Monthly Archives: June 2016

Bennett, Elfner, and McCloskey (2016) – Lightest to the Right: An Apparently Anomalous Displacement in Irish

Linguistic Inquiry 47(2)

This article analyzes mismatches between syntactic and prosodic constituency in Irish and attempts to understand those mismatches in terms of recent proposals about the nature of the syntax-prosody interface. It argues in particular that such mismatches are best understood in terms of Selkirk’s (2011) Match Theory, working in concert with constraints concerned with rhythm andphonological balance. An apparently anomalous rightward movement that seems to target certain pronouns and shift them rightward is shown to be fundamentally a phonological process: a prosodic response to a prosodic dilemma. The article thereby adds to a growing body of evidence for the role of phonological factors in shaping constituent order.


Smith 2016: Segmental noun/verb phonotactic differences are productive too

Segmental noun/verb phonotactic differences are productive too
Jennifer L. Smith
Direct link:
In Proceedings of the LSA, vol. 1

Comments welcome!

ABSTRACT: Not all statistical patterns in a speaker’s lexicon are acquired productively, and it has been proposed that distinguishing between those patterns that are productive and those that are not serves as a source of evidence for the existence of learning biases in the grammar (Becker et al. 2011). A cross-linguistic survey of categorical noun/verb phonotactic differences finds that most of them involve prosodic patterns, such as stress or tone, not segmental ones — but does this typological asymmetry actually result from a learning bias against segmental noun/verb differences? English provides a testing ground for this question, as the lexicon has statistical differences between noun and verb phonotactics involving not only stress, a prosodic property, but also fricative voicing and vowel backness, which are segmental properties. A nonce-word noun/verb categorization experiment finds that adult English speakers apply all three patterns productively, even the segmental ones. Moreover, evidence for productive knowledge is found even when the effect of existing morphological alternations (such as the stress alternation seen in PERmit[N]/perMIT[V]) is controlled for. These results contribute to a growing body of evidence that gaps in language typology do not necessarily correspond to patterns that are unlearnable.

KEYWORDS: phonotactics; productivity; lexical categories; category-specific phonology; typological gaps; surfeit-of-the-stimulus paradigm


Discussion: Chomsky 1957 on the English past tense

From Joe Pater

I was reading Syntactic Structures recently for a non-phonological project, and I was surprised to come across in a footnote an analysis of an irregular past tense alternation that looked a lot more like Albright and Hayes (2003) (and maybe Rumelhart and McClelland 1986) than Pinker and Prince (1988) (the footnote is on pp. 58-59 – see also the citation of Hockett in the full footnote):

Has anyone seen this mentioned anywhere else? Albright and Hayes and Pinker and Prince don’t talk about it, and I assume Rumelhart and McClelland don’t either. Other discussion is of course welcome…


Hyde 2016: Overlap, Recursion, and Ternary Constructions

Direct link:

ROA: 1283
Title: Overlap, Recursion, and Ternary Constructions
Authors: Brett Hyde
Length: 45 pages
Abstract: A number of advantages have been claimed in the recent literature for theories that allow recursive, or internally layered, feet (Bennett 2012, Kager 2012, Martínez-Paricio 2013). The claimed advantages lie in the ability of recursive feet to capture phenomena associated with ternary stress configurations, whether the patterns involve repeating ternary configurations, ternary configurations embedded in otherwise binary patterns, or the ternary configurations found in trisyllabic accent windows. Because overlapping feet (Hyde 2002, 2016) have been acknowledged to cover the same empirical territory as recursive feet, however, any advantages that arise from recursive feet are not actually advantages over overlapping feet.

The reverse is not true. A number of phenomena that can be captured with overlapping feet cannot be captured with recursive feet. Ternary configurations can be divided into two basic types based on the ratio of stressed syllables to syllables. The first type has one stressed syllable out of three, and the second type has two stressed syllables out of three. The 1-to-3 ratio is the ratio that is typically examined when ternary configurations are discussed in the literature, but the theory must also address patterns based on the 2-to-3 ratio. To demonstrate the advantages of overlapping feet over recursive feet, the paper focuses on two phenomena that require the theory to represent ternary configurations with 2-to-3 ratios: quantity-insensitive binary stress patterns and trisyllabic accent windows.

Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: stress, ternarity, minimality, accent windows



Bennett, DelBusso and Iacoponi 2015: Formally mapping the typologies of interacting ABCD systems

Direct link:

ROA: 1282
Title: Formally mapping the typologies of interacting ABCD systems
Authors: William Bennett, Natalie DelBusso, Luca Iacoponi
Comment: to appear in proceedings of AMP 2015
Length: 12 pp.
Abstract: The theory of surface correspondence has been the focus of much recent work (e.g. Shih & Inkelas 2014, Faytak 2014, Akinlabi & Iacoponi 2015, etc.). Most of this work on ‘ABCD’ falls along two avenues: analyzing consonant harmony as Agreement By Correspondence (Rose & Walker 2004, Hansson 2010, etc.), and using the same mechanism to handle Dissimilation (Walker 2000, Bennett 2013). Using recent advances in the understanding of formal OT typologies (Alber et al. 2015, Alber & Prince in prep.), this talk analyzes the typologies of three ABCD systems, as a step towards a generalized solution to how any combination of ABCD systems can interact.
Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: phonology, ABC, correspondence, harmony, dissimilation, typological analysis



Pons-Moll 2012: Lexical Exceptions, loanword phonology, Morphologically Driven Underapplication, and the Nature of Positionally Biased Constraints

Direct link:

ROA: 1281
Title: Lexical Exceptions, loanword phonology, Morphologically Driven Underapplication, and the Nature of Positionally Biased Constraints
Authors: Claudia Pons-Moll
Comment: Published in Catalan Journal of Linguistics, v. 11, p. 127-166, jan. 2012. Special issue on loanword phonology, ed. by Teresa Cabre and Michael Kenstowicz. ISSN 2014-9719. Available at: [].
Length: 40
Abstract: In this paper we provide a formal account for underapplication of vowel reduction to schwa in Majorcan Catalan loanwords and learned words. On the basis of the comparison of these data with those concerning productive derivation and verbal inflection, which show analogous patterns, in this paper we also explore the existing correlation between those processes that exhibit a particular behaviour in the loanword phonology with respect to the native phonology of the language, those processes that show lexical exceptions and those processes that underapply due to morphological reasons. In light of the analysis of the very same data and taking into account the aforementioned correlation, we show how there might exist a natural diachronic relation between two kinds of Optimality Theory constraints which are commonly used but, in principle, mutually exclusive: positional faithfulness and contextual markedness constraints. Overall, phonological productivity is proven to be crucial in three respects: first, as a context of the grammar, given that ‘underapplication’ is systematically found in what we call the productive phonology of the dialect (including loanwords, learned words, productive derivation and verbal inflection); second, as a trigger or blocker of processes, in that the productivity or the lack of productivity of a specific process or constraint in the language is what explains whether it is challenged or not in any of the depicted situations, and, third, as a guiding principle which can explain the transition from the historical to the synchronic phonology of a linguistic variety.
Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: loanwords and learned words, lexical exceptions, morphologically driven underapplication, contextual markedness, positional faithfulness, Catalan, vowel reduction

New book: Sequential Voicing in Japanese

From Shigeto Kawahara

A book on rendaku, edited by Timothy Vance and Mark Irwin, is now available from John Benjamins. It contains various approaches to a classic phonological problem in Japanese, rendaku, and related issues. It contains a chapter  I wrote with Hideki Zamma, who passed away during the final production process of this book.


Storme (2016) – The adaptation of French liquids in Haitian: A test of the perceptual hypothesis

The adaptation of French liquids in Haitian: A test of the perceptual hypothesis
Benjamin Storme
June 2016
Direct link:
Haitian Creole shows an asymmetry in the way it adapted French liquids: the French lateral has a correspondent in Haitian in post-vocalic coda position, but the French rhotic was elided in this position. This paper provides the first empirical test of the hypothesis according to which this asymmetry is perceptually grounded, with the French coda rhotic being less perceptible and therefore harder to learn than the French coda lateral. The results are broadly compatible with the perceptual hypothesis: (i) the coda lateral was to found to be more perceptible on average than the coda rhotic for French hearers in four different segmental contexts and (ii) the coda lateral was found to be never less perceptible than the coda rhotic in any of those contexts. The results also suggest that the deletion vs. maintenance of a sound in a given context cannot be explained only in terms of whether this sound is above or under a certain perceptual threshold in this context, but that either a notion of average perceptibility or phonological regularization across contexts is necessary in addition.

Format: pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003029
(please use that when you cite this article, unless you want to cite the full url:
keywords: phonology, phonetics, perception, haitian, french, creole, phonology

Discussion: Examples of loanword nativization

From Shigeto Kawahara

Dear colleagues,

I am looking for examples of the following type. In loanword adaptation, sometimes the borrower start using a structure that was not allowed in their native language. For example, Japanese voiced geminates were not allowed in native words, but nevertheless Japanese speakers started using voiced geminates in loanwords. I am looking for examples in which words with these structures are “nativized” and consequently are not allowed to have that structure any longer. For the Japanese case, when a loanword containing a voiced geminate becomes familiar enough (“nativized”), that voiced geminate is eliminated.

If anybody knows other examples of this kind, I’d love to know.

Thanks in advance,



Getting a Gravatar

From Joe Pater

These instructions are the from the UMass Instructional Media Lab for getting an Avatar for WordPress sites. I’m putting them up here in case anyone would rather not be using the default avatar when posting comments here.

Blogs, which uses WordPress, refers to Gravatar for avatars.
To add an avatar for your site, you’ll need to create a Gravatar account under the same email address you use for your Blogs account.
This email address is generally your UMass email address, but you can check this by:
1. Logging into your UMass Blog
2. Clicking “Howdy, X” (top right)
3. Clicking “Edit my Profile”
4. Scrolling down to Contact Info, then “E-mail”.
Use this e-mail address when you create your Gravatar account. You can sign up for a Gravatar account (which creates a WordPress account as well) at
(Please excuse the long link)
Once you create an account, you’ll be directed to return to Gravatar and upload an avatar. UMass Blogs will then pull that avatar from Gravatar and it will be displayed in the top right of a page when you’re logged in as well as with any comments you make from that account.