Mind, Technology, and Society Talk Series

Andries Coetzee
Associate Professor, University of Michigan
Time/Date: 3-4:30 p.m. Monday, November 23, 2015

Chancellor’s Conference Room, KL 232

Modeling phonological variation


Existing approaches to phonological variation differ in the role that they ascribe to grammar. Some assume no role for grammar, considering variation as the result of non-grammatical factors impacting the categorical output of phonological grammar. Others assume that grammar and non-grammatical factors contribute equally to variation. Yet others attempt to account for all aspects of variation with grammar alone, allowing no room for non-grammatical factors. In this talk, I will develop a fourth possible model with the following features: (i) Grammar itself is variable and hence contributes to variation. (ii) Non-grammatical factors also contribute. (iii) But the model is grammar dominant – grammar defines the space of possible variation and non-grammatical factors can only influence how variation is realized within this grammar-delimited variable space. The model will be implemented in Harmonic Grammar, and will be applied to English variable t/d-deletion (west bank~wes_ bank),variable cross-word nasal place assimilation (green boat~greem boat), and variable devoicing of Afrikaans plosives, focusing on the interaction of grammar with factors such as usage frequency, speech rate, and communicative context.

Suggested reading:

Coetzee, Andries W. & Shigeto Kawahara. (2013) Frequency biases in phonological variation. NLLT 31:47-89.



His website is https://sites.lsa.umich.edu/coetzee/.