Peter Jurgec


My research interests fall within theoretical phonology. I am particularly interested in feature theory, assimilation, loanwords, tone, Optimality Theory, Harmonic Serialism, and Slavic languages. The major research areas are outlined below.

Phonological fieldwork

Quality of phonological data has been one of the major challenges of the field in recent decades. My joint work with students at the University of Toronto and elsewhere has focused on detailed phonological investigation of several phenomena in Slovenian dialects. We use phonetic (acoustic and articulatory) analysis to support phonological analyses of several cross-linguistically rare patterns. This work includes nasal harmony in Mostec (joint work with Mia Sara Misic, Vivian Che, Fernanda Lara Peralta and Karmen Kenda Jež), long-distance secondary palatalization in Zadrečka Valley Slovenian (joint work with Rachel Evangeline Chiong, Andrea Macanović, and Peter Weiss), vowel harmony in Ljubljana Standard Slovenian (joint work with Wenxuan Chen), and centralized vowels in Resian (joint work with Reilley Marston).

Exceptionality in phonology

Some groups of words may behave differently than others. In my dissertation at the University of Ljubljana (2009), I described the differences between loanwords and native words in Slovenian. To determine whether the speakers are sensitive to phonological foreignness, I conducted a series of perceptual experiments. This work established that Slovenian loanwords show disjunctive patterns when compared to native words. See my paper in Linguistic Inquiry (published version). More recent work looks at how and why exceptionality is lost under affixation. In a forthcoming paper in Phonology (joint work with Bronwyn Bjorkman), we explore the locality relationships involved in this process and review over 20 patterns of this kind.

Harmonic Serialism

Harmonic Serialism is a serial version of Optimality Theory. Gen(erator) in Harmonic Serialism is restricted, and each input undergoes several cyclic evaluations. My 2015 paper in Linguistic Inquiry deals with ternary stress in Harmonic Serialism.

My forthcoming paper in Linguistic Inquiry looks at how opacity can be analyzed as allomorph selection only in Harmonic Serialism.

Locality in phonology

Sound patterns are decidely local: the closer the two segments (or other constituents, such as tones or syllables), the more likely it is they will interact. Recent phonological research, however, suggests that some interactions can apply at a distance. This includes some cases of vowel harmony, consonant harmony, a subset of morphological derived environment effects, and more. In my workon this topic, I have looked at locality relationshops in consonant and vowel harmony. In a forthcoming paper in Phonology (joint work with Bronwyn Bjorkman), we explore the locality relationships involved in derived environment effects. In my recent paper in Glossa, I show how palatalization is blocked at a distance by a cooccurrence restriction.


Slovenian is an underdescribed Slavic language with extensive phonological variation. Slovenian phonology has been one of my core interests. Over the years, I have worked on Slovenian loanwords, formant, frequencies, vowel, inventory, creaky, voice, palatalization, and many other topics.


Assimilation is a patter in which a segment becomes more similar to another nearby segment. My thesis at the University of Tromsø¸ offers a unified theory of assimilation based in a constraint-based framework. The main insight is that relationships between assimilating segments are hierarchical. This predicts a previously underdescribed type of segment, termed icy target. I capture the patterns using an extension of Autosegmental Phonology. In my other work, I argue that consonant harmony can be captured using feature spreading.