Phonology as Human Behaviour: Clinical Phonetics, Phonology and Prosody

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This paper introduces the theory of Phonology as Human Behaviour (PHB); summarises the basic theoretical and methodological tenets of the theory and shows how it has been applied to clinical phonetics, phonology and prosody. The theory of PHB, developed by William Diver and his students of the Columbia School, combines aspects of the "communication factor" inherent in Prague School phonology with aspects of the "human factor" inherent in André Martinet's functional diachronic phonology. The major parameters of the theory are presented according to the Saussurean-based semiotic definition of language as a sign system used by human beings to communicate. The fundamental axiom underlying the theory is that language represents a compromise in the struggle to achieve maximum communication with minimal effort. The major contribution of the theory is that it provides a motivation to explain the non-random distribution of phonemes within the speech signal in language in general and in typical and atypical speech in particular.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)327-352
Number of pages26
JournalPoznan Studies in Contemporary Linguistics
Issue number2
StatePublished - 1 Jun 2009


  • Clinical phonetics
  • PHB
  • Phonology
  • Prosody

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language


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