Phonemic analysis answers a question that modern reflection on language has highlighted from the beginning, namely that a level of abstract constants which are systematically associated with phonetic properties is necessary to obtain adequate explanation. In the structuralist paradigm distinctiveness plays a crucial role, insofar as it defines the phonetic constants of a language. Inherited from the Saussurean conception of the nature of linguistic systems (Saussure [1916]1967), phonemics is founded on the idea that communicative efficiency is the principle regulating the internal organization of languages. As a consequence, structuralist approaches miss the difference between the internal properties of languages – sounds and meanings as constitutive components of linguistic expressions – and their use in utterances, in real referential and communicative interactions. This limit affects all structuralist tools of analysis, in the sense that the result of the enunciation is at the same time its organizing principle. In the case of the phoneme, its distinctive and oppositional nature has been the hallmark of structuralist reflection on language: the distinctive properties of a phonic sequence are the means for guaranteeing its ability to signify. Actually, the distinctive capability seems rather a general property of linguistic communication, to the extent that it is necessary that two messages be minimally phonetically different in order to be recognized as distinct and potentially associated with different meanings. That is, distinctiveness seems an external, pre-theoretical mechanism, that human languages include as a perceptual and operational requirement. Saussurean theory incorporates this basic property, assigning it the role of the general principle organizing language systems. This explains the uncertain status of distinctiveness: it is a recognizable abstract device, that guarantees communicative efficiency, the constitutive notion of the system; on the other hand, it occurs along the speech chain, mixed in with the other non-phonemic properties, among the non-distinctive properties of what Saussure calls ‘parole’.

The notion of the phoneme / Benedetta Baldi; Leonardo Maria Savoia. - STAMPA. - (2022), pp. 261-291.

The notion of the phoneme

Benedetta Baldi
;
Leonardo Maria Savoia
2022

Abstract

Phonemic analysis answers a question that modern reflection on language has highlighted from the beginning, namely that a level of abstract constants which are systematically associated with phonetic properties is necessary to obtain adequate explanation. In the structuralist paradigm distinctiveness plays a crucial role, insofar as it defines the phonetic constants of a language. Inherited from the Saussurean conception of the nature of linguistic systems (Saussure [1916]1967), phonemics is founded on the idea that communicative efficiency is the principle regulating the internal organization of languages. As a consequence, structuralist approaches miss the difference between the internal properties of languages – sounds and meanings as constitutive components of linguistic expressions – and their use in utterances, in real referential and communicative interactions. This limit affects all structuralist tools of analysis, in the sense that the result of the enunciation is at the same time its organizing principle. In the case of the phoneme, its distinctive and oppositional nature has been the hallmark of structuralist reflection on language: the distinctive properties of a phonic sequence are the means for guaranteeing its ability to signify. Actually, the distinctive capability seems rather a general property of linguistic communication, to the extent that it is necessary that two messages be minimally phonetically different in order to be recognized as distinct and potentially associated with different meanings. That is, distinctiveness seems an external, pre-theoretical mechanism, that human languages include as a perceptual and operational requirement. Saussurean theory incorporates this basic property, assigning it the role of the general principle organizing language systems. This explains the uncertain status of distinctiveness: it is a recognizable abstract device, that guarantees communicative efficiency, the constitutive notion of the system; on the other hand, it occurs along the speech chain, mixed in with the other non-phonemic properties, among the non-distinctive properties of what Saussure calls ‘parole’.
978 1 108 48579 1
THe Cambridge Handbook of Romance Linguistics
261
291
Goal 4: Quality education
Goal 10: Reduced inequalities
Benedetta Baldi; Leonardo Maria Savoia
File in questo prodotto:
File Dimensione Formato  
Cambridge Handbook Romance Linguistics.pdf

Accesso chiuso

Tipologia: Pdf editoriale (Version of record)
Licenza: DRM non definito
Dimensione 592.9 kB
Formato Adobe PDF
592.9 kB Adobe PDF   Visualizza/Apri   Richiedi una copia

I documenti in FLORE sono protetti da copyright e tutti i diritti sono riservati, salvo diversa indicazione.

Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: http://hdl.handle.net/2158/1280655
Citazioni
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.pmc??? ND
  • Scopus ND
  • ???jsp.display-item.citation.isi??? ND
social impact