Is anyone aware of a comprehensive phonological grammar of a language, along the lines of SPE, Sound Pattern of Russian or Chomsky's thesis on Hebrew, written in a framework that postdates SPE? I assume that the majority of grammars out there fall between being entirely descriptive and incorporating formal analysis for only a subset of phenomena. What I'm interested in is a work that attempts to provide the entire formal phonological system in a framework such as Optimality Theory. Otherwise, I'd be interested in the most complete, (single) theory-specific phonological sketch of a language you're aware of.


There are vast numbers of such works, if you have the right criteria. As a starting point, there are the volumes in the Phonologies of the World's Languages series.

The issue of "framework" may complicate the matter. Brame's dissertation on Classical Arabic phonology was written after SPE, but was still within that broad framework. Sommerstein's The Sound Pattern of Ancient Greek is in a somewhat divergent version of SPE theory (but then, SPE diverges from itself), and likewise Vago's dissertation on Hungarian might count. There were competing later frameworks such as Natural Phonology, Function Phonology, UDRA, NGP, but as far as I know there were no works in competing earlier frameworks that provided a comprehensive analyse of a language. There were analyses of parts of languages, but not whole languages. The first complete language analyses in a clearly distinct generative framework were carried out in Autosegmental Phonology, then Lexical Phonology, and so on.

In searching for such works, it's not clear to what extent a work has to be "in a framework". Basbøll's book in the OUP phonology series is really more a description of Danish phonology, rather than being an exemplification of claims etc. of a theory (and I can't really identify what his framework is). On the other hand, Sharon Hargus' dissertation on Sekani, conducted in Lexical Phonology, is a comprehensive analysis of the language and does thoroughly assume (and exemplify) Lexical Phonology. Bickmore's Chilungu Phonology of conducted within a derivational autosegmental framework. Buckely's Theoretical aspects of Kashaya phonology and morphology adopts non-linear representations and Lexical Phonology.

One problem is that SPE, SPR and Chomsky's Hebrew are really not comprehensive, even though there are a lot of words in those works. It's hard to judge comprehensiveness unless you are familiar with the language. I don't know Basque, so I can't tell whether Hualde's Basque phonology is comprehensive, i.e. covers even the uninteresting stuff. Likewise, Y. Kim's dissertation on San Francisco del Mar Huave may count, you'd need to know the language to know what was omitted. Some works on Dravidian phonology focus on just the theoretically interesting parts, so I would not include them in the list. In fact, if you have high-enough standards (requiring the inclusion of phonotactic statistical analysis), there probably never have been any comprehensive studies of phonology.

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  • SPE also fails to be comprehensive in not dealing with allophonics. – Greg Lee Feb 18 '18 at 13:20

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