Eric Bakovic

Professor of Linguistics, UC San Diego

My main areas of research are in phonological theory and analysis. Phonology is the study of linguistic speech sound patterns and structures, and the relation of these to other aspects of grammar. Phonological theorists like myself are primarily concerned with the development and evaluation of formal devices that adequately describe phonological patterns and structures and that provide maximum explanatory value to particular phonological analyses.

I have two main strands of work within phonological theory. One is concerned with how very general constraints on phonological forms can interact with each other in different ways to produce complex patterns of phonological behavior in different languages. The other is concerned with the in-depth, critical investigation of principles that are posited to underlie phonological knowledge.

You can find my CV here.

Some of my research

Abstracts of (and links to) a handful of the products of my recent research can be found below. You can also find a more exhaustive collection of my available written work at my SelectedWorks site or at

Bakovic, Eric (2016)
Exceptionality in Spanish Stress
Catalan Journal of Linguistics 15.
Stress in vowel-final non-verbs in Spanish regularly falls on the penultimate syllable, while stress in consonant-final words regularly falls on the final syllable. There are two main classes of exceptions to this regularity: stress on the syllable preceding the regular one, and stress on the syllable following the regular one. Harris (1983) provides arguments that the second class of exceptions is morphologically systematic, but falls short of the stronger claim that this pattern is simply a subcase of the regular stress pattern. I argue here that there is much to be gained from this stronger claim, including a simple and elegant analysis of the first class of exceptions.
Bakovic, Eric (2013)
Blocking and Complementarity in Phonological Theory
Advances in Optimality Theory series, Equinox Publishing.
(Read Birgit Alber's review in Phonology 32.2, 2015.)
Disjunctive application is a type of interaction between phonological mappings that has received special attention since the inception of generative phonology (Chomsky & Halle 1968) and has significantly impacted research in other subfields in linguistics. The principle commonly held to be responsible for disjunctive application, the Elsewhere Condition (Kiparsky 1973), is argued in this book to be little more than a collection of necessary stipulations within Chomsky & Halle's original SPE framework. By contrast, disjunctive application is shown to follow automatically from the most basic assumptions of Optimality Theory (Prince & Smolensky 1993), with no added stipulations necessary.
Bakovic, Eric (2011)
Opacity and ordering
The Handbook of Phonological Theory, 2nd Edition, Wiley-Blackwell.
Few notions in phonological theory have received as much attention in the literature as opacity. If there's only one thing that phonologists have learned from Kiparsky's work on the subject of opacity, it is to equate it with two rule-ordering relationships, counterfeeding and counterbleeding. My aim here is to demonstrate that these equations are falsified in both directions. This demonstration reveals a very different, more complex, and more complete picture of what opacity is than previously conceived.
Pajak, Bozena, and Eric Bakovic (2010)
Assimilation, antigemination, and contingent optionality: the phonology of monoconsonantal proclitics in Polish
Natural Language and Linguistic Theory 28.3.
Bakovic (2005) analyzes the avoidance of 'sufficiently similar' adjacent consonants as the interaction of independent antigemination and assimilation processes. We present evidence from the phonology of monoconsonantal proclitics in Polish in support of the primary consequence of this analysis, that any conditions on antigemination or assimilation will also be conditions on 'sufficient similarity' avoidance. These conditions concern the segmental contexts in which geminates are disallowed in Polish and the variability of one of the assimilation processes involved. The analysis is further corroborated by the coincidence of two changes in progress: as the rate of variable assimilation has gone down, so has the rate of 'sufficient similarity' avoidance.
Bakovic, Eric (2007)
A revised typology of opaque generalisations
Phonology 24.2.
This paper is about opaque interactions between phonological processes in the two senses defined by Kiparsky (1971, 1973) and discussed in much recent work on the topic, most notably McCarthy (1999): UNDERAPPLICATION opacity, whereby a process appears to have failed to apply in expected contexts on the surface, and OVERAPPLICATION opacity, whereby a process appears to have applied in unexpected contexts on the surface. Specifically, I demonstrate that there are three distinct types of overapplication opacity in addition to the only case discussed and properly categorised as such in the literature, counterbleeding. The analysis of each type of opacity in terms of rule-based serialism and in terms of Optimality Theory is discussed, emphasising the strengths and weaknesses of the two frameworks in each case.
Bakovic, Eric (2005)
Antigemination, assimilation and the determination of identity
Phonology 22.3.
Avoidance of adjacent consonants that are 'sufficiently identical' — that is, identical except for possible differences in a small subset of specific features — is argued to result from joint satisfaction of a constraint against geminates (identical adjacent consonants) and other active constraints that independently require assimilation with respect to those features ignored in the determination of identity. The crux of the proposal is the dependence of antigemination on independent assimilation processes, a prediction that is independently verified in case studies from English and Lithuanian. The factorial typology of constraints at the core of the proposal is demonstrated to closely fit a significant range of observed cases.

Some of my courses

LIGN 111, Winter 2017
Course catalog description: Why does one language sound different from another? This course analyzes how languages organize sounds into different patterns, how those sounds interact, and how they fit into larger units, such as syllables. Focus on a wide variety of languages and problem-solving.
Phonology is the study of the sound patterns of human languages. We will learn about some of these (kinds of) sound patterns, as well as ways to identify and describe them using a variety of analytical techniques and devices. You will learn about the ways in which sound patterns are alike and the ways in which they differ, to acquire various analytical tools specific to the study of sound patterns, and to use these tools to identify and describe sound patterns.
LIGN 143, Fall 2016
The Structure of Spanish
Course catalog description: Surveys aspects of Spanish phonetics, phonology, morphology, and syntax. Topics include dialect differences between Latin American and Peninsular Spanish (both from a historical and contemporary viewpoint), gender classes, verbal morphology, and clause structure.
Spanish is the third largest language in the world in terms of number of speakers, sandwiched between English and Arabic (Mandarin Chinese is #1). In the United States — and of course in California — Spanish is second to English. This is a course about the grammar of Spanish. Like all languages, Spanish varies from speech community to speech community. The linguistic differences among these different speech communities are highly systematic, in ways that we will investigate in this course.
LIGN 211, Fall 2016
Graduate Phonology
Course catalog description: Introduction to the description and analysis of the sound patterns of language and to the construction of theoretical models, including cognitive rules, representations, and constraints.
This course is a graduate-level (and graduate-paced) introduction to the theory and methods of phonological analysis. The phonology of a given natural language can be roughly equated with the set of its systematic sound patterns. The immediate aim of a phonological analysis is to provide an accurate and adequate description either of a subset of the phonology of a particular language or of a set of related phonological patterns in multiple languages, with the ultimate goal of defining what the phonological component of the grammar is and how it works.
LIGN 101, Fall 2015
Introduction to the Study of Language
Course catalog description: Language is what makes us human, but how does it work? This course focuses on speech sounds and sound patterns, how words are formed, organized into sentences, and understood, how language changes, and how it is learned.
We'll spend most of our time learning about the following core areas of study in linguistics: phonetics (what speech sounds consist of), phonology (how speech sounds pattern together), morphology (how words are structured), syntax (how phrases and sentences are structured), semantics (how meaning is structured), and pragmatics (how meaning is affected by context). Other areas that we will learn about include sociolinguistics (how languages vary), historical linguistics (how languages change), and psycholinguistics (how language is acquired, stored, and processed).
LING INST 110, Summer 2015
Introduction to Phonological Theory and Analysis
2015 Linguistic Summer Institute course page description: This course is an introduction to the theory and methods of phonological analysis. Each week we will focus on one of four main sets of theoretical assumptions: (1) representational assumptions about what phonological constituents are and what they consist of, (2) analytical assumptions about the kinds of evidence that are brought to bear on the question of the basic vs. derived nature of a constituent, (3) computational assumptions about the mechanisms that relate representations of phonological constituents to each other, and (4) architectural assumptions about how the phonological component interfaces with other grammatical components. These assumptions will be elucidated through in-class and assigned work on phonological problem sets.
LIGN 215, Fall 2014
Underapplication and output-driven phonology
This seminar is about underapplication: significant phonological generalizations that are opaque because they are not surface-true. The kinds of phenomena that we will discuss will be more or less the range identified in Bakovic (2011): counterfeeding, various forms of blocking, restrictions to classes/levels, exceptions, and variation/optionality. We’ll be looking at these phenomena through the lens of output-driven (phonological) maps, as defined by Tesar (2013).

Open Access

I am Chair of the systemwide University Committee on Library and Scholarly Communication (UCOLASC), where Open Access is often on the agenda.

UC Open Access Policies
The Academic Senate of the University of California adopted an Open Access Policy on July 24, 2013, ensuring that future research articles authored by faculty at all 10 campuses of UC will be made available to the public at no charge. A precursor to this policy was adopted by the UCSF Academic Senate on May 21, 2012.
On October 23, 2015, a Presidential Open Access Policy expanded open access rights and responsibilities to all other authors who write scholarly articles while employed at UC, including non-senate researchers, lecturers, post-doctoral scholars, administrative staff, librarians, and graduate students.
UC Linguistics Faculty Statement of Support for Glossa
We, the undersigned Linguistics faculty of the 10 campuses of the University of California, state our support for the editorial team that has founded the fair open access journal Glossa after resigning en masse from Lingua due to the unwillingness of its publisher, Elsevier, to make the journal open access under the reasonable pricing terms desired by its editorial board. We recognize Glossa as the true successor to Lingua, and we pledge to support the new journal and its editorial team.
Furthermore, should Elsevier persist in publishing a journal under the Lingua name, we pledge not to submit our work for publication in that journal, nor to review papers or serve on the editorial board of that journal if asked. We also ask that the University of California libraries discontinue their subscription to Lingua.

Some other stuff

Here’s some other stuff I’ve done.

[orgs.] Eric Bakovic and Mark Aronoff (2015)
Competition Workshop
The participants in this workshop explore the role of competition as a mainstay in the organization of linguistic systems. Competition has played an implicit role in modern linguistic theory since the outset (e.g., in such fundamental notions as allophones and allomorphs). The interaction of constraints and rules in generative phonology, variationist sociolinguistics, and Optimality Theory can be fruitfully regarded in terms of competition. Recent work has shown that blocking, within both morphology and phonology, can also be understood as competition (Aronoff & Lindsay 2014, Bakovic 2013, Lindsay & Aronoff 2013). Competition-based analysis of language can easily be framed in statistical terms, which permits the exploitation of large data sets in a variety of new and enlightening ways.
[orgs.] Eric Bakovic and the Committee of Editors of Lingusitics Journals (CELxJ) (2013)
LSA Open Access Symposium
The panelists in this session explore issues in the future of publishing academic work from the standpoint of Open Access (OA), that is, free and unrestricted access by all to the results of academic research. A variety of perspectives are offered by the panel: editors of successful OA journals in Linguistics (Kai von Fintel, Lindsay Whaley), university librarians whose efforts are focussed on OA (Ellen Duranceau, Vika Zafrin), institutional directors of scholarly communication (Kathleen Fitzpatrick, Stuart Shieber), the Executive Director of the LSA (Alyson Reed), and a co-organizer of the session (Eric Bakovic).


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Winter 2017 schedule

  • LIGN 111
    TuTh 9:30-10:50, Peterson 103
  • LIGN 215
    Gradient Symbolic Computation
    TuTh 12:00-1:50, AP&M 4218
  • PhonCo/LFWG
    Mondays 1:00-2:00, Field Lab