Breit – Introduction to melodic representation

Course outline

This course will introduce students to melodic representation, a subfield of phonology investigating how the specific characteristics associated with particular types of segments (what we call melody) are represented mentally and how these interact with other levels of interpretation and computation. We will ask many fundamental questions, such as whether segments consist of smaller parts, how fine-grained these parts should be, what these parts actually represent, how they interact, how we might determine what these parts are, and how these parts gain their eventual phonetic characteristics. Throughout we will focus on one possible answer to these questions based on Element Theory, which you should have a fair understanding of by the end of the course. However, we will also spend some time looking at and comparing different approaches, such as traditional Feature Theory, so that participants will have some appreciation for the range of possible answers.


No particular previous knowledge about segmental or melodic phonology is assumed, but a basic grounding in articulatory phonetics will be necessary to be able to follow the course.

Readings & Materials

A more detailed curriculum, recommended readings and course materials will be provided here, some before the course begins and others as the course progresses — we may well be adjusting things as we go depending on your specific needs and interests!