Skip to main content Skip to search Skip to search

Language Arts & Disciplines General

The Oxford History of Phonology

edited by B. Elan Dresher & Harry van der Hulst

Oxford University Press
Initial publish date
Apr 2022
  • Hardback

    Publish Date
    Apr 2022
    List Price

Add it to your shelf

Where to buy it


This volume is the first to provide an up-to-date and comprehensive history of phonology from the earliest known examples of phonological thinking, through the rise of phonology as a field in the twentieth century, and up to the most recent advances. The volume is divided into five parts. Part I offers an account of writing systems along with chapters exploring the great ancient and medieval intellectual traditions of phonological thought that form the foundation of later thinking and continue to enrich phonological theory. Chapters in Part II describe the important schools and individuals of the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries who shaped phonology as an organized scientific field. Part III examines mid-twentieth century developments in phonology in the Soviet Union, Northern and Western Europe, and North America; it continues with precursors to generative grammar, and culminates in a chapter on Chomsky and Halle's The Sound Pattern of English (SPE). Part IV then shows how phonological theorists responded to SPE with respect to derivations, representations, and phonology-morphology interaction. Theories discussed include Dependency Phonology, Government Phonology, Constraint-and-Repair theories, and Optimality Theory. The part ends with a chapter on the study of variation. Finally, chapters in Part V look at new methods and approaches, covering phonetic explanation, corpora and phonological analysis, probabilistic phonology, computational modelling, models of phonological learning, and the evolution of phonology. This in-depth exploration of the history of phonology provides new perspectives on where phonology has been and sheds light on where it could go next.

About the authors

Contributor Notes

B. Elan Dresher is Professor Emeritus of Linguistics at the University of Toronto. He has published on phonological theory, learnability, historical linguistics, West Germanic and Biblical Hebrew phonology and prosody, and the history of phonology. He is the author of Old English and the Theory of Phonology (1985/2019) and The Contrastive Hierarchy in Phonology (2009). His research has been published in journals such as Linguistic Inquiry, Language, Linguistic Variation, Annual Review of Linguistics, and Transactions of the Philological Society, and in edited volumes from OUP and Wiley-Blackwell.

Harry van der Hulst is Professor of Linguistics at the University of Connecticut. His research interests include stress, syllabic structure, segmental structure, sign language, gesture, language evolution, and phonological acquisition. His many books include Word Stress: Theoretical and Typological Issues (CUP, 2014), Asymmetries in Vowel Harmony: A Representational Account (OUP, 2018), and Principles of Radical CV Phonology: A Theory of Segmental and Syllabic Structure (Edinburgh University Press, 2020). He is Editor-in-Chief of the journal The Linguistic Review and co-editor of the Mouton de Gruyter series 'Studies in Generative Grammar'.