(Wheeler 1985)



I.             Introduction

The Atomic Phonology (AP) School deposits that an atomic rule is a universal rule of grammar that incorporates the most restrictive conditions for the rule type in any language. An atomic rule specifies all the necessary conditions from which variants of the rule can be predicted. Its essential claim toward the full set of necessary phonological rules is as follows:

1.          A relatively small finite set of rules (atomic rules) is highly restrictive and innately available.

2.          Universal principles govern variation in the form of those rules.


II.           Examples of Atomic Rules

1.          Basic Word-final Devoicing (WFD) Rule: This rule occurs in many languages, e.g., German, Polish, and Russian.

[-sonorant] [voice] /___# All obstruents are voiceless word-finally.

2.          Variant (Restricted rule): This rule occurs in languages like Ferrarese Italian, Turkish, and certain Greek dialects.

[-sonorant, -continuant] [voice] /___#All obstruent stops are voiceless word-finally.


III.          Evaluation

          The Atomic Phonology represents one particular approach to the 

          characterization of what a possible rule of grammar is.


IV.       Related Books

Atomic Phonology and Phonological Variation. By William D. Keel.Out of Print

V.         References

               Asher. 1994. The Encyclopedia of Language and Linguistics.

               Dinnsen, Daniel. A. 1979. Atomic phonology. In: Dinnsen D. A. (ed.) Current Approaches to Phonological Theory. Bloomington, IN: Indianan UP.