Freedom of Analysis workshop

While I’m at it: here’s a recent workshop announcement (and call for papers) of interest to readers of phonoloblog, posted on LinguistList and the Optimal List.


The Center for Advanced Study in Theoretical Linguistics (CASTL) at the University of Tromso will be hosting a workshop on The Freedom of Analysis in phonology (see call for papers below) on September 1st and 2nd, 2005. The workshop will consist of 5 slots for invited talks and an additional 10 slots for which we are inviting abstracts.


Partial TRAVEL SUPPORT will be available for presenters without sufficient financial support from their home institutions. Applications will be evaluated on an individual basis after acceptance.

We are pleased to announce that the following researchers have accepted our invitation:

Chris Golston (CSU Fresno)
Bruce Moren (CASTL Tromso)
Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens)
Curt Rice (CASTL Tromso)
Christian Uffmann (Marburg)


The bulk of contemporary research in OT focuses on constraints and their interaction, yet other aspects of the overall OT model remain largely unexplored. This workshop takes up the problem of Freedom of Analysis in its broadest sense, and asks to what extent the very phonological properties of candidate outputs are restricted by things like representational considerations, ‘output viability’, the content of CON and the ranking of constraints in EVAL. The issue of restrictions is an important one, since if it turns out to be possible to formulate principled restrictions on the space of inputs and output candidates in a way that does not duplicate the job of the constraints in EVAL, a more restrictive view of CON and the typology emerges. Sensible discussion of variation presupposes some conception of the limits on the universal space of variation.
Much work in OT fails to spell out its representational assumptions adequately, using representations in a way that sacrifices long-term explanatory goals to short-term descriptive ones. The fundamental choice between binary features and unary elements is just as pregnant with ramifications for analyses in OT as, say, a rule-based framework, both as regards the content of CON and the predicted typology. The same holds true of theories of the hierarchical organisation of phonological primitives. Yet, despite the continued relevance of the prosodic hierarchy and the recent renaissance of feature geometry, many analyses simply rely in practice on an SPE-style conception of segments as unordered feature bundles or flat autosegmental structures.
A related representational question involves the extent to which inputs and candidate outputs must be ‘viable outputs’, i.e. phonetically interpretable as they are. For example, to what extent must we allow for inputs with un(der)specified nodes or floating features?
Representational issues like these figure in defining the absolute variation space. On the classical conception of Freedom of Analysis, the absolute variation space must be one and the same as the space of candidates for any given input.

To take stock of these issues, we invite abstracts dealing with the place of inviolable restrictions in the OT architecture, addressing questions including but not limited to the following:

– Do universally inviolable constraints on linguistic structures exist? If so, are they part of GEN, or EVAL with a fixed top ranking?
– What is the relation between GEN and the function EVAL, the constraint set and the input?
– Does the generator contain restrictions on the combination of phonological primitives?
– Would limitations on the generator resolve any of the current challenges to OT, such as opacity, forbidden repairs, typological overgeneration, proliferation of candidates or constraints?


12th June 2005: Abstract deadline

1st July 2005: Notification of acceptance

1-2 September 2005: Workshop


Abstracts must be submitted electronically in PDF format to by 12th June 2005.

All-inclusive abstract length is 2 A4 pages with the following formatting requirements:
– 2,5 cm margins on top, bottom, left and right,
– in 12 pt Times New Roman (10 pt for references),
– single line spacing, and
– normal character spacing.

The length of the abstract text excluding the title, the name(s) and affiliation(s) of the author(s), examples, figures and references must not
exceed 50 lines.

Please submit two versions of your abstract, one anonymous and one named. The named abstract should include your name, affiliation and e-mail address, and should be called freedom-named-lastname.pdf; the anonymous abstract should be called freedom-anon-lastname.pdf.
So, for instance, if the author’s name is Joe Black, he’ll send two files called freedom-named-black.pdf and freedom-anon-black.pdf.

Please heed these formal requirements and the deadline.

Should you have any questions or comments, please don’t hesitate to contact the organisers.

workshop e-mail address:

Sylvia Blaho (
Patrik Bye (
Martin Kraemer (

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