Melody vs. structure in phonological representations

Melody vs. structure in phonological representations

Session at the 40th Poznan Linguistic Meeting. 2-5 September. Gniezno, Poland.

Traditionally, melodic primitives are linked with structural positions, with the implication that melody specifies phonetic properties such as voicing or place of articulation, whereas the structural positions themselves are devoid of phonetic content. This distinction between melody and structure appears to be widely accepted, even among ‘phonetically based’ approaches to phonology. For example, Steriade (1997) presents a cue-based account of laryngeal neutralizations in various languages, which is presented largely as a refutation of a ‘licensing by prosody’ (e.g. Ito 1986) approach that relates the presence or absence of laryngeal contrasts to questions of syllable structure. Recent proposals in element theory (Jensen 1994, Pochtrager 2006) replace melodic properties with structural configurations, but nevertheless assume that melody and structure are different representational species.

This session seeks to examine the underlying assumption of a melody/structure dichotomy. We are particularly interested in the following questions. Are ‘licensing by cue’ and ‘licensing by prosody’ mutually exclusive. Can we really separate melody and structure? If not, how do melody and structure interact? Is structure really phonetically bare? If not, what defines it?

In keeping with the leitmotif for this year’s PLM (“Variants, Variation, Variability”), we especially welcome papers comparing a variety of approaches to the melody/structure problem, or those investigating representational implications of cross-linguistic variation.

You may upload your abstracts (no more than two pages including examples and references) at the PLM website. Please also send a copy of your abstract to session organizer Geoff Schwartz. The deadline for submission is May 1st.

Hope to see you.

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