Segmentation. Forms of Expression. Oppositions and Distinctions. Paradigmatic Structures

Part of the Kommunikation und Kybernetik in Einzeldarstellungen book series (COMMUNICATION, volume 2)


It has already been pointed out that the sound-wave emanating from the mouth of a speaker is physically a continuum. Both the wave form as such — in the form in which it appears when registered for instance on an oscillograph film (Fig. 14) — and the picture given by a sound spectrograph (Fig. 47) on the basis of a formant analysis, show no more than an incessant variation of the different parameters mentioned in Chap. III. Even in cases where typical segments of an apparently steady-state nature may be seen, there is hardly any possibility of indicating an indisputable point where one segment starts and the preceding one ends. The classical distinction established for instance by the phoneticians of last century between typical sound positions and transitional sounds (“glides”, “Gleitlaute”, “Übergangslaute”, etc.; Ellis, Merkel, Sievers) does not hold. Everything is transition. And even if one factor, e.g. voice, or nasality, may be said to cease at a given point (in the original complex curve, or on the spectrogram), this factor only rarely coincides with the other factors which together characterize a given segmental unit (e.g. a vocoid or a contoid). Even the early kymograms revealed the existence of transitional phases without any independent linguistic or communicative function.


Stressed Syllable Expression Unit Vowel Length Marginal Unit Phonetic Transcription 
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Bibliographical Notes

  1. For the concept of glide as opposed to the stable or typical sound phases, see A. Ellis, “On early English pronunciation”, 1869; E. Sievers, “Grundzüge der Phonetik”, 2nd ed., 1881, p. 107 – 108 (the first edition had the title “Grundzüge der Lautphysiologie”, 1876);Google Scholar
  2. C. L. Merkel, “Physiologie der menschlichen Sprache (physiologische Laletik)”, 1866. The quotation from George Miller is to be found in “For Roman Jakobson” (1956), p. 353; that from Martin Joos in “Journal of the Acoustical Society of America” XXII, 1950, p. 702. — The commutation test has been treated in detail by many specialists, e.g. by Hjelmslev, “Prolegomena” (p. 74), who makes a logically important distinction between permutation, which is a shift within the chain (the syntagm), and commutation, which is a shift between units in the paradigm. A common term for both is mutation. It should be noted that in Hjelmslev’s terminology, substitution is the absence of mutation between members of a paradigm and is therefore the opposite of commutation. Certain entities consequently have neither commutation nor substitution (i.e. those which do not enter into the same paradigm, e.g. vowels and consonants, /h/ and /ŋ/ in English; see p. 73). — For the general debate concerning the phonemic principle we refer to the works quoted in the introduction and in Chap. I. An important theoretical analysis has also been given by A. Juilland, “Structural Relations”, 1961. Phoneme definitions have been given e.g. by Trubetzkoy in “Grundzüge”, p.34 (see also “Projet de terminologie phonologique standardisée” in “Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague” IV, 1931, p.311); by W. Freeman Twaddell in “On defining the phoneme”, 1935;Google Scholar
  3. by André Martinet, “Éléments de linguistique générale”, 1960, p. 20 (cp. the same author’s discussion in “Phonology as Functional Phonetics”, Oxford 1955, pp. 1 – 10);Google Scholar
  4. by Zellig S. Harris in “Methods in Structural Linguistics”, 1951, especially pp. 59ff.; by Kenneth L. Pike in “Phonemics. A Technique for Reducing Language to Writing”, 1947;Google Scholar
  5. by Roman Jakobson, “On the Identification of Phonemic Entities” /Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Copenhague V, 1949/, pp.205 – 213;Google Scholar
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  7. by Amado Alonso, “La identidad del fonema” /Revista de filología hispánica VI, 1944, pp. 280–283/, etc. Phonemic principles have been discussed in detail, and with numerous citations, by Eli Fischer-Jørgensen in a series of articles and communications (for instance “On the Definition of Phoneme Categories” in “Acta linguistica” VII, 1952, p. 14ff.; “The Commutation Test and its Application to Phonemic Analysis”, in “For Roman Jakobson”, pp. 141 – 151; “Remarques sur les principes de l’analyse phonémique”, in “Recherches structurales”, pp. 214 – 234). The quotation from Jakobson—Fant—Halle is to be found in “Preliminaries”, p. 6. For phonemic classification on the basis of complementary distribution, see e.g. Meyer-Eppler, “Grundlagen”, p. 279;Google Scholar
  8. H. Spang-Hanssen in “Proceedings of the VIIIth International Congress of Linguists”, 1958, p. 182–194. Though Daniel Jones’ approach to the phoneme concept is rather different from that of the more definitely structural schools, we refer to his important book “The Phoneme”, 2nd ed. 1962.Google Scholar
  9. H. Spang-Hanssen The phonemes of English have been treated by many scholars, e.g. A. Cohen, “The Phonemes of English”, 1952;Google Scholar
  10. B. Nordhjem, “The Phonemes of English. An Experiment in Structural Phonemics”, 1960; for American English, see particularly Harris, “Methods in Structural Linguistics”, passim;Google Scholar
  11. cf. also Charles F. Hockett, “A Manual of Phonology”, 1955;Google Scholar
  12. G. L. Trager and H. Lee Smith, “An Outline of English Structure”, 1957, etc. The French and Spanish problems quoted in the footnote have been discussed by the author (Malmberg, “Le système conso-nantique du français moderne”, 1943), and by E. Alarcos Llorach, “Fonologia española”, 3rd ed., 1961, §§96–100, respectively. For a more complete description of the French phonemic system, see my own recent article in “Orbis”, 1962, where also Spanish and Italian are treated. — The alphabet of the International Association is to be found in several of its publications (the last edition from 1949, last reprint from 1960). Instruments for acoustic analysis of speech sounds have been described by G. Fant, “Modern Instruments and Methods for Acoustic Studies of Speech” /Acta Polytechnica Scandinavica, Physics including nucleonics, Series No.1, 1958; also published in the “Proceedings of the VIII International Congress of Linguists”, Oslo University Press, 1958/. Synthetic methods have also been described in the publications of the Haskins Laboratories;Google Scholar
  13. see for instance F. S. Cooper, P. C. Delattre, A. M. Liberman, J. M. Borst, L. J. Gerst-man, “Some experiments on the Perception of Synthetic Speech Sounds” /Journal of the Acoustical Society of America XXIV, 1952, pp. 597 – 606/;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  14. Liberman et al., “Tempo Frequency Change as a Cue for Distinguishing Classes of Speech Sounds” /Journal of Experimental Psychology LII, 1956, pp. 127 – 137/;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  15. Liberman et al.,id., “The Rôle of Selected Stimulus-Variables in the Perception of the Unvoiced Stop Consonants” /The American Journal of Psychology LXV, 1952, pp.497 – 516/;CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Liberman et al.,id., “Acoustic Loci and Transitional Cues for Consonants” /Journal of the Acoustical Society of America XXVII, 1955, pp. 769 – 733/;Google Scholar
  17. Marguerite Durand, “La perception des consonnes occlusives” /Studia linguistica VIII, 1954, pp. no —122. — Neutralisation, syncretism and the concept of archiphoneme have been treated by Trubetzkoy, in “Grundzüge”, pp. 206 fï, etc.;Google Scholar
  18. by Hjelmslev, “Notes sur les oppositions supprimables” /Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague VIII, 1939, pp. 51 – 57/, and in “Prolegomena”, pp. 87 – 93;Google Scholar
  19. and by Martinet, “Neutralisation et archiphonème” /Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague VI, 1936, pp. 46 – 57/. Cf. also Alonso, in “Hispanic Review” XIII, 1945, pp.91 – 101. — The concept of economy is due to Martinet (“Économie des changements phonétiques”, Théorie générale, pp. 1 – 195). Coarticulation has been examined instrumentally by H. M. Truby, “Acoustico-Cineradiographic Analysis Considerations with Especial Reference to Certain Consonantal Complexes” /Acta Radiologica, Suppl. 182, 1959; doctor’s thesis, Lund 1959, printed in Stockholm/; on an articulatory basis also by P. Menzerath and A. de Lacerda, “Koartikulation, Steuerung und Lautabgrenzung” /Phonetische Studien, herausgeg. von Paul Menzerath, I, 1933/. Syllabation and phonemic interpretation of groups like mb, nd in African languages (o-mba-nda) are discussed by Otto von Essen, “Die Silbe, ein phono-logischer Begriff” /Zeitschrift für Phonetik V, 1951, pp. 199–203/; “Über den Begriff der Silbe”/Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin V, 1955 – 56, pp. 85 – 88/;Google Scholar
  20. see also for instance L. E. Armstrong, “The Phonetic and Tonal Structure of Kikuyu”, 1940, pp.40ff. The reference to Gold is due to Jakobson— Fant—Halle, “Preliminaries”, p.41; for the phonemic system of Guarani, see for instance L. I. Bridgeman in “International Journal of American Linguistics” XXVII, 1961, pp.329 – 334;Google Scholar
  21. P. N. Priest, Anne Priest and J. E. Grimes, “The Phonetic and Tonal Structure of Kikuyu”, 1940, ibid., pp. 335 – 344, etc. — The particular problem of monophonemic or biphonemic interpretation is the subject e.g. of articles by Martinet, “Un ou deux phonèmes ?” in “Acta linguistica” I, 1939, pp.94–103, and by F.Hintze in “Studia linguistica” IV, 1950, pp. 14 – 24. Harris’ interpretation of Amer. Engl. // is to be found in “Methods in Structural Linguistics”, p. 95; Elert’s study on Swedish phonemics in “Arkiv for nordisk filologi” LXXII, 1957, pp. 35 – 60. C. E. Bazell has suggested that a phonemic unit exceptionally could be interpreted as monophonemic in opposition to one unit and as biphonemic as opposed to another (Engl, /t∫/ monophonemic in opposition to /ts/ and biphonemic as opposed to stops). — For the phonemic interpretation of loan-words, see e.g. E. Polivanov, “La perception des sons d’une langue étrangère” /Travaux du Cercle linguistique de Prague IV, 1931, pp. 72–95/. For Fant’s and Halle’s hierarchic schemes of distinctive features, see e.g. G. Fant, “Structural Classification of Swedish Phonemes” /Speech Transmission Laboratory, Quarterly Progress and Status Report, 1961, pp. 10–15/. The examples of West-African tones are taken from Ida Ward (works quoted above), the Chinese example from B. Karlgren, “Kinesisk elemen-tarbok”, 1948, p. 11; the Vietnamese example from LêVån Ly, “Le parler vietnamien”, 1948. For tone languages, see particularly K. L. Pike, “Tone Languages. A Technique for Determining the Number and Types of Pitch Contrasts in a Language”, 1948. The Danish stød was instrumentally described by Svend Smith, “Bidrag til løsning af problemer vedrørende stødet i dansk rigssprog”, 1944 (English summary: “Contribution to the Solution of Problems concerning the Danish Stød”). The example from Mende (West-African) is due to Trubetzkoy, “Grundzüge”, p. 132. For the quotation from Leigh Lisker, see his article “Linguistic Segments, Acoustic Segments, and Synthetic Speech” /Language XXXIII, 1957, pp. 3 70 – 374/.Google Scholar
  22. Dwight D. Bolinger’s work has the title “Generality, Gradience, and AU-or-none”, 1961. For Roman Jakobson’s theory, see particularly “Kindersprache, Aphasie und allgemeine Lautgesetze” / Språkvetenskapliga Sällskapets i Uppsala förhandlingar 1940–1942/, and also Jakobson —Halle, “Fundamentals of Language”, 1956, pp. 55 – 82. See also my own article “Om vår förmåga — och oförmåga — att behärska ett språksystem” /Nordisk Tidsskrift for Tale og Stemme, 1961, pp. 41–61/, and my reports to the IXth Intern. Congress of Linguists, Cambridge, USA, 1962, and to the Vth Intern. Congress of Phon. Sciences. Münster 1964.Google Scholar

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© Springer-Verlag Berlin · Heidelberg 1967

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Faculty of ArtsUniversity of LundSweden

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