Phonology, Fieldwork and Generalizations

by Bartłomiej Czaplicki (Volume editor) Beata Łukaszewicz (Volume editor) Monika Opalińska (Volume editor)
Edited Collection 276 Pages


The authors of this book explore various areas of phonology and morphology. They cover a wide range of theoretical and methodological themes, among them phonological representation, allomorphy, opacity, contrast preservation, markedness, frequency of use, the interface of morphology and phonology, domains, sound change, synchronic and diachronic perspective, phonetic grounding and metrical structure. The analyses are couched in theoretical frameworks, including Optimality Theory, Derivational Optimality Theory and Government Phonology. Other than English, also Polish, Ukrainian, Belarusian, and West Slavic languages are analysed.
This collection of papers is published in honour of Jerzy Rubach to recognise his contribution to the field of phonology.

Table Of Contents

  • Cover
  • Title
  • Copyright
  • About the editors
  • About the book
  • This eBook can be cited
  • Contents
  • Preface
  • Phonology and the Dutch-Polish connection: a personal memoir (Geert Booij)
  • Phrase-level obstruent voicing in Polish: a Derivational OT account (Karolina Broś)
  • Canadian Raising and Flapping in Derivational Optimality Theory (Paweł Rydzewski)
  • Vowel raising in Polish as contrast preservation (Anna Łubowicz)
  • On emergent underlying inventories in Optimality Theory (Joanna Zaleska)
  • Sonorant opacity without opaque segments (Eugeniusz Cyran)
  • Western Slavic vowel lengthening before word-final sonorants and voiced obstruents (Tobias Scheer)
  • A tale of the agma in English (Piotr Ruszkiewicz)
  • “Hearing the inaudible” – on scribal representations of phonological categories in medieval English verse (Monika Opalińska)
  • Polish palatalisations: the role of frequency and phonological naturalness (Bartłomiej Czaplicki)
  • Phonology-morphology interaction in Standard Belarusian: the a-stem common gender and masculine nouns (Christina Y. Bethin)
  • The elusive Polish [ɨ]: partial results of an ultrasound imaging study (Małgorzata E. Cavar)
  • Acoustic study of ɫ-vocalisation in Polish (Iwona Kraska-Szlenk, Marzena Żygis and Marek Jaskuɫa)
  • Leftward and rightward stress iteration in Ukrainian: acoustic evidence and theoretical implications (Beata Łukaszewicz and Janina Mołczanow)


This collection of papers, published in honour of Jerzy Rubach on his 70th birthday, is authored by his friends and colleagues in recognition of his contribution to the field of phonology. We hope that he will accept the volume as a token of our respect, affection and gratitude.

Jerzy Rubach’s impact on generative phonology and Slavic linguistics cannot be overestimated. He has made a major contribution to phonological theory. He participated in the inception and development of Lexical Phonology in the 1970s and 1980s. He played an important role in the debate on representations in phonology in the 1990s, following the advent of autosegmental phonology and feature geometry. His most recent contributions to phonological theory include Derivational Optimality Theory, an offshoot of Optimality Theory that postulates derivational levels. Jerzy Rubach has worked extensively on Slavic languages, most notably on Polish, Slovak, Russian, Ukrainian, Slovene, Upper Sorbian and Bulgarian. His work in the field of Slavic linguistics is invaluable from both theoretical and descriptive perspectives. His in-depth analyses of empirical data reveal the beauty of complex intertwined Slavic patterns. Recently he has been involved in research into and preservation of Kurpian, a dialect of Polish spoken in northern Poland (Kurpia). Jerzy Rubach’s work has been and will remain an inspiration for countless lines of research in phonology.

The papers in this volume represent both phonological research, showing the direct influence of Jerzy Rubach’s work, as well as other areas of study, initially inspired by but now quite remote from the generative approach.

In the opening paper of the present volume, Booij offers a personal memoir of his cooperation with Jerzy Rubach on a range of topics in phonology and morphology in the period 1980-2000. Their early cooperation concerned the interface of morphology and phonology in the framework of Lexical Phonology, with special attention afforded to the distinction between postcyclic and postlexical rules. The article also overviews their joint research on the prosodic structure of words, including the stress patterns and syllable structure of Polish words. Further, Booij covers their later work on allomorphy, where they argued that, instead of using a derivational approach, various complicated allomorphy patterns have to be accounted for by listing the allomorphs of a morpheme and by selecting the correct allomorph by means of a ranked set of output constraints.

Four papers in the collection present analyses of classic phonological problems in terms of Optimality Theory and its extensions. Broś focuses on dialectal dif ← 9 | 10 → ferences in phrase-level obstruent voicing in Polish. She argues that the contrast between Poznań/Kraków and Warsaw Polish can be interpreted as a difference in the domain of application of final devoicing, phrase level versus word level, which is adequately captured by Derivational Optimality Theory. In her analysis, presonorant voicing of obstruents across word boundaries in Poznań/Kraków Polish is attributed to the phonetic level. Rydzewski takes up the interaction of Canadian Raising with the process of Flapping, which is a classic example of counter-bleeding opacity. The interplay of the two processes is used as an argument for level distinction in Optimality Theory. Łubowicz discusses contrast preservation, using the example of the opaque interaction of final obstruent devoicing and vowel raising in Polish. The key idea is that vowel raising preserves the underlying contrast in voicing between forms that would be otherwise neutralised on the surface due to final devoicing. Zaleska reappraises a classic problem of Polish phonology concerning the underlying representation of the two high unrounded vowels, front [i] and central [ɨ] and, relatedly, the representation of ‘soft’ and ‘hard’ (labial) consonants. She shows that while the two vowels and the two types of consonants both appear in complementary distribution, the constraint schema used to derive allophonic variation produces incorrect results when applied to inputs containing a sequence of a labial consonant followed by a high unrounded vowel. The article reviews a number of possible constraint hierarchies that yield correct results for such sequences.

The contributors to this volume also address the issue of phonological representations. Two authors focus on data from Slavic languages. Notably, Cyran reopens one of the most enduring debates on sonorant opacity and, using data from Polish, argues that the phenomenon is only representational in the prosodic and never in the melodic sense. In his view, sonorant consonants, in contradistinction to vowels, never receive any laryngeal specification responsible for their voicing and remain neutral throughout the phonological derivation. Scheer also talks about sonorants and their role, vis-à-vis voiced obstruents, in the process of Western Slavic vowel lengthening. He advocates a phonetically-based interpretation of the process in which vowel lengthening is subject to phonologisation in the voicing context. The other two authors engage in a discussion on topics related to English. Ruszkiewicz offers an overview of different hypotheses on the phonological status of angma. He compares the approaches endorsed by pre-structural and structural phoneticians, as well as generative and government phonologists, and proposes a solution grounded in historical patterns and the diachronic development of the sound. Finally, Opalińska discusses metrical opacity and scribal representations of phonological categories in medieval English ← 10 | 11 → verse. Her analysis centres on the strategies of loanword adaptation in response to obligatory metrical constraints, the problem of metrical continuity and poetical archaisms.

The main point of interest of the next two papers is the interaction of phonology and morphology. Czaplicki focuses on the status of Polish palatalisations and argues that they should be reanalysed as morpheme-specific consonant mutations. He presents evidence indicating that they cannot be viewed as resulting from phonologically natural operations. The applicability of the processes appears to be due to morphological and lexical factors, i.e. the presence of a particular morpheme in a particular word. In addition, Czaplicki argues that frequency of use is a more efficient determinant of the applicability of the consonant mutations than markedness. Bethin takes on a-stem masculine and common gender nouns in Standard Belarussian. She shows that the selection of the inflectional suffix for the nouns depends on two factors, the position of stress in the noun and the gender of the referent. Further, Bethin argues that a possible explanation for choosing the exponents of a particular declension for nouns with a male referent is due to both frequency and vowel neutralisation.

The last three papers in the collection are instrumental phonetic studies with implications for phonological theory. Cavar addresses the long-standing issue of the status of the Polish vowel [ɨ]. Using the ultrasound imaging technique, she finds empirical support for distinguishing the two high unrounded vowels, [i] and [ɨ], in terms of the advanced tongue root features. She also evaluates alternatives referring to features [high], [front] and [tense]. Kraska-Szlenk, Żygis and Jaskuła look for phonetic motivation of the processes of lateral velarisation and vocalisation in Polish. They report on results of an acoustic study of the realisations of [l], [ɫ] and [w] in onsets and codas, based on recordings of two Polish actors reciting the same text. The results point to maximal acoustic resemblance between [ɫ] and [w] in coda position. A hypothesis is put forward that the process of l vocalisation in Polish could have started in coda position and was generalised later to other contexts. Łukaszewicz and Mołczanow discuss a hybrid metrical system of Ukrainian, a language which largely remains a terra incognita in phonological literature. They report on acoustic results which point to Ukrainian as a typologically rare bidirectional stress system, involving both the rightward and the leftward rhythmic stress iteration. They argue that the complexity of the system poses a challenge for most current metrical theories. ← 11 | 12 →

All of the contributors to this volume wish Professor Jerzy Rubach, our unfailing friend and distinguished colleague, continuing success, health, happiness, a Happy Birthday and many happy returns of the day.1 ← 12 | 13 →

1       We would like to thank Małgorzata Grzegorzewska, Emma Harris and Dominika Oramus for their help and support in preparing this book.

Geert Booij

University of Leiden

Phonology and the Dutch-Polish connection: a personal memoir


This article is a personal memoir of the cooperation of the author with Jerzy Rubach. It sketches their cooperation on a number of related topics in the period 1980-2000. They first studied the interface of morphology and phonology in the framework of Lexical Phonology. Their specific contributions concerned the importance of distinguishing between postcyclic and postlexical phonology, and of recognizing the asymmetry between morphological and prosodic structure. A related domain of investigation was the prosodic structure of words, in particular the stress patterns and syllable structure of Polish words. The insights they obtained also form part of Rubach’s variant of Optimality Theory, Derivational Optimality Theory (DOT).

A second domain of their common research concerned the proper analysis of various complicated allomorphy patterns, mainly in Polish. In later work, they argued that, instead of using a derivational approach, allomorphy has often to be accounted for by listing the allomorphs of a morpheme, and by selecting the correct allomorph by means of a ranked set of output constraints. Since allomorphy is often unique for a specific type of morphologically complex words, it fits in quite well into the framework of Construction Morphology, where it is considered as a property of specific morphological constructions.

This sketch of the cooperation between a Polish and a Dutch linguist shows that detailed empirical investigations of specific languages are crucial for a proper insight into the organization of the grammars of natural languages.

Keywords: allomorphy, construction phonology, interface phonology-morphology, lexical phonology, prosodic phonology

1. Introduction

The historiography of a scientific discipline is aimed at providing an adequate ‘history of ideas’ for a certain domain of scientific inquiry. This history of ideas can be reconstructed by studying the relevant scientific publications. In addition, it is often illuminating to also study personal documents written by scientists, such as letters and personal memoirs. When we want to investigate how progress in science is made, such more personal sources might be very revealing. We know that scientific debates never take place in isolation, but always in the context of ← 13 | 14 → specific societies and among scientists with specific personal backgrounds. Studying these dimensions will help us to understand the nature of a discipline, the theoretical issues involved, and how debates are conducted, and progress is made.

This awareness of the importance of individuals for a proper description of the history of a discipline is reflected by some linguists publishing personal memoirs. A nice example is Dixon (1984). Other sources are the prefaces in monographs and dissertations, and the first footnotes of articles in journals, obituaries, personal stories on Linguist List, biographies in Festschrifts, and interviews in papers and journals.

In this article, I would like to contribute to the historiography of linguistics by giving a brief personal memoir of my cooperation with Prof. Jerzy Rubach. Professor Rubach, my dear colleague and friend whom I would like to honour by means of this article, is one of the world’s leading experts in the domain of the interaction between morphology and phonology (both segmental and prosodic phonology), with a focus on Slavic languages. These languages form an ideal testing ground for theoretical analyses in this domain, given the challenging and complicated phenomena that they exhibit when this interaction is at stake. In this article, I will reflect on some developments in phonological theory during Rubach’s and my scientific career, and on his own contribution to these theoretical developments. In the eighties and nineties of the previous century, we did a lot of work together, and this article is also meant to celebrate our wonderful cooperation in those years.

This article is conceived primarily as a small contribution to the historiography of linguistics, and in particular phonology. It is interesting to see how intellectual exchange and cooperation between linguists from different countries took place, what the preconditions were, and how this played a role in scientific progress. Personal memoirs of this type provide information about the history of a discipline that otherwise might get lost.

Biographical notes

Bartłomiej Czaplicki (Volume editor) Beata Łukaszewicz (Volume editor) Monika Opalińska (Volume editor)

Bartłomiej Czaplicki is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. He has published on Polish, English and Ukrainian phonology and morphology, sound change and sociolinguistics. In his recent work he endorses a lexicon-based approach to phonology and morphology. Beata Łukaszewicz is Associate Professor of Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. She has published on the acquisition of phonology and acoustic underpinnings of phonological categories and patterns. Her recent work focuses on bidirectional stress systems and acoustic grounding of rhythmic stress. Monika Opalińska is Associate Professor of Historical Linguistics in the Department of English Language and Linguistics at the University of Warsaw. She focuses on manuscript studies and English historical linguistics and metrics. She has also published critical translations of Old English poetry.


Title: Phonology, Fieldwork and Generalizations