chapter  1
14 Pages


A striking fact about sound patterns of languages is that they exhibit systematic restrictions on contrastive phonological units and their combinations. In language after language certain phonological contrasts are maintained in the same environments and systematically suspended, or neutralized, in other environments. This asymmetry between environments that are more or less favorable for the realization of a particular contrast is commonly referred to as positional, or contextual markedness. Understanding universal positional markedness asymmetries has been an important goal of phonological theory since Trubetzkoy (1939/1969) and Jakobson & Halle (1956).