LINGUIST List 32.3097

Thu Sep 30 2021

FYI: Call for Papers on Phonological Rarities

Editor for this issue: Everett Green <>

Date: 29-Sep-2021
From: Natalia Kuznetsova <>
Subject: Call for Papers on Phonological Rarities
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Volume title: ''Rarities in phonetics and phonology: evolutionary, structural, typological and social dimensions''

To be published in the open-access series “Topics in phonological diversity” (Language Science Press)
Co-edited by Cormac Anderson, Natalia Kuznetsova, Shelece Easterday
Enquiries and abstracts to:

The patterns of sounds of the world's languages are many and varied. Although the human articulatory, auditory, and perceptual apparatus limits and shapes the ways in which languages harness sound to convey meaning, considerable diversity can be observed in phonological systems cross-linguistically.

Rare phenomena play a key role in forming and challenging linguistic theory. In formal approaches, the identification of rare phenomena has been one of the primary means of expanding and modifying the theoretical acquis. While linguistic typology has often worked rather with larger cross linguistic samples, a focus on rare phenomena has emerged since the beginning of this millennium (Plank 2000; Simon & Wiese 2011; Wohlgemuth & Cysouw 2010a, 2010b; Golovko et al. 2015).

Rarities can be ignored by linguistic theory, be reanalysed as regular, or be incorporated by changing the theory (Simon & Wiese 2011). Within phonology, a number of thematic studies taking the third approach have recently appeared (Anderson 2016, Blevins 2018, Blevins et al. 2020, Kuznetsova 2018, Easterday 2019, Edwards 2019). This work can be seen in the context of an expansion of research on the evolutionary aspects of both universals and rarities, with attempts to explain typical pathways of emergence or disappearance (e.g. Blevins 2004, 2015; Round 2019).

For various reasons, rarities are often concentrated in lesser-studied languages (Whalen & McDonough 2019; Tucker & Wright 2020), which with greater investigation may challenge our understanding of what is rare or typical, possible or impossible. Suggested reasons include a sociolinguistic distance observed between those varieties and big languages (Mansfield & Stanford 2017), or an especially strong motivation of their speakers to be different (Bird & Kell 2017). Statistically, fewer contexts for language use might also increase the probability for preserving the quirks of random drift (Jäger, forthcoming).

After a successful workshop ( on the topic, we are happy to announce a call for submissions to an edited volume, to be published in the open-access series “Topics in phonological diversity” at Language Science Press. We invite submissions for papers investigating synchronic and diachronic rarities in phonetics and phonology. These might include individual studies or thematic surveys of specific sounds, features, systems, structures, or phenomena. Proposals focusing on synchronic rarities in a single language will be considered, but a broad typological or evolutionary perspective is preferred. We particularly encourage submissions dealing with lesser-studied languages.

The topics include, but are not limited to the study of:

— phonological rarities;
— phonetic rarities;
— rarities and phonological typology;
— possible reasons for rarities (structural, acoustic, articulatory, perceptual, cognitive, statistical, sociolinguistic etc);
— evolution (rise and fall) of rarities;
— sociolinguistic aspects of rarities.

The diversity of phonological patterns has been matched by the multitude of different ways linguists have attempted to account for them. Some of these ways may also be rare and interesting. For this reason, we aim to see a variety of theoretical frameworks represented at the volume and welcome also submissions that focus on rare types of phonological analysis.

Submission of abstracts (500 words excluding references): 1 November 2021
Submission of full papers: 1 May 2022
Provisional time of publication: late 2022 – early 2023

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics; Phonology; Typology

Page Updated: 30-Sep-2021