Monthly Archives: January 2016

McPherson 2016: Seenku phonology in the Sambla xylophone surrogate language

From Laura McPherson (

The Keynote file of my presentation at the LSA, “Seenku phonology in the Sambla xylophone surrogate language”, is available for download at the following Dropbox link. Hopefully the embedded multimedia will work when downloaded:

The PDF of the slides (without multimedia) is available on my website:


Erickson & Kawahara 2015: Articulatory correlates of metrical structure: Studying jaw displacement patterns

From Shigeto Kawahara (

Erickson Donna and Shigeto Kawahara. 2015. Articulatory correlates of metrical structure: Studying jaw displacement patterns (To appear in Linguistic Vanguard).

We propose a rather bold hypothesis that one dimension in which metrical structure manifests itself is jaw movement, and that this may be a better correlate than more commonly discussed features like duration or pitch. My honest feeling is that the hypothesis is too bold, but we would like to hear opinions from experts on other languages. In the paper we mainly discuss English and Japanese.


Cristia 2016: Getting a handle on variation in infant laboratory research: A forward approach

Cristia, Alejandrina. 2016: Getting a handle on variation in infant laboratory research: A forward approach. Retrieved from January 8, 2016.

Comments on the blog post, or the related paper “Infant artificial phonology learning: A meta-analytic approach” available here:, can be made on the bootphon blog.

Extract of blog post

What is your new year’s work resolution? If I could make a suggestion it would be this: Keep a lab notebook.

How do infants learn their language? To be able to measure the effect of specific variables, many have turned to studying acquisition in vitro, through laboratory learning experiments. For instance, one recent line of work investigates how infants draw generalizations about the sound patterns they hear by having babies hear sets of words exhibiting some pattern, and thereafter presenting them with new words following that pattern and others violating it. If infants show a significant preference between the two types, then it must be because they extrapolated from the initial exposure. This compelling idea received its first empirical support from 2 experiments published by Chambers and colleagues in 2003. Since then, I and several others used the same method to carry out conceptual replications. And yet in a  meta-analysis of all these infant phonotactic learning studies harnessing the power of 600-plus infants, I found that the median effect size was very close to zero (see funnel plot below). Why?


Studies in Phonetics & Phonology, book series call for proposals

Studies in Phonetics and Phonology

A Book Series, Edited by

Professor Martin J. Ball (Linköping University, Sweden)

Professor Pascal van Lieshout (University of Toronto, Canada)

The aim of this series is to provide both accessible and relevant texts to students of linguistics, phonetics and speech sciences, and to publish more advanced texts and edited collections. The textbooks aim to cover a wide variety of topics relevant for such an audience, and to introduce these topics in a practical way to enable students to undertake a range of analysis procedures. The more advanced books will present state-of-the-art research in the topic concerned.

While we intend to cover a wide range of topics in phonetics and phonology, there will be an emphasis on phonetic studies of under-reported languages, or the bringing of new data to explore phonetic characteristics on the one hand, and on phonological studies that employ more psycholinguistic, cognitive, and functional approaches on the other (and, of course, on the interaction between phonetics and phonology). The recent increase in interest in laboratory phonology we see as particularly to be welcomed. Each volume will be authored by leading authorities in the field, who have a grasp of both the theoretical issues and the practical requirements of the area and, further, are at the forefront of current research and practice.

This series, then, will act as a bridge between scientific developments in the study of speech, and the application of these to data analysis. It is hoped that the texts will stimulate the reader’s interest in the topic to promote well-informed and competent students, researchers and instructors.

For details on how to draw up proposals, please contact the Editors.

Editorial Board members

Laurie Bauer, Victoria University of Wellington, New Zealand

Dani Byrd, University of Southern California, USA

Fred Cummins, University College Dublin, Ireland

Jacques Durand, Université de Toulouse-Le Mirail, France

Diamandis Gafos, Potsdam University, Germany & Haskins Laboratories, USA

Louis Goldstein, Haskins Laboratories, & University of Southern California, USA

Jennifer Hay, University of Canterbury, New Zealand

Marianne Pouplier, University of Munich, Germany

Daniel Recasens, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

Niels Schiller, Leiden University, The Netherlands

Harry van der Hulst, University of Connecticut, USA


Hume 2016: Phonological Markedness and its Relation to the Uncertainty of Words.

From Elizabeth Hume (

Hume, Elizabeth. 2016. Phonological Markedness and its Relation to the Uncertainty of Words. Phonological Studies. Journal of the Phonology Society of Japan.

Abstract. The goal of this brief paper is to sketch out an alternative way of understanding phonological asymmetries, that is, markedness patterns. Building on Hall, Hume, Jaeger and Wedel (forthcoming), it is proposed that such patterns reflect modifications to the amount of redundancy in the signal in response to the uncertainty associated with the message being transmitted. Increases/decreases in redundancy are biased toward efficient and robust message transfer. The trade-off between these biases is in balance for some phonological-units-in-context within the message while not for others. The former are reflected in patterns that tend to recur with regularity cross-linguistically, traditionally referred to as unmarked sound patterns. The latter, marked patterns, are prone to change and are underrepresented typologically. This reconceptualization successfully predicts observed markedness patterns and, we suggest, provides a deeper understanding of why asymmetrical sound patterns exist.


The representation of women in phonological discussion

From Joe Pater.

My impression is that women are relatively well-represented in phonology, maybe more so than in other sub-disciplines of linguistics. A little piece of encouraging data on this comes from the 2015 Annual Meeting on Phonology, in which 18/27, or 66%, of the authors of oral presentations , including plenaries but not tutorials, were women (I was unable to identify the gender of one author). I’d be very interested if anyone has any better data on the representation of women in phonology, especially with respect to semantics, syntax and phonetics.

I also have the impression that women are under-represented in phonological discussion, that is, in question periods and other discussions at conferences, and I suspect this is part of a much broader phenomenon. A piece of data on this also comes from AMP 2015. Kie Zuraw kept track of the gender of question askers for 16 of the talks (all but the first two). 74/103 = 77% of the questions were asked by men, even though the audience was about equally balanced between men and women. Zuraw’s observations replicate previous observations by Stephanie Shih from the Computational Phonology and Morphology Workshop held July 11 2015 at the LSA Summer Institute, in which the audience was roughly gender balanced, but the question takers skewed male. Inspired by Shih and Zuraw’s observations, I kept track of the gender of question takers at the LSA Phonology: Learning and Learnability session January 7th, 2016, and got 26/29 = 90% male questioners, with what looked again to be a roughly gender balanced audience.

These results are not surprising – I think they are just confirming what we’ve all informally observed in conferences and elsewhere (though I have to say that I was surprised at how skewed my own count was). There is undoubtedly a complex set of conscious and unconscious biases underlying our behavior that’s producing this distribution, and presumably there is a literature in some field that has studied related phenomena. My current thinking is that there are some pretty obvious conscious decisions we can each make to change this distribution, and that simply talking about this phenomenon and raising awareness of it may well help to get a better representation of women in phonological and other academic discussion. I do hope this situation changes, because I’d very much to like to hear more of my female colleagues’ thoughts after talks.

Thanks to Ellen Broselow, Jenny Culbertson, Claire Moore-Cantwell, Magda Oiry, Stephanie Shih and Kie Zuraw for discussion.

Update Jan. 10th: Thanks to someone who prefers to remain anonymous for the following graph, which shows we still have some work to do in terms of representation of women as invited speakers. The ns in the graph are the total number of speakers.

proportion_females_invited_to_phon_confs copy

Update Jan. 12th Sharon Peperkamp has shared “data for 53 conferences between 1993 and 2013, for a total of almost 300 invited and more than 2000 selected speakers, with 37% invited vs. 49% selected women”. It’s great to see that women are indeed well represented in phonology in general, and this makes it even clearer that we have work to do on the invited speaker numbers. Sharon has also contributed this plot of percentages over time.sharon

The spreadsheet is available here, if anyone would like to further analyze it, make figures, or continue to keep track of the numbers. If someone wants to volunteer to coordinate this effort, please e-mail me, and I’ll put that information here. As Rachel Walker has pointed out to me, conferences could also keep track of diversity statistics themselves – apparently she’ll be bringing this up with the AMP board. If this happens, we could keep a consolidated public record here.


Alderete 2015: Updating the analysis of Japanese compound accent

From Rutgers Optimality Archive, Dec. 23, 2015.

ROA: 1265
Title: Updating the analysis of Japanese compound accent
Authors: John Alderete
Comment: In Short ‘schrift for Alan Prince, compiled by Eric Baković
Length: 5 pgs
Abstract: Antepenultimacy has long been an organizing principle for both word and compound accent in Japanese, but constraint-based phonology has not yet formalized the relationship between the two domains. This squib assumes the formal commitments to antepenultimacy in Ito & Mester 2015/to appear (Linguistic Inquiry) and sketches a way to unify the two domains by further assuming compounds are layered into recursive prosodic words, the second of which is the head and must therefore bear accent.
Type: Paper/tech report


prosody, pitch accent, Japanese, compounds, headedness

Position: Associate/Full Professor, UL Lafayette. Phonology, Phonetics, Speech Sound Disorders

The Department of Communicative Disorders invites applications for a tenure track position to begin Fall, 2016.

Responsibilities include teaching undergraduate and graduate courses at the Master’s level as well as mentoring and teaching in the doctoral program in Applied Language and Speech Sciences. Conducting research in areas of expertise and providing service to the department and University are also expected. Applicants must have an earned doctorate in Communicative Disorders or a related area; evidence of extensive scholarly activity including research publications and grants; and expertise in one of more of the following areas: phonology and phonological disorders, speech sound disorders, speech-language development, multicultural issues, research methodologies or speech science. The certificate of Clinical Competence is preferred. Salary and rank are dependent upon qualifications and experience.

The University of Louisiana at Lafayette is classified as a public research university with Doctoral/High Research Activity, an enrollment of approximately 19,000 students and a full-time faculty of about 620. The Department of Communicative Disorders, in the College of Liberal Arts, runs a BA program with over 200 students, an accredited MS program in Speech-Language Pathology with approximately 65 students students, and a PhD program of about 25 students. There are currently 9 tenured or tenure-track faculty and a speech and hearing clinic with four full-time clinical instructors and a full-time clinic director. The Department also houses the Doris B. Hawthorn Research Center for Special Education and Communicative Disorders.

Located midway between New Orleans and Houston, Lafayette is the heart of Louisiana’s Acadian-Creole region. The city of over 122,000 is part of the Lafayette-Acadiana area with a total population of 550,000. It is the hub of numerous music and cultural festivals and celebrations.

The University of Louisiana at Lafaeytte is an Equal Opportunity Employer. EEO-LA 14-13

Applicant Instructions:
Applications should include a letter of application, current curriculum vitae and three letters of recommendation. Applications will continue to be accepted until the search is closed. All materials whould be sent to Dr. Jack S. Damico, Chair QSN Committee.
Contact Information:
University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Dr. Jack Damico, Chair QSN Committee
Department of Communicative Disorders P.O. Box 43170
Lafayette, LA    70504-3170
Phone: 337-482-6551337-482-6551