Toggle Main Menu Toggle Search

Open Access padlockePrints

On speech and natural language

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Noel Burton-Roberts, Dr Philip Carr


Full text for this publication is not currently held within this repository. Alternative links are provided below where available.


We discuss the tension between an "Internalist" (generative) concept of language as a natural, innate state of mind/brain and an "Externalist" (productive) concept of language as a conventional form of behaviour common to the members of a "speech community". We relate this to the tension concerning the nature and status of phonology and its relation to phonetics. In aid of resolving these tensions, we outline the "Representational Conjecture", in terms of which (E) phonetic phenomena are viewed as produced by speakers in aid of conventionally representing the (I-) linguistic. The relevant relation of "representation" is discussed and contrasted with how "representation" is usually understood. The essence of the idea is that, since the I-linguistic is one of the terms thus related, it must be distinguished both from the representational relation itself and from anything that is representational of it. The fundamental distinction, then, is between the (I-) linguistic and what is (E-) representational of it. We consider and reject the possibility that the phonetic is representational of the phonological. Instead (and in contrast to a "realisational" view of the phonological), we propose that the phonological is itself representational: phonology is about the language-external representational function of relevant phonetic phenomena. Some of the wider implications of this idea are explored.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Burton-Roberts N, Carr P

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Language Sciences

Year: 1999

Volume: 21

Issue: 4

Pages: 371-406

Print publication date: 01/10/1999

ISSN (print): 0388-0001

ISSN (electronic): 1873-5746

Publisher: Pergamon


DOI: 10.1016/S0388-0001(98)00036-9


Altmetrics provided by Altmetric