Laboratory Phonology

07 May 2019
09:00-12:00
Room 5

Laboratory Phonology

Organizers: Giovana Ferreira-Gonçalves, Eleonora Cavalcante Albano

This thematic symposium addresses research into the phonological grammar – its structure, acquisition, variation and change – of spoken and sign languages, conducted from the perspective of Laboratory Phonology. Laboratory Phonology has made giant strides since its emergence in the late 80s. It does not represent a specific theory, but brings together multiple aspects of the experimental method, usually including laboratory data collection and quantitative analysis, always aiming at testing hypotheses firmly based on previous qualitative analyses. During the past thirty years, this way of doing phonology has undeniably contributed to the understanding of the phonological grammars of the world’s languages, and, therefore, for the advancement of phonological theory. The multidisciplinary aspect of the approach is based on the use of foundational theories, concepts of the cognitive and natural sciences, and computational tools for recording and analyzing data. Access to acoustic and articulatory tools, for example, provides empirical results that sometimes trigger substantive theoretical changes. According to Pierrehumbert, Beckman & Ladd (2000), research based on this approach can use different phonological theories, as long as it is geared to strengthen the scientific foundations of phonology through innovative objective methodology. Methodological and theoretical advances are thus equally important and closely related. Throughout the last 50 years, the ABRALIN International Congress has fostered the exchange of research views on phonetic and phonological aspects of various languages, especially the varieties of Brazilian Portuguese and Brazilian indigenous languages. It staged the discussion of different phonological theories, from Standard Generative Phonology (CHOMSKY & HALLE, 1968) to Articulatory Phonology (BROWMAN & GOLDSTEIN, 1986, 1989; ALBANO, 2001) , together with non-linear models, Optimality Theory (PRINCE & SMOLENSKY, 1996), Usage-based Phonology (BYBEE, 2001), and Harmonic Grammar (SMOLENSKY & LEGENDRÉ, 2006). It also gave space to Prosodic Phonology and related theories (NESPOR & VOGEL, 1986). Lately it has given voice to the Phonology of Sign Languages (SANDLER, 2012). The theoretical plurality of the research discussed in events and publications sponsored by ABRALIN reveals the continuous advancement of phonological studies in Brazil, which not only follow up on international methodological trends and positions but also innovate them, with increasing emphasis on Laboratory Phonology. Thus, research consistent with this avant-garde trend spans not only Articulatory Phonology and Exemplar-based Phonology, which emerged under its auspices (ALBANO, 2017, HORA & MATZENAUER, 2017), but also nonlinear phonological theories, sociophonetics (THOMAS, 2010), and first and second language acquisition models (ARCHIBALD, 1998). The theme of this symposium is thus fully integrated with the central theme of ABRALIN50, namely “Linguistics in Contemporaneity: Debates, Challenges and Propositions”. There is no doubt that today Laboratory Phonology is present in a significant part of the Brazilian research on the structure and functioning of the phonological grammar, and has instigated changes in the conception of the relation between Phonetics and Phonology by a whole new generation of linguists. The symposium will include a brief presentation of the field by the second organizer, followed by 8 selected oral presentations and their critical synthesis by the first organizer, each lasting 15 minutes. The final 30 minutes will be reserved for general discussion. In this symposium, we welcome experimental contributions, based on laboratory data collection and quantitative data processing – acoustic and/or articulatory and/or perceptual measures – that investigate the phonological systems of Portuguese and other languages from the perspective of a specific phonological theory. In this sense, discussion of acquisition, variation and change of the phonological grammar is also welcome. We particularly encourage the submission of proposals reflecting on how the Laboratory Phonology approach provides new insights into the phonological structure of languages and/or the relationship between theoretical and methodological questions. The symposium will be the first nationwide attempt to promote ample sharing of experiences among practitioners of different phonological theories who agree as to the need for the use of experimental methodology. The event website will provide instructions for the submission of abstracts of up to 500 words.