14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

The Devil Is in ihe Detail

Francis Nolan

Department of Linguistics, University of Cambridge, UK

I start with cosmology, where recent observations of supernovae suggest that the expansion of the universe is accelerating, whereas the dominant theory predicts that it should be slowing down. Where are the supernovae data of phonetics? Perhaps, I suggest, they are to be found in the linguistic phonetic details of speech. I go through a number of cases of what is sometimes called ‘extrinsic’ phonetic detail – detail which is not (contrastively) phonological, but which does not, either, emerge from physical principles. I deal with both segmental and suprasegmental examples. The details are intriguing, and I predict that whatever the attractions of elegant, general theories of speech, phoneticians will increasingly be bedevilled by the detail and diversity of phonetic realisation.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Nolan, Francis (1999): "The devil is in ihe detail", In ICPhS-14, 1-8.