University College London
2015 Annual Meeting of the
Linguistics Association of Great Britain

University College London, 15-18 September 2015

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Workshop on Phonology | Workshop on Morphological ComplexitySummer School

Workshop on the Current Status of Underlying Representations in Phonology

Wednesday 16 September 2015

This workshop, organised will be held in conjunction with Larry Hyman's Henry Sweet Lecture at the Annual Meeting of the Linguistics Association of Great Britain 2015. The organisers are John Harris (UCL) and Larry Hyman (UC Berkeley).

Plenary speaker

  • Larry Hyman (UC Berkeley) - 'Why underlying representations?'

Invited speakers

  • Ricardo Bermudez Otero (Manchester) - 'Surface forms cue shared input representations, not each other'
  • Carlos Gussenhoven (Radboud) - Word prosody is lexical, post-lexical or just absent'
  • Brent de Chene (Waseda) - 'The centrality of underlying representations'
  • Andrew Nevins (UCL) - 'The unification problem in UR construction'
  • Neil Smith (UCL) - 'Levels of representation and metarepresentation: An acquisitional perspective'
  • Bert Vaux (Cambridge) - 'Why bother with underlying representations?'
For details of the workshop schedule, please see the LAGB 2015 programme.


Phonology is a rapidly changing and increasingly varied field, having traveled quite some distance from its original structuralist and generative underpinnings. In those days the concerns of the ordinary traditional phonologist might be summarized as "what's the underlying form, and how do we bring it to the surface?" In many circles today, however, there has been a relative lack of interest in questions of representation--and for different reasons. On the one hand, the output-driven nature of optimality theory and its concept of the richness of the base have placed the emphasis on motivating surface forms, with some going as far as to insist that all constraints be grounded in the phonetics--and that there are no underlying representations. At the other end, there's been the assault from morphology: alternations that traditionally justified abstract morphophonemic ("systematic phonemic") representations are now often viewed as non-automatic morphologically conditioned "rules", if not allomorphy, "constructions", or "lexical organization". At the same time, focus has shifted from the traditional techniques of phonological analysis which have been increasingly enhanced, if not replaced by experimental, instrumental, statistical and computational approaches to the study of sound systems. As a result, the boundaries between phonetics and phonology, on the one hand, and phonology and morphology, on the other, are as unclear as ever. In this workshop, papers are sought that address the current status of underlying representations in phonology: Do we need abstract lexical representations? phonemes? morphophonemes? something else? If yes, why? If no, what do we put in their place? Another way to think of it is to return to Kiparsky's old question, "How abstract is phonology?" How do current models of phonology which invoke strata and/or underspecification, ranked constraints, empty elements, principles of various sorts etc. bear on the issue of underlying representations in phonology?


You can register for this event on the LAGB 2015 registration page.

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