Distinctive Features in Speech Pathology: Phonology or Phonemics? Distinctive feature is not a unique concept within linguistic theory. It has two distinct theoretical bases: phonemic theory and generative theory. Phonemic theory assumes a direct correspondence between distinctive features (the elements of phonemes) and the speech signal. Although this assumption can be shown to be incorrect, it seems to ... Articles
Articles  |   February 01, 1976
Distinctive Features in Speech Pathology: Phonology or Phonemics?
 
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Article Information
Articles   |   February 01, 1976
Distinctive Features in Speech Pathology: Phonology or Phonemics?
Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, February 1976, Vol. 41, 23-39. doi:10.1044/jshd.4101.23
History: Received August 29, 1974 , Accepted June 27, 1975
 
Journal of Speech and Hearing Disorders, February 1976, Vol. 41, 23-39. doi:10.1044/jshd.4101.23
History: Received August 29, 1974; Accepted June 27, 1975

Distinctive feature is not a unique concept within linguistic theory. It has two distinct theoretical bases: phonemic theory and generative theory. Phonemic theory assumes a direct correspondence between distinctive features (the elements of phonemes) and the speech signal. Although this assumption can be shown to be incorrect, it seems to be the one most widely held in speech science. Generative theory, on the other hand, assumes no such direct relation and consequently can account for certain linguistic phenomena that phonemic theory cannot. This theory then seems to be preferable to phonemic theory for a featural analysis of misarticulation. However, there is a problem. Chomsky and Halle’s system (generative theory) as it stands does not deal with the link between what it conceives to be the lowest level of linguistic structure (the phonetic matrix) and speech production. Therefore, Chomsky and Halle’s distinctive features cannot be applied fruitfully to all instances of misarticulation. The discrepancy that exists between phonological structure and the speech signal must be accounted for in a theory of speech production. This can be accomplished by recognizing a production matrix below the phonetic matrix, where segments are described in terms of production features. The crucial point is that no one-to-one relationship necessarily exists between distinctive features and production features.

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