In this study, the phonological component of a transformation generative grammar of Spanish is studied in the framework of the phonological theory whose most recent and comprehensive formulation appears in The Sound Pattern of English by Chomsky and Halle.
The purpose of the study is twofold: first, it strives for deeper insight into the widely studied facts of Spanish pronunciation by presenting a theory of these facts in the form of a generative grammar; second, this study of generative phonology with the results of an extensive and detailed investigation of the sound structure of Spanish. The book shows that the phonological theory proposed by Chomsky and Halle, in general, is strongly supported by the data of Spanish although serious inadequacies remain. Several controversial and up-to-not unresolved problems of Spanish phonology yield to insightful analysis in this theory. For example, the question of certain assimilatory phenomena before glides finds a natural and simple solution, and substantive clarification is achieved of the phonological and phonetic representations of the various r-type phones.
In chapter 1 Professor Harris presents a general introduction to the investigation. He then provides a close examination of rules involving the phonetic features of nasals, glides, voiced obstruents, and liquids in Chapter 2. Chapters 3 and 4 cover a wide range of phonological processes involved in the rich inflectional system of the verb. Consonantal alterations in derivational morphology are considered in Chapter 5. In Chapter 6 the author examines in depth certain phonological processes such as diphthongization, velar softening, and palatalization, and he concludes with an ordered list of all the rules discussed in the study. Chapter 7 is a historical excursus that studies the evolution of the medieval stridents in Castilian and Mexican Spanish vis-à-vis current phonological theory.
At each point the data of Spanish being examined are presented in detail. Any reader familiar with the theory of generative phonology may follow the clear and thoughtful presentation.