Manchester Phonology Meeting
The mfm has been held every year, at Hulme Hall, Manchester, since 1993.
background || mailing list || brief history || meetings || FAQ || organisers
This is the homepage of the Manchester Phonology Meeting (mfm). The mfm is the UK's annual phonology conference, with an international set of organisers. It is held in late May every year. We always meet in Manchester, but the meeting is not organised by the University of Manchester and never has been, although some of the organisers work there. We think that the meeting has become a key conference on the world phonology scene, and people attend from all over the world. We aim for the conference to be somewhere that anyone who declares themselves to be interested in phonology can submit an abstract on anything phonological in any phonological framework. In an informal atmosphere, we discuss a broad range of topics, including the phonological description of languages, issues in phonological theory, aspects of phonological acquisition and implications of phonological change.
Every year, we invite abstracts for talks or poster papers from phonologists, phoneticians, psychologists, sociolinguists, computational linguists - in short, anyone interested in exploring current models of phonological theory and/or their (cognitive, phonetic, sociological, computational...) implications. Abstracts are reviewed anonymously by members of the organising committee and advisory board. Full papers typically last around 25 minutes with around 5 or 10 minutes for questions, and the poster sessions are a crucial and high-profile part of the mfm, lasting one and a half hours, in the middle of the day, and with no talks scheduled against them.
We have often
benefited from grants from the Linguistics
Association of Great Britain, the British Academy
and other sources, and this has helped us to bring invited speakers to
conference for special sessions on particular topics, and to keep down
the cost, especially for postgraduate
students, who pay a substantially reduced rate.
The mfm mailing list
history of the mfm by Jacques Durand, one of the mfm's founders
Some reminiscences about the Manchester Phonology Meeting and its history.
The Manchester Phonology Meeting has now become a regular event on the merry go-round of linguistics conferences. As I write this, Manchester is about to host the 14th Meeting and, perhaps, a few reminiscences are in order. The first Manchester Phonology Meeting took place in 1993. The first organisers were Nigel Vincent (as Professor of Linguistics at Manchester University) and myself (then Professor of Linguistics at the University of Salford). We had already launched the North-West Centre for Romance Linguistics, an early precursor of the current North-West Centre for Linguistics, and had started organising various events bringing together linguists within Greater Manchester and beyond. In looking at the structure of research in the United Kingdom, we felt that phonology could benefit from a regular meeting in a convivial setting - hence the choice of Manchester University Hulme Hall.
From the start, our vision of the Manchester Phonology Meeting was an open one. We felt that phonology could not thrive in isolation from research in other neighbouring fields. First of all, phonologists had to speak to phoneticians and had a great deal to learn from them. We made sure that leading phoneticians were enticed to the conference and we had some success in creating a healthy debate between phonologists and phoneticians continuing to the present. Interestingly, this debate also took place with sociolinguists who were looking at linguistic change and its underpinnings: when sound changes occur, is the best explanation to be given in terms of the standard units of phonology (e.g. segments, features, etc.) or in other terms (e.g. fine-grained non-discrete phonetics)? Whether they liked it or not, phonologists had to meet the challenges of diachrony. We also felt that, in the wake of Roman Jakobson’s seminal work, phonology should respond to current research in psycholinguistics and neurolinguistics. Many phonologists present their work as ‘cognitive’. If so, phonology should have things to say about language acquisition and pathology. I am pleased to see that these topics have been at the fore of recent meetings. Within ‘core linguistics’, phonologists should also have views about the place of phonology in a theory of language. How does it interact with morphology, syntax, semantics, pragmatics? Is it structured in the same way as other components or levels of linguistic structure? Do these divisions make sense? These issues and others have been taken up regularly in meetings and have made the mfm different from many other phonology meetings which have limited themselves to technical issues within phonology and contributed to the splendid isolation of our field.
The first meetings were run on a very small scale through a strong mix of invitations and calls for papers. But quickly the conference took off with the support of a number of friends and colleagues throughout the world who felt that the mfm was special. The receptions we used to have at the Vice-Chancellor’s residence with excellent food and free-flowing wine no doubt played a role in this early success! Wiebke Brockhaus joined the organising team in 1996 and quickly became the main organiser. Her approach, both friendly and highly professional, contributed strongly to the launching of the mfm as an international event, as did her work in establishing the first website for the conference in 1998. When Patrick Honeybone took over from Wiebke in 2002, his enthusiasm and efficiency not only ensured the continuation of the traditions established but also led to the creation of the strong scientific board which exists today. Of course, from the start, the mfm has been a collective undertaking. I therefore hope the many colleagues I have not cited will forgive me for only mentioning a few names here.
Toulouse, 17th January 2006
How does the abstract reviewing procedure work, exactly?
We try to accept as many abstracts as possible, as the mfm aims to present a full programme with a large number of papers on all sorts of phonological issues. Nonetheless, we have to reject a good number of abstracts every year, and we need to decide which abstracts to accept for talks and which for posters (if submitters say that they would like to be considered for both types of paper). In the past few years we have typically received somewhat over 100 abstracts, and we can accept around 76, with 46 talks and around 30 posters squeezed into the programme. Only the convenor knows the names of the abstract submitters - the convenor send out the anonymous versions of the abstracts to the members of the Organising Committee and Advisory Board for review. Each abstract is sent to four reviewers, who assign it a score, and may also send in comments. The score range is now [1 = Definite No; 2 = Tentative No; 3 = Maybe; 4 = Tentative Yes; 5 = Definite Yes]. The scores are averaged by the convenor and the programme is selected on the basis of these results. A cut-off point is selected which allows all the abstracts that received clearly excellent scores to be accepted (in 2007, the cut-off point was the equivalent of an average of 4, which gave 30 talks; also in 2007, a similar process accepted all seven abstracts whose authors had indicated that they should only be considered for posters). Anything with an average of the equivalent of below 2 was immediately rejected. Because there is typically a large number of abstracts which tie in the set just below the cut-off point, and because some variation in reviewers' scoring habits is to be expected, the second pass involves a consideration of a somewhat wider numerical range of averages to decide (i) which abstracts can be accepted for a talk, and if they do not make this set, (ii) which can be accepted for a poster, and (iii) which abstracts have to be rejected. The criteria used for this consideration are: (a) it is good if an abstract is given 5s and 1s, rather than all 3s (for example), (b) there is a preference for those abstracts with a higher score, (c) but there is also some preference given to those working in minority frameworks, or working in the leftfield, to ensure that such work is not disadvantaged by being little-known.
What's the difference between the 'Organising Committee' and the 'Advisory Board'? And why are those people members?
The Organising Committee make sure that the conference happens every year, by running most of the practicalities, and is convened by the convenor, who runs most things. All other decisions and things are equally the responsibility of the Organising Committee and the Advisory Board. Together, we decide on the special session and invited speakers, worry about how to best organise the programme, and to improve and promote the conference. The Organising Committee is inherited from the early stages of the conference and the Advisory Board was created in 2004, to widen the expertise involved in organising the mfm. The Board is made up of people who have attended the mfm on several occasions (and thus are committed to the success of the conference). They were invited with the aim of obtaining a diverse group of people, representing all types of phonology. The Board is reconstituted every year, when those who have served previously are asked if they would still like to be involved. Some people step down, and some others are invited to join, with the aim of maintaining a broad base of expertise.
How do you decide on the special sessions and invited speakers?
This is decided every year, early in the organising process. The aim is to choose a topic that we hope will be of interest to a wide range of people, and to invite speakers who we think will have interesting things to say on the topic. We try to invite speakers from a range of perspectives, to ensure the theoretical plurality and diversity that we take to be a hallmark of the mfm. Once a topic is chosen, there is normally a long debate among the Organisers and Board members about who should be invited as speakers.We are certainly open to suggestions for future special sessions and speakers.
Why is it always held in Manchester?
Whose is the transcription of
'phonology' in the logo?
This is the current organising team...
Patrick Honeybone (University of Edinburgh) convenor and main organiser
Ricardo Bermudez-Otero (University of Manchester)
Yuni Kim (University of Manchester)
Advisory BoardAdam Albright (MIT)
Previous organisers have included...
Wiebke Brockhaus-Grand (Manchester)
Philip Carr (Montpellier)
Jacques Durand (Toulouse-Le Mirail)
Daniel L. Everett (Manchester)
Paul Foulkes (York)
Mark Hale (Concordia)
John Harris (UCL)
Larry Hyman (Berkeley)
Marc Klein (Paris VIII)
Bernard Laks (Paris X)
Ken Lodge (UEA)
April McMahon (Edinburgh)
Glyne Piggott (McGill)
Curt Rice (Tromso)
Catherine O. Ringen (Iowa)
Daniel Silverman (San Jose State)
Marilyn M. Vihman (York)
Nigel Vincent (Manchester)
Moira Yip (UCL)
The site is hosted by the Department of Linguistics and English Language at the University of Edinburgh.
Page created by Patrick
Last updated December 2015