Course Syllabus

This course is the first half of a year-long survey of current phonological theory, continued in Ling 531 to be taught by Rolf Noyer. (Ling 530 can also be taken by itself without continuing.) The main focus is on the important conceptual issues and the range of facts that phonological theory must account for. Specific topics include:

  • basic concepts in articulatory and acoustic phonetics
  • essentials of phonological analysis
  • rule- and constraint-based approaches to phonology
  • the structure of syllables
  • the metrical analysis of stress
  • prosodic approaches to reduplication and infixation

See below for scheduling, readings, and deadlines. Note that the class meetings are shifted by ten minutes; they start at 1:40 rather than the official 1:30, since the majority of students are enrolled in Ling 550 immediately preceding this class and can use a brief pause.

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 read much of Bruce Hayes' book Introducing Phonology (2009), which is fairly basic but provides background for those who require it. Many of the more detailed readings are topic surveys from The Blackwell Companion to Phonology (2011).

The following books may also be useful for reference if you are particularly interested in a topic; we will read very brief excerpts from each one.

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


Homework assignments will be handed out regularly, normally on Thursday to be submitted the following Tuesday. You are free to discuss the assignment with others, but you must write up your answer independently and identify your collaborators on your assignment. Normally the homeworks will be corrected by the next class session; they are graded on a scale of 0–10.

Midterm exam

A take-home midterm exam comparable to an extended homework assignment (except no discussion with others!) will be distributed Tuesday, October 16 and will be due on Thursday, October 25.

Final exam

A take-home final exam will be distributed on the last day of class, December 6. If you have a well defined project, you can substitute a paper (15–20 double-spaced pages); to use this option, you must submit a paragraph outlining the topic by November 27, after discussing it with me. The default option is the exam, so if you do not have an approved topic by that date you cannot substitute a paper. Either the paper or the completed exam is due by noon on Wednesday, December 19.


The final grade for the course is calculated as follows:

Homework assignments 30%
Midterm exam 20%
Final exam or paper 40%
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 of up to two days; 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