Douglas Pulleyblank


Department of Linguistics

University of British Columbia




University of Ibadan, Nigeria, B.A. Linguistics, 1977
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, U.S.A., Ph.D. Linguistics, 1983


Research Interests

My primary research area is phonological theory, with interests in overlapping areas of phonetics, morphology, syntax and learnability. The focus of my work has been featural properties, for example, tone and vowel harmony. I have concentrated on African languages, particularly languages of Nigeria, and have a long-standing research interest in Yoruba.



Research Grants (major, last five years)

2002/2005, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Harmony and the phonetic basis of phonological features (Bryan Gick & Diana Archangeli, co-investigators)

2006/2009, Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council of Canada: Harmony (Bryan Gick & Diana Archangeli, co-investigators)





Pulleyblank, Douglas (1986) Tone in Lexical Phonology. Dordrecht: D. Reidel Publishing Co.

Archangeli, Diana and Douglas Pulleyblank (1994) Grounded Phonology. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press.

Journal articles

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1986) “Rule Application on a Non-cyclic Stratum”, Linguistic Inquiry, 17:3, 573-580.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1986) “Underspecification and Low Vowel Harmony in Okpe”, Studies in African Linguistics, 17:2, 119-153.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1988) “Vocalic Underspecification in Yoruba”, Linguistic Inquiry, 19:2, 233-270.

Pulleyblank, Douglas and Akinbiyi Akinlabi (1988) “Phrasal Morphology in Yoruba”, Lingua 74:2-3, 141-166.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1988) “Vowel Deletion in Yoruba”, Journal of African Languages and Linguistics 10, 117-136.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1988) “Underspecification, the Feature Hierarchy and Tiv Vowels”, Phonology 5, 299-326.

Archangeli, Diana and Douglas Pulleyblank (1989) “Yoruba Vowel Harmony”, Linguistic Inquiry 20:2, 173-217.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1994) “Underlying Mora Structure,” Linguistic Inquiry, 25:2, 344-353.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1996) “Neutral Vowels in Optimality Theory: A Comparison of Yoruba and Wolof,” Canadian Journal of Linguistics, 41:4, 295-347.

Howe, Darin & Douglas Pulleyblank (2001) “Patterns and timing of glottalisation,” Phonology, 18:1, 45-80.

Orie, Olanike Ola & Douglas Pulleyblank (2002) “Yoruba vowel elision: minimality effects,” Natural Language & Linguistic Theory 20:1, 101-156.

Archangeli, Diana and Douglas Pulleyblank. (2002) “Kinande Vowel Harmony: domains, grounded conditions, and one-sided alignment,” Phonology 19:2, 139-188.

Howe, Darin & Douglas Pulleyblank. (2004) Harmonic scales as faithfulness. Canadian Journal of Linguistics 49, 1-49.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (2004) A note on tonal markedness in Yoruba. Phonology 21:3, 1-20.

Gick, Bryan, Douglas Pulleyblank, Fiona Campbell & Ngessimo Mutaka. (2006). Low vowels and transparency in Kinande vowel harmony. Phonology 23:1, 1-20.


Conference Proceedings

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1983) “Accent in Kimatuumbi,” in J. Kaye, H. Koopman, D. Sportiche and A. Dugas (eds.) Current Approaches to African Linguistics: Volume 2. Dordrecht: Foris Publications, 195-215.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1983) “Tiv and the Association Conventions,” Proceedings of ALNE 13/NELS 13. Amherst: GLSA, 211-228.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1983) “Extratonality and Polarity,” Proceedings of the West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics: Volume 2. Stanford: Stanford Linguistics Association, 204-216.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1984) “Autosegmental Accent,” Proceedings of NELS 14. Amherst: GLSA, 343-359.

Archangeli, Diana and Douglas Pulleyblank (1987) “Maximal and Minimal Rules: Effects of Tier Scansion”, in J. McDonough and B. Plunkett (eds.) NELS 17. Amherst: GLSA, 16-35.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1988) “Tone and the Morphemic Tier Hypothesis,” in M. Hammond and M. Noonan (eds.) Theoretical Morphology. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 353-370.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1989) “Patterns of Feature Cooccurrence: the Case of Nasality,” Arizona Phonology Conference 2: Coyote Papers 9, 98-115.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1993) “Vowel Harmony and Optimality Theory,” Proceedings of the Workshop on Phonology, University of Coimbra, Portugal, Associação Portuguesa de Linguística, 1-18.

Archangeli, Diana and Douglas Pulleyblank (1993) “Two rules or one...or none? [ATR] in Yoruba,” Proceedings of the Nineteenth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley, California, 13‑26.

Pulleyblank, Douglas, Ping Jiang-King, Myles Leitch, and O¢lanik O¢la (1995) “Typological Variation through Constraint Rankings: Low Vowels in Tongue Root Harmony,” Proceedings of South Western Optimality Theory Workshop. The University of Arizona Coyote Papers, 184-208.

Pulleyblank, Douglas & William J. Turkel (1996) “Optimality Theory and learning algorithms: the representation of recurrent featural asymmetries,” in J. Durand & B. Laks (eds.) Current Trends in Phonology: Models and Methods, volume 2. CNRS, Paris-X and University of Salford. University of Salford Publications, 653-684.

Pulleyblank, Douglas and William J. Turkel (1997) “Gradient Retreat,” in E. Roca (ed.) Derivations and Constraints in Phonology, Oxford: Clarendon Press, 153-193.

Pulleyblank, Douglas & William J. Turkel (1998) “The logical problem of language acquisition in optimality theory,” in P. Barbosa, D. Fox, P. Hagstrom, M. McGinnis & D. Pesetsky, eds., Is the best good enough? Optimality and competition in syntax. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press, 399-420.

Pulleyblank, Douglas. 2002. Harmony drivers: no disagreement allowed. In Proceedings of the Twenty-eighth Annual Meeting of the Berkeley Linguistics Society, 249-267. Berkeley Linguistics Society, Berkeley, California. [pdf version]

Pulleyblank, Douglas. 2003. Covert feature effects. In Gina Garding & Mimu Tsujimura, eds., WCCFL 22: Proceedings of the 22nd West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 398-422. Cascadilla Press, Somerville, MA. [pdf version]

Pulleyblank, Douglas. 2006. Minimizing UG: Constraints upon Constraints. In Donald Baumer, David Montero, & Michael Scanlon, eds., Proceedings of the 25th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics, 15-39. Somerville, MA: Cascadilla Proceedings Project., document #1430.

Pulleyblank, Douglas. In press. Mending your Ps & Qs. Proceedings of the Forty-second Annual Meeting of the Chicago Linguistic Society. [pdf version]



Pulleyblank, Douglas (1985) “A Lexical Treatment of Tone in Tiv,” in D.L. Goyvaerts (ed.) African Linguistics. Essays in Memory of M.W.K. Semikenke. Amsterdam: John Benjamins Publishing Company, 421-476.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1986) “Clitics in Yoruba,” in H. Borer (ed.) Syntax and Semantics, Volume 19: The Syntax of Pronominal Clitics. Orlando, Florida: Academic Press, 43-64.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1987) “Niger-Kordofanian Languages,” in B. Comrie (ed.) The World's Major Languages. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 959-970.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1987) “Yoruba,” in B. Comrie (ed.) The World's Major Languages. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 971-990.

Hyman, Larry and Douglas Pulleyblank (1988) “On Feature Copying: Parameters of Tone Rules,” in L.M. Hyman and C.N. Li (eds.) Language, Speech and Mind: Studies in Honor of Victoria A. Fromkin. London: Croom Helm Ltd, 30-48.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1989) “Nonlinear Phonology,” Annual Review of Anthropology, 18, 203-226.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1990) “Niger-Kordofanian Languages,” in B. Comrie (ed.) The Major Languages of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. London: Routledge, 253-264. [reprint of Pulleyblank (1987) “Niger-Kordofanian Languages”]

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1990) “Yoruba,” in B. Comrie (ed.) The Major Languages of South Asia, the Middle East and Africa. London: Routledge, 265-284. [reprint of Pulleyblank (1987) “Yoruba”]

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1992) “Yoruba,” in W. Bright (ed.) International Encyclopedia of Linguistics, vol.4, 261-266. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1995) “Feature Geometry and Underspecification,” in J. Durand & F. Katamba (eds.) Frontiers in Phonology: Atoms, Structures, Derivations. London: Longman, 3-33.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (1997) “Optimality Theory and Features,” in D. Archangeli & T. Langendoen (eds.) Optimality Theory: An Overview. Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 59-101.

Pulleyblank, Douglas & William J. Turkel (2000) “Learning Phonology: Genetic Algorithms and Yoruba Tongue-Root Harmony,” in Joost Dekkers, Frank van der Leeuw, & Jeroen van de Weijer, eds., Optimality Theory: Phonology, Syntax, and Acquisition. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 554-591.

Archangeli, Diana & Douglas Pulleyblank (2007) “Harmony,” in Paul de Lacy, ed., The Cambridge Handbook of Phonology, 353-378. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Pulleyblank, Douglas (2008) “Yoruba vowel patterns: asymmetries through phonological competition,” in Augustin Bobda, ed., Explorations into Language Use in Africa, 125-157. Hamburg: Peter Lang. [pdf version]

Pulleyblank, Douglas (in press) “Patterns of reduplication in Yoruba,” in Kristin Hanson & Sharon Inkelas, eds., The Nature of the Word: Essays in Honor of Paul Kiparsky. The MIT Press. [pdf version]

Archangeli, Diana, K.P. Mohanan, & Douglas Pulleyblank. In press. The emergence of Optimality Theory. In Linda Uyechi & Lian Hee Wee, eds., Reality Exploration and Discovery: Pattern Interaction in Language & Life. CSLI. [pdf version]

Recent unpublished papers

Kim, Eun-Sook & Douglas Pulleyblank (2004) “Glottalisation and lenition in Nuu-chah-nulth.” Ms., UBC. [Full-size pdf version] [Reduced pdf version]

Ajíbóyè, Oládiípò, Rose-Marie Déchaine, Bryan Gick & Douglas Pulleyblank (2007) “Disambiguating Yòrúba tones: the interface between syntax, morphology, phonology and phonetics.” Ms., UBC. [pdf version]

Ajíbóyè, Oládiípò & Douglas Pulleyblank (2008) “Moba nasal harmony.” Ms., University of Lagos & UBC. [pdf version]




During the 2007-2008 academic year, I am teaching the following courses:

Term 1 (2007 September-December):

LING 311.001 Studies in Phonology

LING 510.001 Phonological Theory and Analysis

Term 2 (2008 January-April):

LING 447B.001 Topics in Linguistics: Assimilation and Dissimilation


Supervision (last few years)

Darin Howe: PhD, 2000, Oowekyala Segmental Phonology [Patricia A. Shaw, co-supervisor]

Eric R. Rosen, PhD, 2001, Phonological processes interacting with the lexicon: variable and non-regular effects in Japanese phonology

Kevin Heffernan, MA, 2002, Locating the Height Features: Evidence from Japanese [Kenichi Takashima, co-supervisor]

Eun-Sook Kim, PhD, 2003, Theoretical Issues in Nuu-chah-nulth Phonology and Morphology

Jeremy Perkins, MA, 2005, The RTR Harmonic Domain in Two Dialects of Yoruba

Gessiane Lobato Picanço, PhD, 2005, Mundurukú: Phonetics, Phonology, Synchrony, Diachrony

Jason Brown, PhD, 2008, Theoretical Aspects of Gitksan Phonology [Gunnar Hansson, co-supervisor]




2008-2009:      Graduate Advisor, Department of Linguistics

Budget & Planning Committee, Department of Linguistics




Address and Office Information

Mailing Addresses

Department of Linguistics                              
University of British Columbia                                  
Totem Field Studios, 2613 West Mall                                    
Canada V6T 1Z4                                            






douglas.pulleyblank at


Stores Road Building, upstairs

Office Hours

Thursday, 1230-1330, and by appointment


my alter ego


Jeff and the Giant Reach, Murrin Park