Workshop on Variation, Gradience and Frequency in Phonology
Last update: December 14, 2007
For questions or comments, please email dialect (at) stanford (dot) edu
6-8 July, 2007, Stanford University, Stanford, CA, U.S.A.
This three-day workshop on Variation, Gradience, and Frequency in Phonology ran concurrently with the 2007 Linguistic Institute at Stanford in July 2007. The goal was to facilitate the collaboration among phonologists seeking unified theoretical explanations for qualitative and quantitative patterns in phonology. The workshop focused on three main topics:
Phonology studies the sound patterns of human languages. Sound patterns sometimes emerge as quantitative tendencies and preferences. This can be illustrated by the following three examples. First, in American English, word-final t is variably deleted, more often before consonants (west side) than before vowels (west end). Second, some sound combinations make better words than others. This can be seen in the dictionary where some combinations are statistically overrepresented, others underrepresented, as well as in experiments where subjects judge some nonsense words to sound more natural than others (stin > smy > bzharsk). Third, word frequency influences phonological patterns. The low-frequency word exploit has initial stress as a noun, final stress as a verb, whereas the high-frequency word express has final stress under both readings.
- Phonological variation
- Gradient phonotactics
- Lexical frequency effects
Phonological theory has traditionally focused on qualitative patterns. Quantitative phenomena, such as variation, gradient phonotactics and lexical frequency effects, have not figured prominently in theoretical discussion. This is changing. Quantitative studies are becoming common, partly because of new methodological developments (annotated corpora, sociolinguistic databases, searchable dialect archives, on-line dictionaries, experimental psycholinguistic data, new computational tools), and partly because of new theoretical developments. This has broadened the empirical base of phonology and is likely to lead to new discoveries and connections to neighboring fields of inquiry.
Friday, July 6
|7:30-8:30 ||Evening lecture: Paul Kiparsky, Stanford Univ. "Variation as a window on phonological structure"
Saturday, July 7
Sunday, July 8