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Instructor Class Description

Time Schedule:

Nancy E. Emery
LING 451
Seattle Campus

Phonology I

Patterning of ounds and gestures in human languages; analysis in generative phonological framework. Prerequisite: LING 450.

Class description

Phonology builds on what we have learned in phonetics (about the physical properties of speech sounds and their articulation) in order to study the different ways sounds pattern in different languages; what native speakers unconsciously know about the structure of sounds in their languages. (Note: although the previous explanation refers to "speech" and "sounds", signed languages have their own phonologies; ask the instructor for a demonstration of handshape assimilation, for example.) We will briefly review phonological features and natural classes, phonemes and allophones, minimal pairs, and the writing of phonological rules; then look at morpheme alternations involving processes such as assimilation and dissimilation in terms of voicing, place or manner of articulation; and discuss rule ordering. Next we will look at syllables and their structure, sonority sequencing, moras, etc. Finally we will take an autosegmental approach to the study of tone in tone languages.

Student learning goals

General method of instruction

The course will combine instructor presentation with discussion and lots of active problem-solving by students; phonological analysis is learned by doing.

Recommended preparation

Pre-requisites of this course are a basic introduction to linguistics (LING 200 or 400) and an introduction to phonetics (LING 450). Bear in mind that a 5 credit class compressed into the single month of summer B term must move more than twice as fast as during a regular full term. Be prepared for daily assignments of reading and/or problem sets. (The main text, by David Odden, is not yet in print; by his permission, relevant chapters will be available in a course-pack as well as on-line.)

Class assignments and grading

The way you learn to do phonology is by working through a lot of examples. You will get practice by looking at data sets and searching for patterns in them, and then trying to figure out and formally express explanations that are consistent with the data. Some people find this fun, while for other people it takes some time to develop these skills. One of the pleasures of a general introduction to phonology is the range of examples from many different languages that you might otherwise never have heard of.

Grades will be based on 3 tests (one after each of the main units); frequent homework assignments; and participation and in-class work. There will not be a research paper because of the compressed time frame of summer B term.


The information above is intended to be helpful in choosing courses. Because the instructor may further develop his/her plans for this course, its characteristics are subject to change without notice. In most cases, the official course syllabus will be distributed on the first day of class.
Last Update by Nancy E. Emery
Date: 06/27/2003