Phonology in GLOW

Marc van Oostendorp

This call appeared in the GLOW Newsletter, Spring 2001

During the past few years, the number of phonology abstracts submitted to the GLOW conference, and consequently the number of papers that have been accepted, have been gradually decreasing. It was decided during last year's business that in order to solve this problem and to make the conference more interesting for phonologist, there would be a parallel session for phonologists in this year's conference. Yet since only five (5) abstracts arrived, this turned out to be a feasible option.

Something else needs to be done. At least in my personal view, we still need an infrastructure for European phonology. And an association like GLOW should be able to play a role in this.

There have been a few European conferences on a general phonological topic in the past. The most recent succesfull one of this was the HILP Conference, which has grown over the years as the singlemost important phonology event in Europe, usually attracting speakers and audience from all over Europe and America. The problem is that there no longer is an organisation that can ensure the future of HILP, since the Holland Institute of Linguistics ceases to exist. This year, HILP was very succesfully organized in Potsdam, but it is not clear when and where it will happen again.

On the other hand, we have GLOW. GLOW once started as a combined conference on phonology and syntax, but unfortunately the phonology part has been going consistently downhill over the past few years. This year, the idea has been to set up a separate parallel session for phonologists but since only five abstracts arrived, this did not seem doable. As far as I can see, the most important reason for the lack of interest his is that most phonologists think that 'GLOW is not a phonology conference' or alternatively that 'GLOW is not a conference for mainstream phonology'.

The situation thus is as follows. We have a very good 'brand name', HILP, without an organisation. We have an organisation, GLOW, without a very well-known name in phonology. The solution might thus be that in some way or another we make it clear that 'GLOW is organising HILP'.

The next question then is how we could implement this. One way would be to simply ask GLOW to 'organise HILP'. This could mean that from now on, GLOW would be asked to be find some department in Europe every second year who is willing to organise HILP under the auspices of GLOW.

From the persective of GLOW, however, it would be much more attractive to incorporate HILP into the GLOW conference. Personally, I am also convinced that it would be good to still have a combined conference for the sister fields. Yet in that case, several problems arise. The local organisers have to be willing to spend at least as much time and effort on the phonology part of the conference as on the syntax part. Furthermore, I have not figured out yet how we would be able on the one hand to make it clear to everybody that this is the really the successor to HILP; or whether the phonology conference should be annual or biannual.

The topic will be discussed in the business meeting during GLOW 2001 in Braga. We wellcome any ideas that readers of the GLOW Newsletter might have. As might be clear from the above, my own ideas are still not completely worked out. I would therefore like to ask you to comment on this. Do you agree that we need a European phonology conference at all? Do you think it a good idea that this would be organised by GLOW and/or that it should be a continuation of HILP? What would be the best way to organize this? All comments on this are wellcome at Marc.van.Oostendorp@Meertens.KNAW.nl