Monthly Archives: July 2016

Smolensky and Goldrick (2016): Gradient Symbolic Representations in Grammar: The case of French Liaison

Comments welcome!

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ROA: 1286
Title: Gradient Symbolic Representations in Grammar: The case of French Liaison
Authors: Paul Smolensky, Matthew Goldrick
Length: 37 pages
Abstract: Longstanding theoretical debates about whether structure A or structure B is the correct analysis of phenomenon X are commonplace. For example, at the juncture of two words W1 and W2, French liaison consonants alternate with zero. Theories of French phonology have long debated whether the consonant is associated with W1 or W2. In this work, we argue for an alternative approach. Phenomena X is not accounted for by either A or B, but rather a conjunctive blend of structures A and B. This notion of ‘blend of structures’ is formalized using Gradient Symbolic Representations, symbol structures in which a particular position is generally occupied by a sum of gradient symbols, each symbol having a partial degree of presence: its activity. The grammatical consequences of a Gradient Symbolic Representation are the sum of the consequences of all the symbols blended to form it; the consequences of a symbol – e.g., the costs of constraint violations – are proportional to its activity. The proposed grammatical computation consists of optimization with respect to a numerical weighting of familiar phonological constraints from Optimality Theory and Harmonic Grammar, straightforwardly extended to evaluate Gradient Symbolic Representations. We apply this general framework to French liaison consonants, blending together elements of previous proposals to give a single analysis that covers a wide range of data not previously explicable within a single theory.
Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: gradient symbolic representations, probabilistic harmonic grammar, French phonology, liaison



Kochetov (2016) – Palatalization and glide strengthening as competing repair strategies: Evidence from Kirundi

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ROA: 1287
Title: Palatalization and glide strengthening as competing repair strategies: Evidence from Kirundi
Authors: Alexei Kochetov
Comment: Preprint, published in Glossa: a journal of general linguistics 1(1): 14. 1-31 (2016), DOI:
Length: 35 pages
Abstract: Alternations involving place-changing palatalization (e.g. t+j –> tS in spirit – spiritual) are very common and have been a focus of much generative phonological work since Chomsky & Halle’s (1968) ‘Sound Pattern of English’. The interest in palatalization and its mechanisms (see e.g. Sagey 1990; Chen 1996; Bateman 2007) has somewhat obscured the question of how these processes fit into a wider typology of segmental alternations. What happens when palatalization fails to apply? Do other processes take its place and apply under the same circumstances? In this paper, I argue for a close functional and formal affinity between place-changing palatalization and one such process, palatal glide strengthening (e.g. p+j  pc). As evidence I present data from Kirundi (Bantu) on the realization of consonant + palatal and velar glide sequences within and across morphemes. As will be shown, palatalization and glide strengthening in Kirundi work in parallel, affecting different subsets of consonants. Specifically, palatalization targets C+j sequences with laryngeals, velars, nasal coronals, and – across morpheme boundaries – non-nasal coronals. In contrast, glide strengthening targets C+j sequences with labials and – within morphemes – non-nasal coronals. In addition, glide strengthening applies to within- and across-morpheme consonant + velar glide sequences, producing a set of outputs (e.g. m+w  mŋ) similar to C+j sequences. I further present a unified Optimality Theoretic (Prince & Smolensky 1993/2004) account of these seemingly disparate phenomena as both arising from different rankings of constraints prohibiting consonant + glide sequences (parameterized by place and/or manner) and various feature-specific agreement and faithfulness constraints. Finally, I explore typological predictions of this account, reviewing several remarkably similar cases of C + glide resolution patterns from other languages, and outlining questions for further research on consonant-vowel/glide interactions.
Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: phonology, palatalization, glide strengthening, typology, Kirundi



McCarvel (2016): Harmonic Serialism with Lexical Selection: Evidence from Jèrriais allomorphy

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ROA: 1288
Title: Harmonic Serialism with Lexical Selection: Evidence from Jèrriais allomorphy
Authors: Miranda McCarvel
Length: 219
Abstract: Harmonic Serialism (HS) is a constraint based theory of phonology that has gained interest in the last ten years. As a theory of phonology, HS must be able to account for phonologically conditioned allomorphy. Currently in HS, phonologically conditioned allomorphy is analyzed in one of two ways – either using a single underlying representation in HS or through the realizational framework of Optimal Interleaving (known as Harmonic Serialism with Optimal Interleaving (HS/OI)). Yet, using data from Jersey Norman French (Jèrriais), I show that neither approach can account for certain cases of phonologically conditioned allomorphy. To remedy this deficiency, I propose the inclusion of Lexical Selection (LS) in HS in a framework termed Harmonic Serialism with Lexical Selection (HS/LS). LS provides for the lexical listing of allomorphs and, when needed, the ordering of allomorphs in the input to reflect a grammar’s preference to use certain allomorphs regardless of surface markedness.

Using data from Jèrriais, Dyirbal, Moroccan Arabic, Polish, and Catalan I develop a full theory of HS/LS. I explore how GEN is conceived of in HS, how allomorph selection functions within the theory, and how HS/LS can handle certain cases of opacity. I propose a revision of the constraint PRIORITY, which is the LS constraint responsible for ensuring respect of allomorph ordering, from a gradient faithfulness constraint to a categorical markedness constraint. The incorporation of LS into HS is important in that it allows HS to more fully account for phonologically conditioned allomorphy.

Type: Dissertation
Keywords: Phonology; Phonologically Conditioned Allomorphy; Jersey Norman French; Jerriais; Harmonic Serialism; Lexical Selection



Jarosz (2016 / under review) – Defying the Stimulus: Acquisition of Complex Onsets in Polish.

Jarosz, Gaja. 2016 / under review. Defying the Stimulus: Acquisition of Complex Onsets in Polish. University of Massachusetts manuscript.

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Behavioural findings indicate that English, Mandarin, and Korean speakers exhibit gradient sonority sequencing preferences among unattested initial clusters (Davidson 2006; Berent et al. 2007, 2008; Daland et al. 2011; Ren et al. 2010). While some have argued these results support an innate principle, recent modelling studies have questioned this conclusion, showing that computational models capable of inducing generalisations using abstract phonological features can detect these preferences from lexical statistics in these languages (Daland et al. 2011, Hayes 2011). This paper presents a computational analysis of the development of initial clusters in Polish, which arguably presents a stronger test of these models. We show that 1) the statistics of Polish contradict the Sonority Sequencing Principle (SSP), favouring sonority plateaus, 2) models that succeeded in the other languages do not predict SSP preferences for Polish, and 3) children nonetheless exhibit sensitivity to the SSP, favouring onset clusters with larger sonority rises.

Keywords: Acquisition, Learnability, Phonotactics, Polish, Syllable Structure


LSA celebrates AMP Proceedings with a membership discount

The Linguistic Society of America (LSA) is proud to be the publisher-of-record of the platinum open access Proceedings of the Annual Meetings on Phonology. To celebrate the recent publication of the proceedings of the 2014 and 2015 AMP, the LSA is offering a ten percent discount on  regular or student memberships to Phonolist subscribers.

To take advantage of this offer, click here to join or renew online or here to download a printable membership form.    If joining or renewing online, enter the coupon code  PHONOLIST  in the appropriate box at check-out; if sending the printable form, please reference this coupon code and deduct ten percent from the total.   This offer is good for new or renewed student or regular memberships, and is valid through July 31, 2016.  Contact if you need assistance.

In addition to publishing two flagship journals (Language and Semantics and Pragmatics) and a host of other conference proceedings, archived publications (details here), the LSA co-sponsors the biennial Linguistic Institutes and CoLang Institutes on Collaborative Language Research ; holds an annual meeting attracting upwards of a thousand linguists for a four-day program of scholarly presentations, professional development activities, and networking;  and provides numerous benefits for its members and for linguists everywhere.  A listing of membership benefits is available here, and a partial list of recent accomplishments here.

If you are already an LSA member and would like to support the LSA’s open access publishing program, click here to donate to the LSA’s Publications Fund or here to download a printable donation form.


Call for Papers: Workshop on “Prosody in syntactic encoding” (DGfS 2017)

Workshop on “Prosody in syntactic encoding” (DGfS 2017)

Submission deadline: August 15, 2016

Jahrestagung der Deutschen Gesellschaft fuer Sprachwissenschaft
AG 6: Prosody in syntactic encoding
Saarbruecken, Germany
March 8-10, 2017

Call for Abstracts

Workshop description:

Theories of language production and theories of grammar agree in that they grant syntax precedence over prosody in sentence construction. That is, prominent models of language production consider prosody to be built on the basis of syntactic pre-processing. Similarly, in grammatical theory, the purpose of the phonological component is primarily in interpreting or expressing what the syntax has already constructed. Correspondingly, syntactic influences on prosodic structure are expectable and well documented. However, prosody does not perfectly mirror syntactic structure, and mismatches between prosodic domains and syntactic constituents are commonplace.

This raises the question as to what extent prosody is generated independently from syntax. What is more, the reverse influence is also well attested: Prosodic requirements may constrain syntax to such an extent that the default, “unmarked” word order is not acceptable and another, ”marked” word order is the only viable option. Prosody may even determine the choice of a particular syntactic construction by suppressing syntactic alternatives that are prosodically less favorable. This kind of evidence for mutual influence of syntax and prosody appears to be problematic for strictly modular, unidirectional models of both grammar and language processing.

This workshop focuses on the interplay between syntax and prosody in linguistic encoding, specifically examining the extent to which prosody affects syntax. In light of the assumption that language production (and perception) involves recourse to grammatical knowledge, we especially ask how the grammar has to be conceptualized to be in a position to explain prosodic/phonological influences on sentence structure.

Invited speaker
Arto Anttila (Stanford)

Call deadline: August 15, 2016

We invite abstracts for 30 minute talks (20 min. presentations + 10 min.
discussion) and 60 minute talks (45 min. presentations + 15 min.
Abstracts should be limited to 300-400 words, submitted in PDF format, not
exceeding one page (A4), font size 12pt.

EasyAbs Submission:

– Gerrit Kentner (Uni Frankfurt)
– Joost Kremers (Uni Goettingen)


Merchant and Prince 2016: The Mother of All Tableaux

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ROA: 1285
Title: The Mother of All Tableaux
Authors: Nazarre Merchant, Alan Prince
Length: 208pp
Abstract: OT grammars arise from the comparison of candidates over a set of constraints. An OT typology, we show, implicitly compares entire grammars over the same set of constraints. From the details of this comparison, each constraint can be seen in its essential form as an order and equivalence structure on grammars. At this level, a constraint is no longer a function penalizing concrete linguistic structures and mappings, but a more abstract order and equivalence structure that we call an EPO, an ‘Equivalence-augmented Privileged Order’. The collection of the EPOs, each one representing a single constraint, forms the MOAT, the ‘Mother of All Tableaux’. The unique MOAT of a typology is instantiated in every violation tableau that gives rise to that typology.


With this new characterization of ‘typology’ in hand, we can pose and answer fundamental questions about the structure imposed by OT on its grammars.


(1) Typological Status. Since a typology must have a well-formed MOAT, we can assess whether a given collection of grammars constitutes an OT typology. Simply dividing the set of all rankings into individually well-formed grammars is not guaranteed to produce a legitimate typology. Failures are detected by the appearance of cycles in the EPO graphs of the MOAT. Cycles indicate that it is impossible to realize the EPOs as OT constraints assigning violations in a consistent manner. Concomitantly, we can determine which VT representations are equivalent in the sense that they yield the same typology.


(2) Classification. Within a typology, MOAT structure determines whether a collection of grammars can be classified together as a kind of super-grammar, one that retains their shared linguistic patterns while abstracting away from their differences. This contributes to the foundations of the Classification Program of Alber & Prince (2015, in prep.).


(3) Representation. The MOAT arises from a notion of adjacency between constraint orders, which has a natural geometric interpretation. Each typology is associated with a geometric figure that represents the relations between its grammars: the typohedron. Super-grammars appear as regions on the typohedron. The MOAT brings out symmetries between constraints, and these appear on the typohedron as symmetries between super-grammar regions.


The argument proceeds in both concrete and abstract terms. We pursue the main line of analysis by examining the Elementary Syllable Theory (EST) of Prince & Smolensky, which presents the basic issues accessibly and allows for thorough application of the ideas and techniqes developed here. We also look at instructive typologies that are not as obviously rooted in language-based issues. Proceeding more abstractly, we provide formal analysis and proofs of assertions. In investigations of this nature, where broad claims are advanced, it is not possible to rest on examples, and we have introduced formal apparatus and methods of proof that allow us to state and establish claimed results. Not every reader will wish to work through every proof, but the leading ideas are built from the common vocabulary of linguistic analysis and worked out through concrete examples, so that they should be accessible to interested readers in essence and in detail.

Type: Paper/tech report

AMP 2014 Proceedings published

The Proceedings of the 2014 Annual Meeting on Phonology, held at MIT, have now been published by the LSA and are available here. The table of contents, with direct links to the articles, is reproduced below.

Editors’ note

Adam Albright, Michelle A. Fullwood


Yoonjung Kang, Andrea Hòa Phạm, Benjamin Storme
Kevin McMullin, Gunnar Ólafur Hansson
Aleksei Nazarov
Robert Staubs
Rachel Walker

Supplemental Proceedings

Suzy Ahn
Aaron Braver, Natalie Dresher, Shigeto Kawahara
Aaron Braver, Shigeto Kawahara
Jeroen Breteler
Jagoda Bruni, Daniel Duran, Grzegorz Dogil
Eugene Buckley
Jane Chandlee, Adam Jardine, Jeffrey Heinz
Sunghye Cho
Adam Chong, Megha Sundara
Samantha Gordon Danner
Natalie DelBusso
Peter Ara Guekguezian
Ivy Hauser, Coral Hughto, Megan Somerday
Brian Hsu
Ho-Hsin Huang, Yen-Hwei Lin
Andrew C.-J. Hung, Rong-fu Chung
Abby Kaplan
Andrew Lamont
Noriyasu Harada Li, Alan Juffs
Miranda K. McCarvel
Charlie O’Hara
Péter Rebrus, Miklós Törkenczy
Ellenor Shoemaker
Caitlin Smith
Sam Zukoff

AMP 2015 Proceedings published

The Proceedings of the 2015 Annual Meeting on Phonology, held at UBC and Simon Fraser University, have now been published by the LSA and are available here. The table of contents, with direct links to the articles, is reproduced below.

Editors’ note

Gunnar Ólafur Hansson, Ashley Farris-Trimble, Kevin McMullin, Douglas Pulleyblank


Arto Anttila, Ryan Heuser
Elizabeth Hume, Kathleen Currie Hall, Andrew Wedel
Gaja Jarosz
Wendell Kimper
Shakuntala Mahanta, Kalyan Das, Amalesh Gope
Stephanie S Shih, Sharon Inkelas
Caitlin Smith
Peter Staroverov, Darya Kavitskaya

Supplemental Proceedings

Eric Baković
Jennifer Bellik, Nick Kalivoda
William G Bennett, Natalie DelBusso, Luca Iacoponi
Aaron Braver, Wm. G. Bennett
Jason Brown, Shuxia Yang
Guilherme Duarte Garcia
Daniel Duncan
Sara Finley
Deepthi Gopal
Sharon Hargus, Virginia Beavert
Ben Hermans, Francesc Torres-Tamarit
Ho-Hsin Huang, Yen-Hwei Lin
Yujing Huang
Brett Hyde, Jonathan Paramore
Luca Iacoponi
Karen Jesney
Aaron Kaplan
Gakuji Kumagai
Myriam Lapierre
Yu-Leng Lin
Adam G. McCollum
Stacy Jennifer Petersen
Presley Pizzo, Joe Pater
Ezer Rasin
Péter Rebrus, Miklós Törkenczy
Shu-hao Shih
Victoria Teliga, Brian Agbayani, Chris Golston
Michal Temkin Martinez, Ivana Müllner
Oksana Tkachman, Kathleen Currie Hall, André Xavier, Bryan Gick
Asim I. Twaha, Shakuntala Mahanta