Course announcement: Phonology 4 / Seminar in Phonology

Phonology 4, LING 635 /

Seminar in Phonology, LING 735

“The phonetics/phonology interface: laryngeal contrasts”  

This year’s LING 635/735 will focus on sound structure phenomena where physical implementation (phonetics) and symbolic patterning (phonology) are particularly intertwined, such as:

  • Incomplete neutralization (how can languages with “final devoicing” such as German have no final voicing contrast, yet final voiced and voiceless stops are pronounced differently?)
  • Sources of sound change (why is final devoicing so common cross-linguistically, while final voicing isn’t?)
  • Tonogenesis (how and why do languages often develop tone from laryngeal contrasts?)
  • Typology of contrasts (how can we account for the vast cross-linguistic variation in how voicing contrasts are realized, and which positions they are neutralized in?)

We will focus primarily on empirical cases involving laryngeal consonants, especially obstruent voicing contrasts. These sounds pattern in similar ways cross-linguistically, but vary vastly in how they are implemented phonetically (both within and across languages), making them a perfect lens through which to examine fundamental questions about the phonetics/phonology interface. We will read a mixture of experimental, theoretical, and computational work on languages such as English, German, Korean, and Vietnamese from the past few decades.


  • 635: class presentation(s), homework assignments, final project.
  • 735 (pass/fail): minimal assignments beyond participation and presentation(s) in class.


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