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Phonology without the phoneme

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Abstract

In his otherwise radically innovative linguistics (Columbia School), William Diver retained the classical phoneme, defined on the basis of contrastive distribution. He did so despite his rejection of most of the apparatus of traditional, descriptivist, and contemporary linguistics, and despite wellknown analytical difficulties. Diver evidently saw the phoneme as being required on theoretical grounds, specifically the communicative orientation. Communication, however, does not require contrastive segmental units, and Columbia School phonology need not rely upon the phoneme, which is superfluous to its findings anyway.

References

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