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Reviewed by:
  • Introductory phonology
  • Maria Gouskova
Introductory phonology. By Bruce Hayes. Oxford: Blackwell, 2008. Pp. 336. ISBN 9781405184116. $31.38.

Introductory phonology is Blackwell’s first phonology textbook since Kenstowicz 1994 and Spencer 1995. Unlike Kenstowicz’s book, this one is intended for the novice, though it presupposes a background in phonetics and some familiarity with the goals of linguistic theory. The aims of the book are to introduce beginning linguists to phonological analysis and to situate phonological theory in the broader scientific context. The book has benefited from extensive field testing: it started out as course notes for undergraduate phonology at UCLA. I have used this book twice to teach undergraduate phonology at NYU, and I can attest that the book is popular with undergraduate linguistics majors. It is quite readable, presents a sophisticated point of view, and there is plenty of great fodder for classroom discussion to keep both students and instructors interested. In my opinion, it is the best phonology textbook available on the market right now, so I plan to use it again in future teaching and recommend it to others.

The book has fifteen chapters. Ch. 1 is an excellent and comprehensive overview of articulatory phonetics and the International Phonetic Alphabet (IPA), which is used throughout. The next two chapters cover phonemic analysis. Ch. 2 is on the basics of contrast, underlying representations, and complementary distributions, whereas Ch. 3 discusses some interesting issues and complications in phonemic analysis. These include the relationship between orthography and phonemes, the psychological reality of the phoneme, and contextual neutralization. Ch. 4 is devoted to features, and Ch. 5 is a brief overview of morphology. There are three chapters on phonological alternations. Ch. 6 is a general overview, and Ch. 7 starts introducing the logic of rule ordering. Rule ordering is discussed further in Ch. 8, which also covers morphophonemic analysis and the determination of underlying representations. Ch. 9 covers rule productivity and exceptionality in phonology. Ch. 10 is on morphosyntactic rule domains and boundary phonology. Ch. 11 deals with historical change, and Ch. 12 discusses phonological abstractness, with examples such as Slavic yers. Chs. 13–15 shift gear to prosodic phonology, covering syllables, stress, and tone and intonation. Each chapter ends with a short exercise section and a section with suggestions for further reading, which range from classics like Sapir 1925 and Jakobson et al. 1952 to more recent experimental work like Baayen et al. 2002. Most chapters also prepare the reader for the exercises with detailed case studies, which are introduced in order of increasing complexity. The book ends with a short metholodogical appendix on writing up phonology problems and a good single index of phonological terms and languages.

There are many things to like about Introductory phonology. First of all, the book is a pleasure to read—it is written in a very accessible and conversational style, which is very important for an undergraduate textbook. Another major strength is that the book covers topics that tend to worry good undergraduate students but that textbooks either do not cover or leave until the very end. Hayes offers a balanced discussion and informed opinions on topics like rules of limited productivity, exceptions, the role of literacy in phonology, the relationship between phonology and phonetics, and the effects of language contact on phonological grammars. It is probable that not all instructors will agree with the points of view advocated in the book, but the topics make for a lively discussion in the classroom. The book also has many great suggestions for doing fieldwork in languages other than English, and it often discusses experimental evidence for certain phonological claims. This is what we should expect of a textbook written in the twenty-first century at a major center of linguistic research. Most importantly, the book does a very solid job of cementing the basic skills that form the foundation of phonological analysis, both explaining the logic and demonstrating it on detailed examples. This goes a long way toward helping the instructor teach the analytical skills. [End Page 937]

There are a few features of the book that may be either strengths or weaknesses depending on the instructor. First, quite a few...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1535-0665
Print ISSN
0097-8507
Pages
pp. 937-939
Launched on MUSE
2010-01-15
Open Access
No
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