In this course we will examine how representational explanations in
phonology work, when we should consider using them in preference to
others, and what kind of predictions representational theories can and
cannot make. Focusing on phenomena in segmental phonology, we will
consider how (whether?) representational devices such as
underspecification, privativity, the contrastive hierarchy, and
geometric structure can constrain our expectations regarding what a
possible phonological process is, as well as how they relate to each
other. Our main focus will be on what kind of data can motivate us to
adopt a representational solution. We will consider both mainstream
substance-based views of representation in the SPE tradition and various
substance-free approaches to feature theory.
The course will be quite practical, with a focus on hands-on discussion
of curated data sets. This course is most suitable for attendees who
already have a grasp of how to construct a basic phonological analysis.
As such, there is no set reading, but a familiarity with analysis
techniques will be assumed that can be gained by at least a cursory
examination of a textbook in generative phonological analysis, insofar
as it covers underlying and surface representations, rules and rule
ordering, and a basic introduction to phonological features.