Textbook review parallels

Back in August, I bemoaned the lack of a good phonology textbook, one that would be the contemporary equal of Generative Phonology: Description and Theory (Kenstowicz & Kisseberth 1979). I had just browsed through John T. Jensen’s recent Principles of Generative Phonology: An introduction and had been somewhat disappointed by it; maybe I’ll have better luck with David Odden‘s just-published Introducing Phonology (part of the new Cambridge Introductions to Language and Linguistics series), of which I recently received an examination copy.

In the comments section of that August post, John McCarthy related his first textbook experience when he began teaching in 1979 — Sanford Schane‘s short-but-sweet Generative Phonology (Prentice Hall, 1973). As it turns out, Jensen reviewed Schane’s book for Language in 1975. Here’s the second paragraph of that review:

It may seem somewhat strange that this first textbook of generative phonology — an area of linguistics which has been practiced for nearly twenty years — should not appear until 1973, and that it should reflect the state of the art as of five years earlier. But this is not a valid line of criticism in a field where any formal publication is assumed to be already out of date. To be comprehensible and to fulfil its function, a textbook needs to present a coherent theory […]. It would be unreasonable to expect a textbook of phonology to reflect all the recent advances and controversies in the field.

This is worth comparing to a few passages from Mike Cahill‘s recent LinguistList review of Jensen’s text (which I mentioned and copied here three weeks ago):

If someone is looking for an introductory phonology textbook that lays out basic rules and phonological reasoning of the SPE-type (Chomsky & Halle 1968) and does NOT include Optimality Theory, they may want to consider this book.
However, there is a distinct feeling of datedness to the book. This is a book that in some ways seems like it was written 20 years ago. SPE is cited several times as the authority, though J does include what feel like the new theories of autosegmental, metrical, and lexical phonology.
J says in the Preface that he doesn’t want to get into areas where there is no standard (such as unary features and Feature Geometry), but this doesn’t stop him discussing distinctive features in Chapter 3, where there has never been 100% consensus, and the extensive discussion of redundancy rules is probably overdone as well.
Again, this would be a text that should appeal to some with its basics on phonological features, rules, and reasoning. Others may be frustrated with the lack of more recent discoveries and theoretical development.

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