Computational Phonology

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Computational phonology is the application of formal and computational techniques to the representation and processing of phonological information. It "deals with the changes in sound patterns that take place when words are put together" [1]. While phonological analysis defines formal models and systematically tests it against data, computer science would speed up task, i.e. by software which induces (computational) models. Computational help opens a gate for broader, abstract perspectives when the outcoming data combine with further media types. In phonology, it is a new way in storing, representing and making data accessible.


The phonological data used are text, wordlists and paradigms.


There are different forms of analysis -like the traditional string-based rewrite-rule analysis or the current prosodic declarative analysis- but differences between them are rather small. If there is a theory sufficiently modeling the sound pattern of a language then the first step to implement the theory is to formalize it. The analysing process is undertaken by a device (program); i.e. a transducer mapping inputs to surface forms as output. A device also implements phonological rules.


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 approaches/key areas within analysis. Bird [2] calls them optimality theory, automatic learning, interfaces to grammar or phonetics and supporting phonological description.


  1. Sproat, Samuelsson, Chu-Carrol, and Carpenter, Computional Linguistics, in Mark Aronoff, Janie Rees-Miller, sbobet, Wiley-Blackwell, 2003, 622-6.
  2. Steven Bird, Computational Phonology, University of Pennsylvania, April 2002, pdf seen on 11/25/2010[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, sbo, Studies in Natural Language Processing, Cambridge University Press, 1995.

External link

  • SIGPHON: Association for Computational Linguistics’ (ACL) special interest group in computational phonology