This is an archive page; this conference occurred in May 2011.

The site for the 20mfm is available here.

The 19th 
Manchester Phonology Meeting

With a special session entitled...
featuring Paul Boersma, B. Elan Dresher,
Bruce Moren-Duollja and Jaye Padgett
Thursday 19th - Saturday 21st May 2011
Held at Hulme Hall, Manchester
Organised through a collaboration of phonologists at the University of Edinburgh, the University of Manchester and elsewhere.

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

programme and information  ||  travel and accommodation  ||  registration + booking  ||  special session


The final programme for the 19mfm is available here. This contains information about facilities at the conference venue and the restaurants for Thursday and Friday night.

The abstract booklet for the 19mfm is available here.

Registration will begin at 11.30 on Thursday 19th May, the midday meal starts at 12.00, and the main conference events will start at 12.45, with the conference opening. The first talk will begin at 1.00. The conference will finish at 5.15pm on Saturday 21st 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
As of 16th May, 99 people are registered to attend the 19mfm at some point (but not everyone all the time). It is therefore unlikely that speakers will need more than 60 handouts for the parallel sessions.

Notes for oral-paper-presenters: 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. There will be a data projector and computer speakers in both rooms, although we encourage you not to use a data projector unless it is really necessary. 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. 

Notes for poster-presenters: The poster displays will be set up on the evening before the 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 your 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.

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:

Registration and booking
As the advertised deadline has now passed, it is no longer possible to register for the 19mfm. 

There will be a pre-conference get-together on Wednesday 18th from 8.30pm in the Lass O'Gowrie pub (36 Charles Street, M1 7DB), organised by Patrycja Strycharczuk. 

For the evening of the 21st, Jill Beckman has organised a trip to the Genghis Khan Mongolian Barbecue restaurant; this needs to be booked in advance by emailing Jill ( by 16th May, with "Genghis Khan" in the subject line of your message.

There are also informal plans for a trip on Sunday 22nd to Lyme Park, where a variety of activities are possible: seeing the house and gardens, walking/hiking in the surrounding countryside, picnicking, taking afternoon tea. More will be decided about this during the conference - contact Yuni Kim for details. 

Cancellation policy: we will endeavour to refund any fees paid if you cancel by 16th May. Any cancellations after 16th May may not able to be fully refunded as we will have committed to certain payments on your behalf.

Special session
A special themed session is being organised for Friday afternoon by members of the organising committee and the advisory board. This will feature invited speakers, including those listed below, and will allow for open discussion when contributions from the audience will be very welcome.

 Paul Boersma (University of Amsterdam)
 B. Elan Dresher (University of Toronto)
 Bruce Moren-Duollja (CASTL, University of Tromso)
 Jaye Padgett (UC Santa Cruz) 

Contrast in Phonology

The birth of modern phonology as a separate discipline arguably coincides with the discovery or invention of the phoneme, and for much of its history the discipline has relied on contrast to furnish the best evidence that a phonetic difference is linguistically relevant. At present, however, competing phonological frameworks differ widely in the importance that they attach to considerations of contrast.

One area of disagreement is the relevance of contrast to the architecture of grammar and the course of phonological derivations. The Toronto school, for example, advocates delaying the introduction of noncontrastive information, possibly until the application of gradient processes of enhancement and coarticulation in phonetic implementation. Through its morphosyntactically defined levels, Stratal OT allows redundant features a choice of entry points into the derivation, but does not necessarily ban allophones at any level. Classical OT goes further: it encodes contrast in the constraint hierarchy, but does not afford any means of segregating contrastive from noncontrastive specifications in either the input or the output. Finally, exemplar theory appears to deny contrast a privileged position in the formation of its fuzzy categories: other factors such as social indexicality may in principle carry just as much weight.

There is also no agreement on how contrast should inform the theory of representations. Many phonologists have postulated a universal inventory of distinctive features enabling the expression of all the phonemic contrasts that may occur in the languages of the world. Typically, phonological processes have been assumed to operate on features belonging to this set. But this entails that the categorical phonology of a language L can refer to a feature F only if there exists at least one language, not necessarily L, in which F is contrastive. Is this true? Scholars such as Steriade deny this traditional claim. And, of course, important consequences follow from the choice between unary elements and binary features. (And there are also attempts to model contrast licensing through acoustic distinctiveness rather than through phonological features.)

Difficult questions also surround the relationship between phonemic contrast and phonetic substance. On the one hand, the viability of an opposition is significantly constrained by phonetic factors such as perceptual discriminability: Stevens's quantal theory, for example, emphasizes the importance of regions in phonetic space where a small articulatory change produces a large acoustic effect. On the other hand, established contrasts appear to guide phonetic implementation: /s/ is likely to have a larger range of realizations in a language where it is the only coronal fricative phoneme than in a language where it contrasts with /theta/ and /esh/. How is this two-way relationship between phonemic contrast and phonetic substance to be negotiated? In particular, is the relationship largely emergent (as in Boersma's bidirectional framework), or does the grammar include devices dedicated to the evaluation of contrast (the P-map, dispersion theory, etc)?

Finally, the nature of contrast itself is in need of elucidation. Oppositions may be more or less marginal, and so the phonologist faces delicate choices when contrasts arise only in certain morphosyntactic environments (cf. Harris's notion of 'derived contrast'), or in certain subsets of the vocabulary, or only in consequence of the irregular application of erstwhile mandatory processes. What are the implications of incomplete neutralization and Labovian near-merger for the grammar of contrast? Is it true that fine phonetic detail can be lexically specific, and, if so, how should this be accommodated in our understanding of contrast?

Our invited speakers will provide different perspectives on these fundamental questions.


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 (

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

Advisory Board
Adam Albright (MIT)
 Jill Beckman (Iowa) 
 Paul Boersma (Amsterdam)
Bert Botma (Leiden)
Mike Davenport (Durham) 
Stuart Davis (Indiana)
 Mark Hale (Concordia)
 S.J. Hannahs (Newcastle upon Tyne)
John Harris (UCL)
 Kristine A. Hildebrandt (Southern Illinois)
 Martin Kramer (Tromso) 
Yuni Kim (Manchester)
Nancy Kula (Essex) 
Aditi Lahiri (Oxford)
 Marc van Oostendorp (Meertens & Leiden)
 Catherine O. Ringen (Iowa)
 Tobias Scheer (Nice)
 James M. Scobbie (QMU)
Daniel Silverman (San Jose State)
 Jochen Trommer (Leipzig)
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 2011