Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Sonority in Natural Language: A Review

Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence - Martin J. Ball

Joan Rahilly [+-]
Queen's University Belfast
Joan Rahilly is Senior Lecturer in Linguistics and Phonetics at Queen’s University, Belfast. Her research focuses on phonetic and phonological manifestations of speech and language disorders, but she is also pursuing work on literacy acquisition amongst young people in the Northern Irish context.


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.

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Rahilly, Joan. Sonority in Natural Language: A Review. Challenging Sonority - Cross-linguistic Evidence. Equinox eBooks Publishing, United Kingdom. p. 5-20 Oct 2016. ISBN 9781781792278. Date accessed: 11 Jul 2020 doi: 10.1558/equinox.25667. Oct 2016

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