Sulla (presunta) morte del fonema

Giovanna Marotta
Dipartimento di Linguistica Università di Pisa - Via Santa Maria 36 - 56126 Pisa (Italy)

Pubblicato 2010-01-16


The traditional concept of phoneme as an abstract and symbolic unit belonging to the linguistic competence of the speaker is discussed in the light of the recent and often critical literature on the topic. The cognitive nature of the phonologi- cal units is here defended, showing how phonological theory cannot dispense with phoneme-like elements. In dealing with the complex relation between phonemes and graphemes, the recently advanced idea of a derivation of phonemes from the letters of the alphabetical system is challenged, whereas the priority of the phono- logical units over the alphabetic ones is maintained. Against the main stream in vogue nowadays, a marginal position is assigned to prosody as well as to other paralinguistic aspects of speech communication (ges- tures, voice quality); at the same time, an internal point of view on the linguistic analysis is assumed, claiming the need for a cognitive, mental and formal paradigm even in the present stage of phonology.