Phonology pp 157-172 | Cite as

Naturalness in Generative Phonology

  • Philip Carr
Part of the Modern Linguistics Series book series (MOLI)


We raised the problem of the abstractness of underlying representations in the interlude and suggested there that, in some cases (e.g. the postulated high back, unrounded vowels of Hungarian), we might question the supposed psychological reality of those representations. The objection is to underlying representations which appear not to be directly induced by the sounds to which the speaker is exposed. Let us examine that line of argument. One very clear expression of this objection to abstract underlying representations is given by Hooper (1976). We have argued all along that the combined rules and representations we have formulated are psychologically real, and that they allow us to characterise the knowledge which enables speakers to decode a multiplicity of different speech sounds. Hooper claims that standard generative phonology cannot sustain these claims to psychological reality for analyses involving absolute neutralisation (AN) analyses and extrinsic ordering. She accordingly imposes two general conditions on phonological analyses which, she argues, will help to guarantee their psychological plausibility. Those conditions may be stated as follows:

The True Generalisation Condition (TGC) No phonological generalisation is a true one unless it is true at the level of surface phonetic representation.


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Further Reading

  1. Several varieties of ‘concrete’ or ‘natural’ phonology emerged in the late seventies, among which is ‘natural phonology’ as described in Donegan and Stampe (1979). Linell (1979) also presents proposals for a more ‘natural’ phonology, with a typology of rules somewhat similar to that given by Hooper. For an overview of Linnel’s proposals, see Lass (1984a), Chapter 9. The Dresher (1981) paper referred to in Section 7.2 is a robust reply to Hooper’s proposals.Google Scholar
  2. It is still worth reading through some of the original papers on the subject in chronological sequence, starting with Kiparsky (1968), followed by Hyman (1970), Kiparsky (1973) and Schane (1974b).Google Scholar
  3. The subsequent development of Kiparsky’s thought is picked up in Chapter 8. Alternative conceptions of the abstractness of phonological representations may be found in Section 9.3, on the idea of the CV tier, and in Section 11.3, on non-specification.Google Scholar
  4. An early standard GP analysis of French is given in Schane (1968). Other GP work on French includes Dell (1980), originally published in French in 1973. For concrete analyses of French, and objections to the GP approach, see, amongst others, Tranel (1981) and Love (1981). Morin (1987 and elsewhere) has strongly ‘concretist’ views on the nature of the French evidence.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Philip Carr 1993

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  • Philip Carr

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