Betsy Sneller will be defending her dissertation proposal on Thursday, March 17 at 3:30. The
defense will be in the large conference room at IRCS (4th
floor, 3401 Walnut Street), during the Thursday Thoughts
The proposal document can be found at:
The abstract is below.
*Title:* Investigating the mechanism of phonological change: Allophonic restructuring of /ae/ in Philadelphia
*Advisor: *William Labov
*Proposal Committee: *Meredith Tamminga, Gene Buckley, Don Ringe
The proposed dissertation examines a phonological restructuring currently in progress in Philadelphia, in order to identify the mechanism of phonological change as it propagates through individual speakers in a speech community.
I define phonological change as a change in the abstract representation or allophonic rules governing a phonological segment, to the exclusion of phonetic change, which entails a change in the physical output of a phonological segment. Previous hypotheses have suggested that phonological change occurs as the result of phonetic incrementation (Ohala, 1981), occurs before any phonetic incremenation (Fruehwald, 2013; Janda and Joseph 2003), or through an extension of competing grammars (Kroch, 1989; 2001) to phonological change (Fruehwald et al. 2013).
The restructuring of short-a in Philadelphia provides an ideal testing ground for these three theories of phonological change, as I have access to the critical speakers and as the outputs of both systems provide clear evidence regarding the underlying system. Preliminary findings suggest the operation of two phonological subsystems of short-a within a single speaker, supporting the extension of competing grammars to phonological change and suggesting that categorical linguistic change in both the syntactic and phonological domain may occur through a period of grammar competition within individual speakers.