PLM2009 Workshop session: Melody vs. structure in phonological representations

Traditionally, melodic primitives are linked with structural positions, with the implication that melody specifies phonetic properties such as voicing or place of articulation, whereas the structural positions themselves are devoid of phonetic content. This distinction between melody and structure appears to be widely accepted, even among 'phonetically based' approaches to phonology. For example, Steriade (1997) presents a cue-based account of laryngeal neutralizations in various languages, which is presented largely as a refutation of a 'licensing by prosody' (e.g. Ito 1986) approach that relates the presence or absence of laryngeal contrasts to questions of syllable structure. The implication of this debate is that 'licensing by cue' and 'licensing by prosody' are mutually exclusive.

But are they? Can we really separate melody and structure? If not, how do melody and structure interact? Is structure really phonetically bare? If not, what defines it?

This session seeks to answer these and other questions related to the anatomy of phonological representations. In keeping with the leitmotif for this year's PLM, we especially welcome papers comparing a variety of approaches to the melody/structure problem, or those investigating representational implications of cross-linguistic variation.

Selected bibliography

Ito, J. 1986. Syllable theory in prosodic phonology. (Unpublished PhD dissertation, University of Massachusetts, Amherst.) Published 1988 by Garland Press, New York.

Steriade, D. 1997. Phonetics in phonology: The case of laryngeal neutralization. (Ms., UCLA.)

Session organiser

Geoff Schwartz (Adam Mickiewicz University, Poznań), email: geoff <at>

(In the email address above, replace "<at>" with "@".)

Abstract submission procedure

Please follow the general submission guidelines but send your abstract directly to the session organiser.