Sonority in Natural Language: A Review
Joan Rahilly [+]
Queen's University Belfast
This chapter offers a critical overview of the core principles in sonority theory, and considers a range of current and influential studies which draw upon sonority to explain phonological behaviour. The underlying argument is that sonority-driven accounts have tended to oversimplify accounts of phonological patterns, by dividing sequences of sounds into those which observe a sonority hierarchy and those which do not, and offering a general categorisation of markedness for the latter category. With reference to natural language, and to speech acquisition and disorder in particular, the advantages and disadvantages of a sonority-based approach will be demonstrated. It will be shown that there is a need to problematize sonority, given its inability to account in a consistent fashion for non-normal yet regular patterns in speech. The chapter concludes by suggesting an analytic framework within which sonority can be accommodated alongside more revelatory approaches.