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

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

In Search of Universals

Ian Maddieson

University of California, Los Angeles, CA, USA

The purpose of this paper is to bring together some reflections and a few results from work extending over a number of years on phonetic and phonological universals. In different sections, a growing integration of work on language universals with work on language evolution is noted, the importance of the construction of proper language samples for the empirical discovery of universals is emphasized, and a rough distinction between ‘mechanical’ and ‘ecological’ factors accounting for universals is made. Four basic universals are then mentioned: language uses sound, language is oral, language shows sequential variation, and paradigmatic contrast. Other phonetic universals are grouped and briefly discussed as concerning segments, phonetic detail and variability.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Maddieson, Ian (1999): "In search of universals", In ICPhS-14, 2521-2528.