LINGUIST List 14.1398

Thu May 15 2003

Diss: Phonology/Computational Ling: Chew

Editor for this issue: Steve Moran <>


  1. PAChew, A Computational Phonology of Russian

Message 1: A Computational Phonology of Russian

Date: Thu, 15 May 2003 00:13:42 +0000
From: PAChew <>
Subject: A Computational Phonology of Russian

Institution: University of Oxford
Program: Phonetics Laboratory
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 1999

Author: Peter A Chew 

Dissertation Title: A Computational Phonology of Russian

Dissertation URL:

Linguistic Field: Text/Corpus Linguistics
 Linguistic Theories
 General Linguistics
 Computational Linguistics 

Subject Language: Russian (code: RUS)

Dissertation Director 1: John Coleman
Dissertation Director 2: Stephen Parkinson

Dissertation Abstract: 

This dissertation provides a coherent, synchronic, broad-coverage,
generative phonology of Russian. I test the grammar empirically in a
number of ways to determine its goodness of fit to Russian. In taking
this approach, I aim to avoid making untested (or even incoherent)
generalizations based on only a handful of examples. In most cases,
the tests show that there are exceptions to the theory, but at least
we know what the exceptions are, a baseline is set against which
future theories can be measured, and in most cases the percentage of
exceptional cases is reduced to below 5%.

The principal theoretical outcomes of the work are as follows. First,
I show that all of the phonological or morphophonological processes
reviewed can be described by a grammar no more powerful than

Secondly, I exploit probabilistic constraints in the syllable
structure grammar to explain why constraints on word-marginal onsets
and codas are weaker than on word-internal onsets and codas. I argue
that the features [+/- initial] and [+/- final], and extraprosodicity,
are unnecessary for this purpose.

Third, I claim that /v/ should be lexically unspecified for the
feature [+/- sonorant], and that the syllable structure grammar should
fill in the relevant specification based on its distribution. This
allows a neat explanation of the voicing assimilation properties of
/v/, driven by phonotactics.

Fourth, I argue that jers in Russian should be regarded as
morphological objects, not segments in the phonological
inventory. Testing the grammar suggests that while epenthesis cannot
be regarded as a major factor in explaining vowel-zero alternations,
it might be used to explain a significant minority of cases.

Fifth, I suggest that stress assignment in Russian is essentially
context-free, resulting from the intersection of morphological and
syllable structure constraints. I show that my account of stress
assignment is simpler than, but just as general as, the best of the
three existing theories tested.

Finally, this dissertation provides new insight into the nature and
structure of the Russian morphological lexicon. An appendix of 1,094
morphemes and 1,509 allomorphs is provided, with accentual and
jer-related morphological information systematically included.
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue