Author Archives: Eric Bakovic

phonoloblog is dead; long live Phonolist!

Anyone still reading posts to this blog (anyone? Bueller?) is likely to have received the email message copied below the fold, announcing the inauguration of Phonolist (“a new blog and weekly e-mail newsletter that hosts announcements and discussion for the phonological community”). If you didn’t, check your spam folder, or just follow the links in the message to read/subscribe to the blog/mailing list.

Phonolist is hosted at UMass by Gaja Jarosz and Joe Pater. Though they state in the message that the “scope of this blog / newsletter overlaps in some ways with existing useful lists and blogs such as […] phonoloblog”, the truth is (as you all know) that phonoloblog has failed to be useful for quite some time. Gaja and Joe are much more organized about Phonolist than I ever was with phonoloblog, so I hereby announce the death of phonoloblog and throw my support behind Phonolist.

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Rutgers tenure-track position in phonology

The Department of Linguistics at Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey (New Brunswick) invites applicants for a tenure‐track Assistant Professor position in linguistics with a specialization in phonology, beginning September 1, 2016. We seek applicants whose research interests complement those of the current faculty and who can contribute breadth and depth to the department with respect to research, teaching, and advising at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Applicants must have completed all degree requirements for a Ph.D. in linguistics or a related field by August 31, 2016.

Applications should include a cover letter, a curriculum vitae, a research statement, sample publications, a teaching statement, teaching evaluations if available, and three letters of reference addressed to Linguistics Search Committee (address below). The cover letter should include a list of those writing letters of reference and a list of all the materials that have been, or will be, submitted. All materials should be submitted via Interfolio (link below).

Review of applications will begin November 1, 2015 and continue until the position is filled. For full consideration, applications should be submitted by November 15, 2015. Inquiries about the search should be sent to Ms. Marilyn Reyes (email below).

Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey, is an Equal Opportunity / Affirmative Action Employer. Qualified applicants will be considered for employment without regard to race, creed, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity or expression, national origin, disability status, genetic information, protected veteran status, military service or any other category protected by law. As an institution, we value diversity of background and opinion, and prohibit discrimination or harassment on the basis of any legally protected class in the areas of hiring, recruitment, promotion, transfer, demotion, training, compensation, pay, fringe benefits, layoff, termination or any other terms and conditions of employment.

Application Address:

Linguistics Search Committee
Dept. of Linguistics, Rutgers University
18 Seminary Place
New Brunswick NJ

Application URL:

Contact Information:
Ms. Marilyn Reyes
Phone: 848-932-0477 Fax: 732-932-1370

OCP 11

[ Cribbed from LinguistList. ]


Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL), Meertens Instituut Amsterdam

22-25 JANUARY 2014

Deadline for abstracts: 15 September 2013
First call for papers: 29 April 2013
Second call for papers: 15 July 2013
Last call for papers: 1 September 2013
Notification of acceptance: 1 November 2013
Main conference: 23-25 January
Pre-conference workshop: 22 January

Invited speakers:
Adamantios I. Gafos (University of Potsdam)
Silke Hamann (University of Amsterdam)
Alan Prince (Rutgers University)

The Leiden University Centre for Linguistics (LUCL) and the Meertens Instituut Amsterdam are proud to announce that the eleventh Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP 11) will take place in Leiden and Amsterdam from 23 to 25 January 2014. It is organised by a group of local phonologists and follows in the line of previous OCP conferences, which have been held in Leiden, Tromsø, Budapest, Rhodes, Toulouse, Edinburgh, Nice, Marrakech, Berlin, and Istanbul. Abstracts for presentation as either talks or poster papers can be submitted on any phonological issue (theoretical or empirical).

The conference will be preceded by a workshop on the relationship between phonetics and phonology on 22 January. Everyone attending the conference is very welcome to attend the workshop, too.

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Phonology 2013

Phonology 2013 will be held November 8-10 on the campus of the University of Massachusetts Amherst. This is planned to be the first in an annual series of general phonology conferences, to be held at a different location each year.

We are seeking high quality unpublished research in all areas of phonology for presentation at Phonology 2013. In addition to the invited speakers, there will also be oral and poster presentations selected through abstract review. All oral presentations will be published in an online conference proceedings. Abstracts should be anonymous, and a maximum of 2 pages in 12 point font, figures and references included. They can be submitted at The deadline is midnight US EST, Wednesday July 1.

Invited Speakers:

John McCarthy, UMass Amherst
Sharon Peperkamp, LSCP Paris
Kevin Ryan, Harvard University

The research presentations will take place November 9-10. On November 8, we will hold a tutorial workshop on ‘Computational and Experimental Methods in Phonology’. The full schedule is TBA, but we are pleased to announce three of the tutorials now:

John Kingston, UMass Amherst ‘Octave/Matlab scripting for Psychtoolbox’
Lisa Sanders, UMass Amherst ‘ERP methods for phonology’
Brian Smith, UMass Amherst ‘Corpus phonology in R’

Laura Benua, 1962-2013

I’m very sad to report that Laura Benua has died, just over a week ago, at her home in Nyack, NY. She was just 50 years old. Laura received her PhD in Linguistics at UMass, under the direction of John McCarthy, in 1997. She held a faculty position in Linguistics at the University of Maryland for a few years, then left the field to become a teacher in NYC. A memorial page has been established here, by the funeral home where a service will be held tomorrow afternoon (Saturday, March 2).

Laura was part of the first cohort of students at UMass trained in Optimality Theory, a cohort that included John Alderete, Jill Beckman, Amalia Gnanadesikan, and Su Urbanczyk. Her dissertation, Transderivational Identity: Phonological Relations Between Words (available on ROA; also published in the Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics series in 2000), was quite probably the most-cited of a range of works that appeared around the same time on the topic of phonology-morphology interleaving; this is saying a lot, given the very good company that Laura was in: Luigi Burzio, Sharon Inkelas, René Kager, Michael Kenstowicz, and Orhan Orgun were among the other authors with (also widely-cited) works on this topic. “Output-output faithfulness” is probably the most recognizable term referring to the main types of devices used in the relevant set of proposals; this is the term that Laura used in her work for the specific devices she used.

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2 jobs in Edinburgh

The department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh is seeking to appoint two lecturers: one in Theoretical Phonology and one in Sociolinguistics. (These are full-time, permanent positions, equivalent to Assistant Professor in the American system.)

The application deadline is in slightly less than one month. Please pass on the information to any potentially interested candidates and/or apply yourself.

Brief details follow below. For full details, go to the following website, click on ‘Academic vacancies’ and then search for Vacancy Reference 010983:

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New titles from Equinox Publishing

Equinox Publishing, Ltd are pleased to announce the publication of two new books in the Advances in Optimality Theory series.

Blocking and Complementarity in Phonological Theory by Eric Baković. Further details can be viewed and orders can be placed here.

Linguistic Derivations and Filtering: Minimalism and Optimality Theory edited by Hans Broekhuis and Ralf Vogel. Further details can be viewed and orders can be placed here.

The good folks at Equinox are happy to offer you 20% off the retail price of these books. Please quote the discount code BCPT when ordering from their website. This offer is valid until the end of March 2013.

Variation in the Acquisition of Sound Systems

Variation in the Acquisition of Sound Systems
Workshop at the Linguistic Institute 2013: Universality and Variability
University of Michigan
Friday, June 28, 2013

**Deadline for submissions: March 15th**

Co-sponsored by
New York University Department of Linguistics
Northwestern Department of Linguistics

Workshop website

What is the role of variability in how sound systems are acquired or changed? This workshop examines this topic from a number of different phonetic, phonological, and psycholinguistic perspectives, including child language acquisition, non-native production and perception, sound change, and phonotactic learning. The workshop will be held on one day, including invited 1 hour talks (see below) and a poster session.

**Call for poster submissions**
We invite submission of abstracts reporting computational, experimental, neurobiological, and grammar-based research on the role of variation in sound system acquisition and change.

Abstracts should be a one-page .pdf file, formatted at minimum 12-point single-spaced with 1 inch margins. Tables, graphs and references can be on a separate page. Abstracts must be submitted electronically to Deadline for submissions: March 15, 2013.

Accepted abstracts will be posted to the workshop website.

**Tentative Titles for Oral Presentations**
/Lisa Davidson (New York University)/: Signal variability and phonetic detail in the production of non-native phonotactics
/Matt Goldrick (Northwestern University):/ Abstraction and the acquisition of variable phonotactic patterns
/Bob McMurray (University of Iowa)/: Variability and the emergence of abstraction from basic learning principles: Evidence from early word learning and reading
/Katherine White (University of Waterloo)/: Coping with phonetic variation in early word recognition
/Alan Yu (University of Chicago)/: Cross-individual variation in speech perception and production

Lisa Davidson
Matt Goldrick

Note: Participants may also be interested in the workshop on “Universality and Variability: New Insights from Genetics” to be held the following weekend (June 29-30). See for more details.


French Phonology Network Meeting 2013 (RFP 2013)

CALL FOR PAPERS French Phonology Network Meeting 2013 (RFP 2013)

After the conferences organized in Orléans 2010, Tours 2011 and Paris 2012, the French Phonology Network (Réseau Français de Phonologie) is launching a call for papers for a new meeting in the same spirit that will take place in Nantes, France, from July, 1st to 3rd, 2013 thanks to the LLing (EA3827, Université de Nantes), FoReLL (Université de Poitiers) and MSH-Ange Guépin.

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CFP: 21 MFM (Twenty-First Manchester Phonology Meeting)


Twenty-First Manchester Phonology Meeting

23-25 MAY 2013

Deadline for abstracts: 31st January 2013

Special session: ‘Harmony in Phonology’, featuring:
* Andrew Nevins (University College London)
* Miklos Torkenczy (Eotvos Lorand University)
* Douglas Pulleyblank (University of British Columbia)
* Rachel Walker (University of Southern California)

Held at Hulme Hall, Manchester, England. Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, and elsewhere.

Conference website:

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Phonetics job at UC San Diego

Department of Linguistics
Assistant Professor

The Department of Linguistics ( within the Division of Social Sciences at the University of California, San Diego invites applications for a tenure-track faculty position in Phonetics at the level of Assistant Professor, beginning July 1, 2013. The department is committed to academic excellence and diversity within the faculty, staff and student body.

Qualifications: Candidates should have a strong and active research program in Phonetics, and must have a Ph.D. in Linguistics or a related field by the start of the appointment. Candidates should demonstrate evidence of research productivity, undergraduate and graduate teaching ability, and extramural funding potential. Candidates are encouraged to highlight how their research complements existing research on language at UC San Diego. The preferred candidate will have experience or a willingness to participate in teaching, mentoring, research or service towards building an equitable and diverse scholarly environment. In compliance with the Immigration Reform and Control Act of 1986, individuals offered employment by the University of California will be required to verify identity and authorization to work in the United States.

Salary is commensurate with qualifications and based on University of California pay scales.

Please submit full application, including letters of recommendation by December 10, 2012.

Applications should be submitted to the UC San Diego on-line application collection system, AP-On-Line Recruit, at:

Applications must include a letter of application, a curriculum vitae, research and teaching statements and two representative publications. A separate statement describing past experience in activities that promote diversity and inclusion and/or plans to make future contributions should also be included. For further information about contributions to diversity statements, see and Candidates should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be submitted via the on-line application system.

UCSD is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer with a strong institutional commitment to excellence through diversity.

the Rutgers Optimality Archive returns

Dear colleagues,

The Rutgers Optimality Archive (ROA) was taken offline last year after a hacking incursion. It was temporarily replaced with a simplified site and new submissions were accepted via email while the rebuild was going on. We’re pleased to announce that a new & improved version of ROA is up and ready to accept submissions directly via the web interface. The URL, as ever, is here:

All former URLs for articles and info pages have been redirected to the new site and are still valid. ROA now runs on a server maintained by the School of Arts and Sciences at Rutgers University. We are grateful to the technical staff there for their generosity in hosting and maintaining a secure and stable site.

ROA is a distribution point for research in Optimality Theory and its conceptual affiliates. Posting in ROA is open to all who wish to disseminate their work in OT and related theories of grammar.

Access to content posted on ROA is completely open, but submission of new content to ROA requires an account. Current ROA authors should be able to log in as before, here:

New authors may register here:

Any questions should be directed to Eric Bakovic at


Eric Bakovic and Alan Prince
for the Rutgers Optimality Archive

The Phonology of Contrast

The Phonology of Contrast
by Anna Łubowicz
Advances in Optimality Theory series,
Equinox Publishing

The Phonology of Contrast argues that contrast is one of the central organizing principles of the grammar and provides a formal theory of contrast couched in the framework of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004). The study of the role of contrast is a growing area of interest in linguistics and this monograph contributes to the debate on where contrast fits in the grammar. The key finding is that contrast exists as an independent principle in the grammar, which in the framework of Optimality Theory can be formulated as a family of rankable and violable constraints. A formal proposal of contrast is developed called Contrast Preservation Theory. This proposal is illustrated and supported with diverse contrast phenomena in the areas of phonology and at the phonology-morphology interface. Evidence is drawn from a number of languages including Finnish, Arabic, and Polish. Predictions of the proposal are discussed and compared with alternatives.

University of Delaware Workshop on Stress and Accent


UD Workshop on Stress and Accent

November 29 – December 1, 2012

Purpose and Background

The aim of this workshop is to bring together researchers and scholars interested in the nature of stress and accent in the world’s languages. In addition to an exciting set of invited talks by leading scholars, we are soliciting papers and posters that address any aspect of stress and accent. Abstracts should be submitted in pdf format via the EasyAbs system at the following URL:

Abstracts can be submitted between July 1, 2012 and August 3, 2012. Authors should remove identifying information from the abstract. Abstracts should be at most 1 page in length with at most an additional page for examples, references, diagrams, etc.

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LOGO Meertens

The Meertens Instituut is a research institute of the Royal Netherlands Academy of Arts and Sciences, focusing on research and documentation of Dutch language and culture. The Department of Variation Linguistics at the Meertens Institute offers a PhD position in phonology, as part of the programme “The Life Cycle of Liquids”, an internal research project at the Meertens Instituut. This programme studies different aspects of ongoing and past changes in the behaviour of the Dutch liquids /l/ and /r/, and does so in a perspective which combines phonological theory, sociolinguistics and phonetics or experimental linguistics. (A more complete description of the project can be found on the website.)

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Vowel Synth

I received the following message from Ben Guo today and checked out his Vowel Synth app for iOS devices. It’s very cool, and only $.99! Ben also has slightly different free versions of the app for OSX and Windows here, but if you have an iOS device, buy the app and support a young coder!

Hi Eric,

I know very little about phonology or linguistics, but I thought you might be interested in this app, a formant-filter based vowel synthesizer for iOS devices with a GUI based on the F1-F2 vowel space.

If you like it or have suggestions for improvement, please let me know!

App Store:

about me: I’m an undergraduate student at Harvard University, and this was my final project for CS50. I’m studying Neurobiology, have done some work in cochlear implant research (NYU and JHU), code occasionally, and write/record/produce synth pop songs with a collection of synths that have taken over my dorm room. (the song at the end of the video is my latest).



Problem set solution problems (and solutions)

Several months ago a helpful colleague contacted me about phonology problem set solution files that I had stupidly left on a public course website for all of Google-land to see. I immediately removed the files, and now I just hope that copies of them are not lurking about the interwebs. I didn’t really appreciate the depth of my stupidity until a few students recently had the gall to write to me (and in one case to my Department’s webmaster) to ask where all the solutions had gone! Anyway, I hereby apologize profusely to everyone for any bad consequences (past or future, known or unknown) that my stupid mistake may have had.

But to try to make some lemonade from these lemons: this experience has had me thinking about ways in which we phonology instructors might take advantage of the interwebs in order to share problem sets and their solutions amongst ourselves. Any ideas out there for how best to implement something like that? Obviously, it would have to be secure and there would need to be a gatekeeping process for access, but ideally it won’t just involve everyone sending email to each other. A private wiki or blog? An open-source course management system? Something else? Comments are open.

ROA lives!

We’re very pleased to announce that the Rutgers Optimality Archive has put a temporary site that gives access to all files while Archive software is being more significantly upgraded and improved. The temporary site has the same URL as always ( and all file links are exactly as before. The site has full text search and a complete list of all titles and authors, linked to their files.

Until the new & improved Archive software is available, those wishing to post their work can send a PDF and relevant information (author(s), title, abstract, keywords, area(s)) to New posts will be given a temporary number and authors will be notified when the new software is fully functional.

Thanks for you patience as we work to give you a better, more stable ROA experience.


Conference on Word Stress

On December 3rd 2011 there will be a one-day conference on word stress at the University of Connecticut, organized by Harry van der Hulst and Jeff Heinz. Queries for information to Program will be announced.

[Update from Harry van der Hulst, 10/13: All speakers on the “UConn Stress Day” on december 3rd (University of Connecticut, Storss campus) will be invited speakers. However, for the occassion, we welcome poster presentations on the subject of word stress. Please send an abstract of the poster or requests for further information to Harry van der Hulst. A program with times and locations will be announced shortly. For those who wish to stay in the campus hotel, please go to for the Nathan Hale Inn. For ‘improvised accomodation’ for students, contact Beata Moskal.]

An Introduction to Element Theory

An Introduction to Element Theory
By Philip Backley

Describing a new and appealing way of analysing speech sounds, this book introduces you to the theory of elements in phonology.

Traditional features are capable of describing segments and segmental patterns, but they are often unable to explain why those patterns are the way they are. By using elements to represent segmental structure, we begin to understand why languages show such a strong preference for certain kinds of segments, contrasts, phonological processes and sound changes.

Using examples from a wide range of languages, this book demonstrates the process of analysing phonological data using elements, and gives readers the opportunity to compare element-based and feature-based accounts of the same phonological patterns. Backley also challenges traditional views through his innovative analysis of English weak vowels and diphthongs and his unified treatment of linking r and intrusive r as glide formation processes.

Providing a thorough introduction to the main topics in segmental phonology, this is an excellent overview for both students with a background in standard phonology as well as for those who are new to the field.

Key Features
· Provides a full and up-to-date description of Element Theory
· Includes examples from many languages and various dialects of English
· Further reading suggested for each topic
· Contains over 100 illustrations, including spectral and spectrographic figures

Pb ISBN 978 0 7486 3743 0 | £24.99
Available from Edinburgh University Press

Phonology position @ McGill

[Version française ci-dessous]

Department of Linguistics
McGill University


The Department of Linguistics, McGill University, invites applications for a tenure-track position in phonology at the rank of Assistant Professor, effective August 1st, 2012. Applicants should have a research agenda that complements the existing strengths of the Department. General qualifications are a PhD in linguistics and demonstrated excellence in research and teaching in the area(s) of specialization. Duties will include undergraduate and graduate teaching, graduate research guidance and administrative responsibilities.

Salary: McGill scale.

Deadline for applications: October 31, 2011.

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Meet, match, fit — what’s your poison?

I’ve been working a lot on stuff that requires me to write about strings that “X the structural description of” some rule, and in going back over what I’ve written I find that I alternate among three values of X: meet, match, and (much less often) fit. I’m most used to meet, but on some days I prefer match; Google fits my profile, with about 10 times as many hits for “meets the structural description of” than for “matches the structural description of” (though I haven’t expanded the search for other variations of the relevant lemmas and possible phrasings). What do you prefer to use, and why? I’d be curious to see. In the meantime, I’m changing all of my “match”-es to “meet”-s. Ah, consistency.

ROA is temporarily down

The Rutgers Optimality Archive has been taken offline, temporarily, to investigate an apparent attempt to hack our interface. The extent of the damage thus far appears to be minimal, and we want to keep it that way. We apologize for the inconvenience, and I will notify the list when there is a further development — when we bring ROA back online, I hope.

Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture

( News: preliminary program is available on the website: )

( If you can’t make it to Boston, but you are interested in the topic: please read the last paragraph )

2nd Call for Participation and Call for Posters:

Optimality Theory as a General Cognitive Architecture
Workshop held at the 33rd annual meeting of the Cognitive Science Society
July 20, 2011 in Boston, Massachusetts

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CfP: Information-Theoretic Approaches to Linguistics

Information-Theoretic Approaches to Linguistics

Date: 16-Jul-2011 – 17-Jul-2011
Location: Boulder, CO, USA
Contact: Kathleen Hall, Beth Hume, Rory Turnbull
Contact Email:
Meeting URL:

Call for Posters:
A wide range of research has shown that tools from information theory (e.g. information content/surprisal, entropy) are useful tools in addressing questions of linguistic interest. These range from predicting the targets and outcomes of phonological and syntactic processes, to explaining the cognitive bases for these processes, to evaluating models of linguistic data. A two-day NSF-funded workshop will bring together a number of researchers working on information-theoretic approaches to linguistics in an effort to share knowledge, tools, insights, and specific research findings. There will also be a tutorial on information theory for those not familiar with the approach. The tutorial will be followed by invited talks and a poster session.

The workshop is being held at the University of Colorado at Boulder, in conjunction with the Linguistic Society of America’s Summer Linguistics Institute 2011.

We invite abstracts for posters related to the workshop theme. Both theoretical and experimental work integrating insights and tools from  information theory (Shannon 1948) in any subfield of linguistics or related disciplines are welcome. Submissions are limited to 1 single-authored paper and 1 joint-authored paper per person.

One page abstracts (including author(s) name(s), affiliation, references and data/figures) should be submitted to in .pdf format.

Submission deadline (extended): Sunday, May 15, 2011
Notification of Acceptance: Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Registration Information:

There is no registration fee for the workshop but we would appreciate having people pre-register in order to help with planning. Please do so no later than July 1, 2011 by emailing with your name and affiliation.

Invited Speakers:

Petar Milin, University of Novi Sad, Serbia
John Goldsmith, University of Chicago
John Hale, Cornell University
Kathleen Currie Hall, CUNY: College of Staten Island & The Graduate Center
Elizabeth Hume, The Ohio State University
Florian Jaeger, University of Rochester
Roger Levy, UC San Diego
Fred Mailhot, The Ohio State University
Jason Riggle, University of Chicago
Andrea Sims, The Ohio State University
Rory Turnbull, The Ohio State University
Adam Ussishkin, University of Arizona
Andrew Wedel, University of Arizona

The Blackwell Companion to Phonology

Fearless editors Marc van Oostendorp, Colin J. Ewen, Elizabeth Hume, and Keren Rice — not to mention the 138 contributors of the 124 chapters — have completed the mammoth Blackwell Companion to Phonology and it is now available for purchase by libraries.

The reviews are in, the contents sorted, the faqs answered — and some sample chapters posted: Andrew Wedel on “Self-organization in Phonology“, B. Elan Dresher on “The Phoneme“, Ronnie Wilbur on “Sign Syllables“, Michael Becker and Kathryn Flack Potts on “The Emergence of the Unmarked“, Nancy Hall on “Vowel Epenthesis“, and Carlos Gussenhoven on “Sentential Prominence in English“. Check these freebies out.

Here’s more from the Companion‘s about page:

Available online or as a five-volume print set, The Blackwell Companion to Phonology is a major reference work drawing together 124 new contributions from leading scholars in the field. Led by a renowned team of international scholars, the Companion represents a diverse range of approaches and methodologies to the key phenomena in phonological research. In contrast to other handbooks and reference works currently available for phonology, the Companion focuses on phenomena and case studies to highlight historical and ongoing debates in the field. The Companion will be a touchstone for future phonological theorists, giving an overview of all the data and insights which any good theory of phonology should be able to cover.

The online platform provides audio files and links to external web content, as well as interactive cross-referencing and powerful searching and browsing capabilities. Simultaneously offering broad coverage and a high level of detail, The Blackwell Companion to Phonology is a landmark work that will be indispensable to students and researchers in the field for years to come.

Volume I: General Issues and Segmental Phonology
Volume II: Suprasegmental and Prosodic Phonology
Volume III: Phonological Processes
Volume IV: Phonological Interfaces
Volume V: Phonology Across Languages

Nineteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting


Nineteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting

19-21 MAY 2011

Deadline for abstracts: 28th February 2011

Special session: ‘Contrast in Phonology’, featuring Paul Boersma, B. Elan Dresher, Bruce Morén-Duolljá and Jaye Padgett.

Held at Hulme Hall, Manchester, England. Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, and elsewhere.

Conference website:

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Phonology job @ USC

The Department of Linguistics of the College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California invites applications for a tenure-track Assistant Professor in the area of experimental and/or theoretical phonology, to begin August 2011. Duties include active research, graduate supervision, normal committee service, and classroom teaching at all levels, including general education courses, courses for undergraduate majors, and graduate seminars. The standard teaching load is two courses per semester.

The candidate must have completed all of the requirements for a Ph.D. in Linguistics or related field with a specialization in experimental and/or theoretical phonology by 1 August 2011. Candidates are requested to submit a cover letter, curriculum vitae, statement of experience and interests both for research and for teaching, sample papers and publications, and, if available, teaching evaluations. Applicants should also arrange for three letters of recommendation to be sent from individuals who are familiar with their work.

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Psycholinguistics job @ Bucknell

The Linguistics Program at Bucknell University invites applications for a tenure-track position at the assistant professor level beginning in Fall 2011. A PhD in Linguistics is required by the time of appointment. Qualified applicants will have no more than four years of full-time faculty experience beyond completion of the PhD. The successful candidate should show scholarly promise or accomplishment and a commitment to excellence in teaching on the undergraduate level. The position has been designated in the area of psycholinguistics and experimental methods, with a program of research and teaching that links experimental findings with linguistic theory. The successful applicant should also be able to teach general introductory courses and upper-level courses in phonology and morphology. Preference will be given to candidates who have a demonstrated interest or experience in teaching general education and/or interdisciplinary courses.

To apply, please submit cover letter and CV to Three letters of recommendation should be sent to Prof. James Lavine at the email address given below. Review of materials will begin on October 15, 2010, and continue until the position is filled. Bucknell University is a highly selective, primarily undergraduate institution, combining a strong liberal arts tradition with characteristics of a comprehensive university. Bucknell values a diverse college community and is committed to excellence through diversity in its faculty, staff, and students. Questions about the position should be addressed by email to Prof. James Lavine.

Web Address for Applications:

Contact Information: Prof. James Lavine

Linguist List link:

Phonetics job @ Cornell

The Department of Linguistics at Cornell University invites applications for a tenure-track position in linguistics with a specialization in phonetics, to begin July 1, 2011. Candidates are expected to pursue an active research program in experimental phonetics. Strengths in a related area such as computational modeling, experimental phonology, or psycholinguistics will also be considered an asset. Teaching responsibilities include both graduate and undergraduate courses. The position will be at the rank of Assistant Professor or Associate Professor. PhD required.

Application details: Electronic submission is preferred. Candidates should submit a letter of application, CV, representative published or unpublished scholarly work, and at least three letters of recommendation to the application email address below.

Alternatively, candidates may submit to the application address below.

To ensure full consideration, applications should be received by November 22, 2010. Acknowledgement of receipt will be made by e-mail.

Any inquiries may be addressed to Mats Rooth, email address below; please include “Phonetics Search” in the subject line.

Cornell University is an equal opportunity employer and educator. Women and minorities are strongly encouraged to apply.

Mailing Address for Applications:
Phonetics Search Committee
Department of Linguistics
203 Morrill Hall
Cornell University
Ithaca, NY 14853-4701

Email Address for Applications:

Contact Information: Professor Mats Rooth

Linguist List link:

Phonology job @ CSU Fullerton

The Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics at CSU Fullerton invites applications for Assistant Professor in Linguistics with training in phonetics and phonology. Teaching assignments include introductory and specialty courses in Linguistics at the upper-division and M.A. levels, G.E., grammar, language, and other courses depending on the candidate’s interests and departmental needs. Department faculty teach three or four courses each semester. A reduction in teaching load is provided for the first two years, and re-assigned time is available for research, course development, and departmental responsibilities.

Ph.D. in Linguistics with training and experience in English is required by August 2011. ABD’s must show evidence of degree completion prior to appointment. Ability to interact effectively with a wide and culturally diverse range of students, evidence of successful teaching, potential for peer-reviewed publication, and participation in disciplinary community are essential. Starting salary is competitive and commensurate with qualifications and experience. For a more detailed description go to

Submit letter of interest, C.V., and dossier to Sheryl Fontaine at the address below. Application acknowledged by letter. Applications postmarked by October 29, 2010 receive full consideration. Preliminary interviews held at MLA. Job Control Number: 23603G-11-015. CSUF is an EEO/TITLE IX/ADA Employer.

Mailing Address for Applications:
Sheryl Fontaine, Chair
Department of English, Comparative Literature, and Linguistics
University Hall 323
California State University Fullerton
Fullerton, CA 92834-6848

Contact Information: Chair Sheryl Fontaine

Linguist List link:

Phonology job @ UMass Amherst

The Linguistics Department of the University of Massachusetts Amherst invites applications for a tenure-track position in phonology at the assistant professor level, starting September 1, 2011. We seek applicants whose research interests complement those of the current faculty and who can contribute breadth and depth to the department with respect to research, teaching, and advising at the graduate and undergraduate levels.

Qualified applicants should have a Ph.D. in linguistics by time of appointment. Salary commensurate with qualifications and experience. Teaching load 2:2.

Applicants should submit a letter of application, statement of research and teaching interests, curriculum vitae, copies of research papers, and evidence of teaching ability, and they should arrange for three letters of reference to be sent. Materials should be sent (hard copy only) to the address below.

Review of applications will begin on December 15, 2010 and continue until the position is filled.

UMass Amherst is a member of the Academic Career Network, a resource for dual-career couples ( and a member of the Five College Consortium along with Amherst, Hampshire, Smith and Mt. Holyoke Colleges. The University of Massachusetts Amherst is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer. The Linguistics Department is committed to increasing the diversity of the faculty, student body, and curriculum. Women and members of minority groups are strongly encouraged to apply.

Mailing Address for Applications:

Phonology Search Committee
Department of Linguistics, 226 South College
University of Massachusetts Amherst
150 Hicks Way
Amherst, MA 01003-9274

Search Administrator Sarah Vega-Liros

Linguist List link:

Phonology (or semantics) job @ NYU

The Department of Linguistics at New York University seeks an assistant professor to fill a tenure-track position either in Phonology or in Semantics, beginning September 1, 2011, pending administrative and budgetary approval. Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses.

Review of applications will begin on November 1, 2010. Apply here.

Applicants should submit a letter of application describing their research program; curriculum vitae; three letters of recommendation; and work samples. Linguists that work on endangered languages and/or under-researched languages are encouraged to apply. For further information about this position, please contact Professor Chris Barker.

Linguist List link:

Fun with the low back vowel merger

On this week’s Wait Wait…Don’t Tell Me! (“the NPR news quiz”), a listener-contestant from around NYC had trouble filling in the last word of a limerick read (as usual) by Carl Kassel. You can hear the most relevant 45-second clip here, or you can find the full 5:39-minute segment in the rundown from Wait Wait’s website here (find the August 21 show, and scroll down to find the sixth segment entitled “Limericks”).

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Phonological Argumentation

Phonological Argumentation
Essays on Evidence and Motivation

Edited by: Steve Parker
Equinox Publishing
Series: Advances in Optimality Theory

This volume presents a series of original papers focusing on phonological argumentation, set within the framework of Optimality Theory. It contains two major sections: chapters about the evidence for and methodology used in discovering the bases of phonological theory, i.e., how constraints are formed and what sort of evidence is relevant in positing them; and case studies that focus on particular theoretical issues within Optimality Theory, usually through selected phenomena in one or more languages, arguing in favor of or against specific formal analyses.

A noteworthy detail of this book is that all of the contributors are connected with the program in phonology and phonetics at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, either as current professors or former graduate students. Consequently, all of them have been directly influenced by John McCarthy, one of the major proponents of Optimality Theory. This collection will therefore be of interest to anyone who seriously follows the field of Optimality Theory. The intended readership is primarily graduate students and those already holding an advanced degree in linguistics.

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The House that Halle Built

…and we’re back. A couple of years ago, there was a lively discussion about phonological opacity that was split between Mr. Verb and phonoloblog. Mr. Verb has now posted a new installment — well, sort of. The post is mostly just a pointer to this MIT News piece on Morris Halle, but Mr. Verb references the earlier discussion (calling it the “Opacity Wars” in a later comment) and explicitly invites some reaction. This is mine.

(Before moving on, you may want to (re-)acquaint yourself with the earlier discussion, all the links to which can be found here. Mr. Verb says “start here and work back”, but that’s hardly helpful; the only link in that post is a totally useless one to phonoloblog‘s main page.)

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Conference on Phonetic Universals

Conference on Phonetic Universals

  • Date: October 29-30, 2010
  • Place: Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology, Leipzig (Germany)
  • Organised by: Heriberto Avelino (Max Planck Institute of Evolutionary Anthropology)
  • Short description: We invite papers from linguists, as well as from scholars from related disciplines, who are concerned with phonetic universals.
  • Call deadline: May 15, 2010

A message from the LINGUIST List

It’s never a happy time when fund drives come around again, and most people hate asking for money. This time, however, the drive affects you directly. Lots of the information provided on phonoloblog comes from the LINGUIST List, so what benefits them also benefits us.

Read more below. To donate, go to: And thanks.

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Word Accent: Theoretical and Typological Issues

A one-day conference on the subject of Word Accent: Theoretical and Typological Issues

will take place on Friday April 30th, 2010 (9.30 – 5.30) at the University of Connecticut.

(Location Nathan Inn Hotel,

Speakers: Matthew Gordon, Carlos Gussenhoven, Jeff Heinz, Harry van der Hulst, Brett Hyde, Larry Hyman, Ian Maddieson, Keren Rice, Lisa Selkirk

Organizer: Harry van der Hulst

For further information go to (Program and abstracts will be posted soon).

(Update: view the program and abstracts here.)

Please write to if you plan to come or have any further questions.

Computational phonology post-doc @ OSU

In case you missed it on LINGUIST List:

Postdoctoral Fellow in Computational Phonology
Department of Linguistics
The Ohio State University

Applications are invited for a postdoctoral position in the Department of Linguistics at The Ohio State University. The position will be primarily research-oriented, with a light teaching load of two courses per year. The ideal applicant will have a background in phonology with strong computational skills particularly with regards to the computational modeling of probabilistic patterns in language. The appointment will be for one year beginning on July 1, 2010, with the possibility of reappointment for an additional year.

Applicants should submit a current CV, a letter outlining relevant experience, a writing sample, and the names of three references to Elizabeth Hume.

Applications received prior to April 2, 2010 will be assured of receiving full consideration. For information about the OSU Department of Linguistics, please visit

The Ohio State University is an Equal Opportunity/Affirmative Action employer. Women, minorities, Vietnam-era veterans, disabled veterans, and individuals with disabilities are encouraged to apply.


Call for Papers

ACL 2010
Uppsala, Sweden
July 15

Eleventh Meeting of the ACL Special Interest Group in Computational Morphology, Phonology and Phonetics

The workshop will be held on July 15, immediately after the ACL 2010 meetings at Uppsala University in Uppsala, Sweden.

The workshop website is:

Important Dates:
* Submission Deadline: April 25, 2010, 23:59 EDT
* Notification: May 19, 2010
* Camera-ready deadline: June 2, 2010
* Workshop: July 15 or 16, 2010

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Eighteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm18)


Eighteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting

20-22 MAY 2010

Deadline for abstracts: 1st February 2010

Special session: ‘Sociolinguistics, variation and phonology’, featuring Andries Coetzee, William Labov, Marc van Oostendorp and Jane Stuart-Smith.

Held at Hulme Hall, Manchester, England. Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, and elsewhere.

Conference website:

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12th Conference on Laboratory Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

The 12th Conference on Laboratory Phonology,
to be held at the University of New Mexico in Albuquerque, NM, USA.

Dates of conference: 8-10 July 2010
Theme: Gesture as Language, Gesture and Language.
More information at conference website

Deadline for abstract submission: 20 November 2009
Notification of acceptance: 1 February 2010

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GLOW Workshop on Phonology and Phonetics

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

GLOW Workshop on Phonology and Phonetics
Positional Phenomena in Phonology and Phonetics
(Organised by Zentrum für Allgemeine Sprachwissenschaft, Berlin)

Date: 13 April 2010
Organisers: Marzena Zygis, Stefanie Jannedy, Susanne Fuchs

Invited Speakers:
Taehong Cho (Hanyang University, Seoul) confirmed
Grzegorz Dogil (University of Stuttgart) confirmed

Venue: Instytut Filologii Angielskiej, ul. Kuznicza 22, 50-138 Wroclaw

Abstracts due November 1, 2009.

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The Contrastive Hierarchy in Phonology

The Contrastive Hierarchy in Phonology

B. Elan Dresher

Cambridge Studies in Linguistics No. 121

‘Contrast’ — the opposition between distinctive sounds in a language — is one of the most central concepts in linguistics. This book presents an original account of the logic and history of contrast in phonology. It provides empirical evidence from diverse phonological domains that only contrastive features are computed by the phonological component of grammar. It argues that the contrastive specifications of phonemes are governed by language-particular feature hierarchies. This approach assigns a key role to abstract cognitive structures, challenging contemporary approaches that favour phonetic explanations of phonological phenomena. Tracing the evolution of the hypothesis that contrastive features play a special role in phonology, it shows how this insight has been obscured by misunderstandings of the role of the contrastive feature hierarchy. Questioning the widely held notion that contrast should be based on minimal pairs, Elan Dresher argues that the contrastive hierarchy is indispensable to illuminating accounts of phonological patterning.

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The First International Graduate Student Conference on Modern Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

‘Mao Kong Forum’ is established by the Mao Kong Graduate Student Phonology Group at the National Chengchi University (NCCU) in Taipei. It will begin with a phonology conference this year. The conference is open to a wide range of submissions by international graduate students.

Theme: Modern phonology (theoretical or experimental)
Organized by: Mao Kong Graduate Student Phonology Group, NCCU
Venue: Conference Room 2 and 5, 7th Floor, Administration Building, NCCU
Language: Chinese and English

Keynote Speakers:
Wang, H. Samuel (Department of Foreign Language and Applied Linguistics, Yuan Ze University)
Huang, Hui-Chuan (Institute of Linguistics, National Tsing Hua University)

Invited Speakers:
Lin, Hui-Shan (Department of English, National Taiwan Normal University)
Wee, Lian-Hee (Department of English Language and Literature, Hong Kong Baptist University)

1. Please email the abstract together with the submission form to MPC committee by October 1, 2009 (Thursday).
2. Please do not include author information in the abstract.

Notification of Acceptance: November 9, 2009 (Monday)

Please download the submission form here. For further information, please visit the following URL:

Torontø-Tromsø Phonoløgy Workshøp

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

This workshop brings together phonologists from the University of Toronto, the University of Tromsø, and some from elsewhere with related interests.

Talks focus on the acquisition and analysis of contrast, markedness, laryngeal phonology, harmony, and the nature of features. Interested persons are welcome to attend, but please notify our contact person.

UCLA Phonetics Lab Archive now complete

[ Via the UCLA Linguistics Department Newsletter. ]

At the time of his death, the late Professor Peter Ladefoged was engaged in an NSF-supported project to digitize and post online many recordings from the Phonetics Lab’s archives. In 2006, Professor Russ Schuh stepped in to see the project to completion. The UCLA Phonetics Archive, now on line, mostly comprises field recordings by Ladefoged and others, but also includes some recordings made for undergraduate term papers. Over the course of the project, many recent UCLA Linguistics undergraduates worked to digitize the audio recordings and accompanying wordlists. These are not teaching materials (not like, but rather raw unedited recordings, which are primarily intended for use by researchers (though they are also great fun to browse). Nonetheless, the Archive provided excellent materials for class assignments in acoustic analysis for Linguistics 104 [at UCLA] in Fall 2007 and 2008. In November 2008, near the end of the project, [the LA-area public] radio station KPCC ran a story about the Archive.

Empirical Resources on Consonant Cluster Typology

[ From Steve Parker, via LINGUIST List. ]

I am looking for input (data) on tautosyllabic consonant clusters. Suppose that a syllable begins with two adjacent consonants, followed by a vowel: CCV. Technically this is called an initial demisyllable. I am aware of two competing claims/proposals about what kinds of consonants are cross-linguistically unmarked or preferred in this type of situation, both based on the notion of relative sonority. For the sake of simplicity, let us assume a common five-way sonority scale:

V (vowel)
G (glide)
L (liquid)
N (nasal)
O (obstruent)
Continue reading

Opacity deconstructed

In the before time, in the long long ago, I had a little tête-à-tête(-à-bête-noire) about phonological opacity with Mr. Verb and friends — you can follow along (again, or for the first time) here, then here, then here and here and here and here, then back here, and finally ending here (and don’t forget to squeeze the comments).

I got very hot under the collar about various things during that discussion, so much so that the focus of the discussion kinda shifted to my frustration with anonymous commenters on the internets (even my good friend Ed played for the other team on that one). But there was just one thing I was really upset about: the apparent inability of many fans of rule ordering to say anything about the fact that blocking is an instance of opacity about which rule ordering has nothing to say. (I used nonderived environment blocking as an example, but any other forms of blocking work.) The curse of the true believer is an unwillingness or inability to question the claims of the belief system, and the relevant claim in this case is “rule ordering explains opacity”.

Well, I’ve just finished a paper (for the forthcoming Blackwell Companion to Phonology) that sets out the issues (as I see them, of course) in a more academic, less hot-headed format, and I’ve posted it here. I hope that it generates some discussion here, either in the comments below, in new posts, or even over on Mr. Verb’s blog.

G. Nick Clements, 1940-2009

I’m sad to report that Nick Clements passed away in Chatham, Massachusetts, on August 30, just over a month shy of his 69th birthday (according to his Wikipedia entry). Beth Hume wrote an obituary for him on LINGUIST List, which I reproduce in full further below. Beth co-organized a symposium on tones and features in honor of Nick in June; the speaker list was a veritable who’s who of phonology, of which Nick was also of course a prominent member. He will be missed.

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Workshop on Phonological Similarity @ NELS 40

In case you hadn’t heard, NELS 40 will take place at MIT, November 12-15, 2009. They kinda took this over at the last minute so things are progressing a little more slowly than usual, but they’ve just announced one of their two planned workshops: Phonological Similarity: Perceptual and Articulatory Bases and Links to Grammatical Mechanisms. Abstract deadline: August 21, 2009. is dead. Long live phonoloblog!

Greetings, all two readers of phonoloblog. It’s been a long, long while, and for that I apologize. I’ve been pretty busy with various things, like this, for instance. And while I was busy, I was caught with my pants down: my claim to the domain name expired, and before I could even become aware of it, this douchebag snatched it. If you count yourself among my friends, you will bombard this person with obscene messages until s/he relents. Or, you will convince me that I can live with,, or even just good ol’ — which is, after all, free as in beer.

Apologies (perhaps too late) to those of you who may have had your bookmarks and subscriptions set to Please use from now on, no matter what, and you should be fine.

Hayes: Introductory Phonology

Introductory Phonology

Bruce Hayes

Blackwell Textbooks in Linguistics

Accessible, succinct, and including numerous student-friendly features, this introductory textbook offers an exceptional foundation to the field for those who are coming to it for the first time.

  • Provides an ideal first course book in phonology, written by a renowned phonologist
  • Developed and tested in the classroom through years of experience and use
  • Emphasizes analysis of phonological data, placing this in its scientific context, and explains the relevant methodology
  • Guides students through the larger questions of what phonological patterns reveal about language
  • Includes numerous course-friendly features, including multi-part exercises and annotated suggestions for further reading at the end of each chapter

Introduction to Natural Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Introduction to Natural Phonology

July 6-10, 2009
Porto, Portugal
João Veloso

This course will be an introduction to the main ideas of Natural Phonology, a theory first proposed by David Stampe (1969, 1979), and later developed by Stampe and Donegan (1978, 1979, 1983, 2004) and Donegan (1993, 1995, 1996, etc.). Reference will be made, whenever appropriate, to other followers of the theory, like Churma, Dressler, Dziubalska, Hurch, Nathan, Rhodes, and Wojcik.

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A message from the LINGUIST List

Unlike phonoloblog, the LINGUIST List has a staff of students who require funding to keep list going. Please consider contributing a little something during their current fund drive. The message from Anthony Aristar copied below clarifies. Since this message was sent out a few days ago, the fund drive has gotten around $20,000 closer to their goal of $60,000. But more is still needed!

Here’s the quick link to donate:

Dear Listowners:

As you know, the LINGUIST List provides you with Listserv facilities without any charge. We do this because we feel that it is important that there be no barriers to the free interchange of information between those interested in language and linguistics, and we know that many of you have no access to good Listserv software, or to any place to archive their postings. We’re genuinely happy to help with this.

However, as you also probably know, running the LINGUIST site, with its servers and expensive software — four Unix servers, five Oracle databases, Coldfusion server, Listserv, map server and Java and PHP servers — is not cheap. The only way we can provide these services free is to do what we do now, and have an annual fund drive.

This has been a bad year for everyone and everything… And our fund drive is no exception. We are only halfway to our goal of $60,000, and the fund drive has been running for almost three weeks. Frankly, we are getting worried… So we’re writing this message to ask if you would be generous enough to send a call to your members — if you haven’t done this already — asking them to contribute to our drive, so that the services we have been providing, for free, we can continue to provide… for free.

You know that we send you messages like this very rarely. We don’t want to bother you. And we’d like to emphasize that there is no obligation on your part to do as we are asking. This is entirely voluntary.

But if you would be willing to help us, and ask your list-members to contribute, we’d be very grateful. Our donation page is:

Thank you very much!

Anthony Aristar
Moderator, LINGUIST

Yuki & Yokuts

I’m pretty sure that the readership of this blog (all 2 of you) is a proper subset of the readership of Language Log, but just in case you were absent one of these two days, my UCSD emeritus colleague Yuki Kuroda passed away late last month. I’ve since spent a little time (with several other folks in my department) working on a website for Yuki, with his obituary, a comprehensive bibliography, many remembrances, and more.

And I’ve also spent time thinking about Yuki’s classic 1967 contribution to phonological theory, Yawelmani Phonology. (Click the link — it’s a new $20 MIT Press Classics Series edition.) The Yawelmani variety of Yokuts is now more commonly/correctly referred to as Yowulmne; since neither name can be found in the Ethnologue, I will henceforth refer to it as Yokuts. (Plus, I think that looks and sounds cooler next to Yuki’s name in the title of this post.)

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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?

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Data and Theory: Papers in Phonology in Celebration of Charles W. Kisseberth

I’ve made it no secret here that Kenstowicz & Kisseberth (1979) is my favorite phonology textbook of all time, and I would even go so far as to say that Chuck Kisseberth is my favorite phonologist of all time. That’s why I was very pleased to see this LINGUIST List announcement today, the title of which rather understatedly offers the table of contents for Language Sciences, Vol. 31, Nos. 2&3 (2009), a special issue edited by Kenstowicz in honor of Kisseberth. Here’s the editor’s preface:

Charles (Chuck) Kisseberth occupies a unique position in phonology (comparable to the late Ken Hale’s in syntax). He has conducted trailblazing research at both the theoretical and descriptive levels, treating the two as different aspects of the same grand enterprise. His many papers and books over his 40 year career are commonly regarded as masterpieces of phonological analysis with mountains of data to support each step of the argument. Many of the most intriguing data sets that have continued to occupy our field’s attention were either originally discovered by or brought to our general attention by Chuck: Yawelmani vowels and syllable structure, Klamath global rules, Tonkawa derivational constraints, Chimwini sentential phonology, Bantu migrating tones. His early work on rule ordering, conspiracies, and derivational constraints diagnosed serious problems with the strictly bottom-up, derivational model of classical generative phonology. This fundamental insight was given its proper due only some 25 years later with the development of Optimality Theory. Chuck has been an active contributor to the OT literature with his Optimal Domains model of autosegmental phonology (in collaboration with Jennifer Cole and Farida Cassimjee). Chuck has been equally successful as a teacher and mentor. He has directed over forty doctoral dissertations — many by native speaker linguists describing their languages for the first time. Our 1979 textbook Generative Phonology: Description and Theory was the table at which a whole generation of linguists were served their first taste of phonology. We hope that the studies presented here provide him some recompense for his inspiration, guidance, and friendship over the years.

The TOC is below the fold; if you have access, check out the issue itself here.

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Monosyllables — from Phonology to Typology

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Monosyllables — from Phonology to Typology

This conference is meant as the starting point of a long-term research project which aims at bringing out crosslinguistic regularities in the synchronic grammar and diachronic evolution of monosyllables. The conference brings together scholars of many schools of thought to exchange their views on monosyllable from as many angles as possible.

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Workshop on Pharyngeals & Pharyngealisation

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

International Workshop on Pharyngeals & Pharyngealisation: 26-27 March, 2009

Co-organised by the Centre for Research in Linguistics and Language Science (CRiLLS), Newcastle University and Praxiling Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique (CNRS), Université Montpellier III

The final programme for our International Workshop on Pharyngeals & Pharyngealisation to be held at Newcastle University (UK) is now available. To access the workshop programme, please click here.

To find out more about the workshop and to register, please click here.

The deadline for early registration is the 22nd of February.

We look forward to seeing you there,

Ghada Khattab and the Organising Committee.

Ghada Khattab
Speech and Language Sciences Section
King George VI bldg
Newcastle University
Newcastle upon Tyne NE1 7RU

Child Phonology Conference 2009

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Child Phonology Conference 2009

Call for Papers

The Child Phonology conference is held yearly. Topics addressed include current research paradigms designed to consider typical child speech acquisition and developmental speech disorders. Attendees include academic researchers from the disciplines of Communication Sciences and Disorders, Linguistics, and Psychology. The conference draws new academic researchers and senior researchers at an international level. It provides a unique opportunity for junior researchers to talk about their work with knowledgeable and interested senior researchers. As well, senior researchers receive feedback on new projects. The conference emphasis is on presentation of new data-based research.

If you would like to present a paper or poster at ChPhon09, please send an e-mail message to Barbara L. Davis with the following information:

1. Authors’ names in the order in which you would like them to be listed in the program
2. Title of presentation
3. An abstract (not more than 175 words)
4. Your preference of presentation format (paper or poster)

Please respond to the ChPhon 09 call for papers by March 15th, 2009. We will announce the proposals that have been accepted (with a tentative presentation schedule) by April 1st.

Seventeenth Manchester Phonology Meeting


Seventeenth Manchester Phonology Meeting

28-30 MAY 2009

Deadline for abstracts: 2nd March 2009

Special session: ‘The History of Phonological Theory’ featuring John Goldsmith, D. Robert Ladd, and Tobias Scheer, and with a contribution from Morris Halle. The session will be introduced by Jacques Durand.

Held in Manchester, UK. Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, the Universite Toulouse-Le Mirail and elsewhere.

Conference website:

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6th Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP6)

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

The department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh is proud to announce that the sixth Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP6) will take place in Edinburgh from 22nd to 24th January 2009. OCP6 is organised by a group of phonologists at Edinburgh, and it follows in the line of previous OCP conferences, which have been held in Leiden, Tromsø, Budapest, Rhodes and Toulouse.

Sixth Old World Conference in Phonology (.pdf of program)
22-24 January 2009

Invited Speakers:
B. Elan Dresher (University of Toronto)
Jennifer Hay (University of Canterbury)
Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens Instituut & Leiden University)

Studies on the Phonetics and Phonology of Glides

In case you missed it, there’s a special section of Lingua vol. 118, no. 12 on the phonetics and phonology of glides, guest edited by Ioana Chitoran and Andrew Nevins, which “developed from presentations at the workshop ‘Towards a phonetic and phonological typology of glides’, organized as part of the 2006 Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Society of America, in Albuquerque, New Mexico”. Check it out.

Phonology at UConn

[ The following is posted on behalf of Harry van der Hulst. ]

Dear Colleagues,

The Linguistics Department at the University of Connecticut (‘UConn’) yearly admits about five students to its graduate program, providing them with financial support (cf. below). We would like to bring to your attention that we strongly welcome applications from prospective students with an interest in phonology.

We characterize our approach as a formal phonology with solid cognitive and phonetic grounding. Our interests and expertise in phonology range from phonological theory in general (segmental and syllable structure, stress, vowel harmony etc.) to specific areas such as sign phonology, historical phonology, acquisition of phonology, loan phonology, syntax-phonology interface and phonology-phonetic interface theories.

Students should be prepared, during their first year, to take two introductory courses in each of the following areas: syntax, semantics, phonology and acquisition, before turning to their specific areas of specialization in the second year.

Please visit our web site to learn more about the department, the areas of interest and our faculty.

Please go to for information about the application procedure. Also, if necessary, write to Željko Bošković or Susi Wurmbrand for additional information or contact me for specific questions about the phonology program.

— Harry van der Hulst

Lenition and Fortition

Lenition and Fortition (Studies in Generative Grammar 99, Mouton de Gruyter), ed. by Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho, Tobias Scheer, and Philippe Ségéral.

There are books on tone, coronals, the internal structure of segments, vowel harmony, and a couple of other topics in phonology. This book aims to fill the gap for Lenition and Fortition, which is one of the first phenomena that was addressed by phonologists in the 19th century, and ever since contributed to phonological thinking. It is certainly one of the core phenomena that is found in the phonology of natural language: together with assimilations, the other important family of phenomena, Lenition and Fortition constitute the heart of what phonology can do to sound.

The book aims to provide an overall treatment of the question in its many aspects: historical, typological, synchronic, diachronic, empirical and theoretical. Various current approaches to phonology are represented.

The book is structured into three parts: 1) properties and behaviour of Lenition/Fortition, 2) lenition patterns in particular languages and language families, 3) how Lenition/Fortition work.

Continue reading

Syllable Structure: Duanmu

Syllable Structure: The Limits of Variation, by San Duanmu (Oxford University Press, 2008)

This book looks at the range of possible syllables in human languages. The syllable is a central notion in phonology but basic questions about it remain poorly understood and phonologists are divided on even the most elementary issues. For example, the word city has been syllabified as ci-ty (the ‘maximal onset’ analysis), cit-y (the ‘no-open-lax-V’ analysis), and cit-ty (the ‘geminate C’ analysis).

San Duanmu explores and clarifies these and many other related issues through an in-depth analysis of entire lexicons of several languages. Some languages, such as Standard and Shanghai Chinese, have fairly simple syllables, yet a minimal difference in syllable structure has lead to a dramatic difference in tonal behavior. Other languages, such as English, German, and Jiarong, have long consonant clusters and have been thought to require very large syllables: San Duanmu shows that the actual syllable structure in these languages is much simpler. He bases his analyses on quantitative data, paying equal attention to generalizations that are likely to be universal. He shows that a successful analysis of the syllable must take into account several theories, including feature theory, the Weight-Stress Principle, the size of morpheme inventory, and the metrical representation of the syllable.

San Duanmu’s clear exposition will appeal to phonologists and advanced students and will provide a new benchmark in syllabic and prosodic analysis. He also offers an answer to the intriguing question: how different can human languages be?

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Contrast in Phonology

Contrast in Phonology: Theory, Perception, Acquisition
(Phonology and Phonetics 13, Mouton de Gruyter, September 2008.)

ed. by Peter Avery, B. Elan Dresher, and Keren Rice

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

This book takes contrast, an issue that has been central to phonological theory since Saussure, as its central theme, making explicit its importance to phonological theory, perception, and acquisition. The volume brings together a number of different contemporary approaches to the theory of contrast, including chapters set within more abstract representation-based theories, as well as chapters that focus on functional phonetic theories and perceptual constraints. This book will be of interest to phonologists, phoneticians, psycholinguists, researchers in first and second language acquisition, and cognitive scientists interested in current thinking on this exciting topic.

Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia 2009

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia

PaPI 2009 Universidad de Las Palmas de Gran Canaria

17-18 June 2009

Satellite Workshops

19 June 2009

The fourth PaPI Conference will be hosted by the University of Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain, from 17 to 18 June, 2009. Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia (PaPI) is an international conference aiming to bring together researchers interested in all areas of phonetics and phonology, with a special focus on the relationship between the two.

The Conference aims at providing an interdisciplinary forum in Europe for discussion of phonetics and/or phonology and their related areas- such as language acquisition, language variation and change, speech pathology, and speech technology, the phonology-phonetics interface, and laboratory phonology

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Faithful readers: the e-mail barrage about phonoloblog being down the past few days has been overwhelming. I can’t possibly reply to it all, so I’m just going to apologize here to each and every one of you for depriving you of your phonolofix. I can’t promise it will never happen again, but I can assure you that I have no intention of allowing it to happen again…

OK, I’m kidding. No, not about that last bit — it’s true that I have no such intention — but about the e-mail barrage. Exactly two people wrote (evidence for binarity?), and neither one of them was Ed (which was surprising, because he has apparently not had anything better to do). I guess the remaining mass of readers relies on the RSS feed and don’t visit the blog directly, so they didn’t even notice we were down. (Should we post more often? Nah, this isn’t Language Log, just all things phonology.)

Anyway, the deal is that the security of our server ( was somehow compromised by comment spam and the like. This came to the attention of the systems security folks at UCSD, who brought it to the attention of the Linguistics computing staff — big thanks and props to Ezra van Everbroeck and even more to Marc Silver for doing what it took to bring things back online quickly and safely. If you notice anything that doesn’t seem to have survived the change-over intact, please let me know and I’ll take care of it if I can (or I’ll very politely ask Marc and Ezra for help if I can’t).

Sixth Old World Conference in Phonology


Sixth Old World Conference in Phonology

22-24 JANUARY 2009
Deadline for abstracts: 15th September 2008

Invited speakers:
B. Elan Dresher (University of Toronto)
Jennifer Hay (University of Canterbury)
Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens Instituut & Leiden University)

The conference will be preceded by a workshop on subsegmental phonology on 21st January, organised by Bert Botma (Leiden) and Patrick Honeybone (Edinburgh), with the title “the Privative Project: is it still worth pursuing?” Those attending the conference will be very welcome to attend the workshop, too. (Further details of the workshop are to follow.)

Conference website:

OCP homepage:

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GLOW 32 cfp

GLOW 32 will take place in Nantes, France, April 15-18, 2009. The general call for papers is here; the theme is “On the Architecture of the Grammar: Y, if and how”. Danny Fox and Paul Smolensky are the invited speakers. There will be three workshops: one on acquisition, one on semantics, and (of course) one on phonology, the theme of which is “The lexicon (if any)”. Call deadline: November 1, 2008.

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Congress of Phonetics and Phonology (Brazil)

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Dear colleague,

We would like to invite you to the 10th National Congress / 4th International Congress of Phonetics and Phonology, which will take place during the period of November 24 – 26 (2008), at Universidade Federal Fluminense (Niterói, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil).

This event is sponsored by the Brazilian Society of Phonetics and it counts with the support of several national and international phoneticians and phonologists.

The general theme of the congress is ”Phonetics and Phonology: Theory and Application”, but we also expect the following sub-themes: (1) Phonetics and Phonology within current theoretical perspectives; (2) Phonetics and Phonology in teaching: Literacy and the teaching of foreign languages; (3) Phonetics and Phonology in linguistic research: Prosody, description of languages, and diachronic phonetic and phonological processes; (4) Interdisciplinary Phonetics and Phonology: Speech pathology and speech synthesis and recognition; and (5) Experimental Phonetics: Current research.

We hope you will be able to participate and/or publicize this event to colleagues and students. For more information: (1) visit the site of the Brazilian Society of Phonetics; (2) e-mail; (3) or phone 21-2522-8881 or 21-9334-5457.

Profª Drª Mirian da Matta Machado
Presidente da SBF

These vowels could save your life

Daniela Isac and Charles Reiss have recently published I-Language: An Introduction to Linguistics as Cognitive Science, which apparently has more phonology in it than your typical textbook of this type. (As the book description notes: “Contains phonological parallels to familiar syntactic arguments”.) There’s also a companion website with various resources, including a great page demonstrating Turkish vowels (previously noted by Mr. Verb). The vowels are arranged in a cube-like format that may be familiar to many of us. (This is the way I learned about Turkish vowels from Jorge Hankamer, and it clearly had a lasting effect on me.)

The publisher’s website also includes this sample chapter (Chapter 1, “What is I-language?” — a good place to start), which begins with an autobiographical story about how Charles used his knowledge of Turkish vowels and vowel harmony to save himself and a friend from a near-death experience (hey, read it yourself).

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Upcoming phonology workshops in Germany

Via LINGUIST List (follow the links):

  1. Prosodic Alignment at the Word Level
    • Nov. 20-21, 2008
    • Mannheim, Germany
    • This specialized workshop is on alignment, with focus on word-internal morphological and prosodic constituents.
    • Deadline for abstracts: July 1, 2008
  2. Insertions and Deletions in Speech
    • Mar. 4, 2009
    • Osnabrück, Germany
    • This workshop will provide a forum for phonologists, phoneticians, and morphologists to discuss the forms and functions of deletions and insertions found cross-linguistically, as well as their consequences for phonological systems.
    • Call Deadline: Sept. 1, 2008
  3. Rhythm Beyond the Word
    • March 4-6, 2008
    • Osnabrück, Germany
    • The goal of [this workshop] is to bring together researchers who focus on the role of rhythm in various subdomains of linguistics. We invite contributions from scholars working in morphology, phonology and syntax, psycho- and neurolinguistics, aphasiology and language acquisition.
    • Call Deadline: Sept. 1, 2008

Automatic alternations and conspiracies

Last week I suggested some of us read and discuss John Goldsmith‘s recent paper in Phonology 25.1 (“Generative phonology in the late 1940s“, doi:10.1017/S0952675708001395). I’m not really sure what’s the best way to go about this, so I’ll just suggest the following: anyone interested can pick a point of discussion and write a post about it, and anyone interested in responding to that point can comment specifically on that post.

OK, now that I’ve written that out, that just sounds like plain old blogging. I guess what I’m trying to suggest is that we don’t limit the discussion to just one post and its associated comments: if the point of discussion that you want to pick is sufficiently different from what’s already been posted, then I encourage you to start a new post rather than to comment on the old one. We can maybe tie all the threads together later.

OK, that still just sounds like plain old blogging. Forget I ever said anything. Let’s just move on to my (first?) suggested point of discussion, focusing on §2 of the paper (pp. 40-42 of the published version, pp. 4-6 of the preprint).

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Acoustics Week in Canada

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Acoustics Week in Canada

Acoustics Week in Canada 2008, the annual conference of the Canadian Acoustical Association, will be held in Vancouver, British Columbia from 6 to 8 October 2008. This is the premier Canadian acoustical event of the year, and is being held in beautiful, vibrant Vancouver, making it an event that you do not want to miss. The conference will include three days of plenary lectures, technical sessions on a wide range of areas of acoustics, the CAA Annual General Meeting, an equipment exhibition, and the conference banquet and other social events.

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phonoloblog reading group

In my last post I mentioned wanting to read the following paper just published in Phonology:

Generative phonology in the late 1940s (pp 37 – 59)
John A. Goldsmith

I’ve now read it, and I’d like to suggest that the two or three people who might be reading these words read it, too, so we can have a little online discussion about it. If you don’t have access to the journal, you can find a pre-print here (a quick skim reveals it to be about 95% identical in content to the published version). You might also want to heed the encouragement that Goldsmith offers in the next-to-last paragraph:

Needless to say, I encourage the reader to read Wells’ paper for himself, and to judge whether it is not a cautious and careful exegesis of the benefits that can be reaped from derivational analysis, aimed at an audience that was leery of confusing synchronic and diachronic analysis. As a phonologist working at the beginning of the 21st century, I would argue that we should not characterise the work of linguists such as Wells, Harris and Hockett as the last gasp of a dying structuralism, but as a body of scholarship out of which generative phonology was a natural development.
Surely this conclusion is reasonable and, ultimately, not at all surprising. My admiration for generative phonology is in no way diminished by the realisation that its key ideas were being considered and developed by the mid 1940s. It is, after all, the ideas that matter to us now.

(And if that JSTOR link doesn’t work for ya, try this.)

OK, we’ll reconvene sometime next week. I’ll plan to start, but if anyone feels like chiming in before I do, please feel free.

Hold your theory still so I can stomp on it, OK?

I’m clearly not above fighting on the internets, even with folks who choose not to reveal their true identities while making flippant remarks about the vices and virtues of competing theoretical frameworks. I’m referring, of course, to the discussion with Mr. Verb & friends that I initiated here, with the remainder of the discussion on Mr. Verb’s blog (follow the links in the comments section of my post).

In the fourth part of his response, Mr. Verb correctly points out that I started the nastiness with this remark (emphasis added to the quoted “quip”):

In my view, it requires a lot of (willful) ignorance of a huge amount of important work in the 70s and 80s to think that OT doesn’t make significant progress in many areas (duplication, conspiracies, top-down and bottom-up effects, the emergence of the unmarked, …) where SPE essentially foundered.

And I’m the first to admit that I continued in the same nasty vein in the comments sections of Mr. Verb’s responses to my four challenges, with particular vitriol reserved for a certain “Cassaday Rassmussen” (who is doubtless an extraordinarily cute though cheeky little devil, much like the sea otters s/he loves so much). I was apparently inappropriately offended at Cassaday’s combination of willingness to be just as nasty as I was and unwillingness to be identified. (I am somehow less offended by Mr. Verb’s anonymity, given the clues he leaves here and there that help to narrow the field of possibilities down considerably.)

ANYWAY, now that Mr. Verb’s multi-part response to my multi-part challenge is over (save for an appendix that promises to tie up some loose ends), I figured it was an appropriate time to summarize some of my thoughts on the matter and the episode, beyond making rabid remarks in the comments area of an anonymous blog. Read on (and comment, anonymously or not!) if you’re interested, navigate away (to youtube, for example) if you’re not.

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What's a theory to do?

I don’t read Mr. Verb regularly, but I really should. On occasion, he’ll slip into a “moment of theoretical linguistic seriousness” of the kind that we (well, I) attempt to maintain consistently here at phonoloblog (ahem). Case in point: a post from a couple months ago on phonological opacity, following up on a reader’s questions about something mentioned in passing in this post. (Hat-tip to Ed.) The post on opacity concludes:

In any monostratal theory (one without stages of derivation), getting these interactions is a huge problem. This isn’t the place to run through them, but some readers will be familiar with sympathy theory, comparative markedness, and so on. I heard one person sum it up this way a few years ago:

Opacity is ubiquitous in human language, and earlier theories of phonology could deal with it easily. It’s hard to see why those advantages have been abandoned for an approach that can’t handle opacity without lots of gymnastics, if at all, for benefits that don’t look all that great.

(I’m pretty sure that it’s safe to assume that “earlier theories of phonology” refers to serial, rule-based generative phonology in the SPE-and-subsequent-developments sense, and that “any monostratal theory (one without stages of derivation)” and “an approach that can’t handle opacity without lots of gymnastics, if at all” refers to Optimality Theory. Correct me if I’m wrong.)

I’m not going to contest the ubiquitousness of opacity in human language claim, having recently written an article assuming this to be true (appeared in Phonology 24.2, 217-259). I’ll also assume that we can all agree on the legitimacy of at least some examples of opacity, in the sense that we agree that such cases involve the interaction of synchronic phonological processes (pace Sanders on ‘synchronic’ and Green on ‘phonological’). But I would like to challenge Mr. Verb (and the quoted summer-upper) to defend (some of) the remaining claims, explicit and implicit, made in what I’ve quoted above. Here is a list of what I take those claims to be.

  1. OT is by definition monostratal.
  2. OT requires “lots of gymnastics” to account for opacity, while SPE doesn’t.
  3. SPE(-and-subsequent-developments) “could deal with [opacity] easily”.
  4. The benefits of OT over SPE “don’t look all that great”.

More commentary on each of these below the fold.

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Prosodic Alignment at the Word Level

Call for papers

Prosodic Alignment at the Word Level

Mannheim, Germany

November 20–21, 2008

Deadline for abstracts: July 1, 2008


Organization of segments into prosodic constituents is well known to be sensitive to morphological boundaries. Thus, the difference between the cluster ‘tr’ being syllabified as a complex onset in the English word ‘nitrate’ but being coda ‘t’ plus onset ‘r’ instead in ‘night rate’ evidently is a result of their difference in morphological structure.

Currently, a widely accepted approach to this kind of phenomenon involves the notion of alignment. According to this, prosodic domains are in place to satisfy constraints that demand that all morphological constituent boundaries of a particular kind (e.g. word, stem, affix) concide with a prosodic constituent boundary of a particular kind (e.g. phonological word, foot, syllable).

This specialized workshop is on alignment, with focus on word-internal morphological and prosodic constituents. The workshop is to be centered on empirical generalizations rather than being committed to any particular theoretical framework.

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Optimality Theory, Phonological Acquisition and Disorders

Just published in the Advances in Optimality Theory series from Equinox: Dinnsen & Gierut (eds.), Optimality Theory, Phonological Acquisition and Disorders. The blurb:

Focusing on the phonologies of children with functional (non-organic) speech disorders, this volume reports the latest findings in optimality theory, phonological acquisition and disorders. The book is based on typological, cross-sectional, longitudinal, and experimental evidence from over 200 children. It stands out because of the unique test case that the population offers to optimality theory, particularly with respect to puzzles of opacity, lawful orders of acquisition, and language learnability. Beyond its theoretical significance, this research holds clinical relevance for the assessment and treatment of disordered populations, most notably the systematic prediction of learning outcomes. The volume bridges the gap between theory and application by showing how each informs the other. It is intended for linguists, psychologists, speech pathologists, second-language instructors and those interested in the latest developments in phonological theory and its applied extensions.

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]


I’m pleased to announce Charpal, the new-and-very-much-improved version of the IPA symbol plugin for WordPress! Now users of this blog (authors and commenters) can enter phonetic symbols as well as symbols from other character sets easily — and other WordPress bloggers can install the plugin on their own blogs so that their users can do the same. For more details, follow this link.

Big thanks (and mad props) to David Romano for developing the original IPA symbol plugin and for upgrading it to Charpal. Thanks also to Bill Poser for recently discussing character input on Language Log (follow the links here), which is what made me think to ask David if he would upgrade the plugin.

Finally, Jessica Barlow recently pointed out this IPA Unicode keyboard, which has apparently also inspired David to see if he can fashion a similar interface for Charpal

Poser on character entry

I’m fairly sure I’ve noted before that the readership of this blog is very likely a strict (and very small) subset of the readership of Language Log, so if you’re reading this, you’re bound to have already read Bill Poser’s two posts on entering the IPA and other “exotic characters” on the web and elsewhere. Worth perusing, I’d say. I still dig our IPA symbol plugin for WordPress, but its use is obviously limited compared to the tools that Poser talks about.

Rules, Constraints, and Phonological Phenomena

(That pretty much covers it, doesn’t it? Not quite; see the next post.)

OUP has just announced (via LINGUIST List) this book, edited by Bert Vaux and Andrew Nevins. Here’s the TOC:

1. Introduction: The Division of Labor of Rules, Representations, and Constraints in Phonological Theory, Andrew Nevins and Bert Vaux
2. Why the Phonological Component Must be Serial and Rule-Based, Bert Vaux
3. Ordering, David Odden
4. Stress-Epenthesis Interactions, Ellen Broselow
5. Representational Economy, William Idsardi and Eric Raimy
6. Fenno-Swedish Quantity: Contrast in Stratal OT, Paul Kiparsky
7. SPE Extensions: Conditions on Representations and Defect Driven Rules, John Frampton
8. Constraining the Learning Path Without Constraints, or The OCP and NoBanana, Charles Reiss

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SFU Phonology Fest

SFU Phonology Fest 2008: The Distinction between Phonology and Phonetics

Saturday, April 5, 2008 at Simon Fraser University’s Burnaby campus

Recent research in Phonology has tended to include more and more functional explanations for phonological phenomena: distinctive features, inventories, sound change, and sound patterning. Some functional explanations appeal to processing considerations, others to frequency effects. The rest appeal to phonetic (articulatory or acoustic/perceptual) grounding. The phonetic grounding is included as basis or source of the phonological constraints, or it is directly incorporated into the theoretical account to yield a phonetics-phonology mix; or the phonetic grounding is the substance of the theoretical account. Evaluation of these various approaches is hampered by a lack of consensus on the definition of ‘phonology’ and ‘phonetics’.
The SFU Phonology Fest seeks to clarify the definition, and may also address what makes a particular sound property part of, our outside of, speakers’ grammars.

Presenters & Discussants: John Alderete, Richard Wright, Joseph Stemberger, Kimary Shahin, Suzanne Urbanczyk, Rod Casali, Jason Brown, Eric Vatikiotis-Bateson, Gunnar Hannson, Sharon Hargus, Ewa Czaykowska-Higgins, Bryan Gick, Darin Flynn, Sonya Bird.

(Link to program.)

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Ian Catford's Life in Linguistics

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

“The Catford Tapes are a series of eight one-hour lectures given by Ian Catford in early 1985, on the occasion of his retirement from the University of Michigan Linguistics Department. For anyone with an interest in linguistics, from theoretical to applied, from English to Kabardian, from grammar to phonetics, from Henry Sweet to … well, to Ian Catford, these lectures make clear just how fascinating and remarkably broad Professor Catford’s life in linguistics has been.”

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mfm 16 cfp

[ See also the LINGUIST List announcement. ]

Sixteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting

22-24 MAY 2008

Deadline for abstracts: 3rd March 2008

Special session: ‘Phonology and the mental lexicon’ featuring Abby Cohn, Sarah Hawkins and Aditi Lahiri

Held in Manchester, UK; organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, the Université Toulouse-Le Mirail and elsewhere.

Conference website:

The Phonological Enterprise

Just announced on LINGUIST List: The Phonological Enterprise, by Charles Reiss and Mark Hale (Oxford University Press, Feb. 2008).

Re-examines foundational issues in phonology, linguistics, and cognitive science. Develops a coherent picture of the study of phonology and its relationship to other disciplines. Written with wit and in a clear and pedagogic style. This book scrutinizes recent work in phonological theory from the perspective of Chomskyan generative linguistics and argues that progress in the field depends on taking seriously the idea that phonology is best studied as a mental computational system derived from an innate base, phonological Universal Grammar. Two simple problems of phonological analysis provide a frame for a variety of topics throughout the book. The competence-performance distinction and markedness theory are both addressed in some detail, especially with reference to phonological acquisition. Several aspects of Optimality Theory, including the use of Output-Output Correspondence, functionalist argumentation and dependence on typological justification are critiqued. The authors draw on their expertise in historical linguistics to argue that diachronic evidence is often mis-used to bolster phonological arguments, and they present a vision of the proper use of such evidence. Issues of general interest for cognitive scientists, such as whether categories are discrete and whether mental computation is probabilistic are also addressed. The book ends with concrete proposals to guide future phonological research.

The breadth and depth of the discussion, ranging from details of current analyses to the philosophical underpinnings of linguistic science, is presented in a direct style with as little recourse to technical language as possible.

Phonology, syntax and the lexicon: interdependence

[ Update: now announced on LINGUIST List. ]

Phonology, syntax and the lexicon: interdependence

14th Oral English Conference at Villetaneuse, Paris XIII

ALOES 2008: 4-5 April 2008
(the ALOES is the French association for oral English)

Last Call for Papers — abstract deadline: 10 February 2008

Guest plenary speaker: Heinz Giegerich, University of Edinburgh

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Phonology in Biolinguistics

Speaking of Charles Reiss: he has an article co-authored with Frédéric Mailhot (“Computing Long-Distance Dependencies in Vowel Harmony“) in the first issue of the new open access journal Biolinguistics.

Bridget Samuels also contributed the first review article to the new journal (“On Evolutionary Phonology“), and happens to also be one of the invited speakers to NAPhC5.

NAPhC5: Phonology as Symbolic Computation

Charles Reiss has just posted the call for papers for the Fifth North American Phonology Conference, to be held in Montréal May 9-11, 2008. Abstracts “up to 3 pages in length” are due March 1.

(Note that there are no particular formatting requirements for abstracts, and “[a]nonymity is not required”. The NAPhC folks used to accept up to full-blown paper drafts, but appear to have decided that was not such a great idea this time.)

Some recent book announcements

Three recent book announcements found recently on LINGUIST List, of possible interest to phonoloblog readers:

Why I Don't Love the International Phonetic Alphabet

[ Guest post by Sally Thomason, from Language Log; some links added by EB. ]

Don’t get me wrong: I love the idea of an international phonetic alphabet, and most of the IPA symbols are the same as the phonetic symbols used by linguists all over the world, including me. But some of them are different, and some of those differences make the IPA non-ideal for me, and I suspect for a lot of other fieldworkers out there too. Some of my reasons are fairly trivial, but one of them is a serious problem. I’ll save that one for last.

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Speaking of Phonology …

Phonology Thematic Issue 2009

Call for Papers – Relations between phonological models and experimental data (.pdf)

Over the past decades, experimental data have been used increasingly as evidence in phonological theorising. The success of the LabPhon conferences and the associated book series is evidence of this. However, most research in laboratory phonology eschews the kinds of formal grammatical models used in theoretical phonology. LabPhon papers tend to be neutral with respect to choice of grammatical model, or explicitly argue against a phonological grammar approach. On the other hand, research in theoretical phonology tends to rely solely on descriptive grammars or fieldwork as its empirical base. This thematic issue aims to build further bridges between theoretical phonology and laboratory phonology.

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Support the Sami

Fellow phonologist Bruce Morén recently began a discussion on LINGUIST List entitled “Cultural Sensitivity & Endangered Languages: Saami” (referred to throughout Morén’s post as Sami, and once as Sámi). Among the reasons why we should care is “the uniquely complex grammar of the Sami languages”:

In the words of one of the foremost researchers on these languages, “Sámi phonetics, phonology and morphophonology are amongst the most complicated in Europe if not in the whole world” (Sammallahti 1990:441). This includes what looks like a preference for simple onsets and complex codas, three linguistically significant degrees of consonant duration, quasi-harmonizing “glide vowels”, laryngeal contrasts only in post-stressed medial position, an extensive and pervasive consonant gradation system, productive morphological paradigms including literally hundreds of forms, etc. Each one of these phenomena is interesting and perhaps problematic for some linguistic theories, but taken in concert, they are astoundingly complex and form a perfect testing ground for many theoretical claims. These languages are important sources of unique linguistic data, and they should not be allowed to simply vanish.

Several of the good folks at Tromsø’s CASTL — both permanent members (e.g., Morén and Curt Rice) and past visitors (e.g., Patrik Bye, Dave Odden) — have written about many of these and other delightful complexities of Saami/Sami/Sámi grammar. If you haven’t already, you may be interested in taking a look — you can start, for example, with some of Bye’s work on ROA.

Update, 11/21: this book just announced.

Distributional arguments noch einmal

This is what I get for reading a table of contents announcement on LINGUIST List — specifically, for Journal of Linguistics 43.3 (here’s the link to the actual issue, in case you have access).

I got specifically interested in the Notes and Discussion section, where there are two articles: Dick Hudson‘s “Inherent variability and Minimalism: Comments on Adger’s ‘Combinatorial variability'” and David Adger‘s “Variability and modularity: A response to Hudson”. (Adger’s “Combinatorial Variability” is in JLing 42.3.)

Wait (I hear you say) — this is phonoloblog, not morphosyntactoblog (or whatever). Why am I interested in what Hudson has to say about Adger and vice-versa? Well, some of Hudson’s comments echo something I’ve brought up here a few times before, and the exchange between Hudson and Adger bears directly on some current work in phonology; specifically, some of the work that addresses variation.

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Yoda Minnesota

I missed it on Oct. 7/8, but just caught the replay tonight of Saturday Night Live starring Seth Rogen and featuring Spoon. One of the longest (and funniest) Weekend Update segment with Amy Poehler, Seth Myers, and many others. At one point, Poehler busts out two jokes in a row that both rely on the neutralization between /t/ and /d/ between two vowels, the second of which is unstressed (discussed several times on this blog):

  1. “Anita Hill? I need a vacation.”
    Anita, I need a = [əní:ɾə]
  2. “One of the hottest concert tours in the country now is 14-year-old Miley Cyrus, the star of “Hannah Montana”. While the least popular: Yoda Minnesota.”
    Yoda, Minnesota = [óʊɾə]

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Squibs in NLLT

As noted in the announcement that Junko Ito had joined Michael Kenstowicz as a phonology editor of NLLT, the journal will now be publishing shorter squib-like pieces. I wanted to get the low-down on this exciting move, so I contacted Junko and we set up a webchat interview. (Junko’s idea — I was Junko’s undergrad student in the early 90s, and even then she was way ahead of me in the new technology area.) The interview in full is below the fold.

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Junko Ito joins NLLT editors

This just in: Junko Ito has recently become an editor of Natural Language and Linguistic Theory (joining Michael Kenstowicz as one of the two p-side editors). But UCSC linguists on the s-side need not feel abandoned; one of Junko’s fellow editors is UCSD’s John Moore (UCSC Ph.D., 1991).

The aim of Natural Language and Linguistic Theory is to provide “a forum for the discussion of theoretical research that pays close attention to natural language data. The journal actively seeks to bridge the gap between descriptive work and work of a highly theoretical, less empirically oriented nature.”

The NLLT editors have recently announced that in addition to full-length articles and reviews, the journal will also open a platform for short squibs and discussion pieces.

[ Hat tip: Maria Gouskova. ]

Conference on the Syllable in Phonology

This cfp just out: another CUNY Phonology Forum conference brought to you by Cairns & Raimy. January 17-18, 2008 at the CUNY Graduate Center; abstracts due Nov. 10, notifications Dec. 1.

Earlier this year I noted that this year’s CUNY Phonology Forum conference had made abstracts, handouts, and audio of the talks available here — I hope they do that again. Poke around the CUNY Phonology Forum website for more information, including links to papers (and discussions thereof) from previous conferences, etc.

[ Via LINGUIST List — where the call deadline is mistakenly listed as Jan. 1, 2000 … ]

Grade school theory of the syllable?

András Kornai writes with the following interesting query (supplemented here with some text formatting and a Wikipedia link):

My son is in grade school, and he is learning a great deal of terminology about English spelling. For example, a digraph is a letter-combination that regularly corresponds to a single sound, sh, ck, etc. This is pretty standard. A blend is a syllable-final consonant cluster as far as I can make sense of this, welded sounds are a closed set of rhymes (ing, unk, … — there doesn’t seem to be any defining property), bonus letters are the second members of doubled (consonant) graphemes irrespective of whether the sound they represent is long or short, taps have something to do with moras, perhaps.

Google for these terms and you find plenty of school curricula that demand knowledge of these notions, most of them related to something called the “Wilson Reading System“. Is there anything out there that links this terminology to better-established linguistic notions? Has anybody produced an overview (or a critique) of the system from the perspective of contemporary phonology? Any pointers would be greatly appreciated.

If you know anything relevant to this query, please post your comments!

Soft … to the point of silent

I’m still reading this month’s Vanity Fair and came across this:

The Report (pronounced with a soft t, as is Colbert) debuted in the fall of 2005 as a spin-off of Comedy Central’s The Daily Show, the critical and popular success that’s often referred to by its host, Jon Stewart, as a “fake news” show.

— from Seth Mnookin’s “The Man in the Irony Mask

I’ve heard/seen “soft” (vs. “hard”) used to refer to different non-silent pronunciations of the letters c (soft [s] vs. hard [k]), g (soft [ʒ] vs. hard [ʤ]), but I don’t think I’ve ever heard of “soft” referring to a completely silent letter in English. If anyone else has, please comment about it below.

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NELS 38 program

The NELS 38 program was just announced on LINGUIST List in text form, but check out the colorful two-page PDF poster that the organizers have put together. It looks like the abstracts will eventually be posted here.

You can immediately see how well-represented phonology is this year from the program poster, which is color-coded: phonology in dark red, syntax in dark blue, semantics in light blue (and invited talks in yellow — only talks, not posters). Counting them up, I see 12 phonology talks (plus Bruce Hayes, invited speaker for the ‘Abstractness without Innateness’ workshop), 22 syntax talks (plus Rose-Marie Déchaine, invited speaker for the main session), and 18 semantics talks (plus two invited speakers, Irene Heim for the ‘Pronouns and Binding Theory’ workshop and Gennaro Chierchia for the main session) … certainly not even, but better than I’ve sometimes seen.

I wish I had the time to go this year; looks fun! For those who can be in Ottawa on Oct. 26-28, note that the early registration deadline is Sept. 30.

GLOW 31 cfp out

GLOW 31 will take place at Newcastle University March 26-28, sandwiched by workshops on March 25 and 29. Arto Anttila is one of the invited speakers, no doubt in relation to the first of the five workshops, “Categorical phonology and gradient facts”. Two of the other workshops are of potential interest to phonologists: “Language contact” and “Principles of linearization” (I’m looking at you, Raimy).

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Peer review

A few months ago I mentioned that Kai von Fintel and David Beaver have established a new, peer-reviewed, open access journal (Semantics & Pragmatics), with the hopeful thought that “we [= phono-types] should do this, too”. John McCarthy expressed concern about the amount of work that would be involved in such a venture, and Alan Prince followed up with a question and comment about the value of peer review these days. Ed Keer added that something like phonoloblog “could be expanded to create some collaborative workspace for phonologists” — an idea I like a lot, and something I very much welcome discussion about. Submit your posts/comments!

I gave a quick response to John’s comment, and Kai promised to respond to John’s and Alan’s “skeptical remarks” over on the S&P editors’ blog. In this post Kai quotes Alan’s question and comment and explains why he and David decided to go the peer review route with S&P. Kai addresses the role of peer review in today’s publishing climate, but I don’t think he addresses Alan’s question about the value of peer review. Well, let me rephrase: Kai addresses some of the practical value of peer review (exposure, promotion/tenure, etc.), but Alan’s question seemed to me to be more about whether peer review actually works to improve the product. Alan’s comment — that some of the practical value of peer review might be replaced by more effective means of citation indexing — remains unaddressed. Any thoughts from phonoloblog readers?

A final note: Kai’s post begins by citing an interesting paper about recent, relevant changes in publishing in economics, and I agree with Kai that the observations made in the paper apply (in some modified form) to linguistics as well. One of these observations is that “the necessity of going through the peer-review process has lessened for high status authors: in the old days peer-reviewed journals were by far the most effective means of reaching readers, whereas with the growth of the Internet high-status authors can now post papers online and exploit their reputation to attract readers”. I think that some such effect of status is unavoidable regardless of the peer review question, and I’m interested in how high-status authors can facilitate the recognition of work by lower-status authors (apart from citing it, of course). No doubt Alan is a high-status author, and I think he has done his part to facilitate the recognition of a great deal of work by establishing the first electronic repository in linguistics: the Rutgers Optimality Archive, which “is open to all who wish to disseminate their work in, on, or about OT” — and the success of ROA has motivated others to establish similar linguistics repositories (such as the two that Kai cites in his post, and lingBuzz; see the sidebar for others). Other high-status authors could contribute to the recognition of other work by submitting their own work to these repositories rather than simply posting it on their personal webpages. (If the repositories were just providing webspace, they’d be long dead.)

Mid-America Linguistics Conference

The 2007 Mid-America Linguistics Conference (MALC) will be hosted by the Linguistics Department at the University of Kansas. The conference will be held over the weekend of October 26-28, 2007 at the Lawrence campus, and coincides with the 50th anniversary of the Linguistics Department at the University of Kansas.

The organizers invite abstracts in all areas of linguistics, including (but not restricted to) phonetics, phonology, syntax, semantics, psycholinguistics, acquisition, neurolinguistics, historical linguistics, sociolinguistics, and pragmatics.

Deadline for abstract submissions: August 22, 2007.


If you subscribe to the comments rss feed for phonoloblog, then you may have noticed a recent flood of comments. This is because I have just begun categorizing posts to facilitate browsing. Allow me to explain.

Up until now I had only set up one category, “General”, for posts on phonoloblog. I don’t recall why I made that decision way back when; maybe it was because I didn’t want to think about what sorts of categories we might need. But now that we’ve been online for three full years and have about 360 posts of various types, I thought it was time to take this step.

You should be able to see the current category list in the sidebar. In alphabetical order, they are:

  • Books — for book announcements, book reviews, etc.
  • Conferences — for conference/workshop announcements, calls for papers, programs, etc.
  • General — still the grab-bag for most posts
  • Jobs — job announcements, etc. (though this is mostly covered by the phonolojobs page
  • Online — links to material available online (e.g. archives), etc.
  • Papers — links to / discussion of particular papers, etc.
  • Software — links to / discussion of software, etc.

I’m sure I’ll add to these categories as time goes on, but for now I think they’ll do. Contributors, please try to use these categories when you post — you can use multiple categories when appropriate.

So what does this have to do with the flood of comments, you ask? Well, I’ve been going through and manually recategorizing old posts. When there’s a link from one phonoloblog post (post-1) to another (post-2), a surrounding snippet of text from post-1 is posted as a comment on post-2. For some reason, these particular comments are being automatically updated in the manual recategorization process, and so they’re coming up as new comments. My apologies for the barrage.

Experimental Approaches to Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]

Maria-Josep Solé, Patrice Speeter Beddor, and Manjari Ohala (eds.), Experimental Approaches to Phonology. Oxford University Press, 2007.

Publisher’s blurb:

This wide-ranging survey of experimental methods in phonetics and phonology shows the insights and results provided by different methods of investigation, including laboratory-based, statistical, psycholinguistic, computational-modeling, corpus, and field techniques. The five chapters in the first part of the book examine the recent history and interrelations of theory and method. The remaining 18 chapters are organized into parts devoted to four key current areas of research: phonological universals; phonetic variation and phonological change; maintaining, enhancing, and modeling phonological contrasts; and phonological knowledge. The book provides fresh insights into the findings and theoretical advances that emerge from experimental investigation of phonological structure and phonological knowledge, as well as critical perspectives on experimental methods in the perception, production, and modeling of speech.

This book will be a valuable asset for all researchers into the sound structure of language, including scholars and advanced students of phonetics, phonology, speech science, psycholinguistics, and applied linguistics.

(Click here for a sample.)

Workshop on Prosody, Syntax and Information Structure

The Department of Linguistics at Indiana University will host the Workshop on Prosody, Syntax and Information Structure (WPSI) III.

WPSI III will aim to provide a forum to explore new research methods in formal linguistics which seek objective empirical bases through interdisciplinary, collaborative, and experimental settings.

Topics include:

  • Re-examination of the Models of Prosodic Phonology
  • Prosody and Syntax of Wh-interrogatives
  • Information Packaging and Syntax
  • Experimental Syntax

Speakers include:

Caroline Féry (Potsdam), Yuki Hirose (Tokyo), Shinichiro Ishihara (Potsdam), Junko Ito (UCSC), Sun-Ah Jun (UCLA), Yoshihisa Kitagawa (Indiana), Robert Kluender (UCSD), Haruo Kubozono (Kobe), Armin Mester (UCSC), Norvin Richards (MIT), Jennifer Smith (UNC), Satoshi Tomioka (Delaware)

The workshop website is still under construction but will provide fuller information by the end of July.

[ Via LINGUIST List. ]


One thing I’ve always found hard about teaching English phonetics is convincing my students that the high front vowel preceding [ŋ] is (lax) [ɪ], not (tense) [i:]. It’s not hard to convince them that there’s no contrast between the two in this context, but no matter how many spectrograms I show them, they’re convinced that the vowel is more like [i:] than it is like [ɪ] — i.e., that bing sounds more like bean than like been. The biggest problem is that I can’t say that I disagree, no matter how many spectrograms have “convinced” me to the contrary.

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Driving home from a friend’s place last night, Karen pointed this out:

This is one of the windows on a “laundramat” in our neighborhood. I guess I’ve gotten used to “laundramat” for “laundromat”, but will I ever get used to “tripble” for “triple” (or even “tripple”)? Although I’ve spilled plenty of ink on the fact that e.g. p and b are nearly identical, I don’t think I will.

Googling for {“tripble”} returns about 550 hits; restricting the search to English-language websites results in 27 hits. The fourth hit of those 27 today is this page on a San Diego food blog, the author of which just happens to have found the same “laundramat” and “tripble” misspellings interesting — scroll down to the very bottom of the page. (I also recommend the comment on the picture just above that … something I often think about myself while driving around America’s Finest City.)

Old World Conference on Phonology 5

This just over LINGUIST List:

The Fifth Old World Conference in Phonology will be held at the University of
Toulouse-Le Mirail, France, January, 23-26 2008.
Pre-conference Workshop ‘Corpora in phonological research’: January, 23 2008. Main Conference: January, 24-26 2008.

Guest speakers:
Maria Rosa Lloret (University of Barcelona)
Nick Clements (CNRS/University of Paris III Sorbonne-Nouvelle)
Haruo Kubozono (University of Kobe)

Call deadline: Sept. 1, 2007. “The meeting URL will be available shortly.”

XVIIIth International Congress of Linguists (CIL18)

The XVIIIth International Congress of Linguists will take place at Korea University, Seoul, Republic of Korea, July 21-26, 2008. There are several parallel sessions of designated topics (including phonetics and phonology) and workshops (including speech sciences in linguistics, interfaces in phonology, and current issues in linguistics interfaces).

Abstract deadlines for most if not all of these sessions and workshops is May 31, 2007 — that is, in less than two weeks!

We need to do this, too

At SALT this weekend, David Beaver and Kai von Fintel announced a new journal that they will be editing, Semantics & Pragmatics. This announcement was followed by a more public announcement on Kai’s semantics, etc. blog, where Kai summarizes the motivation for the new journal as follows:

Our journal will be a high-quality, rigorously peer-reviewed journal on topics in semantics and pragmatics. Why a new journal (given that the field already has three excellent dedicated journals: Linguistics & Philosophy, Natural Language Semantics, Journal of Semantics)? Our journal will be an open access journal, with no subscription barriers, and it will make optimal use of modern electronic distribution and management methods.

Follow the links to the slides that David and Kai presented at SALT and to the editors’ blog for this new journal. It’s a great idea, and I think we can and should do something similar for phonology and phonetics for all the same reasons that David and Kai are doing this for semantics and pragmatics.

OT and English phonology, anyone?

According to this LINGUIST List post, the book series that brought you April McMahon‘s nice-and-reasonably-sized book An Introduction to English Phonology and other introductory books on the English language is now soliciting book proposals for more advanced-level volumes:

The advanced volumes in the series are not restricted to an entry-level readership. Therefore, any text on any aspect of the linguistics of English would be eligible for the series. The only constraints on eligibility are (1) that all ETOTEL [= Edinburgh Textbooks on the English Language, the series title–EB] texts must seek to explain, to a student readership, significant (and, in curricular terms, relevant) ranges of phenomena of English; and (2) that they take due account of existing knowledge in the field. Here are two possible examples (both currently under discussion):

-English Historical Syntax. This volume would presuppose a basic knowledge of (English) syntax and of the history of English.

-Optimality Theory and the Phonology of English. Such a volume would presuppose a working knowledge of the mainstream phonological phenomena of English, and of phonological terminology and notation. It would introduce and develop a version of Optimality Theory so as to present a coherent picture of the phonology of English.

Anyone here want to tackle the second of these? Contact the series editor, Heinz Giegerich.

LabPhon 11 in New Zealand

The organising committee is pleased to announce that LabPhon 11 will be held at Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand, 30 June – 2 July 2008.

The overall theme of the conference will be ”Phonetic detail in the lexicon”, with the following sub-themes:

  1. Accessing the lexicon
  2. Social information in the lexicon
  3. Phonetic cues to lexical structure
  4. Generalising over the lexicon

Further announcements will be made shortly, and posted on the conference web-page.

Paul Warren, Victoria University of Wellington
Jen Hay, University of Canterbury

[ By way of LINGUIST List. ]

Special phonology session at NELS 38

A call for papers is out (on LINGUIST List) for NELS 38, to be held at the University of Ottawa October 26-28. The call deadline is Saturday, June 9 Monday, July 9.

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.

Marc Brunelle
Marie-Hélène Côté
Jeff Mielke

Did you mean: brick block brick

Breaking news (to me): blick is an actual word of English.

Yup, I fully admit it. Until very recently, I never actually picked up a single dictionary and checked to see whether blick was in it. I just recall the feeling of my own first exposure1 to the example as being so effective that it never even occurred to me to double-check it. But now I see that has a definition, as does the OED (if you have access). Prolly others, too, but why keep checking?

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WCCFL 26 at Berkeley

The program for WCCFL 26 (at Berkeley, April 27-29) was announced on LINGUIST List the other day. There are three phonology sessions this year, one each day.

Phonology 1 (Friday 10-12)

Phonology 2 (Saturday 2-4)

Phonology 3 (Sunday 10-12)

Workshop on Variation, Gradience and Frequency in Phonology

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

Abstract deadline: April 30, 2007

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Are we flat?

The University of Maryland’s Linguistics Department continues its strange love-hate relationship with phonology with this year’s announcement for what has come to be known simply as “MayFest“. In case you’ve never heard of this (almost-)annual workshop, the first sentence of the announcement clarifies:

Every year the graduate students of the Linguistics Department of the University of Maryland organize a linguistics workshop focusing on a different aspect of language.

The rest of the first paragraph explains the title of this year’s workshop: “Where, When and Why is Hierarchy Needed?”

The goal of this year’s MayFest is to bring together researchers from various disciplines to discuss the use of hierarchy and flat structures in language.

Where do phonologists these days stand on this issue? Are debates about the internal structure of the syllable actually resolved? What about Liberman & Prince’s original hierarchical foot structure proposal — was that abandoned for good reasons? It’s true that discussions in phonology don’t (or no longer) focus on these issues, but I don’t think they’re any less important than they are in syntax and semantics. Continue reading

Phonology in Poznań

This LINGUIST List post alerted me to the fact that four of the eleven thematic sessions so far planned for this year’s Poznań Linguistic Meeting (PLM) in September are quite obviously phonology-related:

Abstracts are due May 1. (Submission guidelines here.)

Cambridge Handbook: official publication and website

February 28 was the official publication date of The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology, previously mentioned here!

The hardcover version costs $150/£80. After selling off a batch of these to libraries, we can hope that CUP will seriously consider issuing a less expensive soft cover version (and, reportedly, an e-book too).

The final component of the Handbook experience – the website – is also now ready. It has some useful features:

  • You can search the entire text of the book, making it the most searchable printed book available.
  • You can search the references and download them in a variety of formats.
  • There is a forum for people to discuss the chapters (and phonology in general). Please encourage your students to use it!
  • It has additional material (e.g., ‘further reading’ lists that many authors have provided, errata, etc.). There may eventually be other things available related to each chapter (e.g., handouts, related papers, teaching materials, webpage links, audio, video…).

Thanks to Handbook editor Paul de Lacy for putting such extraordinary work into this!

To OT or not to OT

(OK, this is not, strictly speaking, a phonology-related post. But it’s about Optimality Theory, which is mostly about phonology, and the Language Log post that I discuss here was not, strictly speaking, a language-related post either. So there.)

As the resident Optimality Theorist over at Language Log (or as some folks these days apparently like to say, “optimologist”, as they chuckle to themselves), I feel the need to point out that Bill Poser’s parody-post on different date formats doesn’t even resemble an OT analysis.

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Please cover my welcome

According to the “lang/ling blogs and fun stuff” page of the excellent University of Aberdeen web resources for linguistics site, phonoloblogclaims to cover ‘all things phonology'” (emphasis added). What I actually intend the ‘all things phonology’ subtitle to mean is that all things related to phonology are welcome on phonoloblog; I’d never pretend to actually cover all those things, even with the help of the many other phonolotypes who have at one time or another posted here.

(And in case it’s not clear enough already: anyone interested in posting here can do so; you just have to let me know that you’re interested, and your posts need to be phonology-related in some way. Who knows, maybe if more folks posted here, the cover-claim could keep better pace with welcome-claim.)

On teaching phonology without the phoneme

I find the juxtaposition of the opening and closing sentences of Rick Wojcik’s comment on Bruce Hayes’ post about teaching allophony remarkable:

How can you possibly teach an introduction to linguistics without teaching the basic concept of the phoneme? […] Let them puzzle over those questions, not some dry lecture on distinctive features.

Bruce’s post asks a sincere question, and the causticness of Wojcik‘s comment, clear enough just from the two sentences quoted above, seems unwarranted as a response (to say the least).

First: I don’t appreciate the presuppositions snuck in by the “basic concept of” and “dry lecture on” — in my experience as an undergraduate, the noun phrases modified by these words could well be switched: “How can you possibly teach an introduction to linguistics without teaching the basic concept of distinctive features? […] Let them puzzle over those questions, not some dry lecture on the phoneme.”

Second: as if “the phoneme” and “distinctive features” were the only two options on the table! There are plenty of other phonologically-relevant topics that can be presented as a unit in an introductory linguistics course in such a way that deep and important issues in the field are conveyed in an accessible manner to students whose exposure to linguistics before that course (or ever again) is close to zero.

Below the fold, I take apart the middle part of Wojcik’s comment, breaking it into bite-sized chunks in order to either question the relevance of the phoneme to that chunk, or to point out the relevance of at least one topic other than the phoneme (or distinctive features, for that matter) that I think would make a fabulous phonology unit in an introductory linguistics course.

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Mutually-assured destruction

Teaching both undergraduate and graduate phonology courses this quarter, and having just finished some revisions to a paper on opacity (ROA, lingBuzz; to appear in Phonology), I’ve had different types of rule interactions — in particular, ones that result in opacity — on the brain. In the paper, I describe several types of opaque-seeming rule interactions in detail and give them names like “self-destructive feeding”. Now here’s a new one that’s not discussed in the paper because I don’t think there are any attested examples of it. Still, it’s an interesting type of case that I think is worth discussing. For reasons that’ll become clear as/if you read on below, I call it mutually-assured destruction.

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Recent calls

Here are some phonology-related calls-for-papers I’ve been collecting from LINGUIST List over the past week or so:

The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology

At long last, Cambridge University Press is publishing The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology, edited by Paul de Lacy, this month.

The picture of the book off to the right links to, but go to the CUP page to get more information about the book, including PDFs of the front matter and such. There is also a supplementary website for the book (which looks to be still under development) here.

Here’s the book blurb:

Phonology – the study of how the sounds of speech are represented in our minds – is one of the core areas of linguistic theory, and is central to the study of human language. This state-of-the-art handbook brings together the world’s leading experts in phonology to present the most comprehensive and detailed overview of the field to date. Focusing on the most recent research and the most influential theories, the authors discuss each of the central issues in phonological theory, explore a variety of empirical phenomena, and show how phonology interacts with other aspects of language such as syntax, morphology, phonetics, and language acquisition. Providing a one-stop guide to every aspect of this important field, The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology will serve as an invaluable source of readings for advanced undergraduate and graduate students, an informative overview for linguists, and a useful starting point for anyone beginning phonological research.

Books: on languages that may die soon, and on one that probably won't

On LINGUIST List recently, we hear of two books that may be of interest to phonoloblog readers:

The first, which I also mentioned here, is not strictly about phonology — but it’s written by a phonologist, so there you go.

Cascadilla Proceedings Project

Somehow, I completely missed (until just a few days ago) the existence of the truly cool Cascadilla Proceedings Project (emphasis added):

Cascadilla Proceedings Project is an imprint of Cascadilla Press. We created CPP as a new model for proceedings of linguistics conferences and workshops. All proceedings published by CPP are available both in print and on the web. Web access is free and unrestricted, and the copy available on the web is the same as the book version in content, formatting, and pagination. The print edition is a hardback which meets library binding standards. This combination allows for the best of both worlds: free and quick access for researchers looking for a proceedings paper, with all the advantages of being published in book form.

Among several other conference proceedings, there are those from the 2nd Laboratory Approaches to Spanish Phonetics and Phonology.

You may already be familiar with Cascadilla Press from recent book/CD proceedings of WCCFL and several other conferences, their Mac/PC-friendly Arboreal and Moraic fonts, or their fun teaching tools like IPA Bingo and Magnetic Phonetics. Now there’s just all the more reason to love the good folks at Cascadilla. While you’re browsing their site, consider buying a classroom IPA chart (or a t-shirt, coffee mug, etc.) at their new Cafe Press site. (And don’t forget to tell ’em phonoloblog sent you.)

UMass paper archive (and lingBuzz, too)

This post on Kai von Fintel’s Semantics etc. blog reminds me that there’s a little-publicized archive of UMass linguistics papers, searchable and browsable by subject area. Here’s the phonology area, and here’s the phonetics area; there are quite a few other areas, almost all of them populated by several papers.

Kai’s link to Kratzer & Selkirk on Spellout does not go to this archive, but rather to lingBuzz, which I first mentioned on phonoloblog just over a year ago. Continue reading

Upcoming conference update

This just over the LINGUIST List wire (emphasis added where appropriate):

  • (link) “The 31st Annual Penn Linguistics Colloquium will take place February 23-25, 2007 at the University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia. […] The PLC 31 program includes sessions on language acquisition, phonology, phonology/phonetics, semantics, semantics/pragmatics, sociolinguistics and language change, syntax and syntax/semantics. For a complete list of talks with links to abstracts, please visit
  • (link) “NELS 38 will be held at the University of Ottawa and will include a General Session, a Poster Session, and two Special Sessions: one on phonology (theme: ‘Abstractness without innateness?’) and one in semantics (theme: tba). Invited speakers: tba. The call for papers will be posted soon.”

That is all.

15th Manchester Phonology Meeting

Call: 15th Manchester Phonology Meeting


Fifteenth Manchester Phonology Meeting

24-26 MAY 2007

Deadline for abstracts: 1st March 2007

Special session: ‘Where is allomorphy?’, featuring (in alphabetical order) Ricardo Bermudez-Otero, Mirjam Ernestus, John McCarthy, Glyne Piggott

Held in Manchester, UK; organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, the Universite Toulouse-Le Mirail, the Universite Montpellier-Paul Valery and elsewhere.

Conference website:

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Speaking of the LSA, readers of phonoloblog will no doubt be interested in the subject of a talk presented by members of the Chicago Language Modeling Lab (CLML) (lab director Jason Riggle and grad researchers Max Bane, James Kirby, and Jeremy O’Brien). The talk was titled “Efficiently Computing OT Typologies” (here’s the abstract) and it served several purposes: to announce Erculator (“a web-based application that lets you create OT candidate tableaux, check their consistency, make inferences and other analyses, and format them for direct inclusion in your Word or LaTeX documents”), to report on its progress (e.g., the gui is not yet fully functional, but the cli is), and to show what it can do and how it does it (drawing heavily from Alan Prince’s work on Entailed Ranking Conditions (ERCs), which you can read about here, here, here, here, and here). Go on and check it out.

LSA thoughts?

Back in October I noted a number of sessions that were scheduled at the LSA last week and that might be of interest to phonologists. I’d like to invite anyone who attended any of these sessions (or anything else of phono-interest at the LSA) to offer their thoughts here on phonoloblog.

The teaching term began for me as soon as I got back from LSA, so I haven’t yet had time to write up some thoughts I had on the ominously-titled plenary panel “Phonology: An Appraisal of the Field in 2007”, but I will definitely get around to it soon.

More on Pinochet

[ Note to regular phonoloblog readers: this is a follow-up on my last Language Log post, on the Chilean Spanish pronunciation of Pinochet. ]

Here is a key for redirected Language Log readers who may not be familiar with phonetic terms and transcriptions. The phonetic value of any other symbols used below should be transparent. (IPA = International Phonetic Alphabet, APA = [North] American[ist] Phonetic Alphabet):

  • The sound that is usually represented orthographically by “ch” in English (as in e.g. chain) is a voiceless postalveolar affricate and is represented as either [ʧ] (IPA) or [č] (APA).
  • The sound that is usually represented orthographically by “sh” in English (as in e.g. shame) is a voiceless postalveolar fricative and is represented as either [ʃ] (IPA) or [š] (APA).
  • The sound that has no single usual orthographic representation in English but is sometimes represented as “zh” (as in e.g. measure) is a voiced postalveolar fricative and is represented as either [ʒ] (IPA) or [ž] (APA).

To double-check my claims about different American Spanish varieties, I first consulted the superb book by D. Lincoln Canfield pictured and on the right. According to the book description, “[t]his book represents the culmination of a lifetime of research in the spoken Spanish dialects of the Americas by one of the foremost experts in this field.” Indeed. Canfield makes the useful organizational decision to devote a separate chapter to the discussion of pronunciation patterns found in each country on the continent (including the U.S.), though he is clear about the fact that differences between varieties of a language do not necessarily respect national boundaries (pp. 20-21). Each chapter includes a map (in some cases, multiple maps) highlighting certain key (geographically-definable) pronunciation patterns. It’s an amazing piece of work, mercifully short (130pp.), and at $14 from, a real steal. (Makes a great gift, too!)

But: this book was published a full generation ago (1981), so it’s getting a little out of date. To supplement this, then, I also consulted the two books pictured and below the fold.

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Review: Phonological Development and Disorders in Children

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

EDITORS: Hua, Zhu; Dodd, Barbara

TITLE: Phonological Development and Disorders in Children

SUBTITLE: A Multilingual Perspective

SERIES: Child Language and Child Development

PUBLISHER: Multilingual Matters

YEAR: 2006

ISBN: 1853598895


This volume is a collection of articles describing typical and atypical articulatory and phonological development in a variety of languages of very different types. As part of the Multilingual Matters’ series on Child language and child development: Multilingual-multicultural perspectives, the book aims to use multilingual studies to deepen our understanding of universals of developmental phonology. Its stated aim is “to integrate research on a range of languages to examine phonological acquisition and disorder.”

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Do speech errors feed phonology?

Earlier today, Geoff Pullum wrote a short post on Language Log about speech errors, based on the following example:

you’re a kind man [knd mæn]
you’re a canned mine [kænd mn]

Geoff concludes his post as follows:

The details of such errors have often been used by phonologists as evidence for phonological structure. After all, if you can accidentally switch the nuclei of two adjacent syllables when you’re very tired, one obvious explanation would be that phonology is not a kind of fiction made up in the process of doing linguistic analysis; rather, there really are syllables, they really have nuclei, and your speech production mechanisms actually operate in a way that, in effect, makes reference to these units.

This made me think about how little I actually know about speech errors and the evidence they provide for phonological structure, apart from the tidbits I discuss in introductory courses (the source of most if not all of these probably being Vicki Fromkin‘s work). Continue reading

What would 'recursion' mean in phonology?

That’s the title of Bob Ladd‘s talk at the Recursion in Human Languages conference, organized by Dan Everett and scheduled to take place in Illinois in late April 2007. (See the full program here; Bob’s talk, scheduled last on Saturday afternoon, is one of only two talks that seem to specifically address phonology.)

I’m glad that a phonetician/phonologist of Bob’s stature and respectability was invited to this conference. I also like the title of his talk (although this may just be the topic of the talk, not the actual title, according to the call for papers — but I hope Bob keeps it).

I’d like to throw this question out to phonologists (those who read phonoloblog, anyway). What do you think ‘recursion’ would mean in phonology? Maybe if we get some good discussion going, we can forward it on to Bob (or invite him to join in on the conversation). Leave your comment below, or if it’s something extensive, consider writing a separate post. (If you’re not already a phonoloblog author, all you have to do is ask me.)

A few more books

Here are a few books recently announced on LINGUIST List of potential interest to phonoloblog readers.

Review: Acquiring a Non-Native Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List, though for some reason tucked under the incorrect heading Review: Language Acquisition: Sorace et al. (2006) ]

Announced at

AUTHOR: Hansen, Jette G.

TITLE: Acquiring a Non-Native Phonology

SUBTITLE: Linguistic Constraints and Social Barriers

PUBLISHER: Continuum International Publishing Group Ltd

YEAR: 2006

Andrea G. Osburne, Department of English, Central Connecticut State University

The process of adult acquisition of a second language phonology is a lengthy one, which makes it particularly difficult to study. It is hard to follow learners across years and decades to watch the process unfold, so, as the author of this monograph points out, the majority of studies have been synchronic rather than longitudinal. They have therefore focused on more salient transfer and developmental phenomena with less information about long-term processes. Hansen proposes to remedy this situation by reporting on a year-length study of the English phonological acquisition of two adult Vietnamese speakers.

Continue reading

Workshop on Computing and Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Date: 08-Dec-2006 – 08-Dec-2006

Location: Groningen, Netherlands

Contact: Tamas Biro

Contact Email:

Meeting URL:

Linguistic Field(s): Computational Linguistics; Phonology

Meeting Description:

A workshop on computational aspects of phonology will be held at the University of Groningen (RUG), the Netherlands, on December 8, 2006. For further information, please visit

The workshop is open to anyone, but we kindly ask you to register not later than December 4. For a provisional program, abstracts and registration, please visit the site. Should you have any question, please feel free to contact Tamás Bíró at

Glottal stops and codas update

Mark Donohue has posted a summary of responses to his original LINGUIST List query on glottal stops and codas (cross-posted here).

Mark adds via e-mail (paragraphs are from two separate messages):

I’m pretty sure some of the New Guinea data I’m looking at shows segmental nasals ONLY appearing in coda positions, phonologically, though due to nasal spreading from nasal vowels they are heard in onsets as well, if there’s no other recourse.

To elaborate briefly on the nasals: in Damal there are three phonetic nasals, predictably [m], [n] and [ŋ]. [ŋ] only ever appears as a coda; [m] and [n] do their best to appear in coda positions always (including VNV sequences), but can be found in onsets if they have to be (#NV# sequences are found), but there’s strong evidence that these are underlying /D/ + nasalised vowel).

Continue reading

More phonolojobs

I’ve just revamped and updated the phonolojobs page (always accessible in the “Pages” area of the sidebar). In case you missed it when I first mentioned it — I lazily buried it in a post about something else, after all — the phonolojobs page is meant to be a place to collect ads for jobs of specific interest to us phono-types. It partially duplicates LINGUIST List in this regard, but I still think it’s helpful (and hope you all think so, too).

The revamping is noted on the phonolojobs page itself so I won’t say anything else about that here (other than to note that it’s As far as the updating goes, I had a little catching up to do — in particular, I heard about three (count ’em, three!) general linguistics jobs at UC Irvine that, as far as I can tell, have not been announced on LINGUIST List or anywhere else that is readily accessible.

Continue reading

Nasometer help

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Dear Linguists,

I am messaging to see if anyone has had any experience with the Nasometer (Speech Tutor System (Product Code: S/T-S1A)) manufactured and marketed by Glottal Enterprises. I am interested in knowing the following:

1. Is the system reliable for nasalance measurements?

2. Are there any particular faults/characteristics one should be aware of before buying the system?

3. Is the system sturdy enough to be used for field work?


Karthik Durvasula

International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

(This conference grew out of the International Conference on the Phonology of English.)

Full Title: 2nd International Conference on the Linguistics of Contemporary English

Short Title: ICLCE2

Date: 02-Jul-2007 – 04-Jul-2007

Location: Toulouse, France

Contact Person: Jacques Durand

Web Site:

Call Deadline: 30-Jan-2007

Continue reading

Identity within the rhyme

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

In Mamainde, a Northern Nambiquara language of Brazil, a coronal (or ‘default’) coda will always get its place features from the nucleus, even when feature sharing with the following onset would be expected. Nasal codas also share the oral/nasal feature of the nucleus, (often producing oral/nasal contour segments, or pre-oralized nasals).

This raises the slight possibility that these various and seemingly independent instances of feature sharing between nucleus and coda might be linked by the effects of a broader tendency for identicalness within the Rhyme.

I am curious as to whether such a tendency has ever been documented in other languages? Is anyone familiar with any languages where an assimilation rule MUST reference the rhyme (not just the syllable or VC adjacency)?

I am particularly interested in any possible markedness constraint, or other broad phonological motivation, which pertains specifically to the rhyme – holding between the nucleus and the coda, requiring them to be identical in certain ways or share certain features in the output.

A summary of responses will be posted.

Dave Eberhard
S.I.L. field linguist

Phon-stuff at the LSA

Lots of interesting stuff going on at the upcoming Annual Meeting of the LSA in Anaheim in January, as can be appreciated from the 11-page preliminary program. There are lots of regular sessions dedicated to aspects of phonetics or phonology; these are quickly listed below the fold in case you’re interested in scanning them before tackling the whole program. (There are of course also many relevant talks tucked into various other sessions, most of them psycholinguistically-oriented from what I can tell.)

What I want to do here is draw attention to the following special organized sessions of particular interest to phoneticians/phonologists, etc.

  1. Plenary Panel — Phonology: An Appraisal of the Field in 2007
  2. Approaches to Language Complexity
  3. Endangered Languages and Linguistic Theory
  4. Towards an artificial grammar learning paradigm in phonology
  5. Paradigms in Morphological Change
  6. Symposium on Vowel Phonology and Ethnicity

Continue reading

Ha, ha!

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Interdisciplinary Workshop ‘The Phonetics of Laughter’

Date: 05-Aug-2007 – 05-Aug-2007

Location: Saarbruecken, Germany

Contact Person: Juergen Trouvain

Meeting Email:

Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Discourse Analysis; Phonetics

Call Deadline: 16-Mar-2007

Meeting Description:

Research investigating the production, acoustics and perception of laughter is
very rare. This is striking because laughter occurs as an everyday and highly
communicative phonetic activity in spontaneous discourse. This workshop aims to
bring researchers together from various disciplines to present their data,
methods, findings, research questions, and ideas on the phonetics of laughter
(and smiling).

Continue reading

Review of Rhythmic Grammar

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

AUTHOR: Julia Schlüter
TITLE: Rhythmic Grammar: The influence of rhythm on grammatical variation and
changes in English

SERIES: Topics in English Linguistics
PUBLISHER: Mouton de Gruyter
YEAR: 2005

Reviewed by Mark Campana, Department of English, Kobe City University of Foreign Studies


This book presents a corpus-based test of a simple idea, that English favors an alternating pattern of stressed/non-stressed syllables in word and phrase structure. The Principle of Rhythmic Alternation can be discerned in texts dating from the 16th century to the present, and has (the author argues) influenced the development of the language in subtle ways. It begins by examining the distribution of competing forms, e.g. ‘worse’ and ‘worser’. Although ‘worse’ has always been the suppleted form of ‘bad’, most other comparatives had an –er ending (e.g. ‘richer’), so there was considerable pressure to fill out the paradigm. These two forms competed with each other from late medieval times, but ‘worser’ persisted longer than it should have in prenominal position before eventually dying out. The reason is that ‘worser’ contains an extra (weak) syllable, which the rhythmic grammar favors as a buffer between the stressed syllable of the adjective itself and the typically stressed first syllable of the noun it modifies. ‘Worser’ gave way to ‘worse’ much sooner in other syntactic environments where the specter of a stress clash did not arise. In other words, the preference for rhythmic alternation tipped the scales in favor of one syntactic variant over another.

Continue reading

Glottal stops and codas

A query from Mark Donohue, via LINGUIST List:

Dear all,

Glottal stops in north Australian languages are phonotactically constrained to only appear in codas; some languages of adjacent Indonesia with glottal stops either show restrictions on their position (Sawu/Hawu: glottal stops cannot begin words) or evidence for repositioning (Palu’e: glottal stops cannot begin a word, and vowels preceding a medial glottal stop show closed-syllable allophones.

Does anyone know of anything addressing the position in which glottal stops may appear? I’m not talking about initial epenthetic glottal stops in languages such as Tagalog, but underlying segments that appear to disfavour onset realisations.

-Mark Donohue
Monash University

Korean Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Title: Korean Phonology: A Principle-based Approach
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Asian Linguistics 12
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Duck-Young Lee
Paperback: ISBN: 3895862207 Pages: 250 Price: Europe EURO 69.10


This book presents an attempt to investigate major issues in Korean phonology in terms of principles and elements, based on the framework of Government Phonology. It begins with an introductory section, describing central aspects of the framework, which include recent development in the theory with regard to the representation of ATR and coronals. An analysis of a wide range of data in Korean phonology is then provided. In dealing with data involving vowels, the study first discusses vowel harmony, which has traditionally been treated as the result of the harmonic opposition between ‘light vowels’ and ‘dark vowels’. It address some unsolved problems in previous analyses by proposing a phonological operation called ‘A-head alignment’. This will be followed by an element-based analysis of vowel coalescence and diphthongisation.

Continue reading


[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Title: Tyvan
Series Title: Languages of the World/ Materials 257
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

K. David Harrison
, Yale University; Gregory David Anderson, University of Manchester
Loose Leaf: ISBN: 389586529X Pages: 80 Price: Europe EURO 42.00


Tyvan (aka Tuvan/Tuvinian) is spoken by 150-200,000 people in the Republic of Tyva in south centra Siberia. Tyvan (along with the closely related Tofalar) stand out among the Turkic languages in several ways. Tyvan has three sets of phonemic vowels: plain, long, and creaky voice. Word-initially obstruents exhibit a contrast between unaspirated/aspirated or voiced/voiceless, depending on the speaker. There is also a phonemically marginal series of long nasalized vowels. Tyvan has only one inflectional series for verbs, prefering enclitic pronominals in most forms (in main clauses).

Continue reading

What a difference some static makes

Just in case you haven’t been following it, there’s an interesting thread developing on Language Log about the issue of whether Neil Armstrong said “one small step for man” or “one small step for a man”, complete with waveforms and spectrograms and other things of phonolo-interest.

  1. One
    small step backwards
  2. One
    75-millisecond step before a “man”
  3. Armstrong’s abbreviated article: the smoking gun?
  4. Armstrong’s abbreviated article: notes from the expert
  5. First
    Korean on the moon!
  6. What
    Neil Armstrong said
  7. Armstrong’s abbreviated article: Peter Shann Ford responds

Precedence Relationships in Phonological Grammar

[ Via LINGUIST List, somewhat reorganized and with links added ]

Full Title: Precedence Relationships in Phonological Grammar

Date: 25-Jan-2007 – 26-Jan-2007
Location: New York, New York, USA
Contact Person: Chuck Cairns
Meeting Email: ccairns -x- (-x- = at)
Web Site:

Linguistic Field(s): Cognitive Science; Phonology

Call Deadline: 10-Nov-2006

Meeting Description:

Precedence Relationships in Phonological Grammar

The CUNY Phonology Forum presents a conference focused on investigating all aspects of precedence (temporal or sequential) relationships in phonology. The conference will bring together subdivisions of cognitive science such as formal linguistics, language acquisition, neurolinguistics, philosophy, psychology, etc. to create a broad survey of the issues, successes and approaches in understanding the nature of precedence in phonology. (We use the terms “precedence,” “temporal” and “sequential” interchangeably below to keep the area of interest broad.)

Continue reading

Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia (PaPI) 2007

[ Via LINGUIST List, with some corrections made and links added ]

Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia (PaPI) 2007

Date: June 25-26, 2007
Location: University of Minho, Braga, Portugal
Web Site:

Call Deadline: March 1, 2007

Meeting Description:

The third PaPI conference will be hosted by Universidade do Minho in June 25-26, 2007. Phonetics and Phonology in Iberia (PaPI) is an international conference aiming to bring together researchers interested in all areas of phonetics and phonology, with a special focus on the relationship between the two.

Continue reading

Syncope in the Verbal Prefixes of Tlingit: Meter and Surface Phonotactics

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Title: Syncope in the Verbal Prefixes of Tlingit
Subtitle: Meter and Surface Phonotactics
Series Title: LINCOM Studies in Native American Linguistics 53
Published: 2006
Publisher: Lincom GmbH

Author: Seth Cable, MIT
Paperback: ISBN: 389586377 Pages: 84 Price: Euro 84.00


This study presents an extended discussion and analysis of a seemingly idiosyncratic syncope process governing the verbal prefix string of Tlingit, a highly endangered and understudied Na-Dene language of Southeast Alaska and Northern British Columbia.

Continue reading

Laboratory Phonology 8

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Title: Laboratory Phonology 8
Series Title: Phonology and Phonetics 4-2
Published: 2006
Publisher: Mouton de Gruyter (Book URL)

Editors: Louis Goldstein, Yale University; Douglas H. Whalen, Haskins Laboratories; Catherine T. Best, MARCS Auditory Laboratories
Hardback: ISBN: 3110176785 Pages: 675 Price: U.S. $ 159.30, Euro 118.00


This collection of papers from Eighth Conference on Laboratory Phonology (held in New Haven, CT) explores what laboratory data that can tell us about the nature of speakers’ phonological competence and how they acquire it, and outlines models of the human phonological capacity that can meet the challenge of formalizing that competence. The window on the phonological capacity is broadened by including, for the first time in the Laboratory Phonology series, work on signed languages and papers that explicitly compare signed and spoken phonologies.

Continue reading

Possible and probable languages

This new book (just announced on LINGUIST List) is not about phonology (at least I don’t think it is, given who wrote it and from what I can tell from the blurb). But I think it’s of particular relevance to (present-day) phonologists.

(I’m hoping that my semi-random thoughts on this below will generate some discussion here, especially if someone (else) decides to read the book.)

Continue reading

Markedness: Reduction and Preservation in Phonology

[ Via LINGUIST List ]

Title: Markedness
Subtitle: Reduction and Preservation in Phonology
Series Title: Cambridge Studies in Linguistics 112
Published: 2006
Publisher: Cambridge University Press

Author: Paul de Lacy, Rutgers University
Hardback: ISBN: 0521839629 Pages: 466 Price: U.S. $ 99.00
Hardback: ISBN: 0521839629 Pages: 466 Price: U.K. £ 55.00


‘Markedness’ refers to the tendency of languages to show a preference for particular structures or sounds. This bias towards ‘marked’ elements is consistent within and across languages, and tells us a great deal about what languages can and cannot do. This pioneering study presents a groundbreaking theory of markedness in phonology. De Lacy argues that markedness is part of our linguistic competence, and is determined by three conflicting mechanisms in the brain:
(a) pressure to preserve marked sounds (‘preservation’),
(b) pressure to turn marked sounds into unmarked sounds (‘reduction’), and
(c) a mechanism allowing the distinction between marked and unmarked sounds to be collapsed (‘conflation’).

Continue reading

Prosody-Syntax Interface Workshop

[ via LINGUIST List ]

Prosody-Syntax Interface Workshop
Run by the Centre for Human Communication, UCL

Friday 6th October 2006, 9.00 – 6.00

Keynote Speakers: Mark Steedman, Elisabeth Selkirk

All speakers (in order of talks): Fernanda Ferreira, Nicole Dehé and Vieri Samek-Lodovici, Sam Hellmuth, Mark Steedman, Lisa Cheng and Laura Downing, Hubert Truckenbrodt, Elisabeth Selkirk

Links to: program, registration, location.

Where to put useful stuff: a call for help

As you all know, Marc van Oostendorp has been posting several useful links lately: first a link to Toshi Shiraishi’s recent Groningen dissertation on Nivkh phonology, then one to Tobias Sheer’s bibliographic web-library of papers on the phonology/morphosyntax interface, then one to the ConstraintCatalogue developed by Marc, Curt Rice, and Nathan Sanders, and most recently one to Julien Eychenne’s WYSIWYG tableau editor for LaTeX.

This is an interesting mix of useful stuff that I don’t think I would have heard about anywhere else. Shiraishi’s dissertation was (somewhat later) announced on LINGUIST List, but that’s about it — although LINGUIST List is a great resource, probably even in ways I haven’t taken advantage of yet, it’s not the place I imagine I’m going to (easily) find this kind of collection of useful stuff. (If you disagree, please comment!)

One good reason why a “one-stop shop” of resources like these would be useful to have was made clear in the comments on Marc’s most recent post: there are at least two other LaTeX tableau editors out there — the latter developed almost 10 years ago. If I were about to (decide to) embark on a programming project like this, I think I’d find it useful to know whether I was about to reinvent the wheel so that I don’t waste too much of my time.

So what should this one-stop shop be?

Continue reading

Ceci n’est pas phonoblog

Lots of folks think this blog is called phonoblog instead of phonoloblog, which was enough of a problem that I made the URL automatically redirect to (I won’t do the same with; that costs money. A paltry sum, sure, but I have to draw the line somewhere.)

Just to be clear: this is not phonoblog. This is. (Thanks to David Beaver for the link.)

Phonological Bases of Phonological Features

Looks like the good folks in Tromsø are having another workshop at the end of the month. (Via LINGUIST List.)

(And speaking of LINGUIST List: check out the new phonolojobs page. You’ll find it permanently in the list of pages over in the sidebar.)

This two-day workshop brings together phonologists from Tromsø with invited speakers to discuss what the phonological bases of phonological features are, as opposed to the phonetic bases stressed in much contemporary research on distinctive features. Can a purely functional approach to features explain patterns and alternations found in the world’s languages, or is there an irreducible abstract phonological core underlying them? Invited speakers are Peter Avery (York), Laura Downing (ZAS) and Wolfgang Kehrein (Amsterdam). There is no call for papers but interested people are welcome to join and discuss the issues.

Continue reading

The problem with "the dictionary" as arbiter

I missed the Weekend Edition Sunday Puzzle last week, but (as usual) the answer to last week’s challenge was broadcast this week. Here‘s what the challenge was:

In most words containing the letter “O” between two consonants, the O is either pronounced as a long O or a short O. Can you name a common word in which O appears between two consonants and the O is pronounced like a short “i”?

The answer is not surprising, but I’m a little annoyed by the reasoning used to justify the claim that the answer is unique.

Answer: Women (Words such as cinnamon, pivot, parrot, ribbon, common, havoc and cotton are what the dictionary calls “schwas” or words with an unstressed vowel sound. Therefore the only correct answer is “women.”)

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OCP 4 update

According to this LINGUIST List posting, the abstract deadline for the 4th Old World Conference on Phonology (OCP 4), to be held in Rhodes (Jan. 19-21, 2007), has been extended until Sept. 7 (one week from Thursday). The conference is preceded by a one-day workshop (on Jan. 18) on “Harmony in the Languages of the Mediterranean”. The invited speakers for the conference are Outi Bat-El, Junko Ito, Armin Mester, and Moira Yip.


In case you missed the call on LINGUIST List, Andries Coetzee is organizing a workshop on Experimental Approaches to Optimality Theory at UMich, with René Kager and Joe Pater as invited speakers. From the call for papers:

Over the past few decades, experimental data have been used increasingly as evidence in phonological theorizing. This is no less true of Optimality Theory (OT) as is evidenced by the growing body of OT literature that uses experimental data. The purpose of this workshop is twofold. On the one hand, we want to investigate the extent to which experimental data can be used to fine-tune OT analyses. On the other hand, we want to consider the challenges that non-categorical experimental data may pose to OT.

[…] For the purpose of this workshop, we give a broad interpretation to “experimental approaches”, so that it includes experiments as diverse as psycholinguistic/processing tasks (word-likeness, phoneme identification, lexical decision, etc.), as well acoustic/articulatory experiments. We also do not want to limit contributions to papers that argue for OT. Papers that use experimental evidence to point out shortcomings of OT are equally welcome. Lastly, it is not required that a submission contributes new experimental data. Papers that deal with the general challenges posed to OT by non-categorical experimental data can also be submitted.

Truncated berries

My wife Karen talks funny, and it’s often of more than passing linguistic interest. Most recently, she has taken to calling different berries by the following truncated names:

  • blueberries [blu:bɛɹi:z] → bluebs [blu:bz]
  • strawberries [stɹɔ:bɛɹi:z] → strawbs [stɹɔ:bz]
  • raspberries [ɹæspbɛɹi:z] or [ɹæzbɛɹi:z] → raspbs [ɹæspəbz]

It’s the last one that interested me the most, so I asked Karen how she’d handle boysenberries [bɔɪzənbɛɹi:z]. She thought about it, at first said [bɔɪzənbz] and decided that couldn’t be right, then settled on [bɔɪzənɪbz].

Continue reading

Phonetics in grammar

New discussion initiated on LINGUIST List by Heriberto Avelino:

Recently, I was part of a discussion regarding an issue that I thought was uncontroversial. However, it seems that this is not as straightforward as I first thought. The debate is about the place of phonetics in the study of ‘grammar’. More precisely, whether the study of sound patterns using phonetic methodologies and techniques falls within the broad scope of the term ‘grammar’.

Continue reading

Embedded sound files

This LINGUIST List post reminds me of two of the very first posts on phonoloblog two years ago (here and here).

Which reminds me — it’s almost phonoloblog‘s second birthday!

Dear Colleagues,

Often the nature of a speech phenomenon can be communicated so much better
with the use of an example. Does anybody know of journals in linguistics
(or subfields of) that offer the option to embed sound files in the
electronic (pdf or html) version of papers?

I’ll post a summary.


Bert Remijsen

Wondering at the natural fecundity of things

In case you missed the announcement on the Optimal List of the posting on the Rutgers Optimality Archive, Junko Ito, John McCarthy and I recently finished editing an online collection of papers written in honor of Alan Prince on the occasion of his 60th birthday (on June 20).

This Festschrift is hosted on the University of California’s eScholarship Repository, under the banner of UC Santa Cruz’s Linguistics Research Center. Right now it is only available electronically, but we have plans to make hardcopies available on demand via BookSurge (preparation for which is much more complicated than you might think). [ Update, 8/31 — the book can now be purchased for $18.99 (+ shipping) from — end update ]

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Sound patterns database

[ Via LinguistList. ]

P-base is a searchable database of 8000+ sound patterns as reported in grammars of 628 varieties of 549 spoken languages, which represent all grammars found on the shelves in the libraries of The Ohio State University and Michigan State University during 2003 and 2004 (Library of Congress PA-PM).

The database was collected for my dissertation and will be distributed by Oxford with the book version of it. It will also remain freely downloadable. I am looking for people to provide feedback on the program and the data in it.

The beta version of the program can be downloaded from

Please send questions and comments to

. Let me know how the database and interface could be made more useful to you in terms of features or content.

Jeff Mielke

Continue reading

Remarks and replies

In case you haven’t been following this virtual thread:

  1. Bill Idsardi‘s six-page paper “A simple proof that Optimality Theory is computationally intractable” appeared in the latest issue of LI (vol. 37, 271-275).
  2. András Kornai has a one-page reply (“Is OT NP-hard?”) on ROA.
  3. Idsardi has a three-page rejoinder (“Misplaced optimism”), also on ROA.
  4. Update: And another by Kornai (“Guarded optimism”).

This is exactly the sort of thing that should be happening on ROA (and, I would hope, also here on phonoloblog).

More opaque feeding

(This is kind of a follow-up on this post from last year.)

Speaking of McCarthy’s GLOW talk (related handout here): I got interested in an example of feeding discussed there. Ignoring melodic details, the two rules are:

Vowel Epenthesis: Ø –> V / #__CC
Consonant Epenthesis: Ø –> C / #__V

Interestingly, the generalization expressed by Vowel Epenthesis is rendered non-surface-apparent (opaque) by Consonant Epenthesis: the consonant cluster is no longer word-initial. In other words, Vowel Epenthesis appears to overapply. This is another example of an opaque feeding interaction, except in this case the right interaction is easily statable in OT (which is particularly interesting given that non-surface-apparent opacity is generally problematic for OT).

Is there some other way to state the rules that avoids this opaque feeding interaction? I can think of three basic alternatives. Continue reading

GLOW Workshop #2 summary report

The 29th GLOW Colloquium was held April 6-9 in Barcelona, preceded by a day of workshops on April 5. The following is a brief report on Workshop 2: Approaches to phonological opacity — and I hope someone who attended all of Workshop 3: Prosodic phrasing, or the one day of phonology talks at GLOW on April 6, will follow suit.

(Unfortunately, I don’t have time to do more than briefly summarize and provide links here, so sorry, no commentary.)

Continue reading

After months of debate (with myself) over whether it was worthwhile, I’ve finally decided to go ahead and secure the domain name for phonoloblog. I decided not to pay the extra $$ for the Big Three package (as Language Log did, with .org, .com, and .net), and even though there are plenty folks out there who have mistaken us for “phonoblog“, I also decided not to pay extra $$ for that variant.

For now, visiting will just redirect to, with this change reflected in the address bar of your browser. Eventually I’ll work out how best to work out the virtual paths given the particular set-up I have.

Harsh consonants

David Pogue, Technology/Circuits columnist for The New York Times, has a review of the new Apple laptop with the Intel Core Duo chip, called the MacBook Pro. Apple’s high-end laptop line has for a long time now been known as PowerBook, and Pogue has this to say about the “inexplicable” name change:

Why do Mac fans despise the new name so much? Partly because all those harsh consonants — K, K, P — make the name uglier and harder to say.

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Labov on NPR

In case you missed it on Language Log:

Robert Siegel interviewed Bill Labov on All Things Considered, 2/16/2006: “American Accent Undergoing Great Vowel Shift“. Siegel is an intelligent and skillful interviewer, and Bill gives a terrific performance. Listen to it!

Yeah, do that.

P.S. Why do radio stories on language variation always have to play the “you say [tʰəmeɪɾoʊ], I say [tʰəmɑ:ɾoʊ]” song???

On the vagaries of the market and the field

In their interesting (and well-worth reading) comment on Travis Bradley’s “A leap of faith?” post, Adam Ussishkin and Natasha Warner express the following suspicion (emphasis added):

There exist a fair number of papers where people have done an interesting experiment, discussed the interesting implications of the finding, and then added a theoretical discussion involving constraints and tableaux in order to make it a phonology paper. We suspect that this sometimes occurs purely in the interests of the job market. […]

There also exist papers of a different sort, where the writer has a formal phonological analysis of some formal phonological question. They then add a small amount of experimental data or cite someone else’s experimental data (possibly overgeneralizing from it), in order to have the formal theory backed up by phonetic experimental evidence. This is formal phonology with an overlay of phonetic data, and it may also occur in the interests of the job market sometimes.

Let me say up front that I tend to agree with this suspicion, so long as the crucial “sometimes” is not left out. Adam and Natasha don’t specifically comment on what it is about (being on) the job market in particular that invites this sort of hybrid work, but the implication is clear enough: the job candidate either feels or is made to feel that they must appeal to experimental folks on the one hand and theoretical folks on the other. This way, there’s something for everyone. Right?

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Comments vs. posts

I’m thrilled about the discussion generated by recent phonoloblog posts by Travis Bradley and Marc van Oostendorp. For those phonoloblog readers who may be reading this blog in the “traditional” way, simply checking every so often for new posts: comments on particular posts are not as obvious as they could be from the main page — especially new comments on older posts — so you may be missing some interesting discussion.

I suggest two things to remedy this. Continue reading

Phonetic character input for WordPress

In the second post that I made on this blog back in July 2004, I provided a link to a page of html character codes in order to copy-and-paste those codes into posts and comments on phonoloblog (or on any other website, for that matter). Trochee wrote very soon thereafter to note a few other relevantly useful links, most notably this one. But I hate switching back and forth between pages, copying-and-pasting. So I ended the post with a plea for “[s]omeone to suggest and/or provide something better than having to type in (or copy-and-paste) character codes for this purpose.”

The plea has gone unanswered all this time, but we finally have something. Read on.

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Reviewers wanted!

If I had more time, I’d want to review at least one of these five books recently announced as “available for review” on LinguistList (listed here in the order in the announcement):

  1. Burzio’s Principles of English Stress (CUP, 2005; apparently an update/revision of the 1994 edition),
  2. Coleman’s Phonological Representations: Their Names, Forms and Powers (CUP, 2005),
  3. Giegerich’s Lexical Strata in English: Morphological Causes, Phonological Effects (CUP, 2005),
  4. Silverman’s A Critical Introduction to Phonology: Of Sound, Mind, and Body (Continuum, 2005),
  5. Newman’s Coursebook in Feature Geometry (LINCOM, 2003).

I don’t have time, but maybe a phonoloblog reader out there does, and I’ll be happy to cross-post.

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The jug trade

Whenever I’ve taught phonetics, I’ve been mildly uncomfortable about the fact that many if not most of the phonetics texts that I have to consult, even ones with a decided focus on English and relatively narrow transcriptions, don’t really note that /tr/ and /dr/ clusters are pronounced with an initial affricate of some sort (as opposed to a stop, that is). When I have seen some mention of this, the voiceless cluster is transcribed as [ʧr] and (more narrowly?) as [ʈʂɹ].

It’s such an easily observable phenomenon, and a student or two typically asks me about it before I have a chance to mention it in class myself. A wee small bit of the research on this phenomenon can be found with a quick web search (which I cite below the fold — if you know of more, please comment). Some of this research is concerned more specifically with the “retracted /s/” in /str/ clusters observed in some varieties of American English.

Unfortunately, there’s no standard way to test whether there’s an underlying /tr/~/ʧr/ contrast (or /d/~/ʤ/, in the voiced case) that is (nearly-)neutralized by this affrication. But President Bush committed a wonderful speech error in his State of the Union address earlier this evening that must say something about either the perception or the implementation (or both) of these clusters.

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For some reason I’ve been giving some thought to this brief report that, come Fall, the struggling television networks UPN (owned by CBS) and the WB (owned by Warner Bros., natch) will merge to form a new network “whose name, CW, is meant to be a combination of CBS and Warner”. Is it just me, or does “CW” (or “the CW”, like “the WB” is more widely known) just sound like a stupid name for a television network?

I ended up discussing this last night with a non-linguist friend, who shares my intuition, and we entertained the following hypotheses about why this new network name doesn’t work for us. Continue reading

Peter Ladefoged

It’s a sad day for the entire profession. As soon as I find an obituary, I’ll post. Done — see below. In the meantime, here are a few pages noting Peter’s passing this week at the age of 80.

You may also be interested in reading about Ladefoged’s career in his own words (.pdf), which appears to have been written sometime within the last few years.

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It's a long way from Boston to New York

Here’s an interesting article in today’s NYT about NYC Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s apparent shift from his native Boston accent (more evident when he was first elected in 2002) to one that is more characteristic of New York (more evident now). A number of American English dialect experts, including sociolinguist Bill Labov and dialect coach Paul Meier, were recruited to analyze and compare Bloomberg’s 2002 inauguration speech with his 2006 inauguration speech. (If you look along the left-hand side of the article online, you’ll see a multimedia audio link, with commentary by the article’s author Sam Roberts and the two inauguration speeches.)

The article’s focus — and perhaps the focus of the analyses by these various experts — is on three aspects of pronunciation:

  1. the vowel in words like last: more central/back in Boston ([a/ɑ]), more front in New York ([æ]);

  2. the vowel in words like lost: more central/unrounded in Boston (“ah”/[a]), more back/rounded in New York (“aw”/[ɔ]);

  3. the unstressed vowel in words like father: the r-less variant is apparently less stigmatized in Boston than in New York, and Bloomberg is apparently more r-ful in 2006 than he was in 2002.

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Karen and I like to listen to the puzzle on Weekend Edition Sunday. In case you’ve never heard it, the format is like this: first, New York Times puzzle editor Will Shortz reminds listeners of the previous week’s puzzle challenge, for which everyone has had a chance to submit a solution by Thursday. A respondent with the correct answer is chosen at random to solve a set of small word puzzles on the air (and gets some puzzle-related prizes), and then another challenge is given to listeners for the following week. It’s a fun 10-or-so minutes of public radio.

It’s not atypical for the on-air puzzles and puzzle challenges to involve thinking about how words sound as opposed to how they’re spelled; Will typically distinguishes the sound-based puzzles by noting that the relevant aspect(s) of the puzzle should be considered “phonetically”. Not that I’ve been paying a ton of attention — and of course, we often don’t solve the puzzle challenge and fail to listen the following week — but I can’t remember ever thinking that the sense of “phonetic” Will uses is misleading or anything like that. Until this morning.

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Pronounce this

Over on Language Log, Geoff Pullum illustrates the (apparently important) distinction between an acronym — a word “composed of the initial letters of a phrase” such that “you can read out the initial letters as if they were a word” — and an abbreviation (the same as an acronym, except it’s not pronounceable as a word).

I agree that FTBSITTTD looks pretty unpronounceable, but then again, I would have thought that fhqwhgads is unpronounceable, but now I know that it’s (something like) [fəˈhʌg(ə)wəˌgadz]. So how about the pronunciation [fəˈtʌbsɪtəˌtʌd] — or just [fəˈtʌbsɪt] — for FTBSITTTD? It could happen.

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Benjamin Kite — who I suspect was prompted by my last post — writes to ask:

I’m presently teaching spoken English to Chinese nationals and have been noticing the intrusion of an r-like consonant into words which contain schwas and other close-mid-to-open-mid vowels, especially followed by sibilants. Common examples are:

     “famous” /fe mɝs/

     “because” /bi kɔrz/

     “Christmas” /kris mɝs/

and sometimes

     “question” /kwɛs tʃɝn/

I’m trying to figure out when and where to expect it, but I can’t find enough consistency to predict when it will arise. Do you have any ideas?

Me, I have some relatively uninformed ideas. Anyone else out there know better? Please comment!

That’s howl I talk

Happy new year, phonoloblog readers.

Over the past three nights, Karen and I watched the three-part PBS Frontline film Country Boys by David Sutherland (some of which I also commented on here yesterday). There’s lots of good stuff to say about the film; the best I can do is to recommend that you just watch it.

What I want to briefly note here is an example of intrusive [l] from the film’s theme song, Country Boy (written and performed by Ray Riddle, the father of the girlfriend — now wife — of one of the boys featured in the film). Continue reading

Orange you glad I didn't say the C-word?

Apparently, one currently popular way in the mainstream media to get around using a word that is taboo in some way or other is to say/write the X-word, where X is the first letter of the taboo word. Some examples are incredibly well-known; nobody doubts what the F-word refers to, for example. (One of Lindsay Lohan‘s twin characters in the 1998 remake of The Parent Trap uses “the F-word” to refer to her father, but the joke is that her mother naturally misunderstands what she means at first. And yes, I watch sappy Disney movies.)

(According to the NYT article linked above, “every letter of the alphabet now seems up for grabs to euphemize something unspeakable. Examples of all 26 can be found in the conventional press from the last 12 months.” Wish they had supplied the examples; for example, I’d be really curious to know what the X-word would stand for.)

There’s usually little doubt about what the C-word means — I suppose it could be one of two words, but it’s usually the one and not the other. The one’s simply more taboo than the other, possibly because it’s more often used as a direct insult to a person. (The other is hardly ever used this way; it seems to only work in that capacity when suffixed with -sucker.)

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Language use on NPR

In his comment on my recent post on angst, Adam Ussishkin notes this recent piece by NPR ombudsman Jeffrey Dvorkin on language use on NPR, some of which happens to relate to my two posts last month on foreign pronunciation. Ben Zimmer writes to point to this response to some of what Dvorkin writes in the piece, which Ben found via languagehat. Here’s my favorite quote from the response:

Should we say “Pah-REE” instead of Paris? The former is linguistically correct, but that sounds très pretentious to American ears.
Uh, no. As Language Hat rather patiently points out, those pronuciations are French and English, not right and wrong.

Don’t know if there was meant to be a link to something that languagehat wrote, but a quick search for “french” reveals this recent post, among others.

New phonology books

A couple new phonology book announcements were made over Linguist List today. I noted one here; the other is Hargus & Rice‘s Athabaskan Prosody. The summary blurb:

This collection of articles on stress and tone in various Athabaskan languages will interest theoretical linguists and historically oriented linguists alike. The volume brings to light new data on the phonetics and/or phonology of prosody (stress, tone, intonation) in various Athabaskan languages, Chiricahua Apache, Dene Soun’liné, Jicarilla Apache, Sekani, Slave, Tahltan, Tanacross, Western Apache, and Witsuwit’en. As well, some contributions describe how prosody is to be reconstructed for Proto-Athabaskan, and how it evolved in some of the daughter languages.

Would you like to share a final vowel?

There was an interesting post yesterday over at Language Log (by newest Language Logger Ben Zimmer) about the “perilous portmanteau” that people have been using as a nickname for Supreme Court nominee Judge Samuel Alito: Scalito, a blend of (Supreme Court Justice Antonin) Scalia and Alito. There has been a flurry of discussion about this blend in the news and on several blogs, much of it linked from Ben’s post. Here I’d just like to focus on the third update to Ben’s post, part of which reads (emphasis added):

Matthew Continetti of the Weekly Standard also takes offense at Scalito: “The nickname is misleading. The two men may share a vowel at the end of their last name. But, needless to say, they’re different people.”

At first, I’m thinking: this is so off the mark! Scalia and Alito share the whole VCV sequence ali, which is towards the end of Scalia and at the beginning of Alito. [Added later: another, perhaps better way to put it is that the first two syllables of both names includes the ali sequence, which is rhythmically identical in both cases.] That’s what makes the blend work (as a blend, putting aside how you might feel about its use). I had to read more of Continetti’s article in order to find out what he really meant.

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The Zomb

At a Halloween party Friday night, a friend of mine was dressed in jeans, white t-shirt, and black leather jacket. He would occasionally pull out a comb and somewhat dramatically comb his hair, then give two thumbs up and say “eeeeeeeeeyyyyy” — really slowly. His face was painted to look ashen, with dark circles around his eyes. He was Arthur Zombarelli, or the zombified version of Arthur Fonzarelli of Happy Days fame, better known as Fonzie or The Fonz.

So, by analogy with Fonzarelli → Fonzie → The Fonz, my friend explained that he was Zombarelli → Zombie → The Zomb — the last of these, of course, pronounced [za:m], though when I asked my friend or anyone else at the party to repeat that, they insisted it was [za:mb], with the final oral stop. When I pointed out how odd that was — going so far as to trot out the tired old bomb ~ bombard pseudo-paradigm — everyone would insist that the point is that it’s [fa:nz], not [fa:n], so it’s [za:mb], not [za:m]. Can’t argue with that (ana)logic.

Accent change

A recent UCSD linguistics graduate wrote to me the other day with this request.

I wondered if you, or an appropriate colleague, might be able to provide a few brief comments about accent changes with short-term versus long-term exposure. I am specifically interested in the “how” and “why” elements. How do you expect accents to change with varying exposure and why do these changes occur? How do you expect speakers to react to changes in their own speech? Do they make changes to adjust back to original accent? Are they unaware of the changes until someone points them out?

(More specifically, this person’s interest is in “accent changes that Australians experience when visiting or living in the United States.”)

I have some semi-educated guesses about this based on personal experience and my general knowledge of linguistics, but that’s about it. Anyone else know more on this topic? Please comment!

Show me the magic

A couple months ago on her blog Ilani Ilani, Harvard linguistics student Bridget Samuels quoted the following from “Andrea Calabrese’s new manuscript, Markedness & Economy in a Derivational Model of Phonology, which you can download here.” (That’s a link to an index of “pubblications [sic] and work in progress” at the “Interdipartimental [sic] Center of Cognitive Studies on Language” at the Università di Siena; here‘s the direct link to the zipped .pdf file of Calabrese’s book manuscript.)

[A]n idiosyncratic and contradictory core, the product of history and its inescapable whims, will always remain. Linguists who deny this core and attempt to provide a synchronic explanation to all aspects of the phonology of a language– a common attitude, especially in OT– behave a little bit like individuals who, when faced with the painful contradictions of reality, retreat into magical thinking and try to give sense, through mysterious correspondences, to what is otherwise a broken, shattered and meaningless existence.

Let me start out by saying that, after downloading this manuscript and taking a look at some of what it covers, I have every reason to be interested in reading it. I’ve always liked Calabrese’s work; his dissertation influenced some of my thinking as I wrote my own dissertation. But there’s something truly shameful in tossing off a claim like the one quoted above.

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Still more distributional arguments

I’m teaching a grad seminar on assimilation this quarter, and this week we discussed Jaye Padgett‘s “Unabridged feature classes in phonology” (abridged published version appeared in Language, 2002; the paper dates back to these). Something came up in the discussion that I’ve been thinking about for a while, related to my two posts from a while back about distributional arguments in phonology.

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African language web resources

Another one via Linguist List: Web resources for African languages (from “site editor” Jouni F. Maho). From the main page:

The main objective of this site is to provide easy access to online materials on African languages, with particular emphasis on materials that contain structural data. […] The site contains links to other sites hosting free accessible materials, either as online searchable databases or as downloadable files of various formats (PDFs, PS-files, Word-documents, etc.). Links to commercial enterprises won’t be added, as a rule.

A nice looking site, though (of course) in need of many more contributions.

Good practices in developing linguistic corpora

Of possible interest to readers of this blog: Developing Linguistic Corpora: a Guide to Good Practice (via Linguist List).

From the preface, by editor Martin Wynne:

In this volume, a selection of leading experts in various key areas of corpus construction offer advice in a readable and largely non-technical style to help the reader to ensure that their corpus is well designed and fit for the intended purpose. […] This Guide is an attempt to draw together the experience of corpus builders into a single source, as a starting point for obtaining advice and guidance on good practice in this field. […] The modest aim of this Guide is to take readers through the basic first steps involved in creating a corpus of language data in electronic form for the purpose of linguistic research.

More foreign pronunciation

The hourly news summaries on NPR this morning were being delivered by Lakshmi Singh, and the top story was the earthquake in Kashmir. I wasn’t able to record a clip in time, but it was interesting to hear Singh’s pronunciation of Pakistan as [ˈpakistan] as opposed to the more usual American pronunciation [ˈpækɪstæn], especially while Kashmir, India, and Afghanistan all seemed to be pronounced with her usual native American English accent (the last of these as [əfˈgænɪstæn]). Given Singh’s name, one might expect some connection to this part of the world, though her NPR bio says that “Singh’s mother is Puerto Rican, her father is from Trinidad”, and implies that she identifies pretty strongly with the Hispanic side of her heritage, having majored in “broadcast journalism and Latin American studies” and being “a regular contributor to NPR’s Latino USA” (a show on which you can pretty reliably count on hearing Spanish-accent pronunciations of Hispanic place names even by native English speakers).

Approaching abstract deadlines

Here’s a list of some approaching conferences/workshops of interest to phonologists and other linguists, organized by abstract deadline:

* Approaches to Phonological Opacity and Prosodic Phrasing workshops at GLOW
     — Barcelona, April 5 (workshops) / April 6-8 (GLOW).
     — Abstracts due Tuesday, November 1, 2005

* The 32nd Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society
     — Berkeley, February 10-12, 2006.
     — Abstracts due Friday, November 4, 2005

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Although this link has been sitting in the “Archives, etc.” link list in the phonoloblog sidebar for some time now, it’s worth mentioning more explicitly. LingBuzz is “an article archive and a community space for Generative Linguistics. You are highly encouraged to upload your articles – old and new, published or not.”

LingBuzz was conceived/coded and is maintained by Michal Starke. Michal recently implemented a feature that points to papers on other linguistics archives, such as the Rutgers Optimality Archive and

Course material update: phonolinks

Back in May, I posted a request for folks to share their phonology course materials. I received a handful of direct responses, all of them helpful and positive. But I quickly realized it would be too much work for just one person, especially if that person was going to be me.

Now that I’m teaching undergraduate phonetics again, I’m thinking it would also be very useful to have a similar compilation of online phonetics resources. Over the years I’ve found, sometimes by accident and sometimes from specific web searches, that several folks have already done things like this. Some of the examples are very thorough and excellent. I still can’t get past the fact, though, that very little of what I see builds on the work of others — everyone has their own webpage with their own links that they each have to maintain.

So what I’m now thinking is that there should be a single place for all these resources (links and material), a categorized and searchable site that all of us can contribute to and keep more-or-less updated. I’ve set up the following site for just this purpose: phonolinks. A few example entries are already up and I’ll continue to add more every so often. Read the about page, and if you’d like to participate, let me know.

Foreign pronunciation

The other night Karen and I had dinner with a couple of friends, one of whom was telling us something about her research involving Latin America. All of a sudden, in the middle of this stream of English, [onduɾas] pops out instead of [hɑndɚəs] (for ‘Honduras’, of course). A little later, I decide to ask her: why does she feel compelled to pronounce a place name like that in Spanish rather than in English? We spent most of the rest of the meal on this topic, which turned out to be more interesting than I initially imagined. Continue reading

A little experimentation

I got a little bored with the old theme for phonoloblog, so I decided to switch to this one. (It’s amazing how quick & easy it is to do all this with WordPress.) If you miss the old one, you can still see it — just scroll down to the bottom of the sidebar on the right and you’ll see a “Themes” section. Click on “Clasikue”, and you’re back to normal. If you then decide you want to come back to this theme, scroll down again and click on “Ocadia”.

When 'u' is you, not ooh

There’s a new publisher in linguistics called Equinox Publishing, which (as I noted back in June) will be publishing a book series called Advances in Optimality Theory starting in May 2006. I was just taking a coffee break and wanted to look them up to see if they were up to anything new, but I forgot their domain name; instead of searching for my June post to find it, I googled “equinox publishing” — and was surprised to find that the top result was EQUINOX PUBLISHING INDONESIA – not the London-based usurper (The “London-based usurper” was the one I was looking for, and it was the second main result of the search.) Continue reading

Identity, opacity, and derivational look-ahead

[ Update, Sept. 21: I’ve decided to write the substance of this post up as a squib, which I’ve just posted to ROA. Comments welcome! ]

I just finished what I hope are final revisions for an article that has been accepted for publication in Phonology (tentatively for vol. 22, issue 3). One of my reasons for this post is to distribute the paper for comments, suggestions, etc. The other is to comment further on what I think is a significant result of the paper.

The result is sufficiently clarified in the paper itself, but I think there’s something to be gained from some perspective on how I got there and what I think it means beyond the immediate context of the paper. As we all (phonologists, linguists, academics …) know, it’s typically a bad idea for your paper to simply march the reader through your thought process as you arrived at your ultimate solution to a problem, and so my paper does not do any of that (though there were vestiges of that sort of thing even in recent drafts). But, for those who are interested, there is always phonoloblog. Continue reading

Interprète, L'

Reading through a fairly positive NYT review of the new movie The 40 Year-Old Virgin, I found out that it co-stars Catherine Keener. I had one of those tip-of-the-tongue-type reactions where I recognized the name but was having difficulty matching it with a face, so I IMDB’d — and found that Keener also co-starred in the recent movie The Interpreter. I also found, much to my surprise and amusement, that the convention of putting articles (a, the) at the end of a movie (or book, etc.) title for alphabetizing purposes has a funny result in French (and, I assume, other languages that are like French in relevant respects). Continue reading

Silly talk about phonology

Over on Language Log, Mark Liberman contributes a phonetician’s anecdote to the “silly talk about science” genre:

Person at party: “Someone told me that you know how to interpret spectrograms. That’s so interesting! Could you teach me?”
Phonetician: “Well, sure, it’s not hard to learn the basic techniques.”
Person at party: “That would be so exciting! I’ve always been sensitive to communications from the spirit world, and with the help of scientific instruments, I can only imagine…”

As Mark clarifies, it’s a play on how “spectrograms” sounds like “spectre-grams”. (Get it?)

At the end of the post, Mark asks for contributions: “if you have any good silly-talk-about-linguistics stories, send them to me and I’ll add them to this post.” I’m sending Mark one, but I have another one that is (a) rather lengthier than what I think Mark is looking for and (b) more suitable for phonoloblog anyway. So here goes. Continue reading

Update update

I’ve just made a couple of small administrative changes to phonoloblog that are worth noting here.

First, if you look to the sidebar on the right, right below the “join phonoloblog!” link, you’ll see a new list of contributors link. This is a link to an alphabetical list of everyone who has contributed at least one post (not just a comment) to phonoloblog, with links to their posts and to their personal websites. (Note to contributors: the links to your posts will be automatically updated, but not the links to your websites. If those change, please let me know.) Continue reading

Articulating articles

If you’re a phonoloblog reader, then the odds are good that you’re also a Language Log reader. But just in case you aren’t — or, just in case you’ve been missing it — here’s the latest installment in “the on-going saga of article unreduction” (with further links if you follow those links, all the way back to the bet that started it all, and with a side-trip or two to Chris Waigl’s blog, serendipity).

Should I be surprised?

I failed to note it here at the time, but phonoloblog‘s first birthday was almost two weeks ago, on July 22. There were no birthday cards from major newspapers, but we had a small celebration here, just me and my p-blog and a quart of beer, riding across the land, kicking up sand

(Coincidentally, this is post #200 on phonoloblog. If I were a numerologist, maybe I’d be more interested in that fact.)

Looking back, I’m not really sure exactly what all my plans and expectations were when I started phonoloblog last year. A large part of me was just excited about the medium, and I figured things would just develop in some interesting direction on their own (interesting to me, anyway). And to a significant extent, that has happened. But — and you knew there had to be a “but”, didn’t you? — there’s one expectation I’ve had for phonoloblog that hasn’t materialized, at least not in the way I’ve imagined it. Allow me to explain. Continue reading

Orthographic notes from Harry Potter

If you’re reading Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince and a reader of this blog, you may have noticed something curious in the opening pages of the book. The first chapter, “The Other Minister”, more-or-less brings the reader back up to speed on the major events during and since the previous installment, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, by way of the Minister of Magic updating the Prime Minister of Muggles on the goings-on in the magic world. The Prime Minister at times slightly mishears or misunderstands some words spoken by the Minister of Magic, but the way these are represented orthographically is odd. Continue reading

Segmental rule parens

Here’s a query: I know that I’ve read one or two articles somewhere in which someone proposes to abbreviate a pair/set of segmental (i.e., non-stress) rules by means of the parentheses notation, where the notation must be interpreted not (simply) as marking optional material, but in the way that it is for abbreviated stress rules: longest expansion first, disjunctive blocking else removal of innermost parenthesized material, repeat. But I’ll be damned if I can remember anything more concrete than that — the rules or the sources. I don’t even know whether I can concoct a hypothetical example that would clarify things better. Anyone know what I’m talking about?

Immediate update: OK, I can come up with an entirely hypothetical example. It’s one I’m sure is impossible, but it’ll at least clarify things. Continue reading

Old World P-Confs

A few relatively new conference/workshop announcements of possible interest to readers:

* Seoul Workshop on Phonological Typology
— Seoul in December.
— Abstracts due Aug. 30.

* Old World Conference in Phonology (OCP) 3
— Budapest in January.
— Abstracts due Sept. 7.

* Approaches to Phonological Opacity and Prosodic Phrasing workshops at GLOW
— Barcelona in April.
— Abstracts due Nov. 1

Publishing snafu

Not long ago, I upgraded phonoloblog to WordPress 1.5. A positive upgrade overall, but as Geoff Pullum has noted several times over on Language Log, upgrades are sometimes also downgrades. The result in this case was that all registered phonoloblog authors were downgraded to mere “user” status (except me, because I’m not only an author, I’m also the owner). Basically, this meant that most if not all users couldn’t publish posts directly. I’ve now fixed this, I think, but let me know if I didn’t — and my apologies if you’ve been wanting to publish a post and found that you could only save a measly draft.

Front round vowels … and [r]?

Arnold Zwicky made a quick Language Log post this morning, pointing to the Wikipedia page on heavy metal umlaut. A highly edutaining page, especially if (like me) you’re at that special intersection of “Linguistics Geek” and “Music Nerd”. But there was something specific there that caught my phonologist-eye:

At one Mötley Crüe performance in Germany, the entire audience started chanting “Moertley Crueh!”

Where does that [r] in “Moertley” come from? Continue reading

Give a little whistle

Yesterday afternoon on NPR’s All Things Considered, Alaska Public Radio Network’s Gabriel Spitzer reported on the “whistling culture” of the St. Lawrence Island Yupik Eskimos. (There’s apparently an annual festival of whistled languages being held this weekend in the Turkish town of Kuşdili (ş = IPA [ʃ]); don’t know whether this town name is morphologically decomposeable, but I do know that dil is Turkish for ‘language’.) Continue reading

Animal sounds

If you’ve taught (or taken!) an introductory linguistics course lately, and spent any time discussing onomatopoeia and the arbitrariness of the sign, then you’ve probably talked about how speakers of different languages make different animal sounds. And, if you bothered to do a quick Google search for “animal sounds” or “animal noises“, then one of your first few hits will have probably been Cathy Ball‘s really fun and excellent Sounds of the World’s Animals website. This site is constantly under development, accepting contributions from readers, and has been up (and recognized with various awards and such) since 1996 1995.

Which is why I was surprised to hear this story on NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday this morning.

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OT book series

Speaking of the Optimal List: I forgot to cross-post here one of the very first non-ROA announcements that came through when I decided to turn the list into an announcement-only venue. It’s an announcement for a new book series, Advances in Optimality Theory, edited by Ellen Woolford and Armin Mester. Two books have so far been advertised to appear in the series, both phonology-related: Hidden Generalizations: Phonological Opacity in Optimality Theory (by John J. McCarthy, May 2006) and Optimality Theory, Phonological Acquisition and Disorders (ed. by Daniel A. Dinnsen & Judith A. Gierut, December 2006).

Talk about a coincidence

It was a complete coincidence, really. It was late April, and the mayor of San Diego had just announced his resignation, and so Geoff Pullum wrote from his office in Language Log Plaza to thumb his nose at me for living in the city that is giving California such a bad name. (It’s more than the mayor, who was recently ranked third worst in the nation; the entire city council appears to be corrupt, the deputy mayor — who is supposed to step in as Mayor on July 15 — is himself under indictment for allegedly making a deal with strip club owners to relax the don’t-touch-the-dancers laws, and the list goes on.) Continue reading

Beware of intrusive stops

A message I got yesterday (noted more fully here) reminded me of something from the 2002 documentary Spellbound, which I saw earlier this year. The film follows 8 kids as they make their way to the National Spelling Bee championship in 1999. One of these kids is Harry Altman, a really smart, sweet, and precocious 11-year-old who unfortunately loses on the word “banns“. An article in The Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles notes that this word “refers to a Christian marriage notice” and that Harry had never heard of it before because he’s Jewish. But in the film, Harry himself offers a completely different reason for getting the spelling wrong: the word was incorrectly pronounced by the spelling bee announcer as “bands”. Continue reading

Phonology course material

I’m sure that many other working phonologists out there have had the same experience I’ve had: you’re searching the web for some paper or reference — or maybe just surfing — when you stumble upon somebody’s course material on the web. An hour later, you’re bookmarking or downloading like mad, or you’re reading and thinking how you might incorporate this or that in your next course on a similar topic, or whatever.
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Textbook review parallels

Back in August, I bemoaned the lack of a good phonology textbook, one that would be the contemporary equal of Generative Phonology: Description and Theory (Kenstowicz & Kisseberth 1979). I had just browsed through John T. Jensen’s recent Principles of Generative Phonology: An introduction and had been somewhat disappointed by it; maybe I’ll have better luck with David Odden‘s just-published Introducing Phonology (part of the new Cambridge Introductions to Language and Linguistics series), of which I recently received an examination copy.
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… or don't say it at all.

Gmail is probably not able to tell if you’re gay, but the targeted text ads are pretty interesting. A significant amount of the mail I get at phonoloblog#gmail|com are accompanied by the following “sponsored link” for a company which happens used to be located in nearby Carlsbad, CA (recently relocated to Tybee Island, GA):

Got /r/ problems? – The Entire World of R -the ultimate program for all 21 vocalic /r/ ‘s

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Human subjects & fieldwork

From what I gather (and this has certainly been true of my brief experience here at UCSD) most research institutions require their researchers to obtain human subjects approval not only for what I’ll call (for lack of a better word) “physical” experiments — ones that involve some sort of poking or prodding of the subject, or that involve putting things in their mouths or strapping them to machines, etc. — but also for purely “verbal” experiments, such as interviews or elicitations. Continue reading


While listening to NPR’s Wait, Wait … Don’t Tell Me! a few weeks ago, I heard the coolest speech error: circumnavimgate for circumnavigate.

(In Adam Felber‘s defense, he committed the error during the “Lightning Fill-in-the-Blank” portion of the show; it’s amazing to me that the panelists don’t commit more speech errors than they do during that time. Besides, Adam won the game that particular week, speech error notwithstanding.)

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Electronic databases

Back when I first started this blog in July 2004, there were two posts about publishing primary linguistic data. I’m hoping we’ll continue to talk about this here (and elsewhere), especially given the recent passage of a resolution by the LSA (in the March 2005 LSA Bulletin, but not yet posted on the LSA’s resolutions page). Doug Whalen quotes and remarks on it over on LinguistList.

“Whereas there are few institutional norms about how to recognize electronic databases in tenure and promotion cases, the Linguistic Society of America supports the recognition of electronic databases of language material as academic publications. It supports the development of appropriate means of review of such resources so that the functionality, import and scope of the projects can be assessed relative to other language resources and to theoretical papers. The LSA supports the treatment of digital resources as publications for consideration in tenure and promotion cases.”

Now if we can only get this to apply to blogging as well …

Morphology-Phonology Interface at NELS 36

OK, one more: NELS 36 at UMass Amherst will have a special session “Topics at the Morphology-Phonology Interface”, for which Bruce Tesar is the invited speaker. Quoting from the conference website:

This session will include regular-length talks that address issues at the morphology-phonology boundary, including:

  • morphological categories and boundaries in phonology
  • learnability of morphological contrasts
  • phonologically-conditioned allomorphy & paradigm gaps
  • contrast neutralization/preservation in paradigms
  • paradigm uniformity, OO-correspondence, stratal OT

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.

DEADLINE FOR SUBMISSION: 12th June 2005. Continue reading

Jensen text review

On LinguistList yesterday, Mike Cahill posted a review of John T. Jensen‘s Principles of Generative Phonology textbook, mentioned at least twice here on phonoloblog. The full review is copied below, for your convenience.

Just for the record: I want to encourage (cross-)posting of reviews here on phonoloblog (of stuff that would be of interest to phonologists, obviously). Formal or informal, full book reviews or discussions of recent papers/dissertations/ideas, whathaveyou. This would be a great place to consolidate stuff like that, and for all of us to freely participate in the discussion (for which, of course, you have to register — e-mail me at phonoloblog#gmail|com to find out how).

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Opaque feeding interactions

Just a day after I posted the answer to the “A counterbleeds B” conundrum, Elliott Moreton — not having read the answer yet — wrote to say:

My money is on the later rule’s counterbleeding the earlier one.

Casual followers of the discussion thus far will have figured out that Elliott doubled his money. More careful readers will also note that I more recently cited a 2002 paper co-authored by Elliott and Paul Smolensky in which the relevant phrase “A counterbleeds B” is used incorrectly in two different ways.

  1. A precedes B, so B should counterbleed A. Elliott’s e-mail to me clarifies that he understands that the later rule (B) counterbleeds the earlier rule (A), so it’s somewhat surprising that he got this wrong in the paper.

  2. The rules A and B cited by Moreton & Smolensky are not even in a counterbleeding relationship, as it turns out. If anything, A feeds B (as I clarified before and am about to clarify again).

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Just call me Ric.

I caught the first few minutes of Saturday Night Live the other night, which was hosted by Topher Grace (it was a repeat from sometime in January). During his opening monologue, Topher took mock questions from the audience, and someone asked him something I’ve actually been wanting to know, namely: what’s up with Topher? (It’s pronounced, as you might imagine, [ˈthoʊfɚ].) Topher then explains that, like Chris, it’s short for Christopher.

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Say it like it sounds

I never thought I’d say this, but I kind of miss Liane Hansen on NPR’s Weekend Edition Sunday. I guess she’s been on vacation, and sitting in for her these days is Shielah Kast. Liane is well-known for saying some pretty goofy things when puzzle master Will Shortz comes on the air, but take a listen to what Shielah had to say this morning. Will asked Shiela if she has a favorite word, and Shielah responded:

[…] the word that I have actually lingered over a lot since last week is ephemera. I thought that was a beautiful word that you used, and I just like that word. […] I don’t know whether that’d be an example of onomatopoeia or not; it almost sounds like what it is … ephemeral.

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I’ve gotten a handful of replies to my query earlier this week about the meaning of “A counterbleeds B”, and I’ve also polled a few people personally. Given the nearly-even split in the replies (4 for my bet-losing definition, 5 for Colin’s bet-winning one), I’m confident that there’s something weird going on with this “counter-” morpheme, whatever it is.

Just to set the record straight from the beginning: I’m not on some sort of mission to change this terminology. (I also don’t care about my $10; I lost ’em fair and square.) Sure, the concepts are complex enough on their own without the difficulty with the terminology, but I’m not convinced the concepts would be made any easier to understand if the terminology were unambiguous. Some people simply internalize it one way (in terms of the example I gave, “Lengthening counterbleeds Devoicing”) and others the other way (“Devoicing counterbleeds Lengthening”), but the ordering relation itself (“Lengthening and Devoicing are in a counterbleeding relationship”) is not under dispute, and that’s really all that matters.

Besides, this issue just doesn’t seem to come up all that often, if at all. For all I know, Colin and I are the first to notice that there was something to notice here. Sure, I’ve only discussed this with fewer than a dozen people and phonoloblog has not (yet) reached all phonologists, but nobody’s written to tell me that this issue has been the topic of discussion somewhere, whether in writing or between some stumbling-drunk phonologists at a party (or whatever).

OK, so are you ready to find out the answer? Read on.

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I lost $10 to Colin Wilson the other day. We bet on what the correct definition of “Rule A counterbleeds Rule B” is; specifically, which rule is A and which rule is B in a counterbleeding relationship. We agreed on a particular source as arbiter, and this source defined “A counterbleeds B” in the way Colin did, and so Colin won.

For various reasons (not the least of which was having lost $10), I got interested in just how very wrong I was, and so I did a little digging — but only a little, since I’m away from my usual sources at the moment and I don’t have time for extensive googling or anything like that. But I observed two interesting things in this little bit of digging:

  1. At least in the more recent literature and in class notes available online, it’s more common to see use of only the -ing form counterbleeding; e.g., “rules A and B are in a counterbleeding relationship”. This side-steps the “A counterbleeds B” problem.

  2. In the relatively fewer sources that explitly make a statement like “A counterbleeds B” (equivalently, “B is counterbled by A”) there is disagreement. Some identify A and B like Colin does, some like I do.

I’ll reveal the bet-winning definition in a later post (as well as the source Colin and I used as arbiter). In the meantime, I’d like to ask all phonoloblog readers to consider the counterbleeding relationship described below and to write to me (phonoloblog#gmail|com) saying which rule you think counterbleeds the other. I’d prefer “unrehearsed” replies; if you end up looking it up somewhere, I’d appreciate it if you let me know (i) where and (ii) whether or not your intuition agreed with that definition. I won’t reveal anyone’s identity unless you specifically say that I can.

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English accents online

Of possible interest to readers of this blog:

What's in a name?

My band decided not to go for Remedial Syntax Workshop as a name, which is just as well. The problem is that we came up with so many possible names that we couldn’t really decide on one. I suggested we keep some of them for album titles, but given that we’re highly unlikely to ever release an album, the suggestion fell flat.

One of my bandmates suggested instead that we just have multiple names: one name for the band, and one name for each band member’s side project — each side project just so happens to be with all of the other members of the original band. (There’s also a name for the supergroup encompassing all of the side projects; I know, it’s kind of getting out of hand, but so what, we’re having fun with it.) So now it’s up to each of us to select a name for our side project. All of a sudden I realized that I hadn’t really been suggesting any names all along; I’d just been expressing my opinions on suggestions made by the others. So I’ve been sort of thinking about it in the back of my mind, and I find myself wishing I hadn’t accidentally stumbled across the following post by Marc at bLing Blog, commenting on my linguistically-inspired band names post:

Eric Bakovic writes about linguistically-inspired band names. He’s an OT phonologist and I can’t help but wonder how he missed out on “Richness of the Bass”. Well, I’m calling dibs on the title if I ever get my drums out of storage.

Damn, that is a good one, and it flew right by me. (Nice to know there’s another drummer out there who reads phonoloblog, though.) While we’re calling dibs on band names inspired by the OT/phonology union, though, here’s a short list of ideas off the top of my head, in no particular order (and perhaps to be added to at a later date).

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Linguistically-inspired band names

As I finished that last post, this Language Log post popped up in my RSS reader. It’s Mark Liberman’s third attempt to summarize some of what’s happening in the “linguablogosphere”. In the first one (back in May 2004), Mark wrote:

Here are some things I’ve enjoyed reading this morning, just browsing our blogroll from B to D (I’ll start from some other point in the alphabet tomorrow)

Mark’s a busy guy, and there’s a lot of linguablogosphere to cover: “tomorrow” became September 2004, when Mark wrote:

It’s getting to be pretty hard to keep with the language-related blogosphere.

That day, Mark went from A to C. So now it’s February 2005, and Mark has started over from the beginning of the alphabet, going from A to E.

21 letters to go — but I have to go shopping for dinner. I’ll continue the journey tomorrow. Apologies to anyone I’ve missed; this dense, scholarly blogging stuff is hard to do in a hurry.

At this rate, I’m thinking I should rename this blog “AAA-phonoloblog” or something. Or, Mark might try hitting his blogroll randomly instead of alphabetically. (Note that my blogroll is displayed randomly; maybe this isn’t something you can do with MovableType? Too bad.)

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Being home sick has its disadvantages. Well, being home sick without cable has its disadvantages. For those of you who have cable, imagine this: at that point of the day when the only thing your weakened mind can handle is TV, you find that you only have 5 channels to choose from and the only worthwhile one is PBS.

Not that I don’t like PBS. Friday night programming can be pretty good: Washington Week followed by NOW (without Bill Moyers now, but give David Brancaccio a break, he’s got some big shoes to fill). NOW used to be followed by that awful Tucker Carlson show on my public TV station, but not anymore. Last night they had the third installment in MGM’s self-congratulatory retrospective, That’s Entertainment III.

But ANYWAY, one of the (post-)WWII-era musicals noted in this retrospective was Till the Clouds Roll By (“The mammoth musical of Jerome Kern’s dramatic life story!”), featuring lots of big MGM stars (Judy Garland, Lena Horne, Dinah Shore, Frank Sinatra, …). And one of the songs in this musical is called Cleopatterer (sung and danced by Ray McDonald and June Allyson).

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Bob is absolutely right — I grossly mischaracterized his Lexicon Underoptimization idea. (Bob concludes that my mischaracterization was “derived ultimately from [his] earlier failure to elucidate [his idea] adequately”, but I think he’s just being kind here; given that there was not a single mention of markedness in Bob’s original post, I had little if any justification for linking his thoughts about underspecification to any notion of markedness.)

Bob also makes very clear the issue with Lexicon Optimization that we’ve been discussing. When unleashed on morphemes with nonalternating [ɾ], Lexicon Optimization selects /ɾ/ and not /t/ or /d/ as the underlying representation; assuming that Sally Thomason’s experimental results tell us that the underlying representation of such forms actually has /t/, then (obviously) Lexicon Optimization makes the wrong choice. Bob’s Lexicon Underoptimization idea is meant to address exactly this problem: “when positing underlying representations, remove any feature specification that is not needed to generate the proper output”.

With all that cleared up, I still have questions — and I hope I don’t just mischaracterize Bob’s position again.

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More on /t/

Sharon Rose reminds me that her 4 1/2-year-old daughter Helen has been pronouncing taps in flapping contexts as [t] for quite some time now. Sharon is Canadian and her parents are English, and due in part to this background Sharon more often than not does not apply flapping herself. Helen’s father Tadesse is from Ethiopia, and there are also very few if any taps to be found in his English.

One might think, then, that Helen has picked up on the tendency in her family’s speech toward the variants without flapping. What’s interesting, though, is that Helen has [t] even where there is no [t] variant; so, words like latter and ladder are both [lætɚ] with a [t].

I have a guess about what’s going on here, consistent with what I’ve said before but probably on as flimsy a limb as what Bob said.

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Lisping letters

David Sedaris’s entertaining collection of essays entitled Me Talk Pretty One Day begins with a story about his first encounters with a speech therapist to correct his lisp. She made a great show of enunciating her own sparkling s‘s, Sedaris writes, and the effect was profoundly irritating. […] If I wanted to spend the rest of my life as David Thedarith, then so be it. She, however, was going to be called Miss Chrissy Samson.

Sedaris italicizes pretty much every s that Miss Samson pronounces. He correctly italicizes several c‘s that are pronounced as [s] (certified, December, fiancé), but there are three interesting mistakes to note here on phonoloblog.

  1. Although (nearly) all s‘s that are pronounced as [z] are italicized (colleges, is, does) — which I assume Sedaris also lisped — no z‘s are italicized. Of Sedaris’s tongue, Miss Samson says: “It’s just plain lazy.”
  2. An instance of c is italicized when it is pronounced [ʃ]: Especially. By contrast, the one time sh comes up in Miss Samson’s speech, it’s not italicized (Asheville). I don’t know if or how a lisping problem affects [ʃ], but there is at the very least an inconsistency here. (See note below.)
  3. All three instances of x, pronounced [ks], are not italicized: mixer, six, next.

It’s quite possible that Miss Samson was simply an incompetent speech therapist, but keep in mind that Sedaris is recalling events from the 5th grade; the dialogue was reinvented and the italics were added where Sedaris thought they were necessary. But I also think that at least some of the mistakes were due to an overzealous copy editor, not to some lack of linguistic sophistication on Sedaris’s part.

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More distributional arguments

I’m back to teaching undergraduate phonology after an inexcusably long four year hiatus (having to do with departmental staffing priorities, certainly not my personal preferences). I have almost 50 students this quarter, almost twice as many as I had when I last taught the course in 2001; I’ve had to modify my approach accordingly, but I’m still enjoying it — especially since I get to re-read parts of my favorite textbook, K&K’s Generative Phonology: Description and Theory (Academic Press, 1979), which I essentially use as a teacher’s guide.

There’s an excellent problem set from Russian discussed at the beginning of Chapter 3 (titled simply “Alternations”). This problem set packs a lot of punch for the beginning phonology student: the final devoicing rule that demonstrates that the basic alternant is not necessarily the unsuffixed one, a crucial feeding order between l-drop and final devoicing, and an equally crucial bleeding order between l-drop and dental stop deletion (also a crucial counterbleeding order). And, as usual, K&K’79 proceed through the problem set with some of the most thorough argumentation that you’re likely to see anywhere.

In their discussion of the dental stop deletion rule, K&K’79 present an argument for deletion as opposed to epenthesis that is highly reminiscent of the distributional arguments I commented on last month. Continue reading

Distributional arguments

A few days ago, I re-read the following argument by McCarthy & Prince (1993:181):

(1) The (velar glide-final) Axininca Campa root /iraɰ/ behaves as if it were /raɰ/; that is, a single syllable as opposed to two (for the purposes of the phonology of the velar glide).
(2) Suppose that the /i/ in /iraɰ/ (and in all /ir/-initial roots) is epenthetic, and that the monosyllabic behavior of /iraɰ/ is calculated before epenthesis applies (or however epenthetic segments are ignored).
(3) As it turns out, /r/-initial roots are unknown in Axininca Campa, save for a single borrowing (rapisi ‘pencil’, from Spanish lápiz). This is expected if underlyingly /r/-initial roots undergo /i/-epenthesis, becoming /ir/-initial roots.
(4) Furthermore, /ir/-initial roots are far more common than other /Vr/-initial roots. This is expected if /ir/-initial roots have two underlying sources, as opposed to only one for other /Vr/-initial roots.

(3) may already be convincing enough for some folks to believe (2) as an explanation for (1). (Note: the empirical claim in (3) is based on “an examination of [the] root lexicon of [David Payne’s (1981) The Phonology and Morphology of Axininca Campa], containing approximately 850 entries”.) I’m not going to address that here; what I’m interested in is (4), which appears to rely on the following (unstated) assumption:

(5) Underlyingly, all segmental strings (of equal length) have equal distributions (= probabilities of occurrence).

I find this assumption to be less than convincing, though perhaps I wouldn’t have blogged about it if I hadn’t heard a talk yesterday in which a very similar (also unstated) assumption was invoked. With Geoff Pullum’s OICTIQ principle firmly in mind, I thought I’d investigate further. Continue reading

How expanded is your vowel space?

Over at Language Log, Mark Liberman discusses an article in the October 2004 issue of the Journal of the Acoustical Society of America by Pierrehumbert, Bent, Munson, Bradlow and Bailey, entitled “The Influence of Sexual Orientation on Vowel Production”. It seems that if gmail doesn’t out you, your vowels might …

(Note: Hunting down the URLs for each of the authors definitely turned out to be worth it.)

Update: Bill Poser continues the discussion of “phonetic gaydar” on Language Log.

Writing and phonological information

Henry Davis told me on Friday night about something very interesting. In Lillooet, there is a distinction between velars and uvulars. This distinction is very robust; Henry says it carries a “high functional load”. Speakers consequently reliably distinguish and identify them in speech.

When writing, on the other hand, Henry claims that some consistently get this robust distinction right, as I think we’d all expect: they use velar symbols for velars and uvular symbols for uvulars. But others tend to mix them up: uvular symbols are, unpredictably, sometimes used to represent velars and vice-versa. So Henry asks me: why should that be?

Honestly, I don’t know. But here is the guess I ventured.

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Tatamagouchi, Winnepesaukee, Lollapalooza, Parapalegic

In a post on Language Log yesterday, Mark Liberman linked to this audio clip of John Kerry from the second presidential debate. Mark writes:

There’s […] an extra schwa between [p] and [l] in paraplegic and quadraplegic, similar to the extra schwa in Bush’s much-discussed “nucular” pronunciation of nuclear.

When it comes to matters phonological, we here at phonoloblog take such claims like “phono-fact x is similar to phono-fact y” seriously. Perhaps too seriously. In any event, what you are about to read (should you choose to do so) is not at all serious in the all-important sense of “well researched”, but it is serious in the lesser sense of “I’m actually interested in this, but I hope someone who knows more about this than I do will pick it up and run with it.” We’ll see how things turn out.

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Online phonology teaching tools

A few days ago, I briefly noted a handful of very useful online linguistic resources, and suggested that we should do more to advertise and comment on resources like these.

A reader writes to mention Introduction to Segmental Phonology, a very cool website “designed to help students of segmental phonology understand and identify phonological segments and their distinctive features.”

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Elsewhere and parenthesis notation

This is one of those posts where I just assume you’re a phonologist.

Suppose you have a set of rules that can be collapsed into a single rule A using SPE parenthesis notation, and another (nonabbreviated) rule B. Is it possible for A and B to be disjunctively ordered via the Elsewhere Condition — that is, is it possible to meet these two conditions?

  1. The structural changes (SCs) of the two rules conflict.
  2. The structural description (SD) of one of the rules properly includes the SD of the other.

The real difficulty is with (2). For starters, what is the SD of the abbreviated Rule A? Is it equivalent to the SD of its longest expansion, or something else?

An example might help.

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More upcoming conferences

Marc van Oostendorp writes to directly and indirectly remind me of two other upcoming conferences of special interest to phonologists.

Sorry ’bout that, Old World folks. Slipped my mind.


The website for the Between Stress and Tone seems to be working now.

  • Title and link: Between Stress and Tone
    Submission deadline: Nov. 1, 2004
    Location and dates: Leiden, June 16-18, 2005

Wanted: a good textbook

Bernard Tranel recently wrote to ask me if I “have come up with a satisfactory textbook for an undergraduate introduction-to-phonology course”. My reply was that I haven’t ever used a textbook for any introductory phonology course that I’ve taught; I always just use problem sets.

I know that many phonologists (and probably plenty of other types of linguists) use the same approach, but my particular inclination comes from having been an undergrad at UC Santa Cruz. Most if not all core linguistics courses were (and probably still are) taught without a textbook; the one exception that I recall clearly was — somewhat ironically — Phonology I, which I took from Armin Mester in the Winter of 1990. (By the way, Phonology I at UCSC was and still is numbered LING 101. Very appropriate, I think.)

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Language-in-the-media links

I’ve just added a couple links to my blogroll (set of links to the right, just below the calendar, most of them to blogs but some not) that I thought deserved special mention. One of them is Sally Morrison’s The Language Feed, “a weekly roundup of language news articles found around the web” (noted last night on LINGUIST List). The other is a very similar site, Dominic Watt’s language and linguistics in the news (which I’ve abbreviated “lg and lx in the news” in the blogroll). These are both excellent resources for news items about language for introductory linguistics courses and for blog rants.

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Chasing Amy

Earlier today, Mark Liberman commented on Language Log about a study by Amy Perfors that has gotten some recent media attention.

Perfors has a nice, informal summary of the study and its results here, but for those of you who just don’t wanna follow the links: in a nutshell, Perfors claims to have found that men whose names (in English) have stressed front vowels are rated as somewhat more attractive than men whose names have stressed back vowels, while women whose names have stressed back vowels are rated as somewhat more attractive than women whose names have stressed front vowels. So, Craig is (statistically) somewhat hotter than Paul, but Laura is hotter than Jamie. (And hence the relevance to phonoloblog.)

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Disjunctive nonordering?

When I wrote that “[c]rucial nonordering of rules has probably also been explicitly discussed and has possibly also been rejected somewhere in the rule-ordering literature“, what I meant by “crucial nonordering of rules” was a situation in which two rules directly interact (i.e., they are in a potentially feeding or bleeding relationship with respect to at least some subset of forms) but are crucially unordered with respect to each other — perhaps leading to optionality, as crucial nonordering of constraints does in OT.

Bob Kennedy then asks:

Out of curiosity, would disjunctive rule-ordering be an example of non-ordering?

I think not, but I can sort of see how disjunctive ordering might be thought about in this context. This is the topic of this post.

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More on ordering and such

Re-reading just the opening few pages of Odden’s “Ordering” paper (bits of which were originally discussed here) reveals at least two more mischaracterizations of both Optimality Theory and rule-ordering theory. These mischaracterizations would just be funny if it weren’t for the fact that they are being perpetrated by a phonologist who has arguably made a career out of poking holes in theories (or socks). The fact that I have to waste my time (and yours, if you continue reading this) poking holes in the hole-poking is just plain sad.

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Bob Kennedy comments on my rant about Odden on ordering:

My take on the moral of the story is that the overgeneration argument should be put to bed.

This isn’t quite the moral I had in mind (but it may have been the one Odden had in mind). In any case, I’m glad Bob raised this issue. I think it’s a very interesting topic for discussion on this blog.

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Protocol, schmotocol

Bob Kennedy asks about the protocol “for replying to more than one post at once”. Since I started this thing, I guess I should clarify what I think some of the rules for things like this should be.

(The title of this post should tip you off: basically, there are no rules. But read on if you’d like to know my personal opinion on a few matters.)

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The art of the hatchet job

Back in the Spring of 1999, Harvard and MIT hosted a symposium called Phonology 2000. (I’m forced to link here to the program as announced on LINGUIST List because the original website for the symposium appears to be MIA.) A significant group of established phonologists were invited to give talks and to participate in discussions and debates about the current and future direction(s) of the field. The main theme, as you may have guessed, was whether (or to what extent) Optimality Theory is A Bad Thing. Though there was a healthy group of OT-defenders in the audience, not many gave talks — several were invited, mind you, but declined for reasons you can ponder in your own copious spare time.

One of the talks struck a particular chord with me, for reasons I discuss in this post. (If you’re not in the mood for a rant, you may want to skip this.)

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Speak flatly, please

The Washington Post this week published an article entitled “Accent on Higher TV Ratings” about how the Spanish-language television network Telemundo has been gaining on its rival Univision by, among other things, teaching “its actors — whether they hail from Cuba, Argentina, Colombia, Venezuela, Peru or Chile — to speak like Mexicans. Mexican television news anchors, to be precise.”

(This article came to my attention via LINGUIST List.)

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Gone public

Mark Liberman at Language Log has some nice words to say today about phonoloblog. It’s been just two days since I announced the existence of phonoloblog on Language Log, and already the number of site visits has jumped from a small handful a day (about 70% of them by yours truly) to an average of 66 a day (as of this writing). This is nowhere near Language Log’s current average of 1,382 site visits a day and we’ll probably never really catch up, but it’s a promising leap.

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Spanish taps at the DNC

Earlier today I was listening to live coverage of the Democratic National Convention on my local public radio station. At the beginning of his speech, Governor Bill Richardson of New Mexico addressed his fellow Hispanic Americans with a few words in Spanish. I did a double-take when I thought I heard him pronounce the word patriota (‘patriot’, though Richardson was using it attributively to describe the Hispanic American community) as [paˈtɾota] rather than [paˈtɾjota] (from underlying /patri+ot+a/). My immediate thought was that this was a typical example of Chicano Spanish hiatus resolution (Hutchinson 1974, Reyes 1976), but no — the underlying high vowel is expected to be glided before /o/ in most varieties of Spanish, including Chicano varieties. But then I remembered something about the articulation of Spanish taps.

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Anteriority assimilation in English

In a paper I’m currently working on, I propose a new analysis of the past tense and plural suffix alternations in English. I think that the analysis is interesting for a variety of reasons, but for the purposes of this post I’d like to focus on a particular prediction that the analysis makes and that I have preliminarily found to be correct (as I outline below). As far as I know, this prediction is a novel one; I hope that readers of this blog will either confirm or rectify my (mis)perception in this regard.

The prediction is that with verb stems ending in a postalveolar sibilant (e.g., mash, match, budge), the past tense suffix will also be postalveolar — i.e., it will assimilate in terms of the coronal subplace of articulation. At first I was concerned about this prediction, but after asking a few other native speakers about it I was reassured that the prediction was probably correct.

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Phonetic transcription


If the first line of this post is not recognizable, then you probably have a browser (or a machine) that doesn’t properly display extended ASCII Unicode characters. This may be a problem for this blog, since we will probably often need to use phonetic transcription. I have very little experience with this; the html ASCII character codes for this post’s title were stolen from Geoff Pullum‘s website. The page is not organized in a way that is particularly useful for phonetic transcription (nor was it meant to be), but Geoff (or someone) was kind enough to label where the nonstandard characters, the IPA characters, and the Greek, etc. characters start.

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