Workshop on Variation, Gradience and Frequency in Phonology

Call for posters: Workshop on Variation, Gradience and Frequency in Phonology

Abstract deadline: April 30, 2007

Workshop description:

This three-day workshop on Variation, Gradience, and Frequency in Phonology will run concurrently with the 2007 Linguistic Institute at Stanford University in July 2007. The goal is to facilitate the collaboration among phonologists seeking unified theoretical explanations for qualitative and quantitative patterns in phonology. The workshop will focus on three main topics:

– Phonological variation
– Gradient phonotactics
– Lexical frequency effects

Phonology studies the sound patterns of human languages. Sound patterns sometimes emerge as quantitative tendencies and preferences. This can be illustrated by the following three examples. First, in American English, word-final /t/ is variably deleted, more often before consonants (“west side”) than before vowels (“west end”). Second, some sound combinations make better words than others. This can be seen in the dictionary where some combinations are statistically overrepresented, others underrepresented, as well as in experiments where subjects judge some nonsense words to sound more natural than others (“stin” > “smy” > “bzharsk”). Third, word frequency influences phonological patterns. The low-frequency word “exploit” has initial stress as a noun, final stress as a verb, whereas the high-frequency word “express” has final stress under both readings.

Phonological theory has traditionally focused on qualitative patterns. Quantitative phenomena, such as variation, gradient phonotactics and lexical frequency effects, have not figured prominently in theoretical discussion. This is changing. Quantitative studies are becoming common, partly because of new methodological developments (annotated corpora, sociolinguistic databases, searchable dialect archives, on-line dictionaries, experimental psycholinguistic data, new computational tools), and partly because of new theoretical developments. This has broadened the empirical base of phonology and is likely to lead to new discoveries and connections to neighboring fields of inquiry.


Abstract Guidelines:

We are soliciting abstracts for posters relevant to any of the topics mentioned above. Abstracts should be at most one page long on a letter size or A4 sheet with one-inch margins and typed in at least 12 point font. An optional second page may be used for data, charts, and references. Abstracts should be submitted electronically in Adobe Acrobat (.pdf) format to The author(s) of the abstract should not be identified in the abstract itself. The body of the submission message should include the title of the abstract, the name(s) of the author(s), the(ir) affiliation(s), and e-mail address(es). Submissions are limited to one individual and one joint abstract per author, or two joint abstracts per author.

Deadline for submission: April 30, 2007. The workshop program will be announced in early May.

Important dates:

  • April 30: Poster abstracts due (send to:
  • Early May: Notification of acceptance
  • July 6-8: Workshop

More information about the workshop, including the final program, will be posted on the workshop’s website in due course.

For any questions about the workshop, please email your queries to either of the organizers:

Arto Anttila or Lauren Hall-Lew

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