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N°23 – The Phonology-Lexicology interface

Deadline for sending in final versions of papers: 1 February 2024

Lexis Journal in English Lexicology – will publish its 23rd issue in 2024. It will be co-edited by Christophe Coupé (Université Jean Moulin Lyon 3, France), Quentin Dabouis (Université Clermont Auvergne, France), Olivier Glain (Université Jean Monnet de Saint-Etienne, France) and Vincent Hugou (Sorbonne Université, France) and will deal with the topic “The Phonology-Lexicology interface”.

The Phonology-Lexicology interface

In many studies in lexicology, the description of the lexicon of a given language is traditionally considered from two complementary points of view: the level of form, which concerns lexical morphology, and the level of meaning, which is partly dealt with by lexical semantics. Thus, from a Saussurean perspective, a lexical unit is a two-sided entity, combining a signifier (form) and a signified (meaning). The “auditory” aspect of words, which is an integral part of the signifier, is most often reserved for phonological or phonetic studies, which have long been autonomous research fields. However, it is clear that lexicology and phonology are intertwined, to the point that, if lexicology is to truly deal with all the aspects of lexical units (form, meaning and use), it cannot do so without phonology. This issue of Lexis, co-edited by Christophe Coupé, Quentin Dabouis, Olivier Glain and Vincent Hugou, aims to explore the strong, even consubstantial, link between lexicology and phonology.

The contributions may be situated on a general theoretical level. What approaches illustrate the influence of phonology on morphology and semantics? What are the contributions and limitations of various models? How does phonology improve our understanding and acquisition of the lexicon?

The question may be considered from the perspective of word formation processes. For example, in the case of clipping, which alters the signifier of the word, how is the truncation point calculated and what are the possible implications for the phonological structure of the output (as in combiˈnation vs. ˈcombo)? The way certain suffixes select their bases according to their phonological properties may also be of interest. The nominal suffix -al, for example, is only attached to verbs with final stress (refuse refusal).

If a broader conception of the lexicon is adopted, including phraseological units, such as idioms, proverbs or other polylexical units, it may be interesting to determine to what extent intonational parameters participate in the interpretation of meaning. For example, the expression get out of here can be construed in different ways, such as get out of this place or I don't believe you, depending on the intonation pattern. What then is the role of phonology in the construction of meaning? Within the framework of Construction Grammar, Lacheret & Legallois [2013] develop the idea that prosody is an integral part of the construction, in the same way as its syntax and semantics. It participates in the meaning of the construction, and is therefore not additional to the construction (contrary to what the word suprasegmental implies).

Borrowings may also be another area of study. Insofar as recent borrowings or neologisms have their morphological, semantic and phonological specificities, contributions may also look into the question of their adoption and adaptation on the semantic, morphological and phonological levels. Dabouis & Fournier [2022] hypothesize that the English lexicon is organized into subsystems sharing a number of morphological, semantic and phonological properties, and that these properties are related to real etymology (e.g. French words have a similar behaviour) or perceived etymology (see Wells [2008] who notes “Not a real French expression” for the entry bon viveur).

Phonological data sometimes informs us about the way the lexicon is structured. Bell & Plag [2013] have shown that the stress patterns of noun + noun compounds depend on lexical factors such as their spelling, the frequency of the compound and its constituents, and the informativeness of the second element. Many studies in phonology have also revealed distinct behaviours for historical prefixed words such as contain, resist or submit, which suggests that these words are treated as complex entities despite the lack of clear semantics and productivity of the constituents involved. This is corroborated by studies in psycholinguistics (see Forster & Azuma [2000], Ktori et al. [2016], McKinnon et al. [2003] and Rastle & Coltheart [2000]).

In the field of diachronic linguistics, researchers might want to study the processes of lexical diffusion (when the unit of phonological change is the word, or rather its root, and not the phoneme; see Labov [2010: 260]) and what they tell us about the lexicon and lexical storage.

What about the influence of phonology on spelling in different types of discourse in which spelling-to-pronunciation rules are used for stylistic purposes (e.g. sposta for supposed to, eejit for idiot, in comics or in advertising discourse, eye dialect in literature, etc.)?

The issue of phonological variants is of interest to sociolinguistics and even to the field of English for Specific Purposes. For example, according to Hall-Lew, Coppock & Starr [2010], the name of the country Iraq is pronounced differently in American English during debates in Congress, depending on whether the speaker belongs to the Democratic or the Republican party. The variable pronunciations of certain words, which appear to be identity-driven and/or seem to fulfil an indexical function, may therefore constitute interesting contributions.

This issue could also appeal to language-teaching and TESOL specialists. The lexicon, which has been largely neglected in English studies at university or in secondary schools, would benefit from an approach that integrates a phonological perspective. Similarly, is it possible to go so far as to conceive of a university course in phonology which would systematically combine the study of the lexicon and phonology? Can the teaching of pronunciation and word stress rules be based on oral corpora to supplement dictionary data, in order to account for variation and change?

The list above consists in only a few suggestions and is by no means exhaustive. In this issue, we welcome all contributions that deal with the link between the lexicon and phonology, illustrating them with examples (or even word families).


Bell Melanie & Plag Ingo, 2013, “Informativity and analogy in English compound stress”, Word Structure, 6(2), 129–155.

Dabouis Quentin & Fournier Pierre, 2022, “English PhonologieS”, in Arigne V. & Migette C. (Eds.), Models and Modelisation in Linguistics, Bern, Peter Lang, 215–258.

Forster Kenneth I. & Azuma Tamiko, 2000, “Masked priming for prefixed words with bound stems: Does submit prime permit?”, Language and Cognitive Processes 15: 4–5, 539–561.

Hall-Lew Lauren, Coppock Elizabeth & Starr Rebecca, 2010, “Indexing Political Persuasion: Variation in the Iraq Vowels”, American Speech, 85: 1, 91–102.

Ktori Maria, Tree Jeremy J., Mousikou Petroula, Coltheart Max & Rastle Kathleen, 2016, “Prefixes repel stress in reading aloud: Evidence from surface dyslexia”, Cortex 74, 191–205.

McKinnon Richard, Allen Mark & Osterhout Lee, 2003, “Morphological decomposition involving non-productive morphemes: ERP evidence”, NeuroReport, 14: 6, 883–886.

Labov William, 2010, Principles of Linguistic Change, Volume 3: Cognitive and Cultural Factors, collection ‘Language in Society’, Wiley-Blackwell, Chichester.

Lacheret Anne & Legallois Dominique, 2013, « Expressivité vocale et grammaire : comment le symbolique construit le prosodique », in de Gaudemar Martine (Ed.), Les plis de la voix, Limoges, Lambert-Lucas, 45–56.

Rastle Kathleen & Coltheart Max, 2000, “Lexical and Nonlexical Print-to-Sound Translation of Disyllabic Words and Nonwords”, Journal of Memory and Language, 42, 342–364.

Wells John, 2008, [1990], Longman Pronunciation Dictionary, London: Longman (3rd edition).

How to submit

Please clearly indicate the title of the paper and include an abstract between 3,000 and 6,000 characters (including spaces) as well as a list of relevant key-words and references. All abstract and paper submissions will be anonymously peer-reviewed (double-blind peer reviewing) by an international scientific committee composed of specialists in their fields. Papers will be written preferably in English or occasionally in French.

Manuscripts may be rejected, accepted subject to revision, or accepted as such. There is no limit to the number of pages.

Abstracts and articles will be sent via email to


November 2022: Call for papers

April 30 2023: Deadline for sending in abstracts to Lexis

July-August 2023: Evaluation Committee’s decisions notified to authors

November 15 2023: Deadline for sending in papers (Guidelines for submitting articles:

November and December 2023: Proofreading of papers by the Evaluation committee

January 2024: Authors’ corrections

February 1 2024: Deadline for sending in final versions of papers

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