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The geometry of phonological features*

  • G. N. Clements (a1)
  • DOI:
  • Published online: 20 October 2008

On the notion ‘feature bundle’ The study of the phonological aspect of human speech has advanced greatly over the past decades as a result of one of the fundamental discoveries of modern linguistics – the fact that phonological segments, or phonemes, are not the ultimate constituents of phonological analysis, but factor into smaller, simultaneous properties or features. The apparently vast number of speech sounds found in the languages of the world turn out to be surface-level realisations of a limited number of combinations of a very small set of such features – some twenty or so, in current analyses. This conclusion is strongly supported by the similar patterning of speech sounds in language after language, and by many extragrammatical features of language use, such as patterns of acquisition, language disablement and language change.

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S. Hertz (1982). From text to speech with SRS. JASA 72. 11551170.

M. Kenstowicz (1970). On the notation of vowel length in Lithuanian. Papers in Linguistics 3. 73114.

M. Kenstowicz & C. W. Kisseberth (1979) Generative phonology. New York: Academic Press.

W. R. Leben (1978). The representation of tone. In V. Fromkin (ed.). Tone: a linguistic survey. New York: Academic Press. 177219.

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  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
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