Monthly Archives: October 2017

Danis 2017: Complex Place and Place Identity

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ROA: 1324
Title: Complex Place and Place Identity
Authors: Nick Danis
Length: 249
Abstract: This dissertation proposes a unified theory of Place Identity to model interactions of phonological place features along local, long-distance, and input/output dimensions. Empirical support comes from reduction and agreement processes involving complex, or multiple, place on a single segment—processes previously reported to be unattested. Identity constraints (Ident and Agree) are those that demand two segments be alike with respect to the presence or value of some feature, and are constructed here following a schema of Generalized Identity. The resulting constraints vary both in the relation of the segments in question (input/output correspondence, surface correspondence, or strict adjacency) and in the location of place features in the geometry (within-category or cross-category). Sets of stringently-defined constraints are built via Constraint Summation, a constraint-building operation that sums the violation profiles of the original constraints. The resulting system of place identity captures partial class effects (based on Padgett 2002) of place along all identity dimensions, while augmenting the observations in de Lacy 2006 on markedness reduction and inventory structure with respect to complex segments.

Empirical investigation of complex segments reveals place behavior unattested with simple stops. In Ngbaka, place co-occurrence restrictions are an example of long-distance major place harmony, which requires place identity over surface correspondence in the Agreement by Correspondence framework (Rose & Walker 2004, a.o.). The patterns are supported by a statistical analysis of a newly-digitized Ngbaka dictionary. Additionally, in Vietnamese and Aghem, a back, round vowel causes a change in consonantal place on an adjacent consonant, forming a labial-velar stop in both instances. This otherwise unattested type of cross-category interaction provides additional evidence for a unified theory of place features (following Clements & Hume 1995), to which place identity constraints crucially refer. Lastly, complex segments shed a place feature when undergoing markedness reduction instead of reducing to the least marked place (cf. de Lacy 2006). These processes are supported by an empirical survey, and show that place identity must count each place disparity. The resulting grammatical system is powerful enough to determine targets of reduction for complex segments without additional representational devices while restrictive enough to not overgenerate patterns for simple place reduction.

Type: Dissertation
Keywords: phonology, place, agreement, faithfulness, labial-velars



Adler and Zymet 2017: Irreducible parallelism in phonology

Direct link:

ROA: 1323
Title: Irreducible parallelism in phonology
Authors: Jeffrey Adler, Jesse Zymet
Length: 14pp
Abstract: McCarthy (2013) asks whether there truly are systems of phonological processes that reveal irreducible parallelism in grammar: systems that can be captured if multiple changes can apply to the input in the same derivational step, as in Optimality Theory (OT), but not if they are required to apply in separate steps, as in Harmonic Serialism (HS). This paper makes two arguments: that a diverse range of phenomena exemplify irreducible parallelism; and that they have the same general structure. Our evidence comes primarily from the distribution of stress, lengthening, and epenthesis in Mohawk, and a reduplication-repair interaction in Maragoli. Our cases can be treated in OT, but challenge HS due to its gradualness requirement. These systems take on the following structure: to best satisfy constraints, the grammar applies one change followed by another, unless the result is ill-formed; in such a case, the grammar applies a different series of changes.

(Soon to be superseded by a longer manuscript, which covers a broader range of cases and explores in greater depth their general structure.)

Type: Paper/tech report
Keywords: phonology, parallelism, Optimality Theory, Harmonic Serialism, Mohawk, Maragoli



Pater 2017: Generative linguistics and neural networks at 60: foundation, friction and fusion

Pater, Joe. 2017. Generative linguistics and neural networks at 60: foundation, friction and fusion. Manuscript, University of Massachusetts Amherst.

The first paper that cites a Phonolist posting? Thanks Ricardo and others I’ve talked to about this material…

Abstract. The birthdate of both generative linguistics and neural networks can be taken as 1957, the year of the publication of seminal work by both Noam Chomsky and Frank Rosenblatt. This paper traces the development of these two approaches to cognitive science, from their largely autonomous early development in their first thirty years, through their collision in the 1980s around the past tense debate (Rumelhart and McClelland 1986, Pinker and Prince 1988), and their integration in much subsequent work up to the present, 2017. Although these traditions are often presented as in opposition to one another, such a presentation assumes polar versions of each approach, and ignores the ever-growing body of results that have been achieved through integration.

Blog post with comments enabled:

New paper: Generative linguistics and neural networks at 60



AMP 2017 question-asking report

From Claire Moore-Cantwell

Here are some data gathered by Joe Pater and Yining Nie, about the questions asked at AMP 2017, at NYU.  Following last year’s report, participants are broken down by gender, as well as whether they are a student or not.  Unlike last year, the student/non-student cutoff is simply whether the person has a PhD or not, so post-docs and early-career linguists in visiting positions are counted as non-students.  Even though it’s inaccurate, I’m using the label ‘Professors’ to cover all non-students.

Please note that the data presented below do not include data on race representation at AMP. Yining actually did collect race data on presenters and question askers (thank you!). Out of 86 questions and 19 talks, only 4 came from non-white linguists.  If this extreme imbalance bothers you (and it should) I encourage you to listen to conversations that are happening at your university and others, and to consider how you can support the efforts of anti-racist activism in academia.  As a start, I suggest Dr. Marcia Chatelain’s recent article in the Chronicle of Higher Ed on the topic.

138 people were registered at AMP, including 54 faculty and post-docs, 78 graduate students, and 6 undergrads.  These participants were 62 female, 67 male, and 7 no response.  Thanks to Gillian Gallagher for these numbers!

The demographics of those giving presentations (‘Talkers’) skewed slightly more male than female, and slightly towards professors. This graph includes three invited speakers, two women and one man.

Questions came overwhelmingly from faculty this year, although they were nearly exactly balanced by gender.  (Compare to last year where the balance between faculty and students was more even, but the questions skewed much more male)  Also, there were quite a bit fewer questions overall this year than last year, though the number of talks was the same: 86 this year vs, 119 last year.

Interestingly, although the actual questions were balanced by gender, hands raised for questions were not balanced (thanks to Kie Zuraw for suggesting we do these counts).  Hand-raising data is somewhat difficult to collect (thank you Joe!), so we don’t have details beyond just overall gender counts for this one.

Often when I talk about question-asking stats like those of last year’s AMP, where more men asked questions than women, people assume that this is happening because women aren’t getting called on as much as men.  This data shows that at least for this conference, the opposite is true – 51 raised hands from women were counted, and 43 questions from women were counted total.  This means that nearly every woman who raised her hand got to ask her question.  On the other hand, 126 men raised their hands total, and only 43 men asked questions.  This graph also shows that women are far more conservative as a group than men in raising their hands for questions.  Perhaps women only raise their hand when they are fairly certain they will be called on? (they are in the front, it is the first question, there are no other hands raised, etc.)  What these data definitely show is that solving the gender gap in many conference question periods is not going to be as simple as preferentially calling on women.

For those who would like to see the data broken down a little more by individual talks, here is a graph showing the breakdown of questioner types for each talk.  The gender and career status of the talkers is noted along the x axis.

Order of questions was also recorded.  In all of the following graphs, numbers within a node indicate the probability that questioning started with a member of that category.  Probabilities of all arrows (transitions) out of a single unit sum to 1, and are based on counts of bigrams over all question periods that begin with that category.  First of all, the transitional probabilities between male and female question askers is basically at chance this year:

After a member of either gender asks a question, questioning is about equally likely to transition to another member of the same gender, or to transition to the other gender.  Men are more likely to begin the question period though.

This year, there were rather few questions from students, and this is reflected in the transitional probabilities observed between students and professors:

Professors were more likely to begin the questioning than students, and no matter who asked a question, questioning was far more likely to transition to a professor.

Here is a graph of the ‘flow’ of questioning between all four categories:

And finally, the same graph, but including questions from both this year and last year (205 questions total).

The raw data on which this year’s graphs are based, as well as data from other conferences, are available at the google spreadsheet linked below:

I’d like to encourage anyone who is collecting data of this type, or who wants to, to also contribute to the spreadsheet.  You can request editing access from within the sheet.  I’m hoping that having (relatively) standardized data from many different conferences will start to make it easier to compare different conferences, different conference setups, and maybe different fields/subfields.  Eventually it would be great to start understanding what kinds of conference configurations encourage more question asking from women, minorities, and students.


Future Annual Meetings on Phonology

The date for the next AMP has been set for October 3-5 2018. It will be held at UC San Diego: contact Eric Bakovic or Sharon Rose for more information. AMP 2019 will be held at Stony Brook University (contact Michael Becker). There have also been expressions of interest by UCSC and the University of Toronto for subsequent AMPs.


Phonology at GLOW 41

From Peter Szigetvari

Dear Colleagues,

As you may know, GLOW41 will be held in Budapest next spring (11-13 April 2018).  The GLOW board is keen on having more phonology on the menu of the main colloquium.  Abstract submission is open until 15 November at  More details at

There will be a one-day workshop on “Long-distance segmental phenomena” the day before the main colloquium (10 April 2018).  We have invited Laura Downing and Andrew Nevins.  We also expect your abstracts on nonlocal phenomena at until 15 November.  More details at

The Phonological Theory Agora will have its regular biannual workshop the day after the main colloquium (14 April 2018) on the necessity of formalization in phonology.  Details of this event will be linked to

There are three further one-day workshops organized before and after GLOW on “Predication in relation to propositions and properties” ( ), “The grammar and pragmatics of interrogatives and their (special) uses” (, and “Sign Language Syntax and Linguistic Theory” ( ).

Hoping to see you around,
Peter Szigetvari


Elements [First call]

*French version below*
The Laboratoire de Linguistique de Nantes (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes) launches a conference dedicated to Element Theory in Nantes, June 14-15 2018. The detailed version of the call is on our website:
The aim of this event is to provide an overview and to open new perspectives in this research program. In doing so, we would like to open discussions regarding the phonological framework(s) that use unary primes, with a particular focus on:

– the relation with phonetics,
– the head/dependent status,
– the asymetries among primitives,
– the possible operations and
– the expansion or diminution of the element set required to characterize segments.

The above mentioned topics are open and we invite the participants to provide thoughts and criticism about the general axis we propose. There are obviously more questions that can be addressed regarding ET and we encourage any contribution that falls within this scope.

This conference aims at bringing together linguists from various areas and is not restricted to theoretical phonology. This is addressed to researchers that wish to present new topics regarding ET, but also to those who are not familiar with the most recent developments within Elements Theory and are looking for an extensive overview.

We will have the pleasure to welcome the following invited speakers:

  • Phillip Backley (Tohoku Gakuin University)
  • Elan Dresher (University of Toronto)
  • Harry van der Hulst (University of Connecticut)
  • Markus Pöchtrager (University of Vienna)
  • Jean-Luc Schwartz (GIPSA Lab)
The anonymized abstracts should be sent to and should not exceed 2 single-spaced pages (references and figures included), font size 12.

The important dates are:

  • 29 January 2018: deadline for submitting an abstract
  • 9 April 2018: notification to authors
  • 14-15 June 2018: Conference

The scientific committee is:

  • Jean-Pierre Angoujard (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes)
  • Phillip Backley (Tohoku Gakuin University)
  • Sabrina Bendjaballah (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes)
  • Jean-Marc Beltzung (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes)
  • Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho (University of Paris 8)
  • Monik Charette (SOAS University of London)
  • Elan Dresher (University of Toronto)
  • Harry van der Hulst (University of Connecticut)
  • Martin Krämer (University of Tromsø)
  • Nancy Kula (University of Essex)
  • Jean Lowenstamm (University of Paris 7)
  • Kuniya Nasukawa (Tohoku Gakuin University)
  • Hitomi Onuma (Iwate Medical University / Tohoku Gakuin University)
  • Markus Pöchtrager (University of Vienna)
  • Krisztina Polgárdi (Hungarian Academy of Sciences)
  • Tobias Scheer (University of Nice Sophia Antipolis)
  • Geoff Schwartz (Adam Mickiewicz University)
  • Jean-Luc Schwartz (GIPSA Lab)
  • Péter Szigetvári (Eötvös Loránd University)
  • Ali Tifrit (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes)
  • Nathalie Vallée (GIPSA Lab)
  • Laurence Voeltzel (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes)

Organizing Committee :

LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/University of Nantes

  • Sabrina Bendjaballah
  • Ali Tifrit
  • Laurence Voeltzel
For more information:
Le Laboratoire de Linguistique de Nantes (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes) organise une conférence dédiée à la Théorie des Elements (ET), qui aura lieu les 14 et 15 juin 2018 à Nantes.
L’objectif est d’établir un bilan et d’ouvrir de nouvelles perspectives dans ce programme de recherche, en interrogeant le(s) modèle(s) phonologique(s) qui manipule(nt) des primitives unaires sur :

– la relation avec la phonétique,
– le statut tête/dépendant;
– les asymétries entre les primitives,
– les opérations et
– la limitation ou l’extension du nombre de primitives disponibles.

Les sujets mentionnés ci-dessus sont ouverts et nous invitons les participants à proposer une réflexion et des critiques portant sur ces axes généraux, ainsi que toute autre question qui relève d’ET.

Cette conférence a pour but d’accueillir des chercheurs d’horizons variés et ne se restreint pas à la phonologie théorique. L’événement s’adresse aux chercheurs qui souhaitent présenter de nouvelles problématiques dans le cadre de la Théorie des Eléments, mais également à ceux qui ne sont pas familiers avec les développements les plus récents d’ET et qui souhaiteraient acquérir une vue d’ensemble de ces modèles.

Nous aurons le plaisir d’accueillir comme invités :

  • Phillip Backley (Université Tohoku Gakuin)
  • Elan Dresher (Université de Toronto)
  • Harry van der Hulst (Université du Connecticut)
  • Markus Pöchtrager (Université de Vienne)
  • Jean-Luc Schwartz (GIPSA Lab)

La version complète du call est disponible sur notre site :

Les résumés sont à envoyer par mel à, sous la forme d’un fichier pdf anonyme, interligne simple, police taille 12, n’excédant pas deux pages (références et figures incluses), en anglais.
Les dates à retenir sont :

  • 29 janvier : date limite pour l’envoi des résumés
  • 9 avril : notification aux auteurs
  • 14-15 juin : conférence

Comité scientifique :

  • Jean-Pierre Angoujard (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes)
  • Phillip Backley (Université Tohoku Gakuin)
  • Sabrina Bendjaballah (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes)
  • Jean-Marc Beltzung (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes)
  • Joaquim Brandão de Carvalho (Université Paris 8)
  • Monik Charette (SOAS Université de Londres)
  • Elan Dresher (Université de Toronto)
  • Harry van der Hulst (Université du Connecticut)
  • Martin Krämer (Université de Tromsø)
  • Nancy Kula (Université d’Essex)
  • Jean Lowenstamm (Université Paris 7)
  • Kuniya Nasukawa (Université Tohoku Gakuin)
  • Hitomi Onuma (Université Iwate / Université Tohoku Gakuin)
  • Markus Pöchtrager (Université de Vienne)
  • Krisztina Polgárdi (Académie hongroise des sciences)
  • Tobias Scheer (Université de Nice Sophia Antipolis)
  • Geoff Schwartz (Université Adam Mickiewicz)
  • Jean-Luc Schwartz (GIPSA Lab)
  • Péter Szigetvári (Université Eötvös Loránd)
  • Ali Tifrit (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes)
  • Nathalie Vallée (GIPSA Lab)
  • Laurence Voeltzel (LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes)

Comité d’organisation :

LLING UMR 6310 CNRS/Université de Nantes

  • Sabrina Bendjaballah
  • Ali Tifrit
  • Laurence Voeltzel
Pour plus d’information :