Strength in Grammar

November 10-11, 2017
Leipzig University

[Welcome] [Call for Papers] [Program] [Practical Information] [Project: Featural Affixes]

Important Dates

  • Abstract Submission Deadline: 11 October 2017
  • Notification of Acceptance: 12 October 2017
  • Conference: 10+11 November 2017

Invited Speakers


Strength of elements is a recurrent notion in grammatical theory, especially in analyses for exceptional behaviour of morphemes or phonological segments. Yet there is no agreement about the concrete nature of `strength': Several recent proposals assume that it is an irreducible property of certain elements in underlying phonological or morphological representations (Vaxman 2016a,b; Smolensky&Goldrick 2016; Rosen 2016) whereas others argue that strength should be derivable from the structural position of an element Beckman 1998, Revithiadou 1999; Nasukawa&Backley 2009) or from notions like contrastiveness or stability of context (Rhodes 2012; Inkelas 2015). Strength is employed to explain various empirical phenomena: The choice between lexically listed allomorphs follows, for example, from a preference- or strength-hierarchy of allomorphs in a language (Mascaro 2007, Bonet et al. 2007) or the asymmetrical behaviour that only some phonological elements are triggers and/or targets for phonological assimilation processes follows from assuming that they are stronger than surface-similar elements (Rhodes 2012, Inkelas 2015). Whereas proponents of some concept of strength in grammar thus argue that it allows representational accounts for apparently exceptional behaviour in different parts of the grammar and hence makes morpheme-specific grammatical mechanisms or sub-grammars unnecessary (Pater 2000, 2006, 2009; Inkelas et al. 2004; Inkelas 2007), doubts have been raised that such a notion enriches the grammar with too much predictive power. This workshop aims to discuss the arguments for and against different concepts of strength in grammar and answer questions like:

  • Are there arguments for a formal notion of `strength' in grammar or does it fall out as an epiphenomenon from indepently motivated structural differences like underspecification?
  • Is strength an idiosyncratic property of certain elements in the lexicon or is it an epiphenomenon derived from structural positions?
  • What other (grammar-external) factors like frequency or context-stability can predict strength?
  • In which empirical areas do we observe strength or competition between elements that are otherwise surface-identical or -similar?
  • Most accounts that employ strength are phonological: Does strength play a role in morphology outside of allomorph selection? Does it play any role in syntactic accounts?

Call as pdf

Abstract Guidelines

  • At most one page, an optional second page is permitted for data and references.
  • 12 pt Times New Roman font (or similar).
  • Abstracts must be anonymous.
  • Submissions are limited to one individual and one joint abstract per author, or two joint abstracts per author.
The abstract should be submitted as a PDF attachment (all fonts embedded) to the following e-mail address:


Please use `Abstract' as the Subject header and include the information in (1) - (4), which should constitute the body of the message.

  1. Name(s) of author(s)
  2. Title of talk
  3. Affiliation(s)
  4. E-mail address(es)

Deadline for Submission: 11 October 2017 (00:00 CET)