This book provides an overview of phonological typology: the study of how sounds are distributed across the languages of the world and why they display these distributions and patterns. It examines major phonological phenomena such as phoneme inventories, syllable structure, phonological alternations, stress, tone, intonation, and prosodic morphology, and investigates issues including how common certain types of sounds are cross-linguistically and why; how many languages differentiate questions and statements using intonation; which areas of the world tend to be associated with more complex tone distinctions; and the relationship between cross-linguistic and language-internal frequency.
Data are drawn from existing typologies, from the results of a survey of various phonological patterns in the 100-language sample from the World Atlas of Language Structures, and from corpora of individual languages. Matthew Gordon analyses these data and explores the correlations between different - often superficially unrelated - phonological properties to gain insight into the driving forces behind these phenomena. He provides an overview of synchronic and diachronic explanations for the patterns observed and discusses how formal phonological theory has attempted to model the typological data. One of relatively few typological works devoted to phonology, this book will be a valuable resource for phonologists and phoneticians from advanced undergraduate level upwards, as well all those with an interest in language typology.