LING 412/512: Phonology
Instructor: G. Tucker Childs
This course introduces students to the theory and practice of phonology. Phonology, as opposed to phonetics, studies how sounds pattern in a language, i.e., the systematicity of a language's sounds. What is important for phonologists is how the sounds function and how they are distributed. Phonologists want to know how those patterns can be represented and how they can be explained. Typical questions might be, how much is our knowledge hard-wired and part of our genetic inheritance (nature), and how much is learned through exposure to a language (nurture)?
We will attempt to characterize these patterns in a minimal way through explicit formalisms, evaluating a number of different approaches. A related goal is to develop the student's skills at linguistic argumentation and theory-building. Students will learn how to construct an argument, how to understand and evaluate linguistic argumentation, the assumptions underlying those arguments, and the evidence used to support them.
The course will begin with a brief, refreshing review of phonetics, as a familiarity with the simple description and characterization of speech sounds will be needed throughout the course. The next step is to discuss possible and attested sound systems, considering what constraints there are on such systems. The rest of the course will be devoted to phonological analysis and theory construction. Students will analyze segmental phenomena such as allophony and other phonological alternations, and prosodic systems such as tone and vowel harmony. Considering the different ways of analyzing these phenomena will allow us to choose among the several theoretical approaches developed to handle them and thus justify our theory.
Prerequisites: LING 390
Major Assignments: Evaluation will be based on class participation, quizzes, regular assignments (problem sets) and a final take-home exam.
Students are strongly encouraged to work in small groups on the problem sets, especially those for whom English is a second language
Textbooks: Hayes, Bruce. 2009. Introductory Phonology. Malden, MA and Oxford, UK: Wiley-Blackwell. 978-1-4051-8411-3
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