics (phonetic voicing); any such unity is imaginary.
Chapter 6 contains a declarative analysis of Japanese words that makes use of Firthian prosodic theory but with a 'classical' generative notation for features and certain innovative interpretations. This is followed by a declarative analysis of English. (Below, I will come back to a number of details of the Coleman's analysis of English words but will because of lack of space not discuss his analysis of Japanese.)
D) Critical evaluation
In Coleman's view, transformational systems have not been shown to be successful in restricting the class of definable languages (cf. CLM: chapters 3 and 4). Let me say clearly that, even though I do mostly not agree with Coleman's claims, I do think that Coleman has a point: transformational theories with deletion or substitution rules result in the invertibility problem. For example, in GP, the most constrained of all transformational frameworks (cf. Williams 1998), a low tone element L lexically assigned to the rightmost onset position in a domain may be deleted via derivation (i.e. at the phonological level of representation as opposed to the underlying lexical level) if it precedes a domain-final silent empty nucleus, resulting phonetically in final obstruent devoicing (cf. Brockhaus 1995 who provides this analysis for Northern Standard German.) If such element deletion could occur freely or without heavy restrictions, this would spell unrecoverability of underlying forms from derived ones.
However, such transformations are only grammatical in government phonology ('GP'), i.e. Brockhaus' framework, in a highly restrictive set of circumstances. The precise definition of this set depends on the GPist. For example, Harris (1997) proposes that only 'licensed' positions are sites of element deletion; Kaye (p.c. and 1993), on the other hand, prefers element addition to loss and therefore proposes derivational H-addition to onsets preceding domain-final silent empty nuclei instead of (Brockhaus') L-loss to account for final obstruent devoicing. Relevant here is that according to GP, one of the purposes of phonology is to provide parsing cues to the hearer, i.e. cues that help the hearer parse the continuous input string into distinct cognitive units. There is no reason why this help should have to be 'perfect'. As long as the phonology provides the hearer with enough information to find a match in the lexicon for a (derived) form within a certain amount of processing time, there is no problem. To establish such temporal processing parameters (defining cognitive 'speed' in natural language processing) is one of the aims of certain GPists. In other words, as long as there is no reason to assume that the human parsing device (i.e. phonology) is (unlike other human properties) 100% perfect and non-redundant, Coleman's rejection of transformational models, particularly of GP, remains somewhat unfounded, a problem that Coleman does unfortunately not discuss. (For further details on the computational properties of GP and a critique of Coleman 1995, cf. Williams 1998, particularly chapter 7.) Note that Coleman does also not investigate in any details the issues raised in Barton, Berwick & Ristad ('BBR') (1987) which he only refers to in passing. Since BBR can show that strong linear precedence constraints, binary constituent structure and terminal-string distinguishability result in efficient parsability - cf. also Williams 1998:181f. - it can be said that Coleman has no argument for his claim that only a non-transformational approach is restrictive enough for the cognitive manipulation of natural language. Unfortunately, Coleman only constructs a very weak transformational opponent of DCP so that DCP's success is more limited than Coleman lets on.
In the following, I will provide four more arguments in favour of GP, a transformational model, and against DCP. In section 1, I will point to some of the properties of GP which make it a theory that is far more restrictive than the transformational theories Coleman argues against (mainly, SPE, AP and metrical phonology). Furthermore, it is possible to eliminate one of GP's two levels of representation. This destroys the main advantage DCP had over the two-levelled standard version of GP (section 2). In addition, DCP's declarations are more explanatorily arbitrary and inadequate than GP's constraints (even compared to a two-levelled version of GP; section 3). Finally, in section 4, I will explain why DCP self-destructs by virtue of providing unacquirable analyses.
1. GP's restrictiveness
One of the problems of transformational theories is, says Coleman, that they allow deletion and substitution: It is surprising that he does not discuss GP's Empty Category Principle ('ECP') which eliminates any phonological deletion or substitution in cases of vowel-zero alternation (cf. e.g. Kaye, Lowenstamm & Vergnaud ('KLV') 1990). All Coleman says about the ECP (in Coleman 1995:344) is that it is a constraint/configuration and that it "is a matter of speculation ... whether these principles [including the ECP] combine to define the phonology of even a single language''. He does not discuss in what way or to what extent the numerous PhD theses and phonologies of languages written in GP-type frameworks do or do not succeed in such a 'definition'. His only other statement regarding GP that we find in the same paragraph (or elsewhere, for that matter) is that GP employs "systematic phonetic representations", which is simply wrong. The same goes for GP's Projection Principle (KLV 1990): Coleman only mentions but does not discuss the Projection Principle. Importantly, this principle disallows any phonological (i.e. derived) resyllabification of lexical prosodic structure, which makes GP far more restrictive than other derivational models. Furthermore, since GP proposes formal asymmetrical licensing constraints (e.g. government) - universally holding between certain prosodically defined positions - in combination with a number of universal and only to some extent language-specific substantive constraints on what melodic units may be linked to such formally restricted positions -, GP is metatheoretically more restrictive than DCP which simply declares what it finds but contains comparatively very little explanatory power regarding phonotactic restrictions (cf. also below).
In addition, GP is more restrictive than classical transformational approaches with rule ordering and a quite unlimited number of levels available because it only assumes two levels of representation, one lexical and one derivational level. In GP, phonology is viewed as a function 'phi' that is applied to a lexical input representation (i.e. the addresses in the hearer's lexicon) deriving the phonological representation. Since there is no rule ordering, all phonological processes happen simultaneously, resulting in a situation in which any order of application of a given set of processes have the same result. This is expressed by Kaye's impressively simple "minimalist hypothesis" (Kaye 1995:291) regarding derivations: "Processes apply whenever the conditions that trigger them are satisfied" (ibid.). Self-evidently, this approach is more restrictive than multi-levelled transformational theories (i.e. those with rule ordering, e.g. Bromberger & Halle 1989). So Coleman has to pick relatively weak opponents in order to make his case. (This is not meant to offend 'weak' proponents of rule ordering; GP's restrictiveness would not have been possible without earlier SPE- and AP-based research.)
GP's restrictiveness is also evident in the number of smallest melodic unit it employs: The most restricted version of element theory only stipulates six monovalent elements (A, I, U, H, L, Glottal, cf. Ploch 1999, chapter 4, for a summary) instead of Coleman's 10+ (at least) binary features. For a reply to Coleman's claim that element theory (in its earliest version as charm theory with 11 elements) and by implication the even more restricted modern versions are too restricted, cf. Kaye (1995). Note also that Coleman's claim is based on his opinion that in GP as a derivational model "systematic phonetic representations are derived from the lexical representations after [derivations]'' (Coleman 1995:344). Since GP does not agree with any phonologically relevant level of 'systematic phonetic representations' Coleman may well disagree with GP's non-interest (not in phonetics but) in phonetic levels of phonological representations, but it makes no sense to accuse GP of being highly unrestrictive in relation to phonologically relevant phonetic representations which it neither proposes nor predicts to exist. Other published statements about GP on the part of Coleman (i.e. in Coleman 1990, 1995) are typically not backed up by evidence or even a few tentative arguments. Kaye 1995) has already pointed out that Coleman's "version of GP bears little resemblance to anything that has been proposed" (Kaye 1995:325; cf. ibid.:324-328 for further arguments). It appears that in order for Coleman's claim that transformational approaches are too unrestrictive to work it has to be based on frameworks that are less restrictive than GP and on misinterpretations of GP.
Finally, let me mention GP's Uniformity Condition (Kaye 1995:292) which stipulates that "Phonological representations are directly interpretable at every level", i.e. there is no need for any phonetic level of phonological representation or redundancy rules filling in missing feature specifications - be it within classical pre-underspecification theories with redundancy rules with completely specified matrices in surface representations or, empirically worse since more unrestricted, within underspecification, i.e. with lexical AND surface underspecification. (For a more detailed discussion of redundancy rules and underspecification, cf. chapters 1 and 2 in Ploch 1999.)
2. Lexical GP
In opposition to Kaye's (1995) two-levelled derivational version of GP (but in agreement with his interfaces), GP could be turned into a theory with only one (lexical) level without loss of explanatory power but with additional restrictiveness, relative economy (of the Occam's Razor type) and the main advantage of DCP, i.e. computational straightforwardness. Each and every phonological process in standard GP can be reformulated as lexical constraint. For example, I-spreading (i.e. the derivational process in Turkish that assigns each nucleus in a word (domain) an I-element iff the nucleus left-adjacent at the nuclear projection contains I) can be reformulated as a non-derivational lexical constraint: "In Turkish (lexical) addresses, a nucleus that immediately follows a nucleus dominating I at the nuclear projection contains I." Again, Coleman does not try to construct a worthy opponent for DCP, and it is because of this metatheoretical negligence that his claim that DCP is more restrictive than transformational theories does not amount to much: In order for Coleman's argumentation against the unrestrictiveness of transformational frameworks to be competent, he would have to include a argumentation IN FAVOUR OF the most restricted transformational (GP-like and, possible, GP-unlike) framework he could formulate and a comparative analysis between this opponent and DCP. If DCP THEN still worked better than the opponent, he would have an argument (barring other problems). (An excellent example of such a metatheoretically sound approach can be found in Popper's argumentation FOR and Deconstruction of certain historicist doctrines in Popper 1961; for a phonological attempt at this kind of deconstruction of a competing hypothesis, cf. my discussion of the hypothesis that the phonology is motivated by the phonetics, in part 1 of my thesis, Ploch 1999.)
3. DCP's arbitrariness and unrestrictiveness
DCP's rules are highly arbitrary. For example 'O[-back] --> /l/' (cf. CLM:178); this rules excludes dark l from onset positions. It is not difficult to see that this rule explains nothing because it is only descriptive. Would DCP universally exclude a rule like 'O[+back] --> /l/' in a language with clear and dark 'l'? It is also very unclear in what way the categories (or any other proposal) Coleman employs explain the phonological behaviour of such categories. For example, in an implicational rule such as '[+nasal] logically implies [+voice]' - which is logically equivalent to the declarative '-([+nasal] & -[+voice])' and expresses the traditional redundancy rule '[+nasal] --> [+ voice])', the co-occurrence of [+nasal] and [+voice] are simply stipulated (CLM:190f.). It contains no explanation of the fact that there are many logically possible combinations of features employed by Coleman that could be used in this kind of implicational rule which are not attested, e.g. there is no '-([+nasal] & -[+strident])' (285ff.) Declarative rules merely describe distributional observations but are not set up to explain and thus cannot explain any of these properties. Another example can be found in the rule 'O(nset) --> /h/' (CLM:294); this rule for English states that /h/ (like affricates (/tsh/, /dzh/)) must occur as onset by itself and can therefore not occur after /s/ (like other obstruents can); so while /st/ is possible, /s-h/ is not. However, Coleman's rule has no explanatory power: one could ask why there is no rule 'O --> /m/'? Coleman can of course answer this by pointing out that such a rule would be proven wrong by /sm/-clusters. This does not solve the problem: So why is there no /s-h/-cluster in any of the languages with sC-clusters? Why can /m/ but not /h/ be preceded by /s/? Coleman observes (which is not in itself objective, cf. Popper 1972) and states what he sees. Declarative rule are of the 'I see ...' type, have no explanatory power, are arbitrary and in this way more unrestrictive than rules in theories like AP (let alone element theory).
In addition, Coleman needs filters that must be placed on certain rules. For example, the rule 'O --> Cl[-nasal] Glide' declares that "Only closure which does not contain a nasal ... can be combined with a glide'' (CLM:294), prohibiting e.g. */mr/, */snl/. Firstly, the unrestrictiveness and high degree of arbitrariness of DCP reveals itself in Coleman's 'filters' which must be placed on this rule (CLM:294f.). It might be an interesting topic to investigate whether a phonological analysis has to cater for negative generalisations like Coleman's filter #2 '*labial-labial' because it is not at all self-evident that a child acquiring English actually cognitively tests all combinations predicted to exist by tentative hypotheses based on attested data (without the addition of filters). So does the phonology of an English speaker contain such a preclusion or are such labial-labial sequences grammatical but simply unattested? (Note that Jensen 1999 links our varied 'feelings' of ungrammaticality towards certain combinations not with negative filters but with a theory of positive attestation, i.e. where the set of attested forms in a speaker's grammar define an average phonological form; the further away from this average a new form, e.g. French <foie> for a native English speaker, is the more ungrammatical it 'feels'.) However, Coleman's framework also allows him to exclude specific sequences, e.g. filter #1 '*/stw/, */skl/'. It remains open why there is no filter #6 '*spr, *str' preventing sequences which do occur. Apparently, Coleman's approach is descriptive only, it makes no predictions and has thus zero explanatory power. We see that his claim that, opposed to all these sadly unrestricted transformational context-dependent rewrite rule-based approaches, his declarative rules have the great advantage that they are highly restrictive is (metatheoretically/explanatorily but not computationally) mistaken.
Even though GP is more restrictive than other transformational approaches, the only time Coleman mentions GP in CLM other than in his reference (CLM:24) to his misinterpretative argumentation against charm theory (Coleman 1990), is when he discusses his filter #5 on rule */sr/, */shl/, */shw/ (CLM:295) which contains at least some generalisation in that it can be viewed as a dissimilatory constraint preventing [+high][+high] and [-high][-high] sequences. His argument against GP (KLV 1990) is that the dissimilatory nature of filter #5 provides evidence against the spreading-based (and thus in his view presumably dissimilation-phobic) nature of AP (Goldsmith 1976) and GP. However, dissimilation in GP is not precluded simply because elements can spread in standard GP with two levels or are subject to (non-phonetically motivated) 'assimilatory' co-occurrence constraints holding at the one existing (lexical) level in a one-levelled version of GP. (Let me use 'spreading' as somewhat misleading term for one- or two-levelled approaches to element co-occurrence.)
For example, I-spreading (palatal harmony) in Turkic languages (Charette & G�ksel 1994, 1996, Ploch 1996, 1998, 1999) is a derivational constraint that forces nuclei following the harmonic head (i.e. the first nucleus of a domain) to contain an I-element iff the harmonic head contains I. This does not per se preclude dissimilatory constraints in the same framework. A constraint preventing geminate consonants in English would in GP typically be formulated as dissimilatory constraint on melodic expressions precluding a postnuclear rhymal position ('coda') and a following onset position from dominating the same melodic expression. In part 2 of Ploch (1999), I have proposed dissimilatory constraints on elements (L(ow tone) and H(igh tone)) to explain Dahl's Law in a number of Bantu languages and in certain South German varieties of German (specifically Augsburg Swabian) and Meinhof's Law (also in Bantu languages). (I neglect here that the dissimilatory constraints on L and H were more specific than element-specific. In element theory, elements within a phonological expression may be of one of two status: head or operator. The dissimilatory constraints proposed refer specifically to the ungrammaticality of the co-occurrence of H- or L-HEADS.) So Coleman simply circumvents any discussion of the restrictive character of transformational or 'declarative' GP by constructing an unfounded weak version of GP that no GPist employs. Therefore, I find that Coleman does not try to let his DCP compete with competent but weak transformational theories. As Kaye has already pointed out in 1995, since Coleman (1995), Coleman has made "much of the alleged derivational nature of GP although it is not clear what exactly [or even in vague terms, for that matter! SP] would change if some of the procedural language in some GP formulations were replaced by declarative ones'' (Kaye 1995:325) (cf. also Kaye's further discussion in Kaye 1995:325ff.).
4. DCP's unacquirability problem
As already apparent in Coleman (1995), CLM presents a theory which ensures that analyses put forward within it are not acquirable. The argument for this claim goes as follows: In order to arrive at a certain (synchronic) constraint relating to a string X in a so-called variety or dialect of English it is permissible for Coleman (and apparently even a great explanatory advantage) to use analyses of phonological correspondences of string X in other 'varieties/dialects' as evidence. For example, since Orton & Dieth's (1962) survey of English dialects has [tl] "in all test-words beginning with /kl/ and [dl] in ... the /gl-/ test-words for some speakers'' (CLM:295) in certain (non-standard) 'dialects' of English, Coleman views the standard restriction excluding */tl/, */dl/, */thl/ as neutralisation of alveolar AND velar place of articulation in stop+/l/ clusters. Similarly, the phonological category of the u-vowel in English <took> "should be regarded as distinctively 'long' in non-transformational phonology, even though its phonetic interpretation is relatively short" (CLM:172) and in fact indistinguishable from the (phonetic) vowel [u] in put (which would be short phonologically AND phonetically). Coleman's 'evidence' for this claim is that the Great Vowel Shift did affect the vowel in <took> (because it was long) but not the one in <put> (because it was short). So synchronically short [u] can for Coleman correspond to phonologically long or short /u/. Even though I have no problem with non-one-to-one mappings between the phonology and the phonetics, I disagree with Coleman's argument for distinguishing short /u/ in <took> from (phonetically identical) short /u/ in /put/ because there is no way how an acquirer of a 'variety' of English with identical realisations for these two vowels could find out that the vowel in /took/ was long once. Also so-called evidence from other 'dialects', e.g. the English spoken in Newcastle, where the vowels in /book/ might still be long can be no evidence since a child in London cannot be expected to travel to Newcastle to make sure that not one or more of his/her vowels correspond to two or more vowels in some other 'variety' of English. We see that the incorporation of such 'dialectal' or 'historical' evidence results in a framework that provided unacquirable analyses. In like manner, Coleman (1995:376) motivates declarative statements by alternations like <drink> vs. <drench>, <church> vs. <kirk>, <bridge> vs. <brig>. It remains open what about <drink> and <drench> would tell the child acquiring English that s/he is supposed to view these forms as 'related'. (Cf. my discussion of the French forms like <fin> 'nice (masculine)' vs. <fine> 'nice (feminine)' in Ploch 1999:141ff., 146ff.; there is just as little evidence to derive <fin> phonologically from <fine> or vice versa or to derive them from a common source (even though these forms are historically linked) as there is to derive <fin-> in <finlande> 'Finland' from any of these forms.)
Summary: Coleman's claim that DCP is as opposed to transformational context-sensitive approaches more restrictive is computationally sound. However, his conclusion that 'therefore' all transformational theories are too unrestrictive for the processing of natural language is baseless. This situation stems from 1) his refusal to construct a strong competing transformational theory next to DCP, 2) his refusal to deal with GP, the most restrictive transformational framework, 3) his omission to discuss whether or not and if, in what way a declarative version of certain transformational frameworks (e.g. GP) would get access to some of DCP's 'advancements', and 4) the high degree of arbitrariness apparent in DCP declarative and non-explanatory descriptions/rules. So even though DCP's formalism is to some extent more restrictive than SPE's AP's or even (two-levelled) GP's formalism, there is no evidence to suggest that DCP would beat all or even most transformational theories as theories of natural language processing. In addition, Coleman proposes analyses that are unacquirable. It also remains somewhat unclear in what way a strong competitor of DCP would gain or loose by adopting his (interesting) thoughts on the differentiation between notation and denotation. There are, however, three aspects of Coleman's book that I find thought-provoking or noteworthy: 1) His overview over the historical development of notations and denotations in phonemic and transformational phonology is good teaching material. 2) Reading his book inspired me to investigate how GP or whatever theory I might want to employ could be formulated declaratively or non-procedurally and in more precise mathematical terms, and what could be gained from taking this step. 3) Coleman's argumentation against the unrestrictiveness of and the invertibility problem in transformational approaches made the importance of such computational concerns for phonology more apparent to me.
AP autosegmental phonology BBR Barton, Berwick & Ristad (1987) CLM Coleman (1998), Phonological Representations, i.e. the book reviewed here. DCP declarative phonology ECP Empty Category Principle GP government-phonology KLV Kaye, Lowenstamm & Vergnaud PSG (classical) phrase-structure grammar UPSG unification-based phrase-structure grammar
Barton, G.E., Berwick, R.C. & Ristad, E.S. (1987), Computational Complexity and Natural Language, MIT Press, Cambridge (MA).
Brockhaus, W. (1995), Final Devoicing in the Phonology of German, Niemeyer, T�bingen (Germany).
Bromberger, S. & Halle, M. (1989), "Why phonology is different", Linguistic Inquiry, 20, pp. 51-71.
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Charette, M. & G�ksel, A. (1996), "Licensing constraints and vowel harmony in Turkic languages", Ploch & Simpson, pp. 1-25. Also published in: Kardela, H. & Szymanek, B. (eds.), A Festschrift for Edmund Gussmann, The University Press of the Catholic University of Lublin, Lublin (Poland), pp. 29-56.
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F) Reviewer's biography
Stefan Ploch, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).
PhD 1999, School of Oriental and African Studies (University of London).
Main research areas include: phonology, parsing, licensing, derivations, nasality and nasalisation, phonetics versus phonology, Turkic languages, South American languages, philosophy of science.