Call for papers: Special issue of Phonology on grammatical tone

From: Nicholas Rolle (

Thematic issue: ‘Theoretical approaches to grammatical tone’

Projected to appear as one of the first issues of Phonology 39 (2022)

Tone is distinct from other phonological phenomena both qualitatively and quantitatively, and has been instrumental in shaping phonological theory in many ways. However, the contributions to current linguistic theory of ‘grammatical tone’ – a type of nonconcatenative morphology where a morpheme is expressed in part by tonal changes and operations (e.g. tone addition, deletion, replacement, spreading, shifting, assimilation, dissimilation, etc.) – have been less apparent. The goal of this thematic issue is to contribute to filling this gap, and to facilitate advances in our understanding of grammatical tone and (morpho)phonological theory in tandem.


Grammatical tone demonstrates a unique configuration of properties above and beyond special features of tone more generally, including postlexical cyclicity effects, non-local relations on the tonal tier, counting effects in floating tone assignment, tone-based templatic effects in great regularity across Africa (surpassing segmental templates à la Semitic and Yokuts), among many others. Given that half the world’s languages are tonal–with a huge number in some of the least documented areas – we suspect phonological theory still has a huge amount to gain by specifically engaging with grammatical tone. Submissions are invited which directly focus on grammatical tone and phonological theory. We seek to include several tone-system types (e.g. from ‘canonical’ tone systems like Vietnamese to ‘pitch-accent systems’ like Serbian or Japanese). Issues include (but are not limited to) the following:


  • the representation of grammatical tone, and the question of grammatical tone allomorphy;
  • interactions between grammatical tone and the phonological grammar, e.g. the role of phonological markedness, blocking effects, segmental epenthesis;
  • interactions between grammatical tone and other prosodic units, e.g. lexical tone, intonation/boundary tones, other grammatical tones, stress/prominence marking;
  • the derivation of grammatical tone, e.g. non-categorical application of grammatical tone, input–output vs. output–output relations, cyclic effects, derived environment effects;
  • types of (non-)locality effects with grammatical tone, defined either linearly or hierarchically;
  • interface with phonetics, e.g. incomplete neutralisation effects, exemplar models;
  • interface with morphosyntax, e.g. phonology-free syntax, issues of modularity in grammar;
  • prosodic constituency, e.g. (mis)alignment between the domains of grammatical tone and other prosodic constituents in the prosodic hierarchy, kinds of attested nonisomorphy;
  • the computational properties of grammatical tone.


This thematic issue, which will be edited by Nicholas Rolle (Princeton University), Florian Lionnet (Princeton University) and Laura McPherson (Dartmouth College), is open to all potential contributors, and is projected to appear as one of the first issues of Phonology 39 (2022).


The deadline for submissions is 1 October 2020.


General information on the submission of manuscripts can be found in previous issues of the journal, or on the Phonology website ( For this issue, submissions should be sent in PDF format to An abstract (no longer than 150 words) should be included. Please begin the heading with ‘Phonology thematic issue’.


Preference will be given to papers which will occupy no more than 20 printed pages in the journal (around 8000 words). Submissions will be read by at least two reviewers and by the editors of the thematic issue.