Of particular interest to phonoloblog readers: a special session on phonology.
The phonology special session is entitled ‘Abstractness without innateness?’ The invited speaker is Bruce Hayes from UCLA. Some of the founding assumptions of Generative Phonology involve abstract units such as distinctive features, timing units, syllables, and constraints. The innateness of these units has been seen as an important part of their nature. Recent work has sought to undermine the claim that innate primitives are necessary for phonological theory, often drawing more directly upon more concrete factors such phonetics and language change as sources of explanation. However, a reduction in the explanatory role of innateness does not entail a reduction in the role of abstractness in phonology. We are soliciting abstracts for talks addressing the role of abstractness in phonology at a time when innateness is under attack, e.g.: (i) Evidence for the existence of abstract units in phonology, independent of assumptions about innate abstract units, e.g. in acquisition, variation, change, production, perception, processing, etc.; (ii) Evidence for sources of abstract units other than Universal Grammar; (iii) Evidence that abstract units must be innate.