Elan Dresher – Topics in Contrastive Hierarchy Theory

This course follows the course on Foundations of Contrastive Hierarchy Theory, but is open to anyone interested in the subject. The course will include discussion and empirical investigation of a number of key issues in the theory of contrast as well as challenges to the tenets of Contrastive Hierarchy Theory. The choice of topics and readings will be influenced by the participants in the course, but the following outline indicates the types of questions we will investigate.

Course Outline

1. ontrastive Hierarchy Theory is founded on the central role of contrast, but is contrast even relevant to phonology? We will look at some old and new claims that it is not.

Readings: Kiparsky (1965); Hale & Reiss (2008), Pöchtrager & Kaye (2013); Dresher (2014a); Reiss (2017); Mackenzie (2018).

2. Contrastive Hierarchy Theory: Is it unfalsifiable or is it false? What sorts of evidence could falsify it in principle? What sorts of empirical challenges have been brought against it?

Readings: Clements (2001); Hall (2007); Dresher (2013); Nevins (2015); Hall (2018).

3. Alternative theories that give a role to contrast: arguments for and against.

Readings: Dresher (2009: Chapter 8) and selected readings cited there.

4. Does Contrastive Hierarchy Theory apply if the phonological primes are not binary features but unary elements?

Readings: Scheer (2010); Carvalho (2011); Voeltzel & Tifrit (2013); Dresher (2014b); Voeltzel (2016); Dresher (2018).

5. Topic and readings TBA, based on class interest.

Selected Readings (links to pdfs to come…)

Carvalho, Joaquim Brandão de. 2011. Contrastive hierarchies, privative features, and Portuguese vowels. Linguística : Revista de Estudos Linguísticos da Universidade do Porto 6: 51–66.

Clements, G. N. 2001. Representational economy in constraint-based phonology. In T. Alan Hall (ed.), Distinctive feature theory, 71–146. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.

Dresher, B. Elan. 2009. The contrastive hierarchy in phonology. Cambridge: CUP.

Dresher, B. Elan. 2013. Contrastive Features and Microvariation in Vowel Harmony. In Stefan Keine and Shayne Sloggett, eds., NELS 42: Proceedings of the Forty-Second Annual Meeting of the North East Linguistic Society, University of Toronto, Volume One, 141–153. GLSA, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.

Dresher, B. Elan. 2014a. The arch not the stones: Universal feature theory without universal features. Nordlyd 41.2: 165–181.

Dresher, B. Elan. 2014b. Contrastive hierarchies in Element Theory. Presented at the Conference on Theoretical Issues in Contemporary Phonology: Reading Tobias Scheer, École des Hautes Études en Sciences Sociales (EHESS), Paris, February 2014. Posted at https://sites.google.com/ site/rtsfrench/.

Dresher, B. Elan. 2018. Contrastive hierarchies and phonological primes. Presented at Elements: State of the Art and Perspectives, Nantes, June 2018.

Hale, Mark and Charles Reiss. 2008. The phonological enterprise. Oxford: OUP.

Hall, Daniel Currie. 2007. The role and representation of contrast in phonological theory. PhD thesis. University of Toronto.

Hall, Daniel Currie. 2018. Two ways to be transparent to Finnic vowel harmony. Poster presented at the 15th Old World Conference on Phonology (OCP), University College London, January 2018.

Hulst, Harry van der. 2018. Asymmetries in vowel harmony – A representational account. Oxford: OUP.

Kiparsky, Paul. 1965. Phonological change. Doctoral dissertation, MIT.

Nevins, Andrew. 2015. Triumphs and limits of the contrastivity-only hypothesis. Linguistic Variation 15(1): 41–68.

Mackenzie, Sara. 2018. Review: Beyond markedness in formal phonology. Phonology 35(4): 727–34.

Pöchtrager, Markus A. and Jonathan Kaye. 2013. GP2.0. SOAS Working Papers in Linguistics 16: 51–64.

Reiss, Charles. 2017. Contrast is irrelevant in phonology. In Bridget D. Samuels  (ed.), Beyond markedness in formal phonology, 23–46. Amsterdam/Philadelphia: John Benjamins.

Scheer, Tobias. 2010. How to marry (structuralist) contrast and (generative) processing (review of Dresher 2009). Lingua 120(10): 2522–2534.

Voeltzel, Laurence. 2016. Morphophonologie des langues scandinaves. Hiérarchie  segmentale et complexité syllabique. Doctoral dissertation, Université de Nantes.

Voeltzel, Laurence & Ali Tifrit. 2013. From binary features to elements: The case of Scandinavian. Paper presented at Features in Phonology, Morphology, Syntax and Semantics: What are they? CASTL, University of Tromsø, Oct.-Nov. 2013.