Eliminating the feature [lateral]

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The feature [lateral] has a very limited morphophonemic or classificatory role which makes its presence in the universal phonetic feature inventory questionable. A mode of elimination is suggested which involves (i) treating all laterals as [+distributed]; (ii) limiting [distributed] as a distinctive feature to continuants; (iii) redefining [anterior] in terms of [labial], [apical] and [dental]; (iv) analysing approximant rhotics as glides (Kahn, 1976); (v) adopting Halle and Stevens’ re-analysis of [coronal]. This also provides a natural characterization of retroflex sounds and of sibilants. A conceptual problem in child phonology is discussed in the light of the above proposals.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)23-43
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Linguistics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Mar 1984


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