City University of Hong Kong Dep
Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Phonological Universals: Where Do They Come from and Where Do They Reside?
Professor John J. Ohala
University of California, Berkeley
Date: 20 November 2009 (Friday)
Time: 4:30 - 6:00pm
Venue: Phonetics Laboratory, Department of Chinese, Translation and Linguistics
Room 4450, Mong Man-wai Building, City University of Hong Kong
Phonological universals – whether in conditioned allophony or sound changes or their result: segment inventories, phonotactic (MSC) constraints, morphological alternations and the like – originate in the only things that are universal to the speakers of all human languages: the anatomical, physiological – including especially the aerodynamic - , acoustic, and perceptual (and, I would add, the ethological) factors governing speech. End of story. I dispute claims that phonological universals reside in the (mental, psychological) synchronic grammars of native speakers or (more extravagantly!) in the genetic (= in the DNA) structure which enables homo loquens to construct grammars that enable the type of complex communication found in human speech. If I am right, then the past half-century or more of speculations about synchronic (= mental or psychological or cognitive) phonological grammars are a colossal illusion. To add flesh to the skeleton of this very simple phonological theory I will also describe some research in progress on how retroflexion of apical stops and pharyngeal expansion may facilitate longer voicing in stops.
Professor John J. Ohala, Professor of Phonetics, Department of Linguistics, University of California, Berkeley.
Enquiries 3442 7594 / 3442 7593
~ All Are Welcome ~