László Károly

The trajectory and distributional typology of phonological change

Sound patterns, and their interactions with word structure, vary widely across the languages of the world; how systematic is this variation, and where does it come from? Researchers interested in ‘phonological change’ aim to understand how the rules that govern individual languages’ systems of sound arise and decay; the time-courses of these rules can be complex, and additionally sensitive to complicating factors (phonetics, or the physical properties of sounds and human beings; population structure and social pressures; language contact and multilingualism).

This project’s aim is to develop and test a comprehensive approach to ‘rule generalisation’, an intermediate step in the life-cycle of a phonological pattern. Although sound patterns frequently have a clear origin in the physical properties of the sounds involved, successive ‘generalisations’ can often leave the ‘final’ form of a rule in a state that bears little resemblance to the starting point. The underlying mechanism of this process remains under-explored. The empirical foundation for this work will be the production of theoretically- and methodologically- up-to-date descriptions of the phonetics and phonology of several Turkic languages. Previous analysis of many of these languages remains fragmentary; understanding the patterns of variation across these languages offers a test case for a geographically- and historically-accountable phonological typology at a larger scale.
Grant administrator
Uppsala University
Reference number
SEK 4,924,135.00
RJ Projects
General Language Studies and Linguistics