Phonology is quite a “technical” field and that means that you will encounter sources that a beginning phonologist can only partially understand. You are also going to be limited in what you can contribute to ongoing discussions about the properties of a theoretical framework. However, there are some interesting ways in which you CAN write a paper that shows off your insights and adds your own voice. Start by reading and don’t be discouraged if you do not understand a source in its entirety. Sometimes even the first few pages of a source can be helpful in presenting a clear introduction to a known phonological puzzle.
Identify a descriptive challenge
Look for a pattern in a phonological data set that relates to topics discussed in class: patterns of feature change, deletion, or insertion; restrictions on syllable structure, etc. What is/are the generalization(s) according to the author(s)? Are there exceptions? Are these truly exceptions or is there a missed generalization according to others? Please note that stress, tone, and intonation will not get much attention in this class. You need not avoid them altogether, but do not select a topic that requires a solid understanding of theories pertaining to these areas of phonology.
The diminutive suffix in Spanish comes in different forms: [-ito/a], [-sito/a], and [–esito/a]. Find sources that describe what determines the choice of suffix. Do the authors agree? Are there pesky data that don’t fit the stated generalizations?