Chabot – Phonology as substance-free cognition

This course examines the role of the natural object called phonology and its place in human cognition. We will examine phonology as an innate, genetically endowed part of Faculty of language that is responsible for processing information from the ‘real-world’ which is external to our minds. In much of the substance-free literature, phonology is seen as a cognitive module; the modular hypothesis has a number of consequences, in particular for the division of labor between phonology and phonetics on the one hand, but also between phonology and morphosyntax on the other. We will consider some of the consequences of the modular hypothesis for the remit of phonological theory, and what modularity means for the nature of substance-free representations and computations. We will also ask if phonology is a single module in cognition, with a single set of representational and computational vocabulary, or if it instead is best viewed as a number of modules that interface with each other and what this might mean for the architecture of phonology.


Anderson, Stephen R. 1981. Why phonology isn’t “natural”. Linguistic Inquiry 12(4). 493–539. pdf

Hale, Mark & Charles Reiss. 2000a. Phonology as cognition. In Noel Burton-Roberts, Philip Carr & Gerard Docherty (eds.), Phonological knowledge: Conceptual and empirical issues, 161–184. Oxford: Oxford University Press. pdf

Hamann, Silke. 2011. The phonetics-phonology interface. In Nancy Kula, Bert Botma & Kuniya Nasukawa (eds.), The Continuum companion to phonology, 202–224. London: Continuum. pdf

Scheer, Tobias. To appear. 3x phonology. The Canadian Journal of Linguistics. pdf