This website lists the schedule of the workshop on "phonological representation and quantitative methods" on Monday 18 September, 2017 as part of the Poznań Linguistic Meeting in Poznań, Poland, organised by members of the DLCE (Cormac Anderson, Johann-Mattis List, Paul Heggarty) and colleagues at the Friedrich Schiller University, Jena (Adrian Simpson). Here, you will find the schedule of the talks in this panel, along with the abstracts. Later, we will also offer the slides for download in PDF format.
Massive cross-linguistic databases devoted to the lexicon (i.a. the Australian Basic Vocabulary Database: Greenhill, Blust, and Gray 2008; the World Loanword Database: Haspelmath and Tadmor 2009; transnewguinea.org: Greenhill 2015; ASJP: Wichmann, Holman and Brown 2016) provide a rich source of data for comparative linguistics. However, these resources vary greatly in the extent to which they are phonetically informative. In some cases, highly detailed transcriptions are available, whereas in others there are only lists of words in a conventional orthography, accompanied by glosses. Standards for cross-linguistic data preparation and more sophisticated tools for data handling have improved matters, but much remains to be done. This ongoing work can be informed by contemporary theories of phonological representation, while at the same time, cross-linguistic lexical datasets have the potential to provide means for evaluating the adequacy of phonological descriptions.
This workshop aims to draw together researchers interested in developing standards for organising and annotating cross-linguistic datasets, tools for normalising diverse orthographies, models for phonological systems, methods for generating inferences about phonological change, and metrics for evaluating the adequacy of phonological descriptions.
Massive cross-linguistic lexical databases can be usefully applied to investigate questions of linguistic diversity and evolution (e.g. List, Greenhill and Gray 2017). However, their potential utility is hampered by the lack of consistent standards and practices in transcription. While the IPA provides a widely understood baseline, it is not always used in a uniform manner: a variety of conventions are in use, and different transcription dialects have developed for specific languages or language families. A further problem is that it is not always clear what exactly is being described (e.g. in UPSID: Maddieson 1984; see also Simpson 1999). Transcription systems vary from the very narrow and phonetic to the highly abstract, presenting considerable obstacles to cross-linguistic comparability.
A distinction commonly insisted upon since the heyday of structuralism is that between a more synthetic and abstract phonemic level of description, proper to the langue, and a more detailed and concrete phonetic level, proper to the parole (Saussure 1916; cf. Hjelmslev 1943). The latter is formalised as the systematic phonetic level in generativist approaches (Chomsky 1964) and is criticised by Ladd (2009), who argues that it relies on the two unsustainable premises: segmental idealisation, which claims that speech can be properly idealised in terms of a string of segments; and the universal categorisation assumption, which holds that there is a closed universal inventory of possible segment types.
Many modern theories of phonological representation do not reify the segment as a unit of phonological analysis: gestural approaches (Kruszewski 1883; Browman and Goldstein 1989, 1990a, 1990b); Firthian phonology (Firth 1948; Waterson 1987); featural approaches (Jakobson, Fant and Halle 1952; Chomsky and Halle 1968; Clements 1985); element theory (Kaye, Lowenstamm and Vergnaud 1985, Harris and Lindsey 1995); metrical and prosodic approaches (Nespor and Vogel 1986; Hayes 1995); CVCV phonology (Cyran 2003; Scheer 2004); onset prominence (Schwarz
2011, 2013). These have considerable explanatory power in terms of modelling systematic dependencies in phonological structures and processes of phonological change. Subsegmental and suprasegmental annotation of segmental strings in cross- linguistic data can help develop more refined methods for modelling how phonological systems are liable to change. Moreover, if the features annotated can be user-defined, these datasets can allow us to directly compare competing phonological analyses of given languages, and indeed develop explicit metrics for evaluating the adequacy of phonological descriptions.
We invited papers that treat the following or similar themes: 1. Standards for preparing phonological data, particularly for annotating prosodic and morphological information 2. Tools for normalising lexical datasets for phonology 3. Handling different levels of description in phonological datasets 4. Strategies of phonological representation for quantitative analysis 5. Computational parsing of phonological feature annotation 6. Metrics for evaluating the adequacy of phonological descriptions 7. Phonetic and phonological data in cognate detection and linguistic reconstruction.
Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein. 1989. “Articulatory gestures as phonological units”, Phonology 6: 201-251.
Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein. 1990a. “Representation and reality: Physical systems and phonological structure”, Journal of Phonetics 18: 411-424.
Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein. 1990b. “Tiers in articulatory phonology, with some implications for casual speech”, in T. Kingston and M. E. Beckman eds. Papers in Laboratory Phonology I: Between the Grammar and Physics of Speech. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 341-76.
Chomsky, Noam and Morris Halle. 1968. The Sound Pattern of English. New York: Harper and Row.
Chomsky, Noam. 1964. “The nature of structural descriptions”, Current Issues in Linguistic Theory. The Hague: Mouton. Reprinted in Makkai 1972, 401-423.
Clements, George N. 1985. "The Geometry of Phonological Features", Phonology Yearbook 2: 225-252.
Cyran, Eugeniusz. 2003. Complexity scales and licensing strength in phonology. Lublin: Wydawnictwo Kul.
Firth, John Rupert. 1948. “Sounds and Prosodies”, Transactions of the Philological Society 47.1: 127-52.
Greenhill, Simon J.; Robert Blust; Russell D. Gray 2008. “The Austronesian Basic Vocabulary Database: from bioinformation to lexomics” Evolutionary Bioinformatics 4: 271-283.
Greenhill, Simon J. 2015. “TransNewGuinea.org: An Online Database of New Guinea Languages”, PLoS One.
Harris, John and Geoff Lindsey. 1995. “The elements of phonological representation” in Durand, Jacques and Francis Katamba (eds.), Frontiers of phonology: atoms, structures, derivations. Harlow, Essex: Longman, 24-79.
Hayes, Bruce. 1995. Metrical stress theory. The University of Chicago Press: Chicago.
Hjelmslev, Louis. 1943. Prolegomena to a Theory of Language. Baltimore: Indiana University Publications in Anthropology and Linguistics.
Jakobson, Roman; Gunnar Fant; Morris Halle. 1951. Preliminaries to Speech Analysis: The Distinctive Features and Their Correlates. Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press.
Kaye, Jonathan; Jean Lowenstamm; J-R Vergnaud. 1985. “The internal structure of phonological elements: A theory of charm and government”, Phonology Yearbook 2: 305-328.
Kruszewski, Mikołaj. 1883. Outline of Linguistic Science. Kazan.
Ladd, D. Robert. 2009. “Phonetics in phonology”, in Goldsmith John; Jason Riggle; Alan Yu eds. Handbook of Phonological Theory. London: Blackwell.
List, Johann-Mattis; Simon J. Greenhill; Russell D. Gray. 2017. “The Potential of automatic word comparison for historical linguistics”, PLoS One.
Maddieson, Ian. 1984. Patterns of sounds. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Makkai, Valerie Becker ed. 1972. Phonological Theory: Evolution and Current Practice. New York: Holt, Rinehart & Winston.
Nespor, Marina; Irene Vogel. 1986. Prosodic phonology. Foris Publications: Dordrecht.
Saussure, Ferdinand de. 1916. Cours de linguistique générale. (Edited C. Bally and A.
Sechehaye, with the collaboration of A. Riedlinger) Lausanne and Paris: Payot.
Scheer, Tobias. 2004. A lateral theory of phonology: What is CVCV, and why should it be?, Volume 1. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Schwartz, Geoffrey. 2011. “Phonology in the Speech Signal - Unifying cue and Prosodic Licensing”, Poznań Studies in Contemporary Linguistics 46.4: 499-518.
Schwartz, Geoffrey. 2013. “A representational parameter for onsetless syllables”, Journal of Linguistics 49.3: 1-34.
Simpson, Adrian P. 1999. “Fundamental problems in comparative phonetics and phonology: does UPSID help to solve them”, Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences: 349-352.
Waterson, Natalie. 1987. Prosodic phonology: The theory and its application to language acquisition and speech processing. Newcastle upon Tyne: Grevatt & Grevatt.
Wichmann, Søren, Eric W. Holman, and Cecil H. Brown eds. 2016. The ASJP Database.
See also here for the complete program of the conference. The workshop will be organized on Monday, 18 September.
Time Speakers Title 10.30 Moran The Unicode cookbook for linguists 11.00 List Establishing a cross-linguistic database of phonetic notation systems 11.30 Round The AusPhon-Lexicon project: Two million normalized segments across 300 Australian languages 12.30 Eden Lexicon database and configurable segmental analysis tools 13.00 Ionov Using a vector-based phonological representation for the cognate detection task 15.00 Simpson Phonetic and phonological levels of abstraction in cross-linguistic comparison 15.30 Anderson Phonological representation and the quantitative study of sound change 16.00 Schwartz Exemplars of what? 16.30 Heggarty Perspectives from cross-linguistic databases and the quantification of phonetic difference