The representation of morphological information in phonology

Morphological information plays an important role in a number of
phonological processes. It is usually referred to by non-phonological
symbols such as "-", "+" or "#". These are taken to interact with properly
phonological categories such as consonants and vowels, while remaining truly
morphological in both Signifiant and Signifié.

We will review various attempts that have been made in order to ship this
morphological information into phonology. For example, Lexical Phonology
(e.g. Kiparsky 1982,1985, Mohanan 1986) has proposed to encode morphological
information through different derivational levels. Government Phonology has
approached this problem through the definition of different kinds of domains
(analytic/ non-analytic), cf. Kaye (1995). As a result, morphological
boundaries disappear in the statement of phonological processes.
The aim of this course is to explore the possibility of eliminating
boundary- symbols in yet another way: Morphology could be a device of
grammar whose Signifiant has a phonological identity. That is, the existence
of a morphological boundary is decided by the morphological component alone,
but once a boundary has come into being, it is expressed through a unit that
enjoys a truly phonological identity. Hence, phonological processes refer
only to phonological objects.

Illustration of this representational alternative comes from the
word-initial situation: consequences of the proposal by Lowenstamm (1999)
according to which the phonological identity of "#" is an empty Onset
followed by an empty Nucleus will be examined. The crucial feature of this
approach is its ability of expressing empirical contrasts observed
word-initially by a PRIVATIVE opposition: the word-initial context is either
marked by the presence of an initial CV-unit, or by its absence. This option
is not available unless a phonological identity is given to the
morphological information "beginning of the word". Under the traditional
approach, there is no way of considering that # is absent: it occurs in all
word-initial representations because no part of its identity is independent
from this particular context. Only when it is thought of as a phonological
unit can "#" possess an identity that is partly independent from its
position in the string: "word-initial" refers to the Signifi of "#" alone,
which is morphological and inalterable. By contrast, its Signifiant enjoys
an independent phonological life and hence may be conceived of as either
present or absent.

In order to evaluate this proposal, various phonological phenomena that are
sensitive to the left margin of the word will be reviewd:


Readings available online here

1. Ségéral, Philip and Tobias Scheer 2001. The Coda Mirror. This is an English version of the paper refered to below i
n the print section.

2. The Coda Mirror - handout.

3. Strict CVCV syllable structre - why it is, how it looks like and what it
buys us. Handout for the course on syllable structre taught by Tobias Scheer
at the Summer School 1999 in Plovidv/ Bulgaria.

4. Disjunctive contexts - handout. Processes that make reference to the
word-initial position AND to another phonological property.

5. A representational theory of morphological information in phonology.
Handout with emphasis on data from Slavic.

6. Scheer, Tobias 1999. On constraints vs. non-circular approaches to
word-initial clusters. Phonologica 1996, edited by John Rennison and Klaus
Kühnhammer, 289-304. La Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.


Suggested Print Readings

Kaye, Jonathan 1995. Derivations and Interfaces. Frontiers of Phonology,
edited by Jacques Durand and Francis Katamba, 289-332. Londres & New York:

Lowenstamm, Jean 1996. CV as the only syllable type. Current trends in
Phonology. Models and Methods, edited by Jacques Durand and Bernard Laks,
419-441. Salford, Manchester: ESRI.

Lowenstamm, Jean 1999. The beginning of the word. In: Syllables?!, edited by
J. Rennison & K. Kühnhammer, 153-166. The Hague: Holland Academic Graphics.

Scheer, Tobias 1998. A theory of consonantal interaction. Folia Linguistica
32, 201-237.

Scheer, Tobias 1999. On constraints vs. non-circular approaches to
word-initial clusters. Phonologica 1996, edited by John Rennison and Klaus
Kühnhammer, 289-304. La Hague: Holland Academic Graphics. (= abriged version
of the previous reference)

Ségéral, Philippe, Tobias Scheer 2001. The Coda Mirror. Bulletin de la
Sociétéde Linguistique de Paris.


Even more Print Readings

Kiparsky, Paul 1982. From Cyclic Phonology to Lexical Phonology. The
structure of phonological representations I, edited by Harry van der Hulst &

Norval Smith, 131-175. Dordrecht: Foris.

Kiparsky, Paul 1985. Some Consequences of Lexical Phonology. Phonology
Yearbook 2, 85-138.

Mohanan, Karuvannur 1986. The Theory of Lexical Phonology. Dordrecht: