Phonological Elements

Jeff Mielke, Elizabeth C. Zsiga and Paul Boersma

in The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199575039
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

Phonological Elements

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  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics and Phonology



This article discusses three aspects of phonological elements. One of the aspects is feature theory that is aimed at identifying the set of phonetic dimensions, which are relevant for phonology. The set of featurally natural classes, for any non-exhaustive set of phonetically defined features, is a proper subset of the set of phonetically natural classes. A general observation is that phonetically and featurally natural classes tend to be active in sound patterns. Both the autosegmental and non-compositional approaches to tone features take acoustic or perceptual targets, either movements or endpoints, as basic. The articulatory approach to tone enables modeling some complex patterns with simple underlying gestures. The most common laboratory approach to studies of tone is acoustic measurement of f0 patterns, using pitch-tracking algorithms such as autocorrelation. Acoustic analysis is used to study the interaction of tones with vowels and consonants. Adaptive resonance theory proposes that a new category is created at a certain level of representation such as the phonological surface form as soon as the brain detects a mismatch between bottom-up information to that level such as from the auditory form and topdown expectations.

Keywords: autosegmental approach; adaptive resonance theory; acoustic analysis; phonetic dimensions; optimality-theoretic model

Article.  13601 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Phonetics and Phonology

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