Bidirectional Phonology and Phonetics

Group Coordinator


ACLC staff: Paul Boersma (coordinator); Silke Hamann; David Weenink; Dirk Jan Vet;

ACLC PhD candidates: Jeroen Breteler; Mirjam de  Jonge; Jan-Willem van Leussen; Klaas Seinhorst


We explain the typology of sound systems by modelling phonology as well as phonetics bidirectionally (i.e. we model the speaker as well as the listener), and by modelling the acquisition and cross-generational evolution of all this. We either model this in a symbolic framework based on strict constraint ranking (Optimality Theory), or in a distributed framework based on artificial neural networks. If we employ a symbolic framework, we employ at least five representations (one ‘semantic’, two phonological, two phonetic) and four constraint families that connect these representations to each other (see picture). We model the processes of comprehension and production and their acquisition and evolution explicitly with computer simulations, and we test aspects of this model by performing laboratory experiments with adults and infants.

Current projects

Primitives of phonological representations. Mirjam de Jonge, NWO Promoties in de Geesteswetenschappen.

The learnability of phoneme inventories. Klaas Seinhorst.

Deconstructing pitch accent: a new perspective on word-prosodic typology. Jeroen Breteler, LOT/NWO Graduate Programme.

The emergence of French phonology. Jan Willen van Leussen, Boersma's VICI project


Published by  ACLC

31 March 2017