Monthly Archives: March 2018

Merchant and Krämer (2018): The Holographic Principle: Typological Analysis Using Lower Dimensions

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ROA: 1340
Title: The Holographic Principle: Typological Analysis Using Lower Dimensions
Authors: Nazarre Merchant, Martin Krämer
Length: 12 pages
Abstract: A moderately complex factorial typology may consist of tens or hundreds of languages which can opaquely encode linguistically salient categories and generalizations. We propose in this paper that these complex typologies can be decomposed and understood using what we call the holographic principle: a large typology can be projected onto simplified versions of itself which can be completely understood using Property Theory (Alber & Prince 2016). The simplified versions can then be re-incorporated into the original in such a way that the properties of the simple are maintained and provide a framework for analyzing the full system.

In this paper, we demonstrate this technique using two systems, a basic stringency system (BSS), and a complex stringency system (CSS). We show how a complete analysis of BSS, using Property Theory, provides fundamental insights into the more complicated CSS which BSS is a simplification of. A property analysis is a set of properties that divide the languages of the typology in such a way that each language and its grammar can be identified uniquely by its property values. Such an analysis identifies the crucial rankings among constraints that distinguish all grammars of the typology so that languages that share property values share extensional traits.

BSS generalizes systems in which there is one stringency hierarchy (e.g. de Lacy 2006’s typology of sonority-driven unstressed vowel reduction or Alderete’s (2008) analysis of stress in the Pama-Nyungan language family). The constraints of BSS consist of four markedness constraints and one faithfulness constraint. The markedness constraints form a stringency hierarchy in which each markedness constraint is in a stringency relationship with every other markedness constraint. For constraints X and Y to be in a stringency relationship we mean X(cand) ≤ Y(cand) for all candidates, cand, of the system. This stringency hierarchy imposes a markedness hierarchy on the forms of the system in which every form of the system has a unique position on the markedness hierarchy. This yields a total order on the forms. We then show, using Property Analysis, that each grammar in the typology is completely determined by the lowest unfaithfully mapped form on the markedness hierarchy. This result applies to all stringency systems in which there is one stringency hierarchy.

CSS is an analysis of the system presented in Krämer & Zec (2017)’s typology of manners in the syllable coda. There are seven constraints in the system, one faithfulness constraint and two stringently ordered sets of markedness constraints, an F-scale set and a P-scale set, each comprised of three constraints. The F-scale consists of a constraint against fricatives, one against fricatives and liquids, and one against fricatives, liquids and nasals. The P-scale follows the same building principle based on the category of stops. Each of the stringency hierarchies imposes an independent markedness hierarchy on the forms of the system. We give a property analysis of CSS in which the properties are organized in a parallel manner to the properties of BSS. The basic system embeds in CSS in that each stringency hierarchy in CSS has a set of properties associated with it that are structurally identical to the properties of BSS. As in BSS, a grammar’s mappings in CSS are determined by where on each of the markedness hierarchies the language is first unfaithful. This shared extensional trait in BSS and CSS manifests as structurally identical properties.

Stringency systems vary in their complexity from the number of classes they refer to, to how they interact, either with another orthogonal and conflicting stringency set (e.g., Alber 2001’s analysis of regional variation in glottal stop insertion in German), with one conflicting constraint (e.g., the vowel reduction patterns alluded to above) or another parallel stringency set and a conflicting constraint (e.g., the coda manner typology). In this paper we show how the structure of a maximally reduced stringency system is reproduced using the holographic principle in the more complex system via its properties. Understanding the relations that inhere between the simple and the complex is central to explicating larger typologies that defy easy analysis.

Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: Phonology, Stringency, OT, Property Theory

PhonFest 2018: Abstracts due April 15

Registration is now open for PhonFest 2018, a symposium on phonetic and phonological documentation.

“Mixing it up: from the lab to the field and back again.”
May 29 – June 2, 2018 ~ Indiana University, Bloomington

Description: While language science is moving in an ever more experimental direction, and tightly controlled experiments in lab settings can generate invaluable information about human language, such studies are not always possible, realistic, or productive in the context of actual language usage. Humans are members of communities, and linguists often work in the field, in communities. Speakers are not just passive consultants, but are members of a language community, agents who ‘do’ the language. The data generated by fieldwork, which is also invaluable, presents its own challenges—including technological challenges, like how to organize and annotate records in order to render them maximally accessible and useful. PhonFest is designed to create a space for dialogue: How can practices from the lab inform our work in the field, and vice versa? How can we pull the best elements from both worlds together to strengthen the work we do? Expert speakers from the US and abroad will address these topics.

Invited speakers:
Cynthia Clopper, The Ohio State University
Christian DiCanio, University at Buffalo
Josef Fruehwald, University of Edinburgh
Marija Tabain, La Trobe University

Tues. May 29 – Fri. June 1: Invited speakers present short courses.
Sat. June 2: Conference for Fest participants to present their own work.
Mon. June 4-Thurs. June 7: Incubator week! Designated work time (in a supportive environment) to help propel your work from where it’s at to the next stage.

Learn more at rates range from $45 for IU students to $150 for outside professionals. 
Abstracts for poster presentations are invited in the following areas: 
·      documentary (acoustic, articulatory, perception, etc.) work on under-resourced languages
·      descriptive and/or sociophonetic analyses of under-resourced languages, under-served populations
·      typologically unusual sounds, contrasts, patterns
·      methodological papers; technical characterizations of novel methodologies
Abstract Submission Deadline: April 15, 2018. 


Greg Lamontagne RIP

We got the sad news this week at UMass of Greg Lamontagne’s passing ( He completed his PhD in 1993, with a dissertation entitled “Syllabification and consonant cooccurrence conditions” ( He became a higher ed administrator – a description of his career up to 2013 can be found here:


Postdoctoral Scholar position (Phonology) at USC

Postdoctoral Scholar – Teaching Fellow

The Department of Linguistics in the Dana and David Dornsife College of Letters, Arts and Sciences at the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, Californiainvites applications for a postdoctoral position with three-course teaching for academic year 2018–2019. We seek applicants with specialization in phonology. The salary for this position is $65,000.

The successful candidate will join the Department of Linguistics at USC as a postdoctoral fellow and is expected to teach one 15-week course in the fall semester and two 15-week courses in the spring semester. The fall semester starts in the third week of August 2018.The duties associated with this position involve teaching two undergraduate linguistics courses: “Introduction to Phonetics and Phonology,” (spring) and “Advanced Phonology,” (fall) and one graduate linguistics course “Phonology B” (spring).

We also look for candidates with a strong research profile with emphasis on academic publications, and interest in engaging in the vibrant research community in the Department of Linguistics. A Ph.D. is required by time of appointment.

Applications should be complete by March 28, 2018 to receive fullest consideration. Applicants are required to complete the on-line application process. Follow this link or paste it in a browser:—University-Park-Campus/Postdoctoral-Scholar—Teaching-Fellow_REQ20056711. Required materials include a cover letter, curriculum vitae, research samples, teaching statement, and teaching evaluations (if available). Applicants should arrange for three reference letters to be sent directly to Guillermo Ruiz, Emails containing a letter of recommendation should be sent with the subject line: “Phonology Postdoctoral Letter of Recommendation for [Name of Candidate].” Inquiries can be addressed to Rachel Walker at


USC is an equal opportunity, affirmative action employer. All qualified applicants will receive consideration for employment without regard to race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender identity, national origin, protected veteran status, disability, or any other characteristic protected by law or USC policy. USC will consider for employment all qualified applicants with criminal histories in a manner consistent with the requirements of the Los Angeles Fair Chance Initiative for Hiring ordinance. We provide reasonable accommodations to applicants and employees with disabilities. Applicants with questions about access or requiring a reasonable accommodation for any part of the application or hiring process should contact USC Human Resources by phone at (213) 821-8100, or by email at  Inquiries will be treated as confidential to the extent permitted by law.



Kuhn (2012) Harmony via positive agreement: Evidence from trigger-based count effects

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ROA: 1338
Title: Harmony via positive agreement: Evidence from trigger-based count effects
Authors: Jeremy Kuhn
Comment: Kuhn. (2012). Harmony via Positive Agreement: Evidence from trigger-based count effects. In Huang, Poole, and Rysling (eds.), Proceedings of the 43th conference of the North East Linguistics Society (NELS 43), Vol. 1, 253-264.
Length: 12 pages
Abstract: In most patterns of harmony and assimilation, a single segment triggers harmony to the left or right, until the end of the word or until some intervening blocker. Here, I classify the new subpattern of trigger-based count effects, in which multiple triggers are needed to induce harmony. For example, nasal assimilation in Kazakh requires two triggers: the onset of a suffix assimilates to a nasal-final stem exactly when the suffix also contains a nasal coda. Here, I propose an analysis of trigger-based count effects in Harmonic Grammar with Harmonic Serialism. Harmony is motivated by a positively defined constraint which rewards feature agreement. Non-local harmony is allowed, but the reward is reduced by a scaling factor based on distance.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: nasal assimilation, harmony, harmonic grammar, harmonic serialism, positive constraints, gang effects

Rosen to appear: Predicting semi-regular patterns in morphologically complex words

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ROA: 1339
Title: Predicting semi-regular patterns in morphologically complex words
Authors: Eric Rosen
Comment: Pre-publication draft: to appear in Linguistics Vanguard
Length: 15 pages
Abstract: We expect generative models of language to correctly predict surface forms from
underlying forms, but morphologically complex words, especially compounds, can exhibit idiosyncratic outputs, which require an extra lexical listing. This results in (a) a poorer Minimum Description Length of our model (Goldsmith 2011) and (b) failure of a grammar to capture patterning among exceptions. To solve an instance of this problem, we examine pitch-accent patterns of 2-mora-2-mora Japanese Yamato (native) noun-noun compounds, hitherto considered semi-predictable but which show gradient tendencies among constituents to trigger a particular accent pattern. In the framework of Gradient Symbolic Computation (Smolensky and Goldrick 2015), a type of harmonic grammar which allows partially activated feature values and weighted constraints, such gradient patterns can be captured through the additive combination of coalescing features on each conjunct, which results in a pitch accent when the summed activations surpass a threshold determined by the grammar. The ability of this framework to completely predict these semi-regular patterns holds promise that it can also explain similar kinds of patterns in other languages.
Type: Paper/tech report
Area/Keywords: Gradient Symbolic Computation, pitch-accent, lexicalization, Minimum Description Length, predictability

Syllabification of consonant clusters after vowel deletion

Dear colleagues,

Jason Shaw (Yale) and I are interested in how languages syllabify the consonant clusters after V1 is deleted in C1V1C2V2 configuration, especially word-initially. There are two strategies:

(1) resyllabification

C1V1.C2V2 => C1C2V2

(2) C1 keeps its syllabicity

C1V1.C2V2 => C1.C2V2

Our Facebook-based search, to our surprise, showed that there are more studies that argue for (2) than (1). For example, in English the word initial schwa in “support” can delete, yielding [s.phort]. We suspect that [s] is not resyllabified because the following [p] is aspirated (Kaisse and Shaw 1985). Similar arguments have been made for French (Rilland 1986), Lushootseed (Urbancyzk 1996) and Trique (DiCarnio p.c.). The only example of resyllabification (1), which seems more “intuitive” to us, found so far is Latvian.

Any papers relevant to this issue are welcome. Any intuition-based data are welcome too, if you speak/study a language with vowel deletion.

Of course, in the languages that have been claimed to have the pattern in (2), there are arguments that vowels are not completed deleted—they can be either (heavily) reduced or devoiced. That sort of counterargument is welcome as well. Evidence for syllabification may be hard to come by in some languages, and people may just assume (1) or (2). That is fine and we would like to know those languages, although more explicit evidence would be welcome; we are interested in what kind of evidence has been used for syllabification in this sort of situation.

All the best,

Shigeto Kawahara (Keio University)


Workshop: Phonological variation ​and its interfaces 

Workshop: Phonological variation ​and its interfaces


Within the research project “Phonetics-phonology-morphology interface phenomena from the perspective of linguistic variation” (FFI2016-76245-C3-3-P), we are organizing a two-day workshop about phonological variation and its interfaces, which will be held at the University of Barcelona the 22 and 23 of November 2018. We specifically seek proposals dealing with phonological variation at the interface with phonetics and morphology, from any empirical and theoretical perspective. Contributions might answer, although not exclusively, to some of the following broad questions:​

  • Is there a factual interface between phonology and phonetics, and between phonology and morphology? Or are these independent components of the grammar? Which are the evidences for one approach or the other?
  • How do these three components interact? Are their interactions unidirectional or rather bidirectional?
  • How does phonological variation shed light on the interfaces phonology-phonetics / phonology-morphology?
  • To which extent morphological requirements constraint phonology and induce phonological variation?
  • Can prosodic requirements have an impact on morphology? What are the limits of this impact?

Invited speakers

Birgit Alber (Università di Verona)
Andries ​Coetzee (University of Michigan)

Call for papers

The workshop will feature talks (20-25 minutes, followed by 10-5 minutes for questions). Abstracts should be submitted through EasyChair (please follow this link to submit your abstract) by June, 1, 2018. All abstracts will be reviewed by 3 anonymous reviewers.

Abstract guidelines

Maximum 1 page of A4 paper, and an extra page for references, examples, tables, and figures.
12 pt Times New Roman font, or similar.
One-inch (2.54 cm) margins on all sides.
Anonymous (please do not include author details).
PDF format.

Abstracts not following these guidelines will be rejected. Abstract submission, reviewing, and notification of acceptance will be handled using EasyChair.

Important dates

Abstract submission deadline: June, 1, 2018
Notification of acceptance: July, 15, 2018
Program announcement: September, 15, 2018
Workshop days: November, 22-23, 2018 (University of Barcelona)

Registration and fees

Registration will be open from the end of September until November, 1, 2018.

More details will be posted closer to that time, but we anticipate that registration fees will be around €30 for waged attendees and €20 for student/unwaged attendees.

Organizing committee
Clàudia Pons-Moll, chair, Universitat de Barcelona
Maria-Rosa Lloret, Universitat de Barcelona
Jesús Jiménez, Universitat de València
Violeta Martínez-Paricio, Universitat de València
Jesús Bach, Universitat de Barcelona
Paula Cruselles, Universitat de València​

AMP 2018 announcement

The Linguistics Department at UC San Diego is pleased to announce that the 6th Annual Meeting on Phonology (AMP) will be held on October 5-7, 2018 in San Diego, CA, USA.
We invite abstracts for presentations on all areas of theoretical, experimental, and computational phonology. The conference will feature a fully integrated workshop entitled “Methods in phonological data collection and analysis of underdocumented languages,” for which abstracts for presentations are especially welcome.
Updated information will be available at
Invited speakers
  • Junko Ito and Armin Mester (UC Santa Cruz)
  • Laura McPherson (Dartmouth College)
  • Bert Remijsen (University of Edinburgh)
  • Investigating underdocumented tone systems
    (Bert Remijsen, University of Edinburgh)
  • Electroglottography for voice analysis
    (Marc Garellek, UC San Diego)
  • Underdocumented language data corpus construction
    (Gabriela Caballero, UC San Diego)
Important dates
  • April 2, 2018: Call for papers
  • June 1, 2018: Abstracts due for both the main session and the workshop
  • July 27, 2018: Notification of acceptance, registration opens
  • August 13, 2018: Program available
  • October 5-7, 2018: AMP conference
  • February 15, 2019: Proceedings submission deadline

Papers in Historical Phonology: vol 2 complete; vol 3 begun

Papers in Historical Phonology (PiHPh) publishes one volume per year (with articles added as soon as they are cleared for publication). All articles are available on a fully open access basis.


Volume 3 (2018) has begun publication – it is available here:

Just published in volume 3:

* Aspiration in Basque
– José Ignacio Hualde


Volume 2 (2017) closed at the end of December – it is available here:

Volume 2 has the following contents:

* The diachrony of Mapudungun stress assignment
– Benjamin Molineaux

* Lexical tone in Deori: loss, contrast and word based alignment
– Shakuntala Mahanta, Indranil Dutta, Prarthana Acharyya

* Vocalic Shifts in Attic-Ionic Greek
– Bridget D. Samuels

* Voice-induced vowel lengthening
– Tobias Scheer

* Reality in a soft science: the metaphonology of historical reconstruction
– Roger Lass

* Breaking the symmetry of geminates in diachrony and synchrony
– Michela Russo, Shanti Ulfsbjorninn


Submissions for PiHPh are always welcome: