Attribute Value Phonology

The success of unification-based grammar for natural language syntax and semantics has inspired a number of researches to investigate similar ideas in phonology. The current theme which underlies all these approaches is the idea that representations can become increasingly specified during the course of a derivation but they cannot be destructively modified, and that linguistic rules are unordered, functioning like a pool of constraints.

Scobbie presents a model which is called Attribute Value Phonology (AVP). An AVP representation consists of a sequence of attribute-value structures, each describing roughly segment-sized units. Each structure consists of a melody (MEL) and a syllable (SYL) attribute.

In AVP, a tier other than the root tier is not directly accessible. The notion of a tier is reconstructed as a sequence of paths. For example, if R={i,j,k} is an AVP representation, then {i|SYL, j|SYL,k|SYL}is the syllable tier of R. The sequencing of the syllable tier is thereby inherited from the sequencing of R itself. Along with the tiers, association is also given a novel definition in AVP, whereby x is associated to y if x is dominated by y in the attribute-value representation. Thus, syllables and place specifications are associated to the root tier, but not vice versa.

An interesting restriction on the coindexing of structures is proposed, called the “sharing constraint”. This requires that any index must be assigned to a contiguous subsequence of attribute-value structures in an AVP representation. This constraint, plus the requirement that attributes be single-valued, gives rise to the no-crossing constraint. Coindexing is used for the kind of structure sharing required to represent geminates (double consonants or vowels). Scobbie uses the fact that coindexed structures cannot subsequently be broken apart an order to fashion an account of geminate integrity and inalterability.




Scobbie, James M. 1992. Attribute Value Phonology. Dissertation-Abstracts-International,

     Ann Arbor, MI (DAI). 1992 Jan, 52:7, 2534A-35A DAI No.: BRD-93955. Degree

     granting institution: University of Edinburgh.

Bird, Steven. 1995. Computational Phonology: A Constraint-Based Approach. Cambridge:

     Cambridge University Press.