Phonology as human behavior from an evolutionary point of view

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The ultimate task of phonology is to discover the cause of the behavior of speech sounds. To do this phonologists must refer to the way speech is created and used by human beings… John J. Ohala (1983: 189) This paper summarizes the basic theoretical and methodological tenets of the theory of Phonology as Human Behavior (PHB); shows how it has analyzed the phonological systems of languages from diverse language families, developmental and clinical phonology, and inflectional, lexical and grammatical systems both synchronically and diachronically. Various aspects of evolutionary phonology will then be explained according to the principles of PHB such as: the favoring of CV syllables and specific phonemes in word initial and word final positions. These evolutionary hypotheses conform to the principles of the theory of PHB indicating that different approaches can account for phonological and phonotactic phenomena if they share a functionalist, human, and communication oriented point of view.


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