Papillon – Introduction to substance-free phonology

This course introduces the substance-free approach to phonology: the view that phonology operates without incorporating or consulting information about substance, i.e. the physical reality of phonetics like articulation and audition.

We will cover the conceptual and empirical arguments for holding phonology as modular with regard to phonetics. Modularity implies it operates on arbitrary proprietary computational symbols, empty of information about anything outside of phonology, including substance. We will see some of the facts that led phonologists to posit substance in phonology and why these might be better explained by factors outside of phonology.

Since the label substance-free highlights what is not part of phonology, we then need to talk about what is left to explain within phonology: what are the mental operations available to phonology? We will discuss a few of these operations.

Recommended reading
Haspelmath, M. (2006). Against markedness (and what to replace it with). Journal of linguistics, 42(01), 25-70.

Hall, D. C. (2014). On substance in phonology. In Proceedings of the 2014 annual conference of the Canadian Linguistic Association.

Optional readings
Ohala, J. J. (2005). Phonetic explanations for sound patterns. A figure of speech: A festschrift for John Laver, 23.

Hale, M., & Reiss, C. (2000). Phonology as cognition. Phonological knowledge: Conceptual and empirical issues, 161-184.

Bale, A., Papillon, M., & Reiss, C. (2014). Targeting underspecified segments: A formal analysis of feature-changing and feature-filling rules. Lingua, 148, 240-253.