Theoretical phonology is a core area of linguistic training in the Ph.D. program. The primary faculty in phonology at USC are Karen Jesney and Rachel Walker. Phonology at USC has a strong formal component, with emphasis on developing and testing constraint-based theories of sound structure and their acquisition. In addition, at USC there are productive collaborations in research and advising between phonology and phonetics.

Karen Jesney's research examines the way in which language acquisition data and learnability theory can inform formal models of phonological grammar. She uses computational modeling and corpus data throughout her work. Jesney has particular interests in weighted-constraint systems, variation, patterns of positional privilege, phonological opacity, and the role of morphology in phonological development.

Rachel Walker's research centers on segmental phonology, using formal and experimental methods. Her work has studied harmony systems from the perspective of typology, formal mechanisms and their functional underpinnings, leading to insights on how locality and prominence are represented in phonology. Other topics related to her research include reduplication, assimilation, dissimilation, and the role of morphology in phonological patterning.

Weekly PhonLunch meetings provide a venue for students, faculty, and visitors to share ongoing research, discuss developments in the field, and prepare for conference presentations. Recent graduate student presentations at refereed conferences include the Annual Meeting in Phonology (AMP), LabPhon NELS, WCCFL, CLS, LSA, among others.

The USC Department of Linguistics will be hosting the Annual Meeting in Phonology (AMP) in 2016.
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  • Chair: Andrew Simpson
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