The Linguistics Program at Concordia University presents

Eleventh North American Phonology Conference



Concordia University, Montreal

May 8-9, 2020

NAPhCxi Call for Papers

Theme: The Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus in Phonology

Despite its importance in discussions of nativism in syntax, the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus (PoS) is hardly mentioned in the phonological literature. Halle's (1978) 'Knowledge Unlearned and Untaught' provides a PoS argument, but does not invoke the term. For the most part, the phonological literature only mentions PoS in order to reject it: "Many of the arguments for UG in other domains do not hold for phonology. For example, there is little evidence of a learnability problem in phonology" (Mielke, 2008); "features cannot be innately defined, but must be learned" (Archangeli & Pulleyblank, 2015); "there is no poverty of the stimulus argument in phonology" (Carr 2006); "[I offer] general arguments against the 'poverty of stimulus' in phonology" (Blevins 2004). To take two random examples, neither the 2015 Routledge Handbook of Phonological Theory (Hannahs and Bosch) nor the published version of Prince and Smolensky's foundational OT work (2004) mention PoS. Despite explicit reference to Universal Grammar, the latter also lacks the terms "innate" and "nativist". Kraemer (2015) points out that some work in OT suggests that there is no need to posit a universal set of markedness constraints because they can be discovered by a learner monitoring their own production and perception.

In this inauspicious context, we invite abstracts for NAPhCxi on all topics in phonology from the I-language perspective, but especially those providing discussion of the status of the Argument from the Poverty of the Stimulus in Phonology.

Abstract Guidelines

  • Deadline: February 23, 2020 (Sunday)
  • Format: pdf file
  • Anonymous abstract
  • Length: 1-4 pages
  • Submission by email to
  • In message, provide the paper's title and the names of all authors along with their affiliations.