Workshop on Computing and Phonology

A small workshop on computational aspects of phonology is held at the University of Groningen (RUG), the Netherlands, on December 8, 2006. The workshop is open to anyone, but we kindly ask you to register not later than December 4. Should you have any question, please feel free to contact Tamás Bíró at birot @

Harmony Building, H13.309 (Multimediazaal)
Oude Kijk in't Jatstraat 26, 9712 EK Groningen.

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Chair: Dicky Gilbers
9:30Opening: John Nerbonne
9:40Tamas Biro (ACLC, Universiteit van Amsterdam):
Simulated Annealing for Optimality Theory: A performance model for phonology

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10:20Bart Cramer and John Nerbonne (CLCG, Rijksuniversiteit Groningen):
Scaling Minimal Generalization

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Chair: Petra Hendriks
11:30Gerhard Jäger (Universität Bielefeld):
Exemplar dynamics and George Price's General Theory of Selection

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12:10Paul Boersma (ACLC, Universiteit van Amsterdam):
The emergence of markedness

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Chair: Gosse Bouma
14:30Adam Albright (MIT, Cambridge, MA):
Modeling gradient phonotactic well-formedness as grammatical competence
A commonly stated goal of phonological analysis is to explain what speakers know that lets them agree that some non-occurring strings are possible words, while others are not (Halle 1962). Whenever one gathers judgments about novel words, however, a challenge arises: words fall along a gradient scale of acceptability: *bnick, *dlip < ?bwip < blick. Often, analysts impose a threshold, and formulate a grammar generating anything above the cut-off; further distinctions are assumed to reflect extra-grammatical factors like frequency, analogy, etc. In this talk, I defend the position that gradience is best modeled within the grammar itself. I consider three dimensions along which models may differ: (1) the structure used to encode generalizations, (2) the way frequency influences generalization, and (3) access to prior markedness biases. I present computational models that differ along these dimensions, and report attempts to model experimental acceptability judgments. The results so far indicate that a successful model must refer to sequences of natural classes, rather than raw perceptual similarity. Furthermore, the strength of a pattern is found to correlate with type frequency, not token frequency, contrary to what one would expect if gradience arose "on-line" during lexical access. Finally, preferences can be observed that have no apparent basis in the lexicon. Taken together, these facts suggest that gradience is indeed encoded within a learned grammar, composed partly of lexical generalizations and partly of phonetic markedness biases.

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15:30Closing and coffee


If you intend to participate in the workshop, please register before December 4, 2006 in order to facilitate organisation.

Further information:

Information Science/Humanities Computing
Center for Language and Cognition Groningen (CLCG)
Rijksuniversiteit Groningen (RUG)

From Wilbert Heeringa's page:
A list of hotels in Groningen (please note that the prices are outdated).
Travel information

Thanks to Gerlof Bouma for the design.