Phonological schools in Russia and abroad
The phoneme theory was first formulated at the end of the 19th century. Its founder was Prof. I.A. Baudouin de Courtenay (Kazan, St. Petersburg). Though his theory lacks consistency and there are some drawbacks in it. It initiated the development of the phoneme theory in Russia as well as abroad.
The various phonological schools chiefly differ in their solution of the two main problems of phonology: (1) the definition of the inventory of the phonemes of a given language and (2) the definition of the phonemic status of speech sounds in unstressed positions.
The phoneme theory in Russia is developing in two directions. Hence, two phonological schools are distinguished here: the Moscow School and the St. Petersburg School.
To the Moscow School belong R.I. Avanesov, R. I. Reformatsky, P.S. Kuznetsov, N.P. Yakovlev, V.N. Sidorov and their supporters. They have developed Baudounfs morphonological conception of the early period. They investigate the phoneme mostly on the basis of the Russian language.
To the St. Petersburg school belong L. Scherba and his followers (L.R. Zinder, O.I. Dikushina, M.I. Matusevitch, V.A. Vassilyev, G.P. Torsuyev and others). They investigate the problem on the basis of foreign languages.
Prof. L.V. Scherba has adopted and developed I.A. Baudouin de Courtenay's psychological conception of the late period. Continuing the work of his teacher L.V. Scherba has created a truly materialistic phoneme theory and was the first to advance the idea of the distinctive function of the phoneme.
The representatives of the Moscow phonological school consider that the same speech sound may belong to different phonemes. For instance, the following pairs of words are pronounced identically:
Луг- лук рос – роз
Рот - род кос – коз
Бачок - бочок вода - вод
(The voiced consonants in final position are devoiced; the vowels in unstressed position are reduced.)
According to the Moscow School the /k/ sound of the word "лук" is an allophone of the /k/ phoneme, whereas the /k/ sound of the word "луг" is an allophone of the /r/ phoneme. Consequently, the /^/ sound of the word "бачок" is an allophone of the /a/ phoneme, but the /^/ sound of the word "бочок" is an allophone of the /o/ phoneme.
According to the Moscow School the neutral vowel sound in "progressive" /prə`gresiv/ belongs to the English /ou/ phoneme, because /ou/ occurs in a stressed position in "progress" /`prougres/. The neutral vowel sound in "activity" /ək`tiviti / belongs to the English /əe/ phoneme, because /əe/ occurs in a stressed position in "act" / əekt/. The neutral vowel sound in "gooseberry" /guzbəri/ belongs to the /ə/ phoneme, because /e/ occurs in a stressed position in "berry" /'beri/. Consequently, the /z/ sound in the word "gooseberry" / guzbsri / belongs to the /s/ phoneme, because /s/ is used in a strong position in "goose" /gu:s/, but the /s/ sound in the word "newspaper" /'nju:speipə/ belongs to the /z/ phoneme, because /z/ is used in a strong position in "news" /nju:z/.
The representatives of the St. Petersburg phonological school consider that the /k/ sound of the words "лук" and "луг" are allophones of the /k/ phoneme. The neutral sound of the words "бочок" and "бачок" are allophones of the neutral vowel phoneme /^/
According to the St. Petersburg School the neutral vowel sound in the words "progressive" / prə'gresiv /, "activity" /ək`tiviti/, "gooseberry" /guzbəri / ets. belong to the neutral phoneme /ə/. Consequently, the /s/ sounds in the words "goose" /gu:s/ and "newspaper" /'nju:speipə/ belong to the /s/ phoneme, whereas the /z/ sounds in the words "gooseberry" /guzbəri/ and "news" /nju:z/ belong to the /z/ phoneme.
The St. Petersburg School analyses and investigates sounds as real speech units, which is of great practical value in the process of teaching a foreign language to students.
There is a third phonological school which is known as the Prague linguistic Circle. To this school belong N. S. Trubetzkoy, R. Jakobson, A. Martinet and others. The originator of it was N. S. Trubetzkoy. He became acquainted with Baudouin's phoneme theory when he was studying at Moscow University. He admits that his own theory is a development of Baudouin de Courtenay and Scherba's phoneme systems.
One of the main points of his theory is that of archiphonemes. According to N.S. Trubetzkoy the archiphoneme is a combination of distinctive features common to two phonemes. For instance, the speech sounds /k/ and /r/ (in the words "лук", "луг" and "кот", "год") differ only by the work of the vocal cords but possess the following identical features: (1) plosive, (2) back lingual. These two common features are called relevant and they constitute the archiphoneme to which both /k/ and /г/ belong. It is neither voiced nor voiceless and is designated by the capital letter /K/. According to N.S. Trubetzkoy a speech sound is a combination of all the features, both relevant and irrelevant, while the archiphoneme is a combination of relevant features only.
The London phonological school is represented by Prof. D. Jones of London University. In his monograph "The Phoneme: its Nature and Use" he says that the phoneme theory was first introduced to him in 1911 by L.V. Scherba of St. Petersburg. D. Jones' own definition of the phoneme is as follows: "... a phoneme is a family of sound in a given language, which are related in character and are used in such a way that no one member ever occurs in the same phonetic context as any other member".
In this and other definitions of the phoneme he does not mention the distinctive function of the phoneme but he tells about it in his later works. In his work " The Phoneme: its Nature and Use " D. Jones develops the so called "atomistic" conception of the phoneme. According to it he breaks up the phonemes into atoms which are different features of the phonemes, such as quality, length, tone, etc. Such distinctive features exist independently from each other. Jones' atomistic theory is criticized because one distinctive feature cannot exist apart from all the others. For example, length by itself is an abstraction, while a long phoneme is a reality.
The American phonological school is headed by Leonard Bloomfield and Edward Sapir. Here also belong W. F. Twaddell, Ch. F. Hockett and others.
L. Bloomfield's definition of the phoneme runs as follows: "...a minimum unit of distinctive sound — features..."W. F. Twaddell defines it as "an abstractional fiction ".The representatives of the American phonological school tend more and more to develop an abstractional view of the phoneme.Ch. F. Hockett says that language may be compared to any system of codes, such as Morse code or the waving flags code.