Those working on the description of disordered speech are bound to be also involved with clinical phonology to some extent. This is because interpreting the speech signal is only the first step to an analysis. Describing the organization and function of a speech system is the next step. However, it is here that phonologists differ in their descriptions, as there are many current approaches in modern linguistics to undertaking phonological analyses of both normal and disordered speech.
Much of the work in theoretical phonology of the last fifty years or so is of little use in either describing disordered speech or explaining it. This is because the dominant theoretical approach in linguists as a whole attempts elegant descriptions of linguistic data, not a psycholinguistic model of what speakers do when they speak. The latter is what is needed in clinical phonology. In this text, Martin J. Ball addresses these issues in an investigation of what principles should underlie a clinical phonology. This is not, however, simply another manual on how to do phonological analyses of disordered speech data, though examples of the application of various models of phonology to such data are provided. Nor is this a guide on how to do therapy, though a chapter on applications is included. Rather, this is an exploration of what theoretical underpinnings are best suited to describing, classifying, and treating the wide range of developmental and acquired speech disorders encountered in the speech-language pathology clinic.