Sound Change in the Laboratory

Instructor(s): John J. Ohala

Traditionally, historical phonology has been a 'paper and pencil' enterprise, establishing links between languages in the same family first by gestalt comparison and then at the beginning of the 19th century by a point-by-point phonological comparison which eventually permitted the positing of no longer extand intermediate or parent forms. This latter development naturally allowed the positing of sound changes that brought about the observed variation. A new development within historical phonology is the investigation of and, indeed, the duplication of common, cross-language, speech sound variation in the laboratory. This course will cover such processes as assimilation, dissimilation, factors favoring voicuing or devoicing, emergent sounds, factors favoring turbulence (frication), and, especially, the role of the listener vs. the speaker in sound change. Coursework will consist of write-ups of two mini-experiments plus a blog briefly describing and commenting on the lectures and class discussions.

Reading: Selected materials available online.

One course in basic phonetics and one in historical linguistics.

Course ID:

Mon & Thu 1:30-3:15

Classroom: CLARE 207

Areas of Linguistics:
Areal and Historical Linguistics
Phonetics, Phonology and Morphology