Monthly Archives: July 2017

Flapping in English derivatives: your judgments needed!

From Juliet Stanton

Donca Steriade and I are curious about some aspects of flapping in English.  To respond, you can either comment on this post or email me directly at juliets [at] mit [dot] edu.  Please also indicate whether or not you are a native speaker of English, and if so, what your native dialect is.

1. Do you flap in words like sanity, societal, parietal, skeletal, palatal?

2. Do you flap in words like normative, ablative, associative, additive?

3. Do you flap in words like completive, locomotive, emotive?

(We welcome any additional comments you might have on the structure of these words.)


Alber and Prince 2017: The Book of nGX

Direct link: Version 2

ROA: 1312
Title: The Book of nGX
Authors: Birgit Alber, Alan Prince
Comment: File in form of Excel .xslx workbook, including one optional navigation macro as text. No familiarity with Excel is required.
Length: 95pp
Abstract: The system nGX is built from prosodic objects and constraints of a mostly familiar variety, yielding a mildly idealized typology of Quantity Insensitive languages (Alber & Prince ms.). In nGX, there is no distinction between main and secondary stress, and every output form must have at least one stressed syllable. Inputs are assumed stressless and no faithfulness constraints are posited. The foot type constraints Iamb and Trochee differ from what appears to be usually assumed, in that they penalize rather than accept monosyllabic feet. Positioning of feet is under the control of paired generalized alignment constraints. See Alber & Prince (ms., in prep.) and Alber, Delbusso, and Prince 2016 for further detailed discussion.


The acronym is derived from these characteristics: n = ‘new’ foot type constraints; G = generalized alignment; X = stress required in all forms.


The primary goal of this study is not to oust other views of stress prosody, but to understand the typology of nGX in a way that contributes to understanding the structure of OT typologies in general. We develop the system from a provably valid universal support that devolves from Gen.nGX and Con.nGX (Alber, DelBusso, and Prince 2016). We examine the patterning of outputs in the extensional typology (structures) and present a complete analysis of the intensional typology (grammars) in terms of Property Theory (Alber & Prince 2015, ms.). Also included in the analytical data are various views of the nGX typohedron, its position on the permutohedron (reduced dimensionally by suppression of one alignment constraint), as well its MOAT (Merchant & Prince 2016).


An effort has been made to proceed analytically in accord with the requirements imposed by the logic of the theory. Most of the known results concerning the structure of nGX are found here.


Although a basic knowledge of OT is presupposed, new and less familiar concepts are discussed and exemplified, so that the text may be read as an introduction to typological analysis as well as a detailed study of one system.


Table of Contents

0 Overview

1 Gen.nGX and Con.nGX

2 VTs and Optima

3 Factorial Typology: languages and grammars

4 Property Analysis, with 2 versions

5 Treeoids for both analyses

6 The MOAT and the UVT derived therefrom

7 Typohedra with property regions

8 Permutohedron with nGX.L on it

9 Calculations

10 References

Type: Other
Keywords: formal analysis, analytical technique, typologies



Topintzi and Nevins 2017: Moraic Onsets in Arrernte

Direct link:

ROA: 1314
Title: Moraic Onsets in Arrernte
Authors: Nina Topintzi, Andrew Nevins
Length: 27pp
Abstract: The Australian language Arrernte has been argued by Breen & Pensalfini (1999) and Evans & Levinson (2009) to present a case of VC syllabification (vowel-consonant constituency, with coda maximization), rather than CV syllabification (consonant-vowel constituency, with onset maximization). In this paper we demonstrate that greater insights for a number of phenomena are achieved when analyzed with CV syllabification and onset consonants that are moraic, a possibility independently proposed for a wide range of languages by Topintzi (2010). Previous analyses were obliged to posit an underlying fleeting initial schwa for surface forms beginning with CV at the left edge; we demonstrate that once the full range of phenomena are considered, no such schwa is desirable, and that these words are underlyingly CV-initial. We review a range of prosodic morphology and external evidence from phonetic studies, acquisition, and musicology that points towards a CV syllabification in Arrernte and provide an analysis for the allomorphy, stress assignment, reduplication, and the transpositional language game ‘Rabbit Talk’ in terms of reference to moraic structure. The results lend themselves to new directions in the analysis of Arrernte and provide further evidence for moraic onsets in prosodic morphology.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area: syllable, mora, weight, Arrernte, prosodic morphology



Dabouis 2017: When Accent Preservation Leads to Clash

Direct link:

ROA: 1315
Title: When Accent Preservation Leads to Clash
Authors: Quentin Dabouis
Length: 44pp
Abstract: In English, some complex words can display exceptional accent preservation (EAP): they can preserve an accent from their base even when this would violate a general restriction against adjacent accents (e.g. retúrn → retùrnée). This paper analyses EAP both empirically and theoretically. The analysis of a set of 291 derivatives from Wells (2008) shows that this phenomenon can be partially attributed to the relative frequency of the base and its derivative and partially also to syllable structure, and that these two factors have a cumulative effect. It is also shown that the existence of a more deeply embedded base (e.g. colléct → colléctive → còllectívity ~ collèctívity) can increase the likelihood for a derivative to display EAP. A formal account of the phenomenon is proposed building on Collie’s (2007, 2008) ‘fake cycicity’ analysis, using weighted constraints (Pater 2009, 2016) and Max-Ent-OT (Goldwater & Johnson 2003). Finally, a model of lexical access building on Hay’s (2001, 2003) model and integrating more deeply embedded bases is proposed.
Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: Phonology, English, stress, accent, faithfulness, preservation, clash, frequency, cyclicity, lexical access



Irvine and Dredze 2017: Harmonic Grammar, Optimality Theory, and Syntax Learnability: An Empirical Exploration of Czech Word Order

Direct link:

ROA: 1316
Title: Harmonic Grammar, Optimality Theory, and Syntax Learnability: An Empirical Exploration of Czech Word Order
Authors: Ann Irvine, Mark Dredze
Length: 26 pages
Abstract: This work presents a systematic theoretical and empirical comparison of the major algorithms that have been proposed for learning Harmonic and Optimality Theory grammars (HG and OT, respectively). By comparing learning algorithms, we are also able to compare the closely related OT and HG frameworks themselves. Experimental results show that the additional expressivity of the HG framework over OT affords performance gains in the task of predicting the surface word order of Czech sentences. We compare the perceptron with the classic Gradual Learning Algorithm (GLA), which learns OT grammars, as well as the popular Maximum Entropy model. In addition to showing that the perceptron is theoretically appealing, our work shows that the performance of the HG model it learns approaches that of the upper bound in prediction accuracy on a held out test set and that it is capable of accurately modeling observed variation.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area: computational linguistics, syntax, czech, harmonic grammar



Government Phonology Roundtable (GPRT) 2017

This year’s (semi-)informal meeting of GP-ists, GPRT 2017 ( held in Budapest, Hungary, on Saturday, 18th of November. The webpage is now open for registration and title/abstract submission. Upon registration, you are asked to specify if you plan to present (in which case you are asked to add a title and a brief, max. 1-page abstract) or to attend as audience only (in which case we need you to register for reasons of catering).
As it is customary, the roundtable will be a one-day event, with a welcome dinner on the Friday and a farewell dinner on the Saturday. The webpage will be regularly updated — currently, it only gives some preliminary information:
It already contains a detailed description of the venue, a link to the online registration form, and instructions for abstract submission.
You may also want to be part of the GPRT community and join our googlegroup — you can apply for membership (or check whether you’re already a member 😉 ) at
For more information, mail to

CfP: Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology


30th November–1st December 2017, Informatics Forum, University of Edinburgh

Conference website:

Call deadline: 17th July 2017

What do we need to consider in order to understand the innovation and propagation of phonological change, and to reconstruct past phonological states? The symposium will offer an opportunity to discuss fundamental questions in historical phonology as well as specific analyses of historical data.

Our plenary speaker is:

* Meredith Tamminga (University of Pennsylvania)

The invited speaker will address foundational issues in the discipline over two one-hour slots, one on each day of the symposium, and there will be considerable time allocated to discussion.

We see historical phonology as the branch of linguistics which links phonology to the past in any way. Its key concerns are (i) how and why the phonology of languages changes in diachrony, and (ii) the reconstruction of past synchronic stages of languages’ phonologies. These are inextricably linked: we need to understand what the past stages of languages were in order to understand which changes have occurred, and we need to understand which kinds of changes are possible and how they are implemented in order to reconstruct past synchronic stages.

We define phonology, broadly, as that part of language which deals with the patterning of the units used in speech, and we see historical phonology as an inherently inter(sub)disciplinary enterprise. In order to understand (i) and (ii), we need to combine insights from theoretical phonology, phonetics, sociolinguistics, dialectology, philology, and, no doubt, other areas. We need to interact with the traditions of scholarship that have grown up around individual languages and language families and with disciplines like history, sociology and palaeography.

The kinds of questions that we ask include at least the following:

* Which changes are possible in phonology?
* What is the precise patterning of particular changes in the history of specific languages?
* How do changes arise and spread through communities?
* Are there characteristics that phonological changes (or particular types of changes) always show?
* What counts as evidence for change, or for the reconstruction of previous stages of languages’ phonologies?
* What kinds of factors can motivate or constrain change?
* Are there factors which lead to stability in language, and militate against change?
* To what extent is phonological change independent of changes that occur at other levels of the grammar, such as morphology, syntax or semantics?
* What is the relationship between the study of completed phonological changes and of variation and change in progress?
* What is the relationship between phonological change and (first and second) language acquisition?
* What types of units and domains, at both segmental and prosodic levels, do we need in order to capture phonological change?
* How can the results of historical phonology inform phonological theorising?
* How does phonologisation proceed — how do non-phonological pressures come to be reflected in phonology?
* How can contact between speakers of different languages, or between speakers of distinct varieties of the same language, lead to phonological change, or to the creation of new phonological systems?
* How has historical phonology developed as an academic enterprise?

We invite one-page abstracts addressing these, or any other questions relevant to the symposium topics, by 17th July 2017.

The Symposium has a vague link to Papers in Historical Phonology ( We encourage submission of papers presented at the symposium to PiHPh. See also the Preface to the first volume of PiHPh ( for an extended exposition of the kinds of questions the symposium is meant to

We expect to keep the symposium fee low (in the region of £25).


Please submit your abstracts via EasyChair ( Abstracts should not exceed one A4 or US Letter page with 2.5 cm or 1 inch margins in a 12pt font. The file should not include any information identifying the author(s). All examples and references in the abstract should be included on the one single page, but it is enough, when referring to previous work, to cite ‘Author (Date)’ in the body of the abstract — you do not need to give the full reference at the end of the abstract. Please do not submit an abstract if it goes over one page for any reason — it will be rejected.

To submit an abstract, please visit the EasyChair submission page ( If you don’t already have an EasyChair account, you will have to create one (this is a quick process). Once you have logged in, click on ‘New Submission’ in the top left corner.

After filling in your contact information, enter the title of your abstract in the both the Title and Abstract fields, and provide three keywords in the keywords field. Upload your abstract in pdf format by clicking on ‘Choose a file’ at the bottom of the page. If you do not upload a PDF file, your paper cannot be considered for the conference.


The symposium will be preceded by satellite workshop devoted to the ways in which laryngeal features influence or are involved in phonological change. This workshop is intended to be a relatively informal venue for discussion of such issues. It is not a formal part of the symposium and everyone is welcome to attend. There is a separate website for the workshop: