This is an archive page; this conference occurred in May 2009.

The site for the 18mfm is available here.

The 17th 
Manchester Phonology Meeting

With a special session entitled...
featuring John Goldsmith, D. Robert Ladd
Tobias Scheer
Thursday 28th - Saturday 30th May 2009
Held at Hulme Hall, Manchester
Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester, the Universite Toulouse-Le Mirail and elsewhere.

For information about the mfm and its history and background, see the mfm homepage. 

The mfm handout archive is available here.
This contains handouts from a number of talks from the 17mfm and audio recordings of the speakers in the special session

programme + info  ||  travel + accommodation  ||  registration + booking  ||  special session


The full programme for the 17mfm is available here

The abstract booklet is available here.

The list of participants is available here.

The conference will start at 12.00 on Thursday 28th May, with a midday meal, and the main conference events will start at 12.45. The first talk will start at 1.00. The conference will finish at 5.15pm on Saturday 30th May. There will be two different poster sessions, one on Friday morning and one on Saturday morning, and there will be two parallel sessions for talks throughout, apart from during the poster sessions and the special session.

Guidance for presenters
There are nearly 110 people registered for the conference, so it's unlikely that most paper presenters would need many more than 60 handouts (it's impossible to really predict exactly how many people will be in any one session, of course...).

Notes for oral-paper-presenters: There will be an OHP, a data projector and computer speakers in both rooms. You will need to bring your own laptop if you are using the data projector, and we encourage you to bring handouts, too. There will not be a technician available during the conference to help with computer-assisted presentations, because it would be very expensive to pay for one, so, if you are using a computer for your talk, please make sure that you try out your presentation beforehand, in a meal or coffee break. You will have a 30 minute slot for your presentation and you can choose whether you would rather have 20 minutes to talk and 10 minutes for questions, or 25 minutes to talk and 5 minutes for questions.

Notes for poster-presenters: The poster displays will be set up on the evening before the relevant poster session. You will have a space of about 5' (wide) x 3'9" (high) (152 cm wide x 114 cm high) for your poster. Each person presenting a poster will be provided with the means to affix their posters to the display board. Please feel free to bring handouts with you, so that those viewing your poster also have something to take away. Posters in previous years have taken a wide variety of forms, and there is no one single way to produce a good poster; the important things are that the font size is not too small, that it is easily readable and does not have too much text on it, that it sets out the main points that you want to argue for clearly, and maybe that it's eye catching, too. Some presenters bring one big poster which takes up all the space, others bring a series of A3 or A4 sheets of paper which can be fitted together on the poster board. During the poster session, you will be asked to stand by your poster (for at least a fair amount of the session) as conference participants walk around the displays, read your posters and ask you questions about them.

Registration and booking
No more bookings can now be taken. If you would like to attend the 17mfm and have not booked, contact

All participants in the conference (apart from the invitees in the special session) need to book, and payment should be made before the conference. 

The conference fee does not cover accommodation, which you will need to book yourself (please use the information on the accommodation page [link removed] to make your own arrangements).

Some of you will probably also want to stay in Manchester during the evening of Saturday (30th). For those that do, it might be nice to meet up for a post-conference meal. Jill Beckman has kindly agreed to organise a trip to a restaurant for the Saturday evening - this will be to the Genghis Khan's Mongolian barbecue restaurant in the centre of Manchester. If you would like to come along to the meal on the 30th, you will need to email Jill ( by 22nd May, with "Genghis Khan" in the subject line of your message.

Travel and accommodation

Detailed information on accommodation possibilities and on how to get to the conference (with a selection of maps) are provided on separate pages:

Special session
A special themed session has been organised for Friday afternoon by members of the organising committee and the advisory board. This will feature invited contributions and will conclude in an open discussion session when contributions from the audience will be very welcome. Unfortunately, Morris Halle has had to cancel his participation in the conference.

 John A. Goldsmith (University of Chicago)
D. Robert Ladd (University of Edinburgh)
 Tobias Scheer (University of Nice)

Session description: The History of Phonological Theory

How has phonological theory developed? What are the key driving forces in its history? What are the mechanisms whereby theoretical models succeed each other in phonology? To what extent is there progress in phonological theory and in our understanding of the interfaces between phonology, phonetics, and morphosyntax? Can we draw normative lessons for the practice of phonological research from a historical study of past developments in the field? These questions have come to the fore recently as a result of rapid shifts in scholarly opinion on a number of phonological issues. One important factor driving this has been the life cycle of research in Optimality Theory, which has gradually shifted from exploiting the advantages of the model to struggling with its shortcomings. Thus, in contrast with early forecasts that representations would be accorded a reduced rôle, several recent publications stress the fact that factorial typologies can only be computed against a background of crucial assumptions about representations. Similarly, many practitioners now advocate a retreat from the strict parallelism of the classical model, admitting instead different brands of serialism. These oscillations, however, are not new: the alternation between an emphasis on representations and an emphasis on derivations, for example, is well documented in Anderson’s (1985) survey of the history of 20th-century phonology. Similar rises and falls occur in other areas: the accent alternates between internal and external explanation (as illustrated by the rise of Evolutionary Phonology), and between parsimonious models which sacrifice empirical coverage in the interest of explanatory depth and rich models which reverse these priorities.

Faced with such swings in phonological opinion, we may legitimately wonder to what extent the history of phonology exhibits the developmental pattern known as 'progress'. According to a popular view, a science progresses if, in the course of its development, each new theory subsumes all of the corroborated empirical content of its predecessors whilst making new valid predictions. Phonology does not appear to progress in this way, since all too often new phonological models define themselves by the rejection of the putative results of previous work. For example, many usage-based phonologists do not attempt to derive neogrammarian change as a mode of change implementation, but rather deny that phonological change is ever implemented in the neogrammarian fashion. Similarly, many advocates of output-output correspondence do not seek to recapture the morphological locality restrictions imposed by the cycle, but deny their validity altogether. But, if phonology does not progress linearly, how are we to interpret its toings and froings? Do they form a virtuous spiral that approximates its target as it goes round and round? If we abstract away from the accidents of sociology and fashion, is it possible to give a rational reconstruction of the historical evolution of the discipline?
The participants in this special session will cast light on these fundamental questions by looking at various aspects of the history of phonological theory.


Organising Committee
The first named is the convenor and main organiser - if you would like to attend or if you have any queries about the conference, please feel free to get in touch with me (, or phone  +44 (0)131 651 1838).

 Patrick Honeybone (University of Edinburgh)
 Ricardo Bermudez-Otero (University of Manchester)

Advisory Board
Adam Albright (MIT)
 Jill Beckman (Iowa) 
Bert Botma (Leiden)
 Philip Carr (Montpelier)
Mike Davenport (Durham) 
 Jacques Durand (Toulouse-Le Mirail)
 Daniel L. Everett (Illinois State)
 Paul Foulkes (York)
 S.J. Hannahs (Newcastle upon Tyne)
John Harris (UCL)
 Kristine A. Hildebrandt (Southern Illinois)
 Martin Kramer (Tromso) 
Yuni Kim (Manchester)
Nancy Kula (Essex) 
 Ken Lodge (UEA) 
Aditi Lahiri (Oxford)
 Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens & Leiden)
 Glyne Piggott (McGill)
 Catherine O. Ringen (Iowa)
 Tobias Scheer (Nice)
 James M. Scobbie (QMU)
Daniel Silverman (San Jose State)
Christian Uffmann (Sussex)
 Marilyn M. Vihman (York)

The site is hosted by the department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh.

Page created by Patrick Honeybone
                                                                      Last updated May 2009