Christian Uffmann – Issues in Feature Theory

This course builds upon the first course, Distinctive Feature Theory, and takes up issues raised in the first course, taking a more in-depth look at selected issues and discussing questions that have occupied phonologists for a long time (but remain unresolved). Although there is some flexibility regarding topics covered, and the discussions in the introductory course may point us to areas of interest for you, I suggest the following questions to be discussed in this course:

  • Are features universal (and in what senses can features be universal)?
  • How are feature specifications acquired by infants?
  • How can the phonological (classificatory) and phonetic functions of features be reconciled with each other?
  • Related to that, what is the phonetic, substantive content of features?
  • Feature valency: Are features binary or privative (monovalent)?
    These questions intersect, and we will try to develop a coherent model of features in this course that takes findings from different fields into account.