THE 4-QUESTIONS TECHNIQUE

The 4-Questions Technique is a generative model that allows for the creation of contextualized phonological alphabets using symbols suggested in the UniSkript Matrix.  Using a limited number of basic shapes and diacritics, the analyst is able to create an alphabet that can construct with iconicity and phonological adequacy any word in a given natural language. The resulting alphabets reflect sound-shape iconicity patterns in such a way that the learning process is almost effortless. 

The 4-Questions Technique is based on the theoretical assumptions of Browman & Goldstein’s (1992) Articulatory Phonological Theory combined with the concept of phonological features inherited from Chomsky e Halle’s (1968) Generative Phonology.

Each question in the technique refers to one of the basic parameters that define the phonological unit and establish contrast between it and all other phonological units in a given language. The analyst selects a phoneme of the language and applies to it each of the four questions. For each question the table provides between four and six alternative answers.  By answering all four questions, the analyst will generate the UniSkript proto-symbol for that specific phoneme. The analyst will repeat this process for each phoneme until he generates a different UniSkript proto-symbol for each phoneme of the language. By the end of this process, he will have generated the proto-alphabet for the language.

The core assumption of Articulatory Phonology is that the sonorous flow of a language is the result of a sequence of overlapping articulatory gestures produced following the simple equation below:

“A specific constriction organ (CO) produces a constriction of a certain degree (DC), in a specific place of constriction [CP].”

In other words, a segment is made up of an easily recognizable basic gesture produced by a constriction organ (CO). This organ can be the tongue, for instance, which moves in the direction of a passive organ or place producing a specific Degree of Constriction (DC).

Added to this basic gesture there is the overlapping of simultaneous constriction gestures produced outside of the oral cavity, at the larynx for instance. We will refer to these mechanisms as extra-oral cavity constriction gestures (EOC).