Report of the business meeting: Nijmegen 11/12/2015

S. Wauquier introduces the business meeting: the raison d'être of the Phonological Theory Agora (PTA) is to provide an environment for discussion among theoretical phonologists from different schools that does not usually take place in regular conferences. The aim of the PTA is to contribute to phonological theory by facilitating reflection on its formal foundations.

All the details on the PTA project are on the website ( The GDRI will be funded by CNRS from 2015 to 2018.

1) 2015

In 2015 the first two meetings of the PTA introduced an alternative format to the form commonly used in conferences: a tutorial + a make a claim and defend it + discussion session. The idea is to encourage feedback and new ideas by allowing participants to present their theoretical claim on a pre-defined topic for 10 minutes followed by 20 minutes of discussion.

Those two meetings have been organized in

• Lublin, 22 June
  • connected to APAP 2015
  • hosted by E. Cyran who is one of the GDRI partners at the University of Lublin Topic: Representations and derivations
  • Tutorial: T. Scheer & M. van Ostendoorp
  • All the details are on the website
• Nijmegen, 10-12 December
  • connected to Going Romance and co-organized with Haike Jakobs (Radboud University, Nijmegen)
  • Topic: Relating synchrony and diachrony
  • Tutorial: H. Jakobs
  • PhD session: presentation of PhD research
  • All the details are on the website

Budget of 2015

14,000 euros were allotted by the CNRS in 2015.
8,000 euros of those were used for the Lublin event. The remaining 6,000 euros did not cover the expenses of the Nijmegen event: travel expenses, plane and train tickets and hotel fees. Fees for every member of the French partners of GDRI have been almost completely paid.
The remaining expenses of the Nijmegen event have been covered by the laboratory SFL (Paris8) which hosts the GDRI. The money that the lab advanced will be reimbursed through the GDRI 2016 allocation. The GDRI 2016 allocation is not yet known; it should be more or less the same as in 2015, that is, 15,000 euros approximately.

2) 2016

2.1. Connection with other events

We discussed on the relevance of a systematic connection of the GDRI events with other conferences or workshops as we did in 2015. One inconvenient is the cost of such design: the GDRI has to pay travel expenses and accommodations for every French member outside of France. The advantages are the visibility which is given to the GDRI, the opening towards colleagues outside of the network and the connection with partners, so far E. Cyran-Lublin, M. van Oostendorp and Haike Jakobs.
The final decision is that although this is an interesting and fruitful option, we will not automatically connect our events with other events. In fact, we chose to have a GDRI event in Paris for 2 days in autumn 2016 without connecting it with any other event. For the next years, we will decide accordingly during each business meeting taking into account the opportunities and the interests of the network.

2.2. Format

We discussed on the format of the PTA: would we like to keep on with the original “make a claim” format or to go instead for a more classic format like a workshop?
Some people argued that the time for presenting the claims was too short and discussions too much superficial since participants outside of the network were a minority. This format could go against the goal of being open and visible beyond the network.
Others defended the “make a claim” format arguing that it gives broader spaces to discuss and compare frameworks, which is the main goal of the PTA. A traditional workshop would offer less possibility for that and “make a claim” is original and should be given a chance at least one more year.
In order to strengthen the international orientation of the PTA and facilitate more open and inspiring discussions, we decided
• to keep on with “make a claim”
• to introduce some novelties to the format of the PTA outlined below.

2.3. Proposals for 2016

2 day-event in Paris in autumn
First day:
a. Make a claim and defend it + discussion session on topic x This session will be kept as it was.
b. Tutorial on topic x
The idea for the new tutorial is to invite two leading phonologists to have them discuss their
theories on topic x in order to either achieve some consensus or just point at the shortcomings of their own agendas.
For the next event we decided to invite Ricardo Bermúdez-Otero who is a partner of the GDRI to talk about the relationship between phonology and the lexicon. The second speaker/opponent is still unknown. As for the topic, it should be the same as the one for the make a claim and defend it session. The order of the two sessions can be switched.
Second day: Dataset workshop
The idea is to provide a dataset that we think it is representative of the theory of, let's say, vowel harmony, together with some general bibliographic references. This dataset is included in the call for papers and participants are asked to give their solution to the specific problem posed by the dataset. We think that this unprecedented (in linguistics) workshop format could be an interesting way to challenge phonologists working within different frameworks to talk about the same empirical problem and directly confront the successes and underpinnings of their formal analyses. We have not decided yet whether the dataset should be or not related to the topic of the previous day.

2.4. PhD student session

In the last edition of the PTA some French PhD students presented their work followed by discussion. We have not decided yet whether this session will be maintained or not.
Report made by F. Torres-Tamarit & S. Wauquier – March 14th 2016.