Course Syllabus

This course is the second half of a year-long survey of current phonological theory, continued from Ling 530, taught by Rolf Noyer. (Ling 530 can be taken by itself, but its content is assumed in this course.) A mixture of ordered-rule and surface-constraint approaches will be presented, with the main focus on the important conceptual issues and the range of facts that phonological theory must account for. See below for topics, readings, and deadlines.

The organization of the course is intended to make it easier for students to develop their final paper. The first six weeks will have overviews of several different subfields, relatively general readings, and a homework assignment each week. After this, as students develop their topics, we will read representative papers in various areas that give students examples of phonological argumentation, as well as more specific and in-depth treatment of the relevant subfields.

Readings will be provided online through Canvas during the term. To access them, go to the calendar and click on the the relevant day.

We will not have any required textbooks, but the following books may be useful for reference.

  • Michael Kenstowicz. 1994. Phonology in Generative Grammar. Blackwell.
  • Rene Kager. 1999. Optimality Theory. Cambridge University Press.


During the first part of the semester, you will receive an assignment on Thursday which is to be completed and turned in the following week, also on Thursday. You are free to discuss the assignment with others, but you must write up your answer independently and identify anyone you worked with. Normally the corrected homeworks will be returned in the next class session; they are graded on a scale of 0-10.


The final project is a paper of on an approved topic in phonology, whether covered mainly in this semester or in 530. See below for relevant deadlines, which refer to these steps:

  • the topic proposal (a page or two outlining the theoretical background and your goals, with references)
  • the completed paper (about 20-25 double-spaced pages)
  • an abstract (1 page), suitable for submission to a conference

Just as in the syntax course (Ling 551), there will be a mini-conference at the end of the semester in which students will present the data and argument of their paper. A revised version of your paper, incorporating comments from the professor and other students, is due by noon on May 9.


The final grade for the course is calculated as follows:

Homework assignments 30%
Paper and related assignments 60%
In-class participation 10%

All assignments should be submitted in pdf form, uploaded to Canvas. You must insert the appropriate special symbols into your document; ask if you need help.

Homework assignments must be on time. If you have a reasonable excuse, and inform me before the due date, you may be granted an extension; otherwise you will lose one point for turning it in after the beginning of class, and an additional point for each day late. You will receive a zero for any missing homework.

Course Summary:

Date Details