November 7, 2015

Guest speaker: Björn Köhnlein (Ohio State University)

We're pleased to have the chance to welcome Björn Köhnlein, a phonologist from Ohio State University. He earned a Ph.D. from Leiden University in 2011 and has a special interest in interdisciplinary/typological perspectives on segmental and suprasegmental phenomena.

His talk, "Tonal accent and prosodic typology," will be taking place on Friday, November 13, at 3:30 PM sharp in SS 560A. It will be followed by a reception in the department lounge.

In this talk, I argue that traditional approaches to the formal representation of word-level prosodic structure (one of the most intensely-debated fields in phonological typology) fail to account for various prosodically conditioned phonological contrasts. This particularly concerns phonological oppositions in so-called tone accent systems that combine tonal contrasts in stressed syllables with contrasts in vowel quantity/quality, and consonant quality. Commonly, such phenomena are either analyzed as lexical tone plus syllabic stress (tonal approach, Hyman 2006, 2007, 2009 for overview), or as metrical prominence at the mora level (grid-based approach, Van der Hulst 2011, 2012 for overview), both of which can be shown to face empirical problems. On the basis of data from tone accent systems like Franconian and related systems, I demonstrate how a novel, foot-based approach to the phenomena in question (= contrastive foot structure) remedies these shortcomings and thereby significantly improves our understanding of prosodic representations (e.g. Köhnlein 2011, 2013, to appear).

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