Skip to main content
×
×
Home

Duality of patterning: Absolute universal or statistical tendency?

  • Juliette Blevins (a1)
Abstract

As more of the world's languages are described and compared, more absolute universals have joined the class of statistical tendencies. However, few have questioned the universality of the duality of patterning. Following Hockett, most linguists assume that in all human languages, discrete meaningless parts combine to form meaningful units that, themselves, recombine. However, an alternative interpretation, explored in this article, is that duality, like other proposed linguistic universals, is a statistical tendency reflecting a complex set of factors, and most centrally, the need for some minimal number of basic units that can recombine to yield a potentially infinite set of form-meaning correspondences. If this is the essence of duality, then we expect: languages where duality is not a central component of grammar; languages where most, but not all, utterances are decomposable into meaningless phonological units; and different types of phonological building blocks in different languages. These expectations appear to be confirmed by natural language data.

Copyright
References
Hide All
Abelin, Å. 1999. Studies in sound symbolism. Göteborg, Sweden: Göteborg University dissertation.
Abler, W. 1989. On the particulate principle of self-diversifying systems. Journal of Social and Biological Structures 12. 113.
Aikhenvald, A. Y. 1999. The Arawak language family. In Dixon, R. M. W. & Aikhenvald, A. Y. (eds.), The Amazonian languages, 65106. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Akinlabi, A. 1996. Featural affixation. Journal of Linguistics 32. 239289.
Akinlabi, A. 2011. Featural affixes. In van Oostendorp, M., Ewen, C. J. & Hume, E. V. (eds.), Blackwell companion to phonology, 1945–1971. Oxford: Blackwell.
Bell, A., Jurafsky, D., Fosler-Lussier, E., Girand, C., Gregory, M. & Gildea, D.. 2003. Effects of disfluencies, predictability, and utterance position on word form variation in English conversation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 113(2). 10011024.
Bergen, B. K. 2004. The psychological reality of phonaesthemes. Language 80. 290311.
Bendor-Samuel, J. 1960. Some problems in segmentation in the phonological analysis of Terêna. Word 16. 348355.
Bendor-Samuel, J. T. 1966. Some prosodic features of Terena. In Bazell, C. E., Catford, J. C., Halliday, M. A. K. & Robins, R. H. (eds.), In memory of J. R. Firth, 3039. London. Longman.
Blevins, J. 2001. Nhanda: An Aboriginal language of Western Australia. Honolulu: University of Hawaii Press.
Blevins, J. 2004. A reconsideration of Yokuts vowels. International Journal of American Linguistics 70. 3351.
Blevins, J. 2005. The role of phonological predictability in sound change: Privileged reduction in Oceanic reduplicated substrings. Oceanic Linguistics 44. 455464.
Blevins, J. 2009. Another universal bites the dust: Northwest Mekeo lacks coronal phonemes. Oceanic Linguistics 48. 264273.
Browman, C. & Goldstein, L.. 1992. Articulatory phonology: an overview. Phonetica 49. 155180.
Childs, G. T. 1994. African ideophones. In Hinton, L., Nichols, J. & Ohala, J. J. (eds.), Sound symbolism, 178206. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Colarusso, J. 1992. A grammar of the Kabardian language. Calgary: University of Calgary Press.
de Boer, B. 2001. The origins of vowel systems. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Dieterman, J. I. 2008. Secondary palatalization in Isthmus Mixe: A phonetic and phonological account. Austin, TX: SIL International.
Dingemanse, M. 2011. The meaning and use of ideophones in Siwu. Nijmegen, NL: Radboud University dissertation.
Dumézil, G. 1965. Documents anatoliens sur les langues et les traditions du Caucase, III: Nouvelles études oubykhs. Paris: Librairie A. Maisonneuve.
Elbert, S. H. & Pukui, M. K.. 1979. Hawaiian grammar. Honolulu: The University of Hawai'i Press.
Elbert, S. H. & Pukui, M. K.. 1986. Hawaiian dictionary. Honolulu: The University of Hawai'i Press.
Ernestus, M. 2011. Gradience and categoricality in phonological theory. In Oostendorp, M. Van, Ewen, C. J., Hume, E. & Rice, K. (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, 21152136. Oxford: Blackwell.
Everett, D. 2005. Cultural constraints on grammar and cognition in Pirahã: Another look at the design features of human language. Current Anthropology 46. 621646.
Firth, J. R. 1930. Speech. London: Benn's Sixpenny Library.
Fontana, W. & Buss, L.. 1996. The barrier of objects: From dynamical systems to bounded organizations. In Casti, J. & Karlquist, A. (eds.), Boundaries and barriers, 56116. Reading, MA: Addison-Wesley.
Garrett, A. 2004. The evolution of Algic verbal stem structure: New evidence from Yurok. Proceedings of the Thirtieth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society: Special Session on the Morphology of American Indian Languages, 4660.
Goddard, I. 1979. Delaware verbal morphology. New York: Garland.
Goddard, I. 1990. Primary and secondary stem-derivation in Algonquian. International Journal of American Linguistics 56. 449483.
Goldsmith, J. 1976a. Autosegmental phonology. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.
Goldsmith, J. 1976b. An overview of autosegmental phonology. Linguistic Analysis 2. 2368.
Goldsmith, J. 1990. Autosegmental and metrical phonology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Graif, P. 2011. Signs of signs: Phonological considerations in the linguistics of signed languages. Ms., CUNY GC Linguistics Program.
Hall, K. C. 2009. A probabilistic model of phonological relationships from contrast to allophony. The Ohio State University dissertation.
Hamano, S. 1998 [1986]. The sound-symbolic system of Japanese. Stanford, CA: CSLI Publications.
Harden, M. 1946. Syllable structure of Terena. International Journal of American Linguistics 12. 6063.
Hayes, B. 2009. Introductory phonology. Oxford: Blackwell.
Hockett, C. F. 1960. The origin of speech. Scientific American 203. 8896.
Hume, E. V. 1994. Front vowels, coronal consonants and their interaction in nonlinear phonology. New York: Garland.
Hyman, L. 2008. Universals in phonology. The Linguistic Review 25. 83137.
Jurafsky, D., Bell, A., Gregory, M. & Raymond, W. D.. 2001. Probabilistic relations between words: Evidence from reduction in lexical production. In Bybee, J. & Hopper, P. (eds.), Frequency and the emergence of linguistic structure, 229254. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Kenstowicz, M. 1994. Phonology in generative grammar. Oxford: Blackwell.
Kenstowicz, M. & Kisseberth, C.. 1979. Generative phonology. Orlando: Academic Press.
Kimball, G. D. 1991. Koasati grammar. University of Nebraska Press.
Kochetov, A. & Alderete, J.. Forthcoming. Scales and patterns of expressive palatalization: Experimental evidence from Japanese. Canadian Journal of Linguistics.
Kung, S. S. 2007. A descriptive grammar of Huehuetla Tepehua. University of Texas at Austin doctoral dissertation.
Kuroda, S.-Y. 1967. Yawelmani phonology. Special technical report (No. 15); M.I.T. research monograph series (No. 43). Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Ladd, D. R. 2012 [this volume]. What is duality of patterning, anyway? Language and Cognition 4(4).
Lin, Y.-H. 1989. Autosegmental treatment of segmental processes in Chinese phonology. Austin, TX: The University of Texas dissertation.
MacKay, C. J. 1994. A sketch of Misantla Totonac phonology. International Journal of American Linguistics 60. 369419.
MacKay, C. J. 1999. A grammar of Misantla Totonac. Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press.
Magnus, M. 1998. Gods of the word: Archetypes in the consonants. Kirksville, MO: Thomas Jefferson University Press.
Martinet, A. 1949. La double articulation linguistique. Travaux du Cercle Linguistique de Copenhague 5. 3037.
Martinet, A. 1980. Eléments de linguistique générale. Paris: Armand Colin.
Matisoff, J. 1994 [1989]. Tone, intonation and sound symbolism in Lahu: Loading the syllable canon. In Hinton, L., Nichols, J. & Ohala, J. J. (eds.), Sound symbolism, 115129. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McCarthy, J. J. 1983. Consonantal morphology in the Chaha verb. In Barlow, M., Flickinger, D. & Wescoat, M. (eds.), Proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 176188. Stanford: Stanford University Linguistics Association.
McCarthy, J. J. 1999. Sympathy and phonological opacity. Phonology 16. 331399.
Mester, R. A. & Ito, J.. 1989. Feature predictability and underspecification: Palatal prosody in Japanese mimetics. Language 65. 258293.
Mielke, J. 2004. The emergence of distinctive features. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Nichols, J. 1971. Diminutive consonant symbolism in Western North America. Language 47. 826848.
Ohala, J. J. 1994. The frequency code underlies the sound-symbolic use of voice pitch. In Hinton, L., Nichols, J. & Ohala, J. J. (eds.), Sound symbolism, 325347. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Pulleyblank, D. 1986. Tone in lexical phonology. Dordrecht: Foris.
Sagey, E. C. 1986. The representation of features and relations in non-linear phonology. Cambridge, MA: MIT dissertation.
Sakel, J. & Stapert, E.. 2010. Pirahã: In need of recursive syntax? In der Hulst, H. Van (ed.), Recursion in human language, 316. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Sandler, W. 1989. Phonological representation of the sign: Linearity and nonlinearity in American Sign Language. Dordrecht: Foris.
Sandler, W., Aronoff, M., Meir, I. & Padden, C.. 2011. The gradual emergence of phonological form in a new language. Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 29. 502543.
Sandler, W. & Lillo-Martin, D.. 2006. Sign language and linguistic universals. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sapir, E. 1921. Language: An introduction to the study of speech. New York: Harcourt, Brace and company.
Stokoe, W. 1960. Sign language structure. An outline of the visual communication systems. Studies in linguistics, occasional papers, 8. Buffalo: University of Buffalo.
Studdert-Kennedy, M. 1998. The particulate origins of language generativity. In Hurford, J., Studdert-Kennedy, M. & Knight, C. (eds.), Approaches to the evolution of language, 202221. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Vogt, H. 1963. Dictionnaire de la langue oubykh. Oslo: Universitetsforlaget.
Yu, A. C. L. 2004. Infixing with a vengeance: Pingding Mandarin Infixation. Journal of East Asian Linguistics 13. 3958.
Zeitoun, E. 2005. Tsou. In Adelaar, K. A. & Himmelmann, N. (eds.), TheAustronesian languages of Asia and Madagascar, 259290. London: Routledge.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Language and Cognition
  • ISSN: 1866-9808
  • EISSN: 1866-9859
  • URL: /core/journals/language-and-cognition
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *
×

Keywords

Metrics

Altmetric attention score

Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 1
Total number of PDF views: 34 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 222 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between September 2016 - 20th July 2018. This data will be updated every 24 hours.