The Karen Landahl Center for Linguistic Research
Social Sciences Research Building
Room 010F
1126 East 59th Street
Chicago, IL 60637

Typology and change

  • Broadly speaking, research in the UChicago Phonology Lab addresses the question of why phonological typology is the way it is. As is traditionally understood, explanations of typological generalizations usually appeal to principles thought of in the synchronic domain. However, any synchronic patterns must have a diachronic dimension, since sound pattern had to come into being in some way. The diachronic and synchronic research programs of language thus share the same fundamental goals; that is, the “constraints” problem of determining possible and impossible changes and the synchronic question of determining possible and impossible human languages are essentially one and the same pursuit. We approach this program from group-normative as well as individual-difference perspectives.

Group vs. individual

  • Traditional investigations of sound change, and of speech perception and production research in general, have mainly focused on group-normative effects, that is, effects that are representative of the population as a whole. There is, however, a lot of differences across individuals. The driving force behind this line of research comes from our working hypothesis that there exists socially-relevant individual-difference cognitive dimensions that mediate individual variability in linguistic behaviors. These individual-difference dimensions are important conduits for linking the introduction of new variants and their eventual spread throughout a community.

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