Atelier de phonologie

Atelier de phonologie

Bienvenue ! Welcome!

L'Atelier de phonologie est un séminaire de recherche informel consacré à la phonologie : représentation, computation, acquisition et modalités d'apprentissage, interaction avec les autres modules linguistiques, etc. Y sont présentés des travaux en cours, des préparations de conférences, des revues de la littérature, ainsi que des présentations plus accomplies. Le séminaire, hébergé par le laboratoire SFL (Structures Formelles du Langage), est ouvert à la communauté de phonologues locale et internationale. Il se réunit environ toutes les deux semaines, le mercredi matin de 10h à midi, et est suivi d'un déjeuner sur place. Les archives des réunions passées (depuis l'automne 2012) est disponible ici.

The Atelier de phonologie is an informal research seminar dedicated to phonology: its representations, its computations, its acquisition and learnability, its interaction with other linguistic modules, etcetera. The seminar features informal presentations of work in progress, practice talks, literature reviews, as well as more polished talks. It is open to the local community as well as to international visitors. It is hosted at the SFL lab and it meets approximately every two weeks, always on a Wednesday morning, followed by lunch. The archive of past meetings (since fall 2012) is available here.

Où et quand / When and where

Où/Where et quand /when:

59/61, rue Pouchet, Paris (cartes et informations sur les transports : here you can find a map and information concerning public transportation).

le mercredi, de 10h à 12h. On Wednesdays, from 10am to noon.

Calendrier / Schedule 2020-2021

1er semestre

09 oct: Francesc Torres-Tamarit

23 sept: Noam Faust & Shanti Ulfsbjorninn

7 oct: Eva Zimmermann

21 oct: Benjamin Storme

4 nov: Noa Handelsman

18 nov: Mathilde Hutin

2 dec: Ollie Sayeed

16 dec: Nicola Lampitelli

2nd semestre

20 jan Françoise Rose

03 fév Claudia pons-Moll

17 fév Daniel Asherov

03 mar Marijke De Belder

17 mar

31 mar Fabian Zuk

14 avr Maria del Mar Vanrell

05 mai Marie-Hélène Côté

09 sep

Francesc Torres-Tamarit (SFL, CNRS & Université Paris 8)

Typological aspects of contrastive vowel length in Romance

By way of comparative historical reconstruction and cross-dialect synchronic descriptions, Loporcaro (2015) arrives at establishing that contrastive vowel length (CVL) in Northern Romance in stressed syllables is metrically-governed, and that its distribution is implicational. The presence of CVL in proparoxytones implies CVL in paroxytones, but not the other way around. Likewise, the presence of CVL in paroxytones implies CVL in oxytones, but not

vice versa. The same distribution is found for derived (non-contrastive) vowel length as a result of a process of open syllable lengthening, and also for stress-dependent gemination. Building on Loporcaro (2015), in this talk I will

show that by combining internally layered (ternary) feet with uneven trochees, an OT, foot-based analysis of the distribution of CVL in Northern Romance is not only descriptively adequate, but increases explanatory power because it avoids both over- and under-generation problems, as opposed to

analytical alternatives that exclude layered feet (but use instead final extrametricality as in Jacobs 2019). The theoretical contribution of this investigation is to give additional support for minimal layering of feet, an issue that has recently received attention in the literature on metrical theory.

23 sep

Noam Faust (SFL, CNRS & Université Paris 8) and Shanti Ulfsbjorninn (University of Deusto)

Prosodically-driven harmony in Strict CV: a Celto-Semitic case


In Barra Gaelic (BG; Boseh de Jong 1997), stress (underlined) is generally word-initial and correlates with a high tone [aHran] ‘bread’. A harmonic (or “copy”) epenthetic vowel is inserted in the environment /#(C)VC1_C2(…)/, where C1 is any sonorant and C1 and C2 are hetero-organic: e.g. /t̪ɔrɣ/ => [t̪ɔrɔHɣ] ‘fishing line’. As shown in the transcription, this epenthetic vowel is doubly interesting: i. it carries the high tone despite being peninitial, and ii. it is as stressed as the initial vowel.

In Modern Hebrew (MH), stress is generally final: [mufsak] ‘begin.pass.prtc’. A harmonic process transforms [a] to [e] before a word-final unstressed sequence [eC]: [mufsek-et] ‘begin.pass.prtc-fm’. The unstressed [e] must be analyzed as epenthetic/weak. Like BG peninitial epenthesis, the MH case is typologically strange: the weak, unstressed vowel triggers harmony on the lexical stressed one.

We propose a Strict CV account of both patterns that highlights their similarities. In both languages, a prosodic domain must be edge-aligned (to the left in BG, to the right in MH). When epenthesis obliges the aligned domain to span two V-slots, two effects follow. First, its non-aligned edge must also be marked: this is done by H in BG and by stress in MH. Second, the span of two V-slots must be signaled by harmony.

07 oct

Eva Zimmermann (Leipzig Universität)

Phonological exceptions result from gradient constraint violations: An argument for Gradient Symbolic Representations


The assumption of Gradient Symbolic Representations that phonological elements can have different degrees of activity (Smolensky and Goldrick, 2016; Rosen, 2016; Zimmermann, 2018, 2019) allows a unified explanation for the typology of phonological exceptions.

Exceptional (non)triggers and (non)undergoers of otherwise regular phonological processes are predicted from gradient constraint violations: The activation of a phonological element in an underlying morpheme representation determines 1) how much the element is preserved by faithfulness constraints and 2) how much it is penalized by markedness constraints. I argue that this simple mechanism predicts the attested typology of phonological exceptions.

In this talk, I argue that the predictions made by the GSR account are empirically more adequate than the ones made by alternative approaches to exceptionality based on autosegmental defectivity (Lieber, 1987; Tranel, 1996; Zoll, 1996) or lexically indexed constraints (Pater, 2006; Flack, 2007; Mahanta, 2012).

21 oct

Benjamin Storme (UNiversité de Lausanne) parler de

Not only size matters: limits to the Law of Three Consonants in French phonology

Grammont’s Law of Three Consonants (LTC) states that French schwa is obligatorily pronounced in any CC_C sequence to avoid three-consonant clusters. Although schwa presence has been shown to be sensitive not only to cluster size but also to the nature of consonants in post-lexical phonology, the LTC is still considered as accurate to describe schwa-zero alternations in lexical phonology. The paper uses judgment data from French speakers in France and Switzerland to compare the behavior of schwa in derived words (lexical phonology) and inflected words (post-lexical phonology). The results show that schwa-zero alternations are conditioned not only by cluster size but also by cluster type in lexical phonology. Moreover, the same phonotactic asymmetries among consonant clusters are found in lexical and post-lexical phonologies. The data therefore support a weaker version of the lexical-phonology hypothesis than what is usually assumed for French. Lexical and post-lexical phonologies do not require different phonotactic constraints but only different weights for the same constraints.

4 nov

Noa Handelsman (Tel Aviv Universtiy)

Category-specific phonology in the acquisition of Hebrew

In Hebrew, noun-stems and verb-stems are prosodically restricted – they are usually disyllabic with final codas. These prosodic restrictions are identical for nouns and verbs such that they may be indistinguishable; for example, kaˈtav means both ‘a reporter’ and ‘to write’. The contrast between nouns and verbs emerges with the morphological paradigm, as nouns and verbs employ different suffixes and different morpho-phonology (Bat-El 2008). However, these morpho-phonological means to distinguish between nouns and verbs are not available during early speech, when children produce stem-like forms without overt morphological structure (Levy 1980, Armon-Lotem & Berman 2003, Adam & Bat-El 2009).

The talk will address the contrast between nouns and verbs in children’s productions during this morphology-free period, when nouns and verbs are produced without the morphology that allows distinguishing between them. The question addressed is whether children make an overt distinction between nouns and verbs during this period, and if so, how.

To address this question, the spontaneous productions of 3 Hebrew-acquiring children were examined with reference to the development of the lexicon, the phonology (codas and number of syllables) and the morphology (suffixes). The findings suggest that during the period when the productions are morphology-free, children use their own phonological strategy to distinguish between nouns and verbs. This is a case of Category Specific Phonology, often found in adults’ systems, whereby nouns and verbs adhere to different phonological patterns and thus different phonological grammars (McCarthy & Prince 1995, Smith 1997, Antilla 2002, Bat-El 2008).

18 novembre

Mathilde Hutin (Université Paris-Saclay)

Lenition and fortition of stops at word-edges in Romance languages:

A study of voicing alternations in French, Romanian, Spanish, Portuguese and Italian


Mathilde Hutin1, Yaru Wu1,2, Adèle Jatteau3, Ioana Vasilescu1, Lori Lamel1, Martine Adda-Decker1,2

1 Université Paris-Saclay, CNRS, LIMSI, Bât. 507, rue du Belvédère, 91405 Orsay, France

2 Université Paris 3 Sorbonne Nouvelle, CNRS, UMR 7018, LPP, 19 rue des Bernardins, 75005 Paris, France

3 Université de Lille, CNRS, UMR 8163, STL, Lille, France

{mathilde.hutin, yaru.wu, ioana.vasilescu, lori.lamel, martine.adda},

Lenition is a well-known phenomenon defined as a process whereby a consonant is “weakened”: “a segment X is said to be weaker than a segment Y if Y goes through an X stage on its way to zero” (Venneman in Hyman 2008). A refined definition (Szigetvári 2008) distinguishes between “consonantic” lenition, where consonants become more consonant-like when they lose place or laryngeal specifications (ex. s → h → 0), and “vocalic” lenition, where consonants become more vowel-like when they move up the sonority scale (ex. t → ɾ). On the other hand, fortition appears to be the reverse of vocalic lenition exclusively, i.e. a movement down the sonority scale (ex. j → dʒ) while an equivalent of “consonantic fortition” (at least regarding place) does not appear to be on record. The present study will thus focus on vocalic lenition and fortition. More precisely, studies on Romance languages (Carvalho 2008) show that changes concerning the laryngeal feature are instances of such phenomena (ex. Lat. vita → m. fr. vidə → Fr. vie). Following Ohala (1989), the present study is based on the idea that historical processes such as voicing and devoicing are pre-conditioned by synchronic variation. We will thus present an in-depth exploration of voicing alternations in word-initial and word-final position in 5 Romance languages (mostly French and Romanian but also Spanish, Portuguese and Italian) using large-scale corpora (ca. 1000 hours of speech) and automatic alignment. The aims are to investigate (i) whether the languages under survey here display voicing alternations that can be considered lenition and fortition, i.e. that are conditioned by positional factors instead of representative of adjacency effects (Ségéral & Scheer 2008), (ii) on a subsidiary note, whether in connected speech the consonants at word-edges follow the generalizations drawn from word-internal regularities (Ségéral & Scheer 2008), and finally (iii) whether these voicing alternations can be considered as ongoing changes in these languages, i.e. are starting a phonologization process (Hyman 2008).

2 décembre

Ollie Sayeed (University of Pennsylvanya)

f vs θ

The categories [f] and [θ] show an asymmetrical relationship both synchronically and diachronically: [θ] is rarer than [f] typologically (UPSID; Maddieson 1981), [θ] has more variable acoustic cues than [f] (McGuire and Babel 2012), [θ] is more confusable for [f] than [f] is for [θ] (Miller and Nicely 1955), [θ] > [f] is common diachronically while [f] > [θ] is rare or unattested (Honeybone 2016), and [θ] is synchronically more volatile across dialects than [f] (Kjellmer 1995). But why? In this talk, I give preliminary results from a series of studies on [f] and [θ] aimed at teasing apart two explanations: one based on phonological markedness, and one based on asymmetric acoustic distribution.


Les archives des réunions passées (depuis l'automne 2012) sont disponibles ici.

The archive of past meetings of the Atelier is available here.


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