Glossary of Linguistic Terms

Generative Phonology


Generative phonology is a component of generative grammar that assigns the correct phonetic representations to utterances in such a way as to reflect a native speaker’s internalized grammar.


The following are crucial components of generative phonology:

  • Levels of phonological representation
    • Generative phonology posits two levels of phonological representation:
      • An underlying representation is the most basic form of a word before any phonological rules have been applied to it. Underlying representations show what a native speaker knows about the abstract underlying phonology of the language.
      • A phonetic representation is the form of a word that is spoken and heard.
  • Phonological rules
    • Phonological rules map underlying representations onto phonological representations. They delete, insert, or change segments, or change the features of segments.
  • Derivations
  • Distinctive features
    • Distinctive features make it possible to capture the generalities of phonological rules.
  • Linearity
    • A stream of speech is portrayed as a sequence of discrete sound segments. Each segment is composed of simultaneously occurring features.

Glossary Hierarchy