Francesc Torres-Tamarit (coord.)


Session 3: March, 2nd, 2011

Paper: Kiparsky, P. 2006. The Amphichronic Program vs. Evolutionary Phonology. Theoretical Linguistics. 32.2: 217-236.
Organizer: Francesc Torres-Tamarit

This is a critical review of Blevin's Evolutionary Phonology, in which linguistic universals are understood as byproducts of diachronic sound change. The discussion focus on controversial cases of final voicing.

Additional material: Hansson, G. 2008. Diachronic explanations of sound patterns. Language & Linguistics Compass 2(5): 859–893.

Abstract: Phonological systems show clear signs of being shaped by phonetics. Sound patterns are overwhelmingly phonetically 'natural', in that they reflect the influence of physical constraints on speech production and perception, and categorical phonological processes often mirror low-level gradient phonetic effects. The question of how best to explain and model the influence of phonetics on phonology has been approached in different ways, one of which situates the locus of explanation in the diachronic domain of language change, in particular sound change. On this view, recurrent sound patterns merely reflect recurrent sound changes with phonetic origins, typically in speech perception. Explicit models of sound change are reviewed and illustrated, in particular Ohala's listener-based model and Blevins' Evolutionary Phonology framework, and the relevance of exemplar-based models of speech production and perception is also noted. Current issues of controversy regarding the adequacy of diachronic vs. synchronic explanations for the typology of sound patterns are surveyed.
Lloc: Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, UAB.
Hora: 15:30
Aula: per determinar


Sessió 1: November, 18th, 2010

Article: Christopher Potts, Joe Pater, Karen Jesney, Rajesh Bhatt and Michael Becker (2010) Harmonic Grammar with linear programming: from linear systems to linguistic typology. Phonology 27 ( 2010 ) 77 – 117.
Organizer: Clàudia Pons-Moll


Harmonic Grammar is a model of linguistic constraint interaction in which well-formedness is calculated in terms of the sum of weighted constraint violations. We show how linear programming algorithms can be used to determine whether there is a weighting for a set of constraints that fits a set of linguistic data. The associated software package OT-Help provides a practical tool for studying large and complex linguistic systems in the Harmonic Grammar framework and comparing the results with those of OT. We first describe the translation from harmonic grammars to systems solvable by linear programming algorithms. We then develop a Harmonic Grammar analysis of ATR harmony in Lango that is, we argue, superior to the existing OT and rule-based treatments. We further highlight the usefulness of OT-Help, and the analytic power of Harmonic Grammar, with a set of studies of the predictions Harmonic Grammar makes for phonological typology.

Additional material

1. OT-Help 2 provides tools for studying language typology in parallel and serial versions of Optimality Theory and Harmonic Grammar. The parallel component provides solvers for OT and HG as well as typology calculators facilitating easy comparison of theories. The serial components allow users to define their own operations in Gen and constraints in Con. These operations and constraints are used to compute the typology for a list of inputs. New hypotheses about Gen and Con can be evaluated quickly and easily. These typologies can be computed for both serial OT (Harmonic Serialism) or serial HG (serial Harmonic Grammar). Disponible a:

2. OT-Help 2 website. Accessible a:

Lloc: Facultat de Filosofia i Lletres, UAB.
Hora: 16.40h
Aula: per determinar



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