Monthly Archives: April 2016

Al-Oshari and Al-Shar’abi (2016): Serial Feet Construction in Cairene MSA: A Harmonic Serial Account

Direct link:

ROA: 1275
Title: Serial Feet Construction in Cairene MSA: A Harmonic Serial Account
Authors: Waleed Al-Oshari, Tawfeek Al-Shar’abi
Length: 23
Abstract: In this study, we attempt to formulate a constraint-based account of stress in Cairene Modern Standard Arabic (MSA), within the Harmonic Serialism framework (HS). The study demonstrates that metrical foot construction in Cairene MSA falls in line with the main tenets of HS. No secondary stresses are attested in Cairene MSA, mainly because building more feet does not improve harmony. The constraint hierarchy which we developed accounts for all the stress patterns of this variety of MSA. The interaction between key constraints, namely NON-FINALITY, RIGHTMOST, and ALIGN-LIGHTSTRAY(R) takes care of attaining the correct stress placement in this variety of Arabic. FT-BINμ is ranked below in the hierarchy since degenerate feet are allowed to surface in Cairene MSA carrying the main stress of the word. NON-FINALITY is ranked among the high ranked constraints since the head foot is never word-final in Cairene MSA. Superheavy syllables which are attested word finally in Cairene MSA are accounted for as well.


The study shows that a parallel evaluation of inputs is also possible in standard parallel Optimality Theory (OT). Both HS and parallel OT fare equally with regard to the absence of secondary stresses in Cairene MSA. The former justifies the absence of secondary stresses to the lack of harmonic improvement and the latter achieves the same as a result of the conflicting constraints.


The study includes six sections; the first section introduces the theoretical background. The section provides the constraints necessary to account for stress in Cairene MSA and the Harmonic Serial account is presented in the third section. Superheavy syllables in Cairene are dealt with in the fourth section. The parallel OT account is outlined in the fifth section. The sixth section provides the conclusion.

Type: Paper/tech report

Call GDRI Phonological Theory Agora 2016 in Tours (France)

Following the meetings held in Lublin (June 2015) and Nijmegen (December 2015), the Phonological Theory Agora network invites submissions for its next meeting to be organized in Tours, France, on October 14th-15th.

The topic of the Tours meeting is “Phonology and the lexicon”. This year there will be three sessions.

Day 1: “Phonology and the lexicon”

1) Morning : Tutorial “Phonology and the lexicon” 

Delivered by Ricardo Bermúdez Otero (Manchester) and Donca Steriade (MIT)

2) Afternoon : “Make a claim and defend it”

PTA aims at promoting discussion and offers 10-minute slots in which each speaker makes a claim related to the topic of the meeting.

We invite one-page submissions for claim-making standups. Each talk is followed by a (relatively) long discussion (20 min).

3/ Day 2: Dataset workshop 

On day 2 there will be a workshop whose goal is to promote discussion and theory-oriented debate in an original way. The idea is to define a data set that everybody works on to show how it could be analyzed in different theories. We invite one-page abstracts proposing a solution this dataset, which will be announced on the PTA website (pta.cnrs.frby the end of April 2016

You are invited to send your abstract for the “Make a claim and defend it” session and / or the “Data set workshop”

Where to :

Deadline for submision : June, 25th 2016
Notification : July, 10th 2016
Final program : End of July

The organization of the event will be coordinated by Nicola Lampitelli, LLL, University of Tours.

If you need more information please contact: Nicola Lampitelli (


Schwartz & Goad (2016): Indirect positive evidence in the acquisition of a subset grammar.

Schwartz, M. & H. Goad (to appear) Indirect positive evidence in the acquisition of a subset grammar. Language Acquisition.    

Comments welcome!

This paper proposes that second language learners can use indirect positive evidence (IPE) to acquire a phonological grammar that is a subset of their L1 grammar. IPE is evidence from errors in the learner’s L1 made by native speakers of the learner’s L2. It has been assumed that subset grammars may be acquired using direct or indirect negative evidence or, in certain L1–L2 combinations, using positive evidence. The utility of IPE is tested by providing native speakers of English with indirect evidence of the phonotactic constraints holding of word-initial clusters in Brazilian Portuguese (BP), which are a subset of those in English. Participants were tested on the well-formedness of BP-like words and the results indicate that approximately one-third were able to use the IPE to make appropriate BP-like judgements. This suggests that IPE may be another source of evidence that learners can use to build a grammar that is a subset of their own L1 grammar.

Cheng and Downing (2016): Phasal syntax = cyclic phonology?

The paper is published online at and will appear in print in Syntax in June.

Abstract. This paper addresses three central questions in the phonology–syntax interface: What does phonology know about syntax? Does phrasal phonology “know” about syntax directly or indirectly (i.e., mediated by prosodic constituents such as Intonation Phrase)? When does the phonology–syntax interaction take place? Most current phase-based theories of the interface assume a strict cyclic model of derivation, in which the output of each spell-out domain directly feeds the phonology. We argue instead for an indirect model in which phonology is mainly conditioned by phase edges and accesses syntax only when the syntactic derivation is complete. We motivate the model mainly with data from Bantu languages that have played a leading role in the development of current theories of the phonology–syntax interface.


Ryan (2016): Attenuated spreading in Sanskrit retroflex harmony

Attenuated spreading in Sanskrit retroflex harmony
Kevin Ryan
April 2016
Direct link:
Drawing on a two-million-word corpus of Sanskrit, two previously unrecognized generalizations are documented and analyzed concerning the morpho-prosodic conditioning of retroflex spreading (nati). Both reveal harmony to be attenuated across the left boundaries of roots (i.e. between a prefix and root or between members of a com- pound), in the sense that while harmony applies across these boundaries, when it does so, it accesses a proper subset of the targets otherwise accessible. This attenuation is analyzed here through the “ganging up” of phonotactics and output-output correspondence in serial HG. The article also simplifies the core analysis of the spreading rule, primarily through recognizing FlapOut, an articulatorily grounded constraint.

Format: pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002953
(please use that when you cite this article, unless you want to cite the full url:
Published in: Linguistic Inquiry (to appear)
keywords: harmony, harmonic serialism, harmonic grammar, ganging, gang effects, sanskrit, phonology, morphology, morphophonology

Kawahara (2016): The prosodic features of the “moe” and “tsun” voices

The prosodic features of the “moe” and “tsun” voices
Shigeto Kawahara
April 2016
direct link:
As a case study of the general theme of this special issue—”different phonetic realizations of different social characters”, this paper explores prosodic features of two types of prototypical maid voices, which have been emerging in recent Japanese culture: “moe” and “tsun”. Two professional voice actresses read simple Japanese SOV sentences in three types of voices: moe, tsun, and normal. Acoustic analyses show that the moe voice is characterized by higher f0 and louder voice than the normal voice, whereas the tsun voice is characterized by lower f0 and quieter voice. The current study also finds that the speakers manipulate H-tone targets more extensively than L-tone targets to differentiate different speech styles, which is compatible with some previous studies and models of intonation. In terms of its research value, the current findings may not be ground-breaking; however, an additional value of this research lies in the fact that this sort of material makes phonetic analyses more accessible to the general public as well as to students in undergraduate education. To that end, some sample sounds are made available at

Format: pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002949
(please use that when you cite this article, unless you want to cite the full url:
Published in: to appear in the Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan
keywords: phonetics, intonation, vocal aesthetics, tone manipulation, teaching material, phonology

Everett (2016): Grammar Came Later: Triality of Patterning and The Gradual Evolution of Language

Grammar Came Later: Triality of Patterning and The Gradual Evolution of Language
Daniel Everett

Direct Link:
April 2016 This paper argues that language is primarily a tool for communication, not primarily a means of thought expression. It makes the case that language has its roots in intentional iconicity of Australopithecines and probably had reached the level of a G1 grammar (linear ordering of symbols + gestures) some 1.5 million years ago. Other forms of language, e.g. hierarchical, recursive grammars, are later embellishments that are neither necessary nor sufficient to have human language. The paper looks in detail at the evolution of culture among early hominins and how gap between indexes and icons to symbols might have been bridged. It then discusses the basic composition of phonology, morphology and syntax. The paper rejects the idea of a proto-language, as it also rejects the “X-men” view of language evolution/mutation proposed in Berwick and Chomsky (2016).

Format: pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/002948
(please use that when you cite this article, unless you want to cite the full url:
Published in: Submitted to Journal of Neurolinguistics
keywords: language evolution, culture, syntax, morphology, semantics, symbols, semiosis, syntax, phonology, semantics, morphology

The representation of women in phonological discussion: Data from SCAMP 2016

From Stephanie Shih 
Here is the gender report from the recent meeting of California phonologists in SoCal (SCAMP), run by Eric Bakovic at UCSD, 8-9 April 2016. I’m posting it here in order to foster continuing discussion on the representation of women in phonological discussion: see original post by Joe Pater, with a great comments section, here:

The conference was a regional one, with a friendly crowd and relatively informal atmosphere, and it was fairly gender balanced when I sampled the attendees towards the end of Day 1. (The missing data point is my own talk, for which I forgot to take down Q&A notes.)

There was at least one interesting observation to note. We started out with a pretty decent gender balance in the Q&A’s, with female question askers going first in both of the first two talks. Then, before the third talk, there was an announcement that explicitly asked graduate students to ask questions. I think many of the faculty took this to mean that we should allow graduate students to ask the first questions before jumping in. While this did definitely increase graduate student participation, which is a good thing, it has an interesting unintended consequence: the gender of the question askers started to skew towards male. In fact, throughout the entire conference, not a single female graduate student asked a question.

I suspect this effect might be due in part to reasons discussed before, in Joe’s post and comments, which is that women–especially young female academics–want to make certain that they have a really good question before asking, which takes longer and so they are less comfortable going first. At the beginning of the second day of talks, I specifically approached a dissertation-stage female graduate student to encourage her to ask questions, and she confirmed this anxiety.

Suggestions for how one might encourage more gender balance in graduate student questions would be greatly appreciated. I tried to take the direct approach in asking a specific student to participate, thinking that personal encouragement would boost confidence in the student, but I worry that in fact my intervention hurt rather than helped the situation (e.g., promoted more anxiety). I think it may also be good for students to see other female participants asking questions, but most of the female faculty (myself included) held back to allow graduate students to ask questions–seems like it’s a delicate balance to find.

[One final observation, from Eric Bakovic upon seeing this data is that “women speakers were overwhelmingly questioned by males, while questions for male speakers appear more balanced.”] Facebooktwitterredditpinterestlinkedinmail

Pater (2016): Substance matters: A reply to Jardine (2016)

Update – this paper will appear in Phonology in 2018. The final manuscript version is available here: Comments are still welcome, and those on the earlier version by Jardine and McCollum are still applicable.

Pater, Joe. 2016. Substance matters: A reply to Jardine (2016). Ms, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

Comments welcome!

Abstract. Jardine (2016) points out an interesting shared formal property of two types of phonological pattern, termed “Unbounded Plateauing” and “Sour Grapes”: for a given segment, whether or not it undergoes a featural change can only be determined by examining a potentially unbounded string both before, and after that segment.  In this short paper, I point out that Jardine’s tonal Sour Grapes example, Copperbelt Bemba unbounded tonal spreading (Kula and Bickmore 2015), is in crucial respects unlike the hypothetical pattern that Bakovic (2000: 217ff.), Wilson (2003), McCarthy (2011) and others have pointed out is generally unattested in unbounded spreading. It appears that “true” Sour Grapes is just as much unattested for tone as it is for other features. The generalizations that only “apparent” Sour Grapes is attested, and that it is attested only for tone, can be captured by OT, but not by Formal Language Theory as presented in Jardine (2016).