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  • Tones and features: Phonetic and phonological perspectives ed. by John A. Goldsmith, Elizabeth Hume, and W. Leo Wetzels
  • D. Robert Ladd
Tones and features: Phonetic and phonological perspectives. Ed. by John A. Goldsmith, Elizabeth Hume, and W. Leo Wetzels. (Studies in generative grammar 107.) Berlin: De Gruyter Mouton, 2010. Pp. xii, 369. ISBN 9783110246216. $140 (Hb).

This book is effectively a festschrift for the late Nick Clements. Strictly speaking, it is a collection of papers from a conference held in his honor, so unlike a conventional festschrift it is unusual in having a contribution from the dedicatee himself. (Two contributions, in fact: he appears as first author on one of the papers and as second author on another.) But it still suffers from the typical problems with any such volume, namely uneven quality and lack of clear focus. The title (inclusive of the subtitle) does a pretty good job of conveying the range of material contained in the book, and the editors have made a good attempt to draw out the common themes in their short preface. But it is clear that what really gives the book coherence is Nick Clements: this is a book of papers on topics that concerned him by people who admired him.

The papers are divided, as the title suggests, into two main groups. Part 1, 'The representation and nature of tone', consists of five papers, while Part 2, 'The representation and nature of phonological features', consists of nine. However, three of the papers in Part 1 could equally have been [End Page 360] included in Part 2—I return to these papers below—so the book is really more about features than it is about tone. Across the volume, the papers are about evenly divided between those that tackle a specific descriptive problem (e.g. 'Rhythm, quantity and tone in the Kinyarwanda verb' by JOHN GOLDSMITH and FIDÈLE MPIRANYA, or 'The representation of vowel features and vowel neutralization in Brazilian Portuguese (southern dialects)' by W. LEO WETZELS) and those that tackle big theoretical questions (e.g. 'Proposals for a representation of sounds based on their main acoustico-perceptual properties' by JACQUELINE VAISSIÈRE, or 'Autosegmental spreading in optimality theory' by JOHN J. MCCARTHY). They are also about evenly divided between papers based on experimental and/or instrumental phonetic data (e.g. 'Downstep and linguistic scaling in Dagara-Wulé' by ANNIE RIALLAND and PENOU-ACHILLE SOMÉ, or 'Language-independent bases of distinctive features' by RACHID RIDOUANE, G. N. CLEMENTS, and RAJESH KHATIWADA) and papers dealing with phonological patterns of contrast, alternation, and the like (e.g. 'Representation of complex segments in Bulgarian' by JERZY RUBACH, or 'Evaluating the effectiveness of unified feature theory and three other feature systems' by JEFF MIELKE, LYRA MAGLOUGHLIN, and ELIZABETH HUME). Given this variety, there seems little point in filling this review with a series of two-sentence summaries of each paper. Instead I want to discuss two groups of papers that seem worth considering together.

The first group is a set of three papers broadly in the spirit of laboratory phonology: 'Crossing the quantal boundaries of features: Subglottal resonances and Swabian diphthongs' by GRZEGORZ DOGIL, STEVEN M. LULICH, ANDREAS MADSACK, and WOLFGANG WOKUREK; 'Voice assimilation in French obstruents: Categorical or gradient?' by PIERRE A. HALLÉ and MARTINE ADDA-DECKER; and 'An acoustic study of the Korean fricatives /s, s'/: Implications for the features [spread glottis] and [tense]' by HYUNSOON KIM and CHAE-LIM PARK. All of these address specific questions based on feature theory on the basis of careful instrumental data from specific languages, and all contribute potentially lasting phonetic data to the literature.

Kim and Park's paper is a straightforward investigation of the acoustic details of the Korean fortis and lenis alveolar fricative phonemes, motivated by the proposal (Halle & Stevens 1971) that the distinction is based on different specifications of a universal [spread glottis] feature. In...


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