Linguistics 251:  
The Phonology of English  

Bruce Hayes
Department of Linguistics

Fall Quarter 2011

Where English is spoken; after Wells (1982)


PDF format

Lecture handouts

All 19 handouts for the course (Word 2003 format)

Course Readings

The phoneme system

Class 1, 9/22/2011:   Extract from Wells, Accents of English.  Download.

Marginal phonemes

Class 2, 9/27/2011:   Timothy Vance (1987) "'Canadian Raising' in some dialects of the northern United States," American Speech 63:195-210.

Class 3, 9/29/2011:   extract from Paul Kiparsky (1988) Phonological Change. In F. Newmeyer (ed.), The Cambridge Survey of Linguistics, Vol. 1. 1988.

Consonant allophones and the ambisyllabicity problem

also for Class 3, 9/29/2011:   Bruce Hayes (2009) Syllabification in English.  Web-posted extra chapter of his textbook Introductory Phonology.

Class 4, 10/4/2011:  Carlos Gussenhoven (1982) English plosive allophones and ambisyllabicity. Gramma 10:119-141.


Class 5, 10/6/11:  Clements/Keyser extract.  Download.

Class 8, 10/18/11:  McClelland, James and Brent C. Vander Wyk (2006) "Graded Constraints on English Word Forms," ms., Stanford University

Gathering data with the Mechanical Turk

Class 10, 10/28/11:  Aniket Kittur, Ed H. Chi and Bongwon Suh (2008) Crowdsourcing user studies with Mechanical Turk. CHI 2008 Proceedings.

also:  Gabriele Paolacci, Jesse Chandler, and Panagiotis G. Ipeirotis (2010) Running experiments on Amazon Mechanical Turk. Judgment and Decision Making, Vol. 5, No. 5.

The word stress system

Class 6, 10/11/11:  Liberman, Mark and Alan S. Prince (1977) On stress and linguistic rhythm. Linguistic Inquiry 8: 249-336. Read up to page 309.  (this got assigned early, covered late)

Class 12, 11/1/11:  Joe Pater (2000) Non-uniformity in English secondary stress : the role of ranked and lexically specific constraints. Phonology 17:237-274.

Syllable quantity

Class 13, 11/4/11:  Kelly, Michael. 2004. Word onset patterns and lexical stress in English. Journal of Memory and Language 50.231-244.

Class 16, 11/18/11: Ryan, Kevin (2011) Gradient weight in phonology. UCLA Ph.D. dissertation. Read pp. 172-192, "Gradient weight in English stress"

Segmental morphophonemics and productivity

Class 17, 11/22/11:  Pierrehumbert, Janet (2006) The Statistical Basis of an Unnatural Alternation, L. Goldstein, D.H. Whalen, and C. Best (eds), Laboratory Phonology VIII, Varieties of Phonological Competence. Mouton de Gruyter, Berlin, 81-107.

Recommended readings

(listed in order of course topics, given above)

Marginal phonemes

Labov, William (1981) Resolving the neogrammarian controversy.  Language 57:267-308.  An influential paper that discusses the /ae/ - /E@/ marginal phonemes of Philadelphia English.

Guenther, Frank and Marin Gjaja (1996) The perceptual magnet effect as an emergent property of neural map formation. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 100: 1111-1121.  Suggests how marginal phonemes might come into being purely on the basis of phonetic distribution.


Bloomfield, Leonard (1933) Language.  New York:  Holt.  Extract on phonotactics of English.

Whorf, Benjamin Lee (1940) Linguistics as an exact science. Technology Review 43: 61-63, 80-83. Extract on English phonotactics.

Hayes, Bruce and Colin Wilson (2008), A maximum entropy model of phonotactics and phonotactic learning. Linguistic Inquiry 39: 379-440.  English phonotactics learned by machine.

Daland, Robert, Bruce Hayes, James White, Marc Garellek, Andreas Davis, and Ingrid Normann. (2001) Explaining sonority projection effects. Phonology 28: 197-234.  A whole bunch of computational models try to learn English phonotactics.


Hayes, Bruce (1995) Metrical Stress Theory.  Chapter 2, on diagnosing stress in English with intonational and allophonic evidence.

Syllable quantity

Ross, John Robert (1972) A reanalysis of English word stress.  In Michael Brame, ed., Contributions to Generative Phonology.  Austin:  University of Texas Press.  An early study arguing, in effect, that syllable quantity is a rich concept, referring to features like [sonorant] and [coronal].

Segmental morphophonemics and productivity

Cena, R. M. (1978) When is a phonological generalization psychologically real?  Indiana University Linguistics Club.  A very thoughtful discussion and experimental study of Trisyllabic Shortening.

English pronouncing dictionary

This is an edited version of the widely-used CMU Pronouncing Dictionary.  It is an kind of "intersection" of CMU and CELEX; specifically, all the words in CMU that have a CELEX frequency of at least 1.  The idea is to have a vocabulary representing American English pronunciation (and thus suitable for preparing experiments with American participants), with lexical frequencies high enough that the words are likely to be known to most or all of the participants.

The dictionary also has exclusion codes, with the goal of marking words that are compounds or formed with productive suffixes.  You can exclude or not exclude by using the Sort function of your spreadsheet program.

Both the pronunciation entries and the exclusion codes still need lots of corrections, which I would appreciate if you send to me (  For convenience it would be nice if you save up a batch of them rather than sending me repeated messages.

Download the dictionary (version of 10/3/11; Excel format)

Software:  search the dictionary (above) for phonological generalizations

You can search on segments, word boundaries, and natural classes.  You can add as many new natural classes as you like and it will search with them, too.

Beta version; please report bugs to me.

This runs only in Windows.  

It's a simple program which hopefully will not need a yucky Windows installation.  Just grap the zip file, unzip it, open the folder, click on EnglishPhonologySearch.exe, and see what happens.


Course description

This course is meant to be a confrontation between mostly "classical" research literature on English phonology and "modern" research methods.  The "classical" literature is the study of English phonology as developed in The Sound Pattern of English (SPE, Chomsky and Halle 1968), and the literature that followed it, particularly during the early development of metrical stress theory.  The "modern" research methods are fairly standard ones, but were not very easy to implement in the predigital era of SPE.  They include digital corpus search, productivity testing, statistical significance testing of phonological generalizations, and modeling with quantitative constraint-based frameworks.  By confronting the old findings and generalizations with more recent research we can reassess what was true in the classical work and perhaps also discover new phenomena and develop new theories. In addition, I hope that the skills practiced in the course will be useful to phonologists working on any language. Below are empirical areas and methods to be covered:


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