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"
AUTHORS: Mike Davenport and S. J. Hannahs TITLE: Introducing Phonetics and Phonology SUBTITLE: Third edition SERIES TITLE: A Hodder Arnold Publication PUBLISHER: Oxford University Press YEAR: 2011
Alex Ho-Cheong Leung, School of English Literature, Language and Linguistics, Newcastle University, U.K.
This book, which introduces the basics of phonetics and phonology, is primarily intended for (but not limited to) students who are beginning their degrees in linguistics or related fields of study. It provides a step-by-step guide to understanding phonetics and phonology.
Following the introduction, the book discusses the fundamentals of speech sounds from articulation apparatus (chapter 2), consonants (chapter 3) and vowels (chapter 4) to acoustic phonetics (chapter 5), and syllables and other supra-segmental structures (chapter 6). Upon equipping users with the basic conventions and terminologies, the book gradually proceeds to the area of phonology (chapters 7-12). Chapter 7 lays out details about features. Chapter 8 talks about phonemic analysis, minimal pairs and alludes to phonological rules, a topic elaborated in the following chapter alongside concepts related to phonological alternations and processes. Various previously introduced phonological structures such as syllable, foot, and mora are incorporated into the discussion about models of phonological representations in chapter 10. Derivational analysis is illustrated through the discussion of English noun plural formation in chapter 11. Chapter 12 summarizes constraint-based analysis, Optimality Theory (OT) and readdresses phonological processes that have been dealt with from a derivational perspective in previous chapters in light of OT. The book concludes by highlighting the need to constrain phonological models and stating outstanding issues in relation to that. Exercises are given in relation to materials covered in each chapter. This offers an opportunity for readers to practice and consolidate what they have learnt from the text.
Substantial additions and modifications have been made since the book's first appearance in 1998 (which was then reviewed by Deterding (1999)). Subsequent to the addition of the chapter on supra-segmental structures (chapter 6) in the second edition of the book, this edition has been further expanded to cover the latest developments in phonological theories; elaborations have also been made on notions such as unary features (pp. 157-159), and transparent and opaque segments in the autosegmental model (pp. 164-166).
Among all the additions, the new chapter on the constraint based model Optimality Theory (OT) will be commented on first. The beginning section (p.198-202) of the chapter is devoted to outlining the key building blocks of OT, e.g. Evaluator (Eval), Generator (Gen), Optimal Candidate, etc. It then discusses briefly how OT differs from traditional derivational analyses (pp. 202-203). Through discussing OT's take on phonological processes such as assimilation, deletion, metathesis, etc., readers are provided with case studies on how OT operates and the mechanism involved in it (pp. 203-208). Likewise, via revisiting plural noun formation with respect to English (pp. 208-212), readers are shown how a tableau is formulated and how the rank of respective constraints is established. Laying out details about OT in such an incremental manner facilitates readers' understanding of Optimality Theory and its mechanics, which can be complex and difficult to digest at times. This approach allows readers who are still grappling with the brand new concept of constraints, ranking, optimal candidate, etc. to take things on board one step at a time without feeling overwhelmed. This chapter thus provides a very easy-to-read synopsis of OT.
The glossary list is another welcome addition. Beginning students -- the intended audience of the book -- often find it daunting when confronted by an immense amount of new terms; glosses which provide quick reference to key concepts are therefore handy tools for them. However, the glossary list has to be better integrated with the main text in order for it to function fully. For example, an in-text statement of how to utilize the list will be helpful. Without such a statement, a logical assumption would be to look for anything in bold and italics. Though these highlighted materials correspond to the gloss in the list on most occasions, some concepts such as metathesis (p.144) and reduplication (p.145) are glossed but were, nonetheless, not in italics. This overlaps with the use of bold for general emphasis and stressed syllables (e.g. PA.rrot, ra.CCOON on p. 78 (the bold is replaced by capitals here due to the limitation in formatting)). Even more problematic still are the appearance of important constructs which were either not highlighted (or italicized) in the first instance or were completely left out from the glossary list. For instance, ''phonotactic(s)'' (without bold/ italic font) first appears on p. 77 in relation to syllabification, but remains undefined until p. 170 where it is in bold and italics. Relevant to that is the principle of ''onset maximization'' which was not included in the list. ''Underlying representation'' which appeared repeatedly is another concept central to phonology that was excluded from the glossary.
The feature table (table 7.1 on p. 112) is another improvement that this edition has added. The inclusion of the respective classes enables readers to make better sense of this complicated table. On a related note about tables, the chapter on vowels (chapter 4) could perhaps benefit from the inclusion of a summary table similar to the one given for consonants in chapter 3 on pp. 36-7 (table 3.3), where relevant words are given along with the consonants. Aligning the vowels with exemplifying words such as those listed in the standard lexical set by Wells (1982) would provide readers with mnemonics to remember the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA) symbols.
In spite of the few suggestions for improvements made earlier, this is, by and large, a very well written and meticulously structured book for readers who are just embarking upon their linguistics odyssey. In a clear and easy-to-follow manner, key concepts with respect to phonetics and phonology are introduced. With the enrichment this latest edition contains, the book is undoubtedly a valuable addition to ones' book shelf.
Deterding, D. (1999). ''Review of 'Introducing Phonetics and Phonology'''. Linguist List 10.989. [http://linguistlist.org/pubs/reviews/get-review.cfm?SubID=3753]
Wells, J. C. (1982). ''Accents of English''. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
Alex Ho-Cheong Leung is an IPhD student in English Language and Linguistics
at Newcastle University, UK. He is a tutor for the courses 'Introduction to
phonetics and phonology' and 'Introduction to English Historical
Linguistics'. His primary research interest is on child second language
acquisition and phonology. He is also interested in topics related to
sociolinguistics, bilingualism and historical linguistics. His latest
publication, titled 'I know [pɪlɪpɪno] but i say [fɪlɪpɪno]: an
investigation into Filipino foreign domestic helpers' influence on Hong
Kong Chinese's L2 English phonology acquisition', appeared in Poznań
Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 47 (2011).