SOAS University of London

School of Languages, Cultures and Linguistics

Devoicing in Polish and how to analyse it


Date: 13 March 2019Time: 3:30 PM

Finishes: 13 March 2019Time: 5:00 PM

Venue: Faber Building, 23/24 Russell Square Room: FG01

Type of Event: Seminar

Speaker: Przemyslaw Pawelec (University of Wroclaw, Poland)


In this talk, I discuss a certain aspect of the development of phonological theory with reference to the analysis of obstruent voicing in Polish. The presentation falls into three parts: first, I present the facts of voicing and devoicing of obstruents in Polish. Next, I discuss how they could be analysed in terms of four phonological theories: a phonemic theory, the classic generative phonology of the 1960s, a derivational theory with Feature Geometry of the 1980s, and, most recently, Optimality Theory (OT). Third, I offer some new solutions in the OT framework. Despite its focus on formal linguistic analysis, the presentation is not aimed strictly at phonologists. Its two main goals are: to present some interesting facts about the pronunciation of Polish and how they contribute to a ‘Polish accent’ in English, and to make phonological analysis more accessible to non-specialists in the area of phonology.

About the speaker:

Przemyslaw Pawelec is a lecturer in the Institute of English at the University of Wroclaw, Poland. His research interests focus on the development of phonological theory, the phonology of Polish, comparative studies of the pronunciation of English and Polish and, more recently, language revitalization. He holds a Ph.D. from the University of Warsaw. Apart from the University of Wroclaw, where he is the head of the Research Centre for Phonetics and Phonology, he has taught linguistics at the University of Warsaw and the State University of New York. He is also a teacher of the pronunciation of English to learners of English as a second language and an accent reduction coach.