Computational Phonology

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Computational phonology is the application of formal and computational techniques to the representation and processing of phonological information. So, while phonological analysis defines formal models and systematically tests it against data, computer science would speed up task, i.e. by especially designed software systems.


The phonological data used are text, wordlists and paradigms. They would be processed according phonological theories. For the first steps, phonological information is ripped into strings of atomic symbols to become annotated i.e. Computational help opens a gate for broader, abstract perspectives when the outcoming data combine with further media types. Furthermore, it is a new way in storing, representing and making data accessible.


Formerly, it was conducted manually on paper without any help of computers. The increasing development of technical support was helpful to phonology continuing its work a in a more specific way. One of the first publications concerning computational phonology was in 1968 about “Phonological Rule Tester” by Bobrow and Fraser

Current research

In nowadays research there are four key areas. Bird calls them optimality theory, automatic learning, interfaces to grammar and phonetics, and supporting phonological description.


  • Steven Bird, Computational Phonology, University of Pennsylvania, 2002,pdf [1].

See also

  • Steven Bird, Deirdre Wheeler, Bob Carpenter, Computational phonology: A constraint-based approach, The Pennsylvania State University CiteSeer Archives, 2002.
  • T. Mark Ellison,James M. Scobbie (eds.), Computational Phonology, The Pennsylvania State University CiteSeer Archives, 2000.
  • Michael Becker (ed.), University of Massachusetts Occasional Papers in Linguistics 36 (UMOP 36): "Papers in Theoretical and Computational Phonology", Booksurge Llc, 2007.


Steven Bird, Computational Phonology: A Constraint-Based Approach, Studies in Natural Language Processing, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

External link