12.2067, Review: Roca & Johnson, Workbook in Phonology

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LINGUIST List:  Vol-12-2067. Mon Aug 20 2001. ISSN: 1068-4875.

Subject: 12.2067, Review: Roca & Johnson, Workbook in Phonology

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Date:  Thu, 16 Aug 2001 07:53:26 +0200
From:  Shamila Naidoo <Naidoosh at nu.ac.za>
Subject:  Review of A Workbook in Phonology, by Roca & Johnson

-------------------------------- Message 1 -------------------------------

Date:  Thu, 16 Aug 2001 07:53:26 +0200
From:  Shamila Naidoo <Naidoosh at nu.ac.za>
Subject:  Review of A Workbook in Phonology, by Roca & Johnson

Roca, Iggy, and Wyn Johnson (1999) A Workbook in Phonology. Blackwell
Publishers, paperback ISBN 0-631-21394-5, xii+144pp.

Shamila Naidoo, University of Natal, Durban & REUPUS, University of

Purpose of Book and Overview
Halle and Clements (1983) emphasize that 'Working out problems must,
[therefore], be an essential part of courses introducing students to
modern phonology.'   It is in this spirit that A Workbook in Phonology
is written.  It is the accompanying volume, providing practical
exercises, to the textbook A Course in Phonology.  The latter is
designed to serve students from an introductory to an advanced level.
A Workbook in Phonology contains 104 practical exercises, using
examples from several languages, and thematized under the following
Chapter 1    Phonetics
Chapter 2    Foundations of Phonology
Chapter 3    Syllables
Chapter 4    Stress
Chapter 5    Tone
Chapter 6    The Interaction between Morphology and Phonology
Chapter 7    Phonological Domains
Chapter 8    Aspects of Lexical Representation
Chapter 9    Derivational Theory
Chapter 10  Optimality Theory

Description of Contents
This review does not provide a detailed critique of the 104 exercises,
except to say that the exercises provide an excellent teaching/learning
aid.  Brief comments on each chapter, concentrating on the noteworthy
inclusions, follow.

Chapter 1    Phonetics
There are 15 exercises in this chapter, ranging from phonetic
transcription to completing diagrams.  These exercises are ideal for
introductory work in phonetics. The transcription exercises are limited
to English.  It would have been interesting to include transcription
exercises from other languages, for example Khoisan, which contains the
click phonemes.  Students at the introductory level often find such
phenomena fascinating and it stimulates their interest in linguistics.
The diagrams are an efficient tool for the learning of articulatory
phonetics.  The Ghoti Words provide an enjoyable, yet thought provoking
exercise on the complexity of spelling.

Chapter 2    Foundations of Phonology
This chapter, which deals with rule formulation, contains 14 exercises,
with examples from 13 languages.  Exercises deal with distribution,
assimilation and vowel harmony.

Chapter 3    Syllables
Chapter 3 contains 10 exercises from 10 languages.  It commences with a
user-friendly exercise - A French Language Game.  Such exercises, where
rules unfold to the learner, without being academic, provide a valuable
introduction to suprasegmental aspects of speech.  The exercises in
this chapter address a range of phenomena that pertain to the syllable,
for example, epenthesis, devoicing, simplification, deletion and

Chapter 4    Stress
There are 10 exercises from 9 languages in this chapter.  The first
exercise commences with the simple task of drawing metrical grids.
Exercises then develop in complexity to the provision of stress
algorithms and require the user to utilize deductive and explanatory
skills.  Syllable weighting is intensively dealt with.

Chapter 5    Tone
Chapter 5 contains 10 exercises from 10 languages.  These include
languages with high, low, falling, mid and contour tones.  Exercises on
pitch accent are also included.  On completing the exercises in this
chapter, the user will undoubtedly have comprehensive knowledge of
tonal occurrences.

Chapters 6-10 deal with the phonology-morphology interface.  Chapters
6-9 concentrate on rules and derivations, and chapter 10 concentrates
on Optimality Theory, which is constraint based.  The exercises
contained in Chapters 6-9 are very comprehensive.  They cover a variety
of processes including assimilation, deletion, nasalization,
palatalization, neutralization, vowel harmony, sandhi and stress.

Chapter 6    The Interaction between Morphology and Phonology
There are 6 exercises from 5 languages in this chapter, concentrating
on Lexical Phonology.

Chapter 7    Phonological Domains
Chapter 7 has 8 exercises from 6 languages. The influence of prosody on
the word/sentence is dealt with in this chapter.

Chapter 8    Aspects of Lexical Representation
In this chapter, dealing with Underspecification, Markedness and
Distinctive Feature Theory, there are 10 exercises from 10 languages.

Chapter 9    Derivational Theory
There are 6 exercises from 6 languages, concentrating on rule

Chapter 10  Optimality Theory
Chapter 10 consists of 16 constraint based exercises from 16 languages.
The Optimality Theory exercises are a special feature of the workbook.
These exercises are of great assistance to those teaching/learning
Optimality Theory, particularly first-timers.  In these 16 exercises
Optimality Theory is applied to the syllable, stress and morphology.

Critical Evaluation
As suggested in the introductory remark, practical exercises and the
application of theory are essential in the study of phonology.  A
Workbook in Phonology is a timesaving, successful and necessary tool
for teachers/students of phonology because it provides such exercises
from a wide range of languages, and comprehensively covers current
discourse in modern phonology.  It is an excellent introductory
workbook as it deals with phonetics, and for the advanced learner, the
development to the more complex aspects of phonology is both lucid and
systematic. The exercises commence with the easier articulatory
phonetics examples and progress to the more involved Optimality Theory
examples.  Within each chapter exercises become progressively complex,
so, depending on the level, one can select appropriate exercises.
Roca and Johnson claim that A Workbook in Phonology is 'self-
contained'.  I believe that the ideal would be to use this volume in
conjunction with A Course in Phonology, particularly as the latter
offers detailed examination of the linguistic aspects dealt with in the
workbook.  Each chapter in A Workbook in Phonology has a brief
introduction.  If the book were to be successfully used on its own, I
believe a more comprehensive introduction to each chapter would be
The revision feature of this workbook is commendable.  For example,
Chapter 2 revises a transcription exercise even though transcription
was adequately dealt with in Chapter 1.  Similarly in Chapters 4 and 10
the language Pintupi is used for Stress and Optimality Theory
exercises.  And, in Chapters 7 and 10, Diyari stress is examined within
the Phonological Domains and Optimality Theory contexts.
Distinctive Feature Theory is dealt with in Chapters 2 and 8.  I am of
the opinion that this section could have contained exercises in a
simpler form, perhaps commencing with the basic task of assigning
features to phonemes.  Also, the inclusion of a feature inventory would
have enhanced this workbook.
A Workbook in Phonology comes highly recommended.  It is a user-
friendly workbook, and the only thing missing is an accompanying volume
with the answers!!!

Halle, M. & G.N.Clements (1983) Problem Book in Phonology, MIT Press

Roca, I. & W.Johnson (1999)  A Course in Phonology, Blackwell

Biographical Statement
Shamila Naidoo is a doctoral student at REUPUS, concentrating on the
Feature Geometry.  Her language of specialisation is isiZulu, an Nguni
language.  Her other interests include second language teaching.


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