Tobias Scheer, CNRS, Université Côte d'Azur

Ling H / Cog B: Phonology and its interfaces (with morpho-syntax and phonetics) (advanced)

Tobias Scheer (CNRS, Université Côte d'Azur)

Phonology and its interfaces (with morpho-syntax and phonetics)

After a brief introduction to modularity and the idea that there is only one way for modules to communicate, the consequences of this setting for the interfaces that phonology is involved in are evaluated. Modularity imposes translation from one vocabulary into another any time two modules communicate, and this translation is list-based (like a language dictionary): a memorized and acquired repository of correspondences between items of vocabulary X and items of vocabulary Y is stored in long-term memory and accessed upon intermodular communication. Nobody doubts these workings for the interface between morpho-syntax and phonology, but they appear counter-intuitive for the phonology-phonetics interface.

Consequences of this modular perspective on language are, among others:
  1. there cannot be any intermundia between morpho-syntax and phonology that shares some properties of either world: PF as an area independent of morpho-syntax and phonology cannot exist.
  2. no diacritics. All vocabulary items used by modules are pieces of their proprietary vocabulary. Hence typewriting symbols like #, + used in SPE or ɷ (prosodic word), ɸ (prosodic phrase) known from the Prosodic Hierarchy, are unwarranted since they only exist for the purpose of the interface and are thus alien to the proprietary vocabulary of phonology. Only truly phonological items that exist in phonology in absence of interface conditions qualifies for being a vector of morpho-syntactic information.
  3. phonology is substance-free. Since a list associates phonological and phonetic items, phonetic properties come into being only upon translation. They must thus be absent from phonology. This is actually the original view on phonological features conceived of by Jakobson and Halle.