Brent de Chene
          Professor (emeritus), Waseda University

          dechene at waseda dot jp

Personal Statement

I was trained as a phonologist in the 1970s at UCLA; having an ambivalent relationship with the synchronic phonological theory of the era, I wrote my dissertation (submitted September, 1978) on a question of historical phonology, namely how languages acquire vowel length contrasts. With additional material written in the early 1980s, this was published as The Historical Phonology of Vowel Length (Garland, 1985, republished by Routledge, 2014). After three years of teaching in the United States (UC Santa Cruz 1978-80, University of Minnesota 1980-81), I moved to Japan in July of 1981 and have remained there since, teaching at Waseda University in Tokyo from April, 1986 to March, 2017.

In the 1990s, in response both to the inherent interest of the generative enterprise in syntax as articulated in works such as Chomsky's Knowledge of Language and to the needs of my students, my interests turned in the direction of syntactic theory. In addition to papers on topics such as complementizer-trace effects and focus-scope interactions, I wrote, in Japanese, a textbook that, in the course of discussing problems of English grammar and usage that consistently pose problems for speakers of Japanese, introduces GB-era analyses of phenomena such as wh-movement and infinitival complementation. This appeared as 英文法の再発見 (Rediscovering English Grammar (Kenkyusha, 1997)).

Beginning around 2006, I returned to a research topic that had occupied me in the mid-1980s, namely the implications of ongoing change in the Japanese system of verbal inflection for the synchronic analysis of that system. The attempt to go beyond the question of what the descriptively adequate (psychologically real) analysis of that system is to the question of the explanatory principles on the basis of which the descriptively adequate analysis has been chosen over observationally adequate alternatives has led to my current research interests, which focus on the principles of UR choice in nonautomatic phonology and the origin of word-level phonological rules that do not arise directly from sound change.

Book Prospectus

Structure and Change in the Japonic Verb

Recent Papers

Syntactic and Lexical -ase- are Distinct Suffixes

ð-Epenthesis as a Default in Modern Greek Nominal Inflection


On the (Ir)regularity of Dunan Verbal Morphophonology. Journal of Japanese Linguistics 36.2:253-289.

r-Epenthesis and the Bigrade Alternation: The Role of Phonological Distance in the Regularization of Japanese Verbal InflectionDiachronica 37.2:178-214.


r-Epenthesis and RyukyuanGengo Kenkyu 155:101-130.


Root-based Syntax and Japanese Derivational MorphologyOn Looking into Words (and Beyond), ed.Claire Bowen, Laurence Horn, and Raffaella Zanuttini, 117-135. Berlin: Language Science Press.


Description and Explanation in Morphophonology: The Case of Japanese Verb InflectionJournal of East Asian Linguistics 25:37–80.


Probability Matching Versus Probability Maximization in Morphophonology: The Case of Korean Noun InflectionTheoretical and Applied Linguistics at Kobe Shoin 17:1-13.

Recent Presentations

Reanalysis and Regularization in Morphophonology: Korean Noun Inflection and Beyond  University of Hong Kong, October 25, 2018
On the (Ir)regularity of Dunan Verbal Morphophonology  155th Meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan, Kyoto, November 25, 2017
Reanalysis Triggers in Japanese Morphology (poster)  24th Japanese/Korean Linguistics Conference, Tokyo, October 15, 2016
Japanese Derivational Morphology and Root-based Syntax  152nd Meeting of the Linguistic Society of Japan, Tokyo, June 25, 2016
The Centrality of Underlying Representations: Evidence from Reanalysis  Workshop on the Current Status of Phonological Representations
    in Phonology, Annual Meeting of the Linguistic Association of Great Britain, London, September 16, 2015
The Complementarity of Synchronic and Diachronic Explanation in Phonology  Workshop on Historical Phonology and Phonological Theory,
    48th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Leiden, September 4, 2015
The Duality of Phonology: Automatic and Nonautomatic Alternations at the Explanatory Level  Workshop on Nonautomatic Alternations in
    Phonology, 47th Annual Meeting of the Societas Linguistica Europaea, Poznań, September 11, 2014
A New Corpus of Colloquial Korean and its Applications (with Kevin Tang (poster))  14th Conference on Laboratory Phonology,
    Tokyo, July 26, 2014
Minority Alternations are in the Lexicon (poster)  21st Manchester Phonology Meeting, May 24, 2013

Selected Older Papers

The "Tense" Morphology of Conditionals
The Locus of Agreement Features in the DP
Case and Concord
Prosody and Subject Traces
Topic, Focus, and Quantifier Scope in English