Monthly Archives: December 2017

Cheshire (2017) – Linguistic Missing Links.

Linguistic Missing Links.
Gerard Cheshire
direct link:
May 2017
Linguistic missing links: instruction in decrypting, translating and transliterating the only document known to use both proto-Romance language and proto-Italic symbols for its writing system. This paper provides the solution to understanding the hitherto unknown writing system used for the manuscript listed as MS 408 at the Beinecke Library, Yale University. The writing system uses symbols, punctuation, grammar and language that are each unique. The manuscript is not encrypted, in the sense that its author made an effort to conceal the contents of the manuscript, as has been presumed by some scholars. Instead, it is code only in the sense that the modern reader needs to be versed in the calligraphic and linguistic rules to be able to translate and read the texts. Furthermore, in discovering its writing system, it became apparent that the manuscript is of invaluable importance to the study of the evolution of the Romance languages and the scheme of Italic letters and associated punctuation marks now commonplace in those and other modern languages. In short; it is revealed to be the only known document both written in Vulgar Latin, or proto-Romance, and using proto-Italic symbols. The original title for the manuscript, given by its female author, is: What one needs to be sure to acquire for the evils set in one’s fate. It is a book offering homeopathic advice and instruction to women of court on matters of the heart, of sexual congress, of reproduction, of motherhood and of the physical and emotional complications that can arise along the way through life.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003737
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Submitted.
keywords: proto-romance, proto-italics, ms 408, manuscript, semantics, syntax, phonology
previous versions: v6 [May 2017]
v5 [May 2017]
v4 [May 2017]
v3 [May 2017]
v2 [May 2017]
v1 [May 2017]

Samuels, Martins & Boeckx (2017) – Linguistic knowledge by descent: an evolutionary approach to stress typology

Linguistic knowledge by descent: an evolutionary approach to stress typology
Bridget Samuels, Pedro Tiago Martins, Cedric Boeckx
direct link:
April 2017
We consider here several properties of phonological stress systems, including the midpoint pathology, an unattested pattern in which stress is confined to a word-medial syllable in short words but reverts to an edge-based window in longer words. Previous attempts have been made to rule out midpoint systems by eliminating the phonological constraints that yield them, or by alluding to difficulties in learning them. We suggest that a preference for representing word edges in memory and limits on subitization—evolutionarily older “fossil” abilities which are neither specific to humans nor to language — are sufficient to rule out the midpoint pathology. We take the same approach to motivate accentual window size and some left-right asymmetries observed in the typology of attested stress systems. This approach highlights the relevance of descent in accounting for human cognition, as well as the benefits that evolutionary thinking can bring to the study of language.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003727
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Journal of the Phonetic Society of Japan 21 (1): 71-78
keywords: phonology, stress, midpoint pathology, evolution, typology

Reiss (2017) – Contrast is irrelevant in phonology: A simple account of Russian /v/ as /V/

Contrast is irrelevant in phonology: A simple account of Russian /v/ as /V/
Charles Reiss
direct link:
January 2017
Halle’s (1959) argument against a distinction between morphophonemic and phonemic rules can be understood as an argument against the relevance of contrast to phonology. After adducing further arguments against a role for contrast, the paper provides a simple contrast-free analysis of the classic problem of the voicing behavior of Russian /v/. This segment undergoes voicing assimilation (like other obstruents), but does not trigger it (thus acting like the sonorants). In contrast to a long history of treating /v/ as a covert sonorant, the paper attributes the behavior of Russian /v/, which surfaces always as an obstruent, to underspecification with respect to the feature Voice.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003734
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Beyond Markedness in Formal Phonology (2017) edited by Bridget Samuels
keywords: phonology, underspecification, russian, sonorant, contrast, markedness, phonology

RFP 2018 – 16th annual conference of the French Phonology Network / Réseau Français de Phonologie

From Francesc Torres-Tamarit (e-mail:

RFP 2018 – 16th annual conference of the French Phonology Network / Réseau Français de Phonologie

The French Phonology Network (Réseau français de phonologie) is launching a call for papers for its 2018 annual conference ( The 2018 edition will take place from 27th to 29th of June in Paris (at the Centre CNRS Pouchet / Université Paris 8, France) and will be organized by the Laboratory Structures Formelles du Langage (SFL, UMR 7023 / Université Paris 8).

The keynote speakers will be

– Mirjam Ernestus, Professor in psycholinguistics (Université Radboud de Nimègue)
– Gillian Gallagher, Associate professor in linguistics (Université de New York)
– Nancy Kula, Professor of linguistics (Université d’Essex)
– Mary Paster, Associate professor in linguistics and cognitive science (Pomona College, California)

Main session

Submissions from any school or theoretical framework of phonology are welcome. Topics of interest may relate to phonology in general or in specific language, in synchronic or in diachronic dimensions. Issues focusing on phonology and its interfaces, descriptive and formal phonology, experimental phonology and phonological modeling are awaited.

Thematic sessions

This year’s conference, we especially encourage submissions focusing on the two following topics:
Workshop 1 – The Phonology of the Lesser-Known Languages and of Endangered Languages. Documentary and Theoretical Approaches
Workshop 2 – Acquisition of the Lesser-Known Languages

Abstract submission and review

Abstracts can be written in either French or English. Abstracts should not exceed two pages in length (A4 pages, TimesNewRoman or similar, size 11, single-spaced), including references, tables and figures. Please send your abstract in .pdf format to the Easychair system at the following URL: Specify whether you want your abstract to be considered only for a talk in the main session or in one of the two thematic sessions.
All abstracts will be reviewed by at least two referees.

Important dates

Call for papers: December 2017
Deadline for submission: March 2nd 2018
Notification of acceptance: April 30th 2018
Conference: June 27th-29th 2018

Location of the conference

The conference will take in the CNRS Pouchet in Paris (voir carte dans informations pratiques).

Scientific committee

J.-P. Angoujard (U. de Nantes, PR) B. Laks (U. Paris 10, PR)
X. Barillot (U. de Nice, MCF) N. Lampitelli (U. de Tours, MCF)
J.-M. Beltzung (U. de Nantes, MCF) J.-L. Léonard (U. Paris 4, PR)
S. Bendjaballah (U. de Nantes, DR) J. Lowenstamm (U. Paris 7, PR)
G. Bergounioux (U. d’Orléans, PR) X. Luo (U. d’Orléans, Post-doc)
J. Brandao de Carvalho (U. Paris 8, PR) N. Nguyen (U. d’Aix-Marseille, PR)
J. Bucci (U. de Grenoble Alpes, Post-doc) R. Noske (U. Lille 3, MCF)
E. Caratini (U. de Poitiers, MCF) D. Passino (U. de Nice, PR)
C. Dos Santos (U. de Tours, MCF) C. Patin (U. Lille 3, MCF)
J. Dufour (U. de Strasbourg, MCF) A. Rialland (U. Paris 3, DR)
J. Durand (U. Toulouse 2, PR) O. Rizzolo (U. de Nice, MCF))
R. Fathi (U. de Nantes, Post-doc) M. Russo (U. Lyon 3, PR)
N. Faust (U. Paris 8, MCF) T. Scheer (U. de Nice, DR)
S. Ferré (U. de Tours, MCF) Ph. Ségéral (U. Paris 7, MCF)
J.-M. Fournier (U. de Tours, PR) A. Tifrit (U. de Nantes, MCF)
D. Le Gac (U. de Rouen, MCF) F. Torres-Tamarit (U. Paris 8, CR)
S. Herment (U. d’Aix-Marseille, PR) N. Trapateau (U. de Nice, MCF)
M. D’Imperio (U. d’Aix-Marseille, PR) S. Ulfsbjorninn (U. Lyon 3, Post-doc)
H. Jacobs (U. Radboud (NL), PR) N. Vallée (U. de Grenoble Alpes, CR)
A. Jatteau (U. de Lille, ATER) S. Wauquier (U. Paris 8, PR)
L. Labrune (U. Bordeaux 3, PR) N. Yamaguchi (U. Paris 3, MCF)
M. Lahrouchi (U. Paris 8, CR)  

Organizing committee

– Noam Faust (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Michela Russo (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Francesc Torres-Tamarit (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Sophie Wauquier (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)

Advisory board

– Joaquim Brandao de Carvalho (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Alex Cristia (LSCP / ENS Paris)
– Mohamed Lahrouchi (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Giorgio Magri (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Rachid Ridouane (LPP, UMR 7018)
– Naomi Yamaguchi (LPP, UMR 7018)
– Lolke van de Velde (ASLAN/ DDL UMR 5596, CNRS)


– Laetitia de Almeida (ASLAN / DDL UMR 5596, CNRS)
– Adèle Jatteau (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Benjamin Storme (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)
– Shanti Ulfsbjorninn (SFL UMR 7023 CNRS)

Practical informations



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

Crippen (2016) – Bits, bytes, and Unicode: Digital text for linguists

Bits, bytes, and Unicode: Digital text for linguists
James Crippen
direct link:
January 2016
A linguistically-oriented review of digital text and the representation of text with the Unicode charater set and encoding system. Presents basic terminology and concepts of writing systems, and of digital representation of information with binary (and hexadecimal) numbers. Details characters, character encodings, processes of encoding conversion, and file formats. The Unicode character set is discussed in extensive detail, distinguishing code points, character names, meta-structure such as planes and blocks, meta-data such as character types and properties, and basic principles of representation normalization and sorting. Ends with a review of Unicode encoding formats (e.g. UTF-8, UTF-16) and some practical issues for using Unicode in linguistics.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003567
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: University of British Columbia
keywords: unicode, text, orthography, writing systems, human computer interaction, phonology

Samek-Lodovici (2017) – Prosody-Driven Scrambling in Italian

Prosody-Driven Scrambling in Italian
Vieri Samek-Lodovici
direct link:
July 2017
Italian displays a scrambling pattern where the structure of the constituent following a postverbal focus affects which of its components can scramble before the focus . The actual governing factor is the prosodic phrasing pro-jected by the postfocal constituent. Scrambling is only possible when it im-proves the stress alignment with the right boundary of the intonational phrase wrapping the sentence. This study provides further evidence that the classic T-model where syntax feeds prosody needs to be replaced by a new model where prosody and syntax interact. As this study shows, OT provides a possi-ble model for such interaction that entirely dispenses with interface-related stipulations.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003564
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Manuscript, 2017. To appear in Romance Languages and Linguistic Theory 2016. Selected papers from ‘Going Romance’ Frankfurt 2016. Edited by Mar-tin Elsig, Ingo Feldhausen, Imme Kuchenbrandt, and Mareike Neuhaus. John Benjamins Publishing.
keywords: focus, scrambling, prosody-syntax interface, information structure, italian, syntax, phonology

Ulfsbjorninn (2016) – Towards Eradicating Class Driven Allomorphy: Nominal Suffixes in Afar

Towards Eradicating Class Driven Allomorphy: Nominal Suffixes in Afar
Shanti Ulfsbjorninn
direct link:
May 2016
I propose that much of the ‘allomorphy’ associated with the three noun classes of Afar can be derived phonologically. In fact, it is not (properly speaking) allomorphy at all – in the sense that there is no selection between different morphs. This forms part of a program that attempts to remove class features from generative grammar. Eradicating noun class features, as is done for this data, allows for a more elegant and minimalist analysis with a clear demarcation between the features of semantic interpretation (e.g. [+fem]) and the features of phonological form (e.g. [+high]). In this way it upholds the architecture of grammar made popular by distributed morphology. In this problematic case study, we see that Afar nominal paradigms are characterized by both the introduction of features/melody and paradigm-specific stress shifts. The proposed re-analysis relies heavily on the notion of catalexis. Using a Strict CV representational model, I propose that nouns in Afar are always trochaic. The tripartite difference in the shape of nominal roots is reduced to what part of the trochee’s dependent CV is filled by melody: both C and V (V-Masc) [ˈbara] ‘night’, only C (C-Masc) [maˈtuk] ‘butter’ or neither (Fem) [ħaˈdo] ‘meat’. The shape of these roots juxtaposed with the shape of the Afar affixes regularly predicts the ‘allomorphy’. The underlying form of the proposed affixes have an unusual structural condition, though one that is predicted by foundational autosegmental principles. These come with both features and skeletal structure unassociated to each other. Consequently, following my proposal, affixation can simultaneously introduce features and induce stress shift in a DM-compatible item-and-arrangement analysis, all the while without recourse to class features.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003533
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: Draft
keywords: distributed morphology, strict cv, noun classes, morphological gender, derivations, morphology, syntax, phonology, stress shift

Dabouis (2017) – When Accent Preservation Leads to Clash

When Accent Preservation Leads to Clash
Quentin Dabouis
direct link:
August 2017
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.

Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/003530
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: English Language and Linguistics
keywords: english, stress, accent, faithfulness, preservation, clash, frequency, cyclicity, lexical access, phonology
previous versions: v1 [June 2017]