A satellite meeting, timed to coincide with the Third Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology

Fringe workshop on
Laryngeal Features in Historical Phonology

Edinburgh, Wednesday 29th November 2017

background  |  topic  |  speakers  |  attending


Given that there will be a number of people who are interested in historical phonology in Edinburgh the day before the Third Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology, we thought that we could make use of this to hold a satellite workshop devoted to the ways in which laryngeal features influence or are involved in phonological change. This workshop is intended to be a relatively informal venue for discussion of such issues. It is not a formal part of the symposium and everyone is welcome to attend.


The inventory, nature and use of laryngeal features are classically controversial areas of phonological theory, and many of these issues have attracted considerable discussion in and evidence from diachronic phonology. Questions that are both classic and live in this area include:
  • which features are needed: [voice], [stiff], H, [constricted] etc?
  • are they binary or privative?
  • how can obstruent laryngeal features lead to tonogenesis?
  • (how) do obstruent laryngeal features cause vowel shortening or lengthening?
  • should languages with two series of obstruents always have their contrast characterised using a single feature (such as [(±)voice])? or does a taxonomy using multiple features (e.g., [(±)voice] and [(±)spread glottis]) make better predictions, as in Laryngeal Realism? or does a more abstract approach yield better insights, as in a substance-free framework?
We hope that this workshop will enable the participants and audience to discuss these issues and to consider the extent to which they are, or are not, connected.


This is the plan for the session [with rearranged slots]:
There will not be much provided in the way of refreshments during the break (it's free to attend, after all...), but it will be possible to go and get a coffee at a nearby cafe.


It is free to attend the workshop. It is being held in a building close to where the Third Edinburgh Symposium on Historical Phonology will be held, in the central campus of the University of Edinburgh, but the two events are not in the same building.

This is where the workshop will be:
  • room 2.12 in Appleton Tower - click here to find the building on a campus map
  • postcode for finding the building in phones and the like: EH8 9LE
  • this link here will take you to other information about the room: it has a built-in computer and normal projection facilities
You can orient yourself by going to the university's main city centre campus and looking for Bristo Square, which is a paved square with a number of buildings on it, including the McEwan Hall (a big landmark). The symposium itself (on Thursday 30th and Friday 1st) will be held in the Informatics Forum, which is just down from Bristo Square, and this fringe workshop is in the Appleton Tower which is a large (refurbished) 1960s tower block opposite the Informatics Forum, on the other side of a small road. The building and room will be signposted on the day.