Symposium on Phonologization

The Department of Linguistics at the University of Chicago is pleased to invite abstracts for submission to a symposium entitled “Phonologization” to be held at the University of Chicago, April 25-26, 2008.

Submission deadline: January 15, 2008
Notification of acceptance: February 1, 2008

[ Symposium website, via LINGUIST List. ]

Explanations for sound change have focused traditionally on identifying the inception of change, that is, the identification of perturbations of the speech signal, conditioned by physiological constraints on articulatory and/or auditory mechanisms, which affect the way sounds are analyzed by the listener. While this emphasis on identifying the intrinsic variation in speech has provided important insights into the origins of widely attested cross-linguistic sound changes, the nature of phonologization – the transition from intrinsic phonetic variation to extrinsic phonological encoding – remains largely unexplored. Several factors, however, have been implicated in the phonologization process:

  • analytic or cognitive biases: certain patterns are difficult or impossible to acquire even from perfect learning data;
  • phonetic precursor robustness: the extent to which intrinsic frequency and subtlety of a phonetic precursor plays a decisive role in the phonologization process;
  • lexical frequency and gradient phonotactics: some words and sound combinations are more frequent than others, suggesting that the composition of the lexicon may influence the incorporation of one pattern over another; and
  • socio-phonetic factors: individuals vary in their rates of adopting new variants on account of social position, physical and social mobility, and attitude.

The goal of this workshop is to facilitate collaboration among phonologists as well as specialists from neighboring disciplines seeking unified theoretical explanations for the origins of sound patterns in language, as well as to move toward a new and improved synthesis of synchronic and diachronic phonology.

The symposium will include invited talks by:

Beth Hume (The Ohio State University)
Larry Hyman (University of California, Berkeley)
Norma Mendoza-Denton (University of Arizona)
Elliot Moreton (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill)

Any papers on research examining phonologization processes are invited. Abstracts must follow the guidelines below:

  • Abstracts are limited to two single-spaced pages. Data and examples must be given within the body of the text rather than at the end. All texts should fit within a letter-size or A4 page, 12-point font with 1-inch margin all around.
  • Abstract submission is by email-attachment only. Save your abstract as a pdf file. (Documents in other formats must be converted before submission.) Name your abstract with your last name followed by the suffix pdf (e.g., smith.pdf). Send your abstract to:
  • In your email, however, please make sure to include the following information:
    • Title of your paper
    • Your full name (capitalize your last name)
    • Affiliation (department and university)
    • Preferred mailing address (where acceptance letters, if needed in hard copy, should be sent)
    • Your telephone number and email address

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