Introduction to Government Phonology

Markus Pöchtrager

This course is an introduction to the theory of Government Phonology, in particular to the flavour often referred to as the standard theory. Government Phonology is a generative phonological theory that made its appearance in the 1980's, with certain predecessors already occurring earlier than that. Deriving phonological phenomena from universal principles and parameters has always been its main concern, thus trying to show that phonology is essentially parallel to syntax.

Previous exposure to phonological theory and other phonological frameworks might or might not be useful, but is certainly not necessary. We will start with the very basics and discuss what kinds of ingredients a successful phonological theory needs. This leads us quite naturally to an evaluation of how these requirements are met in Government Phonology and we can discuss the basic (“meta-theoretical”) rules of the game, such as, say, the Non-Arbitrariness Principle or the Universality Principle. From there on we will proceed to a gentle introduction to the formal mechanisms employed, i.e. the theory of elements (melody) and the theory of constituent structure. We will discuss some of the (by now) classic sets of data that have received considerable attention in the Government Phonology literature, such as vowel-zero alternations, vowel harmony, lenition, closed syllable shortening etc. Higher level prosodic phenomena will be outside the scope of this course, but might be hinted at every now and then.

A first (tentative) schedule
Day 1:
What is phonology and what is it good for? What are the aims of Government Phonology, what is it designed to do and (equally importantly) not to do?

Day 2:
Element theory, part 1.

Day 3:
Element theory, part 2.
Constituent structure, part 1.

Day 4:
Constituent structure, part 2.

Day 5:
Remaining issues.

Handouts will be provided; for those who want to do some reading in advance, I would suggest the following texts, most of which are available on the Internet (thanks to Tobias).

Brockhaus, Wiebke (1995): Skeletal and suprasegmental structure within Government Phonology. In: Jacques Durand & Francis Katamba (eds.): Frontiers of Phonology: Atoms, Structures, Derivations. London, New York: Longman. 180—221. [http://www.unice.fr/dsl/tobweb/scan/Brockhaus_95_Skeletal_suprasg_structure_in_%20GP.pdf]

Harris, John (1994): English Sound Structure. Oxford: Blackwell.

Charette, Monik (1990): Licence to govern. In: Phonology 7. 233—253.[http://www.unice.fr/dsl/tobweb/papers/Charette90LicGov.zip]

Charette, Monik (1991): Conditions on phonological government. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Kaye, Jonathan (1989): Phonology: A Cognitive View. Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.

Kaye, Jonathan (1990): ''Coda' Licensing.' In: Phonology 7. 301—330.

Kaye, Jonathan (1995): Derivations and interfaces. In: Jacques Durand & Francis Katamba (eds.): Frontiers of Phonology: Atoms, Structures, Derivations. London, New York: Longman. 289—332.

Kaye, Jonathan (2000): A User's Guide to Government Phonology (GP). Unpublished Ms.

Kaye, Jonathan, Jean Lowenstamm & Jean-Roger Vergnaud (1985): The internal structure of phonological elements: a theory of charm and government. In: Phonology Yearbook 2. 303—328.

Kaye, Jonathan, Jean Lowenstamm & Jean-Roger Vergnaud (1990): Constituent structure and government in phonology. In: Phonology 7. 193—231.[http://www.unice.fr/dsl/tobweb/scan/KLV90.zip]