Call for papers on “The Role of Predictability in Shaping Human Language Sound Patterns”

Call for papers for a special collection in Linguistics Vanguard on “The Role of Predictability in Shaping Human Language Sound Patterns”

Research integrating methods and insights from phonetics, phonology, and psycholinguistics has revealed a substantial amount of evidence for two broad trends in human language sound patterns, both related to a probabilistic notion of predictability. There is evidence now that both phonetic and phonological patterns can be influenced by various measures of local and global predictability including those defined within the phonology (e.g., gradient phonotactic predictability) as well as the predictability of the higher level linguistic units that phonological patterns signify (i.e., message predictability). On the side of message predictability, a key observation is that there appear to be tradeoffs between the predictability of a message and the robustness with which it is articulated (e.g., Hall, Hume, Jaeger & Wedel, 2016), resulting in phonetic variation that could over longer timescales leave us with phonologies that also reflect average message predictability, or “informativity” (e.g., Cohen Priva, 2015). These two broad trends raise a number of questions, which are the focus of this special collection:

  1. What are the consequences of probabilistic predictability for models of phonological grammar, the lexicon and phonological typology?
  2. Under what conditions does variation in the predictability of a message influence its phonological and phonetic form?
  3. Does message predictability interact with other phonological and phonetic principles, including constraints on speech articulation, speech perception, and prosody?
  4. What are the appropriate formal tools for quantifying message predictability and phonological predictability in natural language?
  5. Does message predictability impact the expression of social meaning through phonetic variation?

The target length of each article is 3000-4000 words, which is the journal’s general policy. We are therefore looking for short, concise reports. Accordingly, we expect short turn-around from submission to publication. The proposed timeline is:

  • Submission deadline: April 30th, 2017
  • Reviews returned: June 30th, 2017
  • Decision letters: August 1st, 2017
  • Revisions: September 30th, 2017

Papers will appear online as they are finalized. We hope to have all papers published by the end of 2017.

Linguistics Vanguard is an online, multimodal journal published by De Gruyter Mouton. Because the journal is only published online, special collections serve as “virtual special issues” and are linked by shared keywords. Details about the journal can be found at Linguistics Vanguard strives for a very quick turn-around time from submission to publication.

Inclusion of multimodal content designed to integrate interactive content (including, but not limited to audio and video, images, maps, software code, raw data, hyperlinks to external databases and any other media enhancing the traditional written word) is particularly encouraged.  Special collections contributors should follow general submission guidelines for the journal (

Authors will have free access to the entire special collection. There are no publication costs. All authors may post a pdf on their personal website and/or institutional repository a year after publication. In addition, the introduction, which contains a summary of each article, will be fully freely accessible.

Any questions can be addressed to the special collection editors: Shigeto Kawahara ( and Jason A. Shaw (