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Adopting an Optimality-theoretic approach, this paper examines gemination in English loanwords in Ammani Arabic (AA). Data come from a corpus of 1200 loanwords as produced by 12 AA monolingual native speakers. Results show that gemination, which is not attested in the source input, is induced to satisfy AA structural constraints and to render the output better well-formed. Of particular interest, results show that the introduction of English loanwords into AA highlights the activity of a constraint that requires prosodic words in AA, and probably many Arabic dialects, to be left-aligned with a foot. This constraint enhances our understanding of many aspects of Arabic phonology such as stress assignment and foot formation. The study has important implications for Arabic phonology, loanword phonology and second language acquisition.
The spelling conventions for dental fricatives in Anglic languages (Scots and English) have a rich and complex history. However, the various – often competing – graphemic representations (<þ>, <ð>, <y> and <th>, among others) eventually settled on one digraph, <th>, for all contemporary varieties, irrespective of the phonemic distinction between /ð/ and /θ/. This single representation is odd among the languages’ fricatives, which tend to use contrasting graphemes (cf. <f> vs <v> and <s> vs <z>) to represent contrastive voicing, a sound pattern that emerged nearly a millennium ago. Close examinations of the scribal practices for English in the late medieval period, however, have shown that northern texts had begun to develop precisely this type of distinction for dental fricatives as well. Here /ð/ was predominantly represented by <y> and /θ/ by <th> (Jordan 1925; Benskin 1982). In the late fifteenth and early sixteenth centuries, this ‘Northern System’ collapsed, due to the northward spread of a London-based convention using exclusively <th> (Stenroos 2004). This article uses a rich body of corpus evidence for fifteenth-century Scots to show that, north of the North, the phonemic distinction was more clearly mirrored by spelling conventions than in any contemporary variety of English. Indeed, our data for Older Scots local documents (1375–1500) show a pattern where <y> progressively spreads into voiced contexts, while <th> recedes into voiceless ones. This system is traced back to the Old English positional preferences for <þ> and <ð> via subsequent changes in phonology, graphemic repertoire and letter shapes. An independent medieval Scots spelling norm is seen to emerge as part of a developing, proto-standard orthographic system, only to be cut short in the sixteenth century by top-down anglicisation processes.
Co-occurrence restrictions on Biblical Hebrew root consonants have received thorough treatment in the specialized literature. However, combinations involving glides on the one hand, and nominal roots on the other, have received very little attention. The aim of this paper is to argue for an incompatibility between medial consonants and final glides in defective nouns: a final w cannot generally follow a homorganic medial root consonant, viz. labial p, b, m and velar k, g, q. The III-w roots are rare: they came about as a result of a well-documented historical process and are found almost only in nominal roots. Previous investigations have overlooked this incompatibility owing to the incomplete scope of the studies.
Vowel-consonant metathesis is observed in a variety of contexts throughout the Nivaĉle (Mataguayan) grammar. It occurs in both verbal and nominal domains, characteristically resulting from the affixation of a consonant-initial suffix to a consonant-final stem. This paper provides an optimality theoretic account for vowel-consonant metathesis and vowel epenthesis in Nivaĉle. It is demonstrated that metathesis responds to phonological requirements; specifically, it serves to avoid marked structures in the language: complex codas, derived complex onsets, and bad syllable contacts. The prosodic analysis of syllable structure constraints aims to provide broad empirical coverage, as well as a coherent and integrated theoretical interpretation.
This study examined a potential lexicality advantage in young children's early speech production: do children produce sound sequences less accurately in nonwords than real words? Children aged 3;3-4;4 completed two tasks: a real word repetition task and a corresponding nonword repetition task. Each of the 23 real words had a paired consonant-vowel sequence in the nonword in word-initial position (e.g., ‘su’ in [ˈsutkes] ‘suitcase’ and [ˈsudrɑs]). The word-initial consonant-vowel sequences were kept constant between the paired words. Previous work on this topic compared different sequences of paired sounds, making it hard to determine if those results were due to a lexical or phonetic effect. Our results show that children reliably produced consonant-vowel sequences in real words more accurately than nonwords. The effect was most pronounced in children with smaller receptive vocabularies. Together, these results reinforce theories arguing for interactions between vocabulary size and phonology in language development.
While a growing body of research investigates the influence of orthographic input on the acquisition of second language (L2) segmental contrasts, few studies have examined its influence on the acquisition of L2 phonological processes. Hayes-Harb, Brown, and Smith (2018) showed that exposure to words’ written forms caused native English speakers to misremember the voicing of final obstruents in German-like words exemplifying voicing neutralization. However, they did not examine participants’ acquisition of the final devoicing process. To address this gap, we conducted two experiments wherein native English speakers (assigned to Orthography or No Orthography groups) learned German-like words in suffixed and unsuffixed forms, and later completed a picture naming test. Experiment 1 investigated learners’ knowledge of the surface voicing of obstruents in both final and nonfinal position, and revealed that while all participants produced underlyingly voiced obstruents as voiceless more often in final than nonfinal position, the difference was only significant for No Orthography participants. Experiment 2 investigated participants’ ability to apply the devoicing process to new words, and provided no evidence of generalization. Together these findings shed light on the acquisition of final devoicing by naïve adult learners, as well as the influence of orthographic input in the acquisition of a phonological alternation.
A long /aː/ in pre-fricative and pre-nasal contexts in words such as fast, answer or after is one of the most distinctive phonological features of British RP and, to a certain extent, of Southern Hemisphere varieties of English (Trudgill 2010). The lengthening of /a/ has been particularly gaining ground from the eighteenth century onwards (Beal 1999; Jones 2006). The pronouncing dictionaries published between the eighteenth century and the present day allow us to trace its lexical diffusion (Labov 1994) across the whole lexicon. Drawing on the statistics of the ARCHER corpus, the lexical sets of the ECEP database, the full electronic edition of Walker's dictionary (1791), Wells’ Longman Pronunciation Dictionary (2008) and the Macquarie Dictionary (2015), this article examines the role played by the phonetic environment, word frequency, phonetic analogy and isolated lead words like draught or master in the spread of the lengthening of /a/. The results show that word frequency per se has no clear effect on /a/ lengthening in either pre-fricative or pre-nasal environments in eighteenth-century sources. The article also offers a possible relative chronology of the spread of that phenomenon to each phonetic environment within the bath set.
We explore the implications of a particular approach to learning for an architectural question in phonology. The learning approach follows the principle of Minimum Description Length (MDL), which has recently been used for learning in both constraint-based and rule-based phonology. The architectural question on which we focus is whether the grammar allows language-specific statements to be made at the level of the lexicon, as was assumed in early generative phonology, or whether such statements are prohibited, as is commonly assumed within more recent work. We show that under MDL, the architectural question has real empirical implications: across a range of seemingly natural representational schemes, an ability to make language-specific statements about the lexicon is needed to ensure the learnability of an important aspect of phonological knowledge.
The usual development of OE [ɑld] in words such as old in Scots is to auld, reflecting the development of this sequence in northern dialects more generally. But in some Scots dialects other pronunciations of these words, reminiscent of dialects of English south of the Ribble–Humber Line, are found. These forms, of the type owld, are found across Lowland Scotland, with particular concentrations in the far north and southwest. Origins in Irish English and English in England have been suggested for this feature of Scots but these hypotheses have not been explored. Aitken & Macafee (2002: 61–2) instead argue for an endogenous origin of both auld and owld, but this proposed double endogenous development of OE [ɑld] is problematic in a number of ways. In this article, I examine the history of these developments in Scots in comparison to their development in dialects of English in England and Ireland. The lack of evidence for the owld development in Older Scots suggests that these forms are of relatively recent origin. Crucially, the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP) reveals that the owld pronunciations were in fact a feature of early forms of Standard English. Furthermore, several characteristic features of Irish English have spread into southwest Scotland, and the distribution of owld forms in the area fits this pattern. Thus Scots forms such as owld are not the result of endogenous development, but have their origin in English, in the case of southwest Scotland at least in part from Irish English, and elsewhere in Scotland from early forms of Standard English. These owld forms have been ‘localised’ and reinterpreted as ‘Scots’, alongside or replacing original auld. The analysis of the origins of this feature highlights not only the role of contact with varieties of English in the development of Scots, but also the importance of sources such as the ECEP database for understanding the historical phonology of Scots and English.
The foot–strut vowel split, which has its origins in 17th century English, is notable for its absence from the speech of Northerners in England, where stood–stud remain homophones – both are pronounced with the same vowel /ʊ/. The present study analyses the speech of 122 speakers from Manchester in the North West of England. Although the vast majority of speakers exhibit no distinction between the foot and strut lexical sets in minimal-pair production and judgement tests, vowel height is correlated with socio-economic status: the higher the social class, the lower the strut vowel. Surprisingly, statistical models indicate that vowel class is a significant predictor of foot–strut in Manchester. This means that, for a speech community without the split, there remains an effect in the expected direction: strut vowels are lower than foot vowels in the vowel space. We suggest that co-articulatory effects of surrounding consonants explain this instrumental difference, as they have significant lowering/heightening effects on the acoustics but are not fully captured by our statistical model. We argue that the perplexing nature of the historical split can be partially accounted for in this data, as the frequency of co-occurring phonetic environments is notably different in foot than in strut, resulting in cumulative effects of co-articulation. We also present evidence of age grading which suggests that middle class speakers may develop a phonetic distinction as they age.
This article presents the Eighteenth-Century English Phonology Database (ECEP) in the context of historical phonology and historical corpora. The eighteenth century witnessed the proliferation of works on elocution and orthoepy and yet the field lacks searchable digital sources comparable to those available in other disciplines like historical syntax or historical pragmatics. Because of this and for other reasons such as the difficulty in deciphering idiosyncratic notation systems in the original materials, there has been a certain disregard for the study of eighteenth-century phonological evidence. The ECEP database aims to redress this absence of research material by collecting data from eighteenth-century pronouncing dictionaries in the form of IPA transcriptions (c. 1,600 different example words totalling c. 17,600 transcriptions) and supplementary metadata, with a view to facilitating systematic analyses of phonological, chronological and geographic patterns, and also normative attitudes. The richness of the contents in ECEP will thus be of interest to phonologists, dialectologists and language variationists from the historical as well as the synchronic perspective, in that eighteenth-century orthoepists laid the ground for what became ‘Received Pronunciation’. Methodologically, the compilation of the ECEP database aims to contribute to the thriving field of corpus linguistics with a new research tool for the study of the history of English.
The present paper discusses the hypothesis according to which a devoicing sound shift *sb- > sp-, *sd- > st-, *sg- > sk- took place in pre-Tibetan. I show that all examples supporting this putative sound shift have better explanations, and that this hypothesis creates more problems than it solves. In addition, I discuss data from modern Tibetic varieties, showing that no typological parallel for such a sound shift is attested.
This article investigates prototypically attributive versus predicative adjectives in English in terms of the phonological properties that have been associated especially with nouns versus verbs in a substantial body of psycholinguistic research (e.g. Kelly 1992) – often ignored in theoretical linguistic work on word classes. Inspired by Berg's (2000, 2009) ‘cross-level harmony constraint’, the hypothesis I test is that prototypically attributive adjectives not only align more with nouns than with verbs syntactically, semantically and pragmatically, but also phonologically – and likewise for prototypically predicative adjectives and verbs. I analyse the phonological structure of frequent adjectives from the Corpus of Contemporary American English (COCA), and show that the data do indeed support the hypothesis. Berg's ‘cross-level harmony constraint’ may thus apply not only to the entire word classes noun, verb and adjective, but also to these two adjectival subclasses. I discuss several theoretical issues that emerge. The facts are most readily accommodated in a usage-based model, such as Radical Construction Grammar (Croft 2001), where these adjectives are seen as forming two distinct but overlapping classes. Drawing also on recent research by Boyd & Goldberg (2011) and Hao (2015), I explore the possible nature and emergence of these classes in some detail.
The lateral approximant in General British English (GB) is realised as light when occurring in the onset (leaf), and as dark in the rhyme (help, feel, google). Non-prevocalic positions are typical contexts for lenition, analysed in Element Theory as decomposition in weak positions. However, it is unclear how velarisation can be characterised as element loss if light [l] is represented as |A I|, while dark [ɫ] is represented as |A U|. Therefore, I propose that laterals in GB contain both the coronal |I| and the velar |U| element underlyingly (in addition to |A|), but because these cannot combine in a compound segment in English, they are both floating. Their association at the phrase level is determined by the apophonic chain (Guerssel & Lowenstamm 1996), mapped onto the structure of the syllable: |I| is attracted to the prevocalic position, |A| to the vocalic position and |U| to the postvocalic position. Darkening thus does not involve lenition of /l/, but partial interpretation in all positions. In contrast, I analyse vocalisation of dark [ɫ] as lenition, involving loss of |A| in weak positions. I integrate the lateral into the system of glides in English, and establish a typology of its behaviour across different accents.
In this chapter, the ways that sign language phonology and prosodic structure interface with the other components of the grammar will be described, including how the nondominant hand interacts with morpho-syntactic and prosodic constituency. The most novel of the interfaces that will be discussed in this chapter will be the gesture–language interface, but the phonetics–phonology, morphology–phonology, and syntax/semantics–phonology interfaces will be discussed as well. This chapter also describes the details of higher-order prosodic structure not defined in earlier chapters – the phonological word (P-word; also referred to as the prosodic word), phonological phrase (P-phrase), and intonational phrase (I-phrase) – and provides evidence for prosody as independent from the rest of the grammar. This is of paramount importance because, in addition to showing how various components are interconnected, mismatches among different autonomous components of the grammar are one way we know that those components exist.
In this chapter, issues concerning the emergence of phonology will be addressed by tracing the paths of phonology and morphophonology as they move from gesture, to homesign, and across multiple stages in cohorts (or generations) of young sign languages. The material covered in the first four chapters of this volume will provide theoretical context for the emergence of phonology. Relevant work on spoken languages, which has observed and modeled processes of emergence or mapped them typologically, will be discussed, and some of the principles of phonological systems will be articulated, such as paradigm uniformity, conventionalization, symmetry of the phonological inventory, and well-formedness constraints on phonological constituents. Based on ongoing work we can also address some of the social factors that may be important in different rates of emergence in different social contexts or “language ecologies.”
Phonological acquisition and the milestones associated with it have been an important testing ground for theoretical claims since the inception of generative phonology, and the theme of this chapter builds on those from previous chapters. We have described how a sign language phonological system is influenced by the visual modality and by iconicity, how it is processed and how it emerges. We now add data from sign language acquisition to this picture, asking what evidence there is for the units proposed so far in the phonological system of a child or infant.
Typical first-language (L1) phonological acquisition is a critical piece in any child’s development as she makes contact with the world, and as we will see, it is also an important stepping-stone for reading. We also address acquisition in several other circumstances where sign language is acquired, as it pertains to second-language (L2) learners, late learners of an L1, and bilingual development. These populations are unique in ways that will become clear as they are introduced throughout the chapter.
By working through phonological questions using sign language data we arrive at a new understanding of the very nature of phonology, of the very nature of language. This chapter gives a brief historical look into the field from its inception, lays out the reasons why thinking about sign language phonology opens up new ways to understand the nature of language, broadly construed, and provides enough background on the units of word-level phonology in sign languages to see practical and theoretical connections to parallel issues in spoken language phonology.