Monthly Archives: December 2017

Proceedings of the Society for Computation in Linguistics

The proceedings of the inaugural meeting of the Society for Computation in Linguistics, to be held Jan. 4-7 in Salt Lake City, are now available at The table of contents is also pasted in below.



Preface: SCiL 2018 Editors’ Note
Gaja Jarosz, Brendan O’Connor, and Joe Pater


Formal Restrictions On Multiple Tiers
Alena Aksenova and Sanket Deshmukh


Differentiating Phrase Structure Parsing and Memory Retrieval in the Brain
Shohini Bhattasali, John Hale, Christophe Pallier, Jonathan Brennan, Wen-Ming Luh, and R. Nathan Spreng


Sound Analogies with Phoneme Embeddings
Miikka P. Silfverberg, Lingshuang Mao, and Mans Hulden


The Organization of Lexicons: a Cross-Linguistic Analysis of Monosyllabic Words
Shiying Yang, Chelsea Sanker, and Uriel Cohen Priva



Distributed Morphology as a regular relation
Marina Ermolaeva and Daniel Edmiston


Topical advection as a baseline model for corpus-based lexical dynamics
Andres Karjus, Richard A. Blythe, Simon Kirby, and Kenny Smith


Quantifying the Trade-off Between Two Types of Morphological Complexity
Ryan Cotterell, Christo Kirov, Mans Hulden, and Jason Eisner


Explicit Discourse Connectives / Implicit Discourse Relations
Bonnie Webber, Hannah Rohde, Anna Dickinson, Annie Louis, and Nathan Schneider



Logical Metonymy in a Distributional Model of Sentence Comprehension
Emmanuele Chersoni, Alessandro Lenci, and Philippe Blache


Double Trouble: The Problem of Construal in Semantic Annotation of Adpositions
Jena D. Hwang, Archna Bhatia, Na-Rae Han, Tim O’Gorman, Vivek Srikumar, and Nathan Schneider


Hayes (2016): Varieties of Noisy Harmonic Grammar

Direct link:

ROA: 1331
Title: Varieties of Noisy Harmonic Grammar
Authors: Bruce Hayes
Comment: Invited talk at AMP 2016 (USC); published in online proceedings
Length: 22 pages
Abstract: Noisy Harmonic Grammar (NHG) is a framework for stochastic grammars that uses the GEN-cum-EVAL system originated in Optimality Theory. As a form of Harmonic Grammar, NHG outputs as winner the candidate with the smallest harmonic penalty (weighted sum of constraint violations). It is stochastic because at each “evaluation time,” constraint weights are nudged upward or downward by a random amount, resulting in a particular probability distribution over candidates. This “classical” form of NHG can be modified in various ways, creating alternative theories. I explore these variants in a variety of simple simulations intended to reveal key differences in their behavior; maxent grammars are also included in the comparison. In conclusion I offer hints from the empirical world regarding which of these rival theories might be correct.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: phonology, learning

Hayes (2014): Comparative Phonotactics

Direct link:

ROA: 1332
Title: Comparative Phonotactics
Authors: Bruce Hayes
Comment: Invited talk at CLS 50 (2014); version submitted to Proceedings volume
Length: 20 pages
Abstract: The phonotactic learner of Hayes and Wilson (LI 2008) discovers what could be called absolute phonotactics: using a maxent framework, it selects and weights constraints so as to maximize the predicted probability of the set of existing words against a backdrop of all possible strings. The same apparatus can be used for comparative phonotactics: given two populations of strings, A and B, we seek a grammar whose output probabilities accurately indicate the likelihood that any given novel string will belong to A or B.

Do language-acquiring children learn comparative phonotactics? I think it likely that they do, and indeed that they do so for multiple purposes. Such would include part-of-speech prediction (work of Christiansen), prediction of gender (work of Lyster and others), and two areas I focus on here. I put forth a comparative phonotactics that singles out words of the Latinate vocabulary stratum of English (Chomsky and Halle 1968), distinguishing it from the native stratum, and ponder how the presence of such strata in a language could be detected by a bootstrapping process. I will also use comparative phonotactic analysis to carry out stem sorting in the sense of Becker and Gouskova: the population of stems in a language can be sorted according to which affix allomorphs they take. The pattern predicted by stem-sorting-cum-allomorph-selection is often indistinguishable from the result of ordinary GEN+EVAL phonology, but in one area of Hungarian vowel harmony, the evidence is quite clear that the pattern must be the result of stem sorting.

Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: phonology, phonotactics, lexical strata

Magri (to appear): A note on phonological similarity in Tesar’s (2013) Theory of output-drivenness

Direct link:

ROA: 1333
Title: A note on phonological similarity in Tesar’s (2013) Theory of output-drivenness
Authors: Giorgio Magri
Comment: to appear in the Journal of Logic and Computation
Length: 26 pp.
Abstract: Tesar’s (2014) notion of output-drivenness is an attempt at characterizing non-opaque phonological mappings in terms of a notion of phonological similarity between underlying and surface levels. Tesar defines phonological similarity concretely in terms of segment strings and correspondence relations. Magri (2017) instead defines similarity axiomatically through an inequality on faithfulness constraint violations. This paper studies the formal properties of the latter axiomatic notion of similarity. In particular, it shows that Tesar’s concrete definition of similarity satisfies Magri’s axiomatization in terms of faithfulness constraints. The theory of output-drivenness reconstructed in Magri (2017) thus subsumes Tesar’s (2014) original theory as a special case.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: opacity, output-drivenness, formal analysis

Bennett and Rose (to appear): Moro voicelessness dissimilation and binary [voice]

Direct link:

ROA: 1334
Title: Moro voicelessness dissimilation and binary [voice]
Authors: Will Bennett, Sharon Rose
Comment: pre-print, appearing in Phonology
Length: 41pp
Abstract: This paper reports on a heretofore undescribed pattern of voicelessness dissimilation in the Kordofanian language Moro. Voiceless obstruents become voiced when preceding another voiceless obstruent in a transvocalic (≈CVC) configuration. This pattern is robust and productive across multiple morphological contexts. The phonetic facts of voicing in Moro show it to be a difference between prevoiced and short lag VOT. This points to [voice] as the most realistic featural characterization of the voicing contrast; the pattern cannot be explained as dissimilation of another feature like [spread glottis]. The voiceless dissimilation pattern is strong evidence that [voice] is binary–and that [-voice] may be phonologically active, despite being ‘unmarked’. We show that when reference to [-voice] is allowed, the Moro pattern can be straightforwardly analyzed as [-voice] dissimilation. Our formal analysis uses the theory of SURFACE CORRESPONDENCE, which carries no assumptions about markedness as a prerequisite for dissimilation. An appendix compares the proposed analysis to alternatives based on other approaches to dissimilation.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: phonology, correspondence, dissimilation, voice, abc

Loufti (2017): Morphological Causatives in Moroccan Arabic

Direct link:

ROA: 1335
Title: Morphological Causatives in Moroccan Arabic
Authors: Ayoub Loutfi
Length: 26 pp.
Abstract: In Moroccan Arabic, morphologically-derived causatives are uniformly formed through the affixation of a consonantal mora in an infixed position. Two accounts have been proposed: the templatic-based account whereby consonant gemination results from a fixed-shape template and the analysis contending that causative gemination succumbs to positional faithfulness effects. In this paper, we diverge from this trend, claiming that the two approaches suffer from a lack of empirical adequacy. As an alternative, we propose an analysis within the theory of Optimality Theory, with the basic assumption being that the linearization of the causative morpheme is instead the result of phonological well-formedness interacting with the morphological process of causativization. An important empirical prediction of our analysis is that the causative affix can neither move to word-initial positions nor word-final positions under the pressure of phonological well-formedness constraints. This is shown to be an example of the Emergence of the Unmarked, wherein the otherwise inactive markedness constraint *COMPLEXONSET in the language bears the burden of the explanation. The strength of the analysis suggested herein resides in the treatment of the infixal process as resulting from simple and universal constraints, primarily achieved through well-motivated demands on prosodic well-formedness without reference to language-particular templatic constraints.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: optimality theory, reduplication, syllable structure, gemination, moroccan arabic, prosodic morphology, nonconcatenative morphology, and morphological causatives, morphology, phonology

Caroline Fery (2017): Intonation and prosodic structure, CUP

The book covers intonation and prosodic structure from a phonological perspective. The model used is a compositional version of the tone-sequence model of intonation: melodies arise from the individual tones and the way they combine. It shows how morpho-syntactic constituents are mapped to prosodic constituents. Tones and melodies are ‘meaningful’, in the sense that they add a pragmatic component to what is being said. Typologies of intonation patterns at the word level and at the sentence level are each the theme of a chapter. Despite superficial similarity, languages differ in how their tonal patterns arise from tone concatenation. Lexical tones, stress, phrase tones, and boundary tones are assigned differently in different languages; the result is broad variation in intonational grammar. Phonetics and experimental studies of the processing of prosody are also each given their own chapter.

Keywords (5-10): Intonation, prosodic structure, tone-sequence model of intonation, intonation typology, processing of prosody, syntax-prosody interface, semantics-prosody interface


Call for papers: Twenty-Sixth Manchester Phonology Meeting


The Twenty-Sixth Manchester Phonology Meeting

24-26 MAY 2018

Deadline for abstracts: 19 February 2018

Conference website:

Special session: ‘SPE at 50: what remains?’

The special session will feature the invited speakers listed (in alphabetical order) below and will conclude in an open discussion session when contributions from the audience will be very welcome.

Invited speakers:

* Silke Hamann (University of Amsterdam)
* David Odden (Ohio State University)
* Anne-Michelle Tessier (University of Michigan and Simon Fraser University)

Invited discussant:
* Joan Mascaro (Universitat Autonoma de Barcelona)

The conference will be held at Hulme Hall, Manchester, England, and is organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, and elsewhere.

* There will also be a FRINGE workshop on the afternoon of Wednesday 23rd May, timed to coincide with the mfm, on ‘Phonological Solutions to Morphological Problems’, organised by Heather Newell and Shanti Ulfsbjorninn.


* This mentions only a few details – please consult the website for full information:

* There is no obligatory conference theme for the 26mfm – abstracts can be submitted on anything phonological.

* Abstracts should be uploaded to the 26mfm’s page on the EasyAbstracts site by 19th February 2018:

* Full papers will last around 25 minutes with around 5 minutes for questions, and there will be high-profile poster sessions lasting one and a half hours. When you submit your abstract, you will be asked to indicate whether you would be prepared to present your work either as a talk or a poster paper or only as a poster.

* We aim to finalise the programme, and to contact abstract-senders by mid to late March, and we will contact all those who have sent abstracts as soon as the decisions have been made.

**Further important details** concerning abstract submission are available on the conference website. Please make sure that you consult these before submitting an abstract:

The University of Edinburgh is a charitable body, registered in
Scotland, with registration number SC005336.


LabPhon 16 satellite workshop call: The role of predictability in shaping human sound systems


Website and call for papers:
Abstract submission deadline: March 1, 2018

Message-oriented accounts of phonetic and phonological variation propose that speakers expend resources in order to increase phonetic robustness when their intended message is unpredictable (e.g., Hall et al., 2016; see also Lindblom, 1990; Aylett & Turk, 2004; Stevens & Keyser, 2006). Within this general framework, predictability and resource cost are operationalized in diverse and sometimes imprecise ways. The goal of this workshop is to encourage discussion and idea exchange that lead to shared understandings of the concepts of predictability and cost in phonological research.

The workshop will be organized around two themed roundtables, which are each preceded by 15-minute talks that provide material for broader discussion of the theme. The first session addresses how predictability can be assessed, and the second session addresses how resource cost can be defined using explicit psychological, phonological, and physiological measures. Each theme involves a range of questions, and specific topics for the roundtable discussions will be chosen based on the submitted abstracts.

Theme 1: Defining and measuring predictability.

How can phonological predictability be assessed? Some possibilities include: the in-context probability of a specific phonological unit or message, the uncertainty associated with incremental comprehension or production, and the contrastiveness of a unit in the phonological system. How do different measures lead to different quantifiable expectations about communicative behavior or phonological patterns? How can different measures of predictability be linked to specific mechanisms in speech production or perception, and how do these measures and mechanisms interact?

Theme 2: Defining and measuring production cost.

Many communication-oriented accounts assume that speakers seek an efficient balance between communicative robustness and production cost, but production cost is often not quantified. What are ways of explicitly defining or measuring phonological resource cost? Some possibilities include: indices of cognitive load during production, planning costs or phonological/lexical competition in speech production models, usage of attentional or memory resources, articulatory coordination costs, and metabolic costs.

Format and schedule

Abstracts are invited on research related to one of the themes. Abstracts may be up to 1000 words and should contain all key methodological details. About three abstracts per theme will be selected for oral presentations, and all accepted abstracts will be circulated in advance of the workshop. Each presenter is asked to prepare a 15-minute presentation (plus 5 minutes for questions and transition) in which they explicitly contextualize their research in the discussion topic. The presentations will be followed by a 40-minute roundtable discussion of the theme, with a break between sessions. The workshop may include a short poster session, depending on the number of submitted abstracts.

Workshop date: June 23, 2018 (main conference June 19-22)
Location: Universidade de Lisboa in Lisbon, Portugal


Zukoff (2017) – Indo-European Reduplication: Synchrony, Diachrony, and Theory

Indo-European Reduplication: Synchrony, Diachrony, and Theory
Sam Zukoff
direct link:
September 2017
The reduplicative systems of the ancient Indo-European languages are characterized by an unusual alternation in the shape of the reduplicant. The related languages Ancient Greek, Gothic, and Sanskrit share the property that root-initial consonant clusters exhibit different reduplicant shapes, depending on their featural composition. Moreover, even though the core featural distinction largely overlaps across the languages, the actual patterns which instantiate that distinction are themselves distinct across the languages. For roots beginning in stop-sonorant clusters (TRVX– roots), each of these languages agrees in displaying a prefixal CV reduplicant, where the consonant corresponds to the root-initial stop: TV-TRVX–. These three languages likewise agree that roots beginning in sibilant-stop clusters (STVX– roots) show some pattern other than the one exhibited by TRVX– roots. However, each of the three languages exhibits a distinct alternative pattern: V-STVX– in the case of Ancient Greek, STV-STVX– in the case of Gothic, TV-STVX– in the case of Sanskrit. This dissertation provides an integrated synchronic and diachronic theoretical account of the morphophonological properties of verbal reduplication in the ancient Indo-European languages, with its central focus being to explain this core alternation between TRVX– roots and STVX– roots. Set within Base-Reduplicant Correspondence Theory, a framework for analyzing reduplication in Optimality Theory, the comprehensive synchronic analyses constructed in service of understanding this distinction and other interrelated distinctions allow us to probe complex theoretical questions regarding the constraints and constraint interactions involved in the determination of reduplicant shape. This dissertation seeks not only to develop in depth, consistent accounts of both the productive and marginal/archaic morphophonological aspects of reduplication in the Indo-European languages, it aims to understand the origins of these patterns—from a historical and comparative perspective, and from the perspective of morphophonological learning and grammar change — and attempts to motivate the conditions for the onset, development, and retention of the changes that result in the systems observed in the attested languages. As such, these analyses constitute a valuable set of case studies on complex systemic change in phonological grammars.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003685
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: MIT Dissertation
keywords: reduplication, indo-european, phonology, morphology, phonetics, historical linguistics, ancient greek, hittite, anatolian, germanic, gothic