Abstract/Details

The emergence of phonetic naturalness


2007 2007

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Abstract (summary)

This dissertation addresses whether synchronic phonology encodes phonetic naturalness. I argue that while phonological grammars allow phonetically unnatural patterns as a result of coincidental historical changes, they are nevertheless biased toward phonetic naturalness. The key observation revealed by experimentation is that phonetic naturalness emerges when speakers create novel phonological patterns. I refer to the observation as "the emergence of phonetic naturalness". To explain the emergence of phonetic naturalness, I propose within Optimality Theory (Prince and Smolensky 2004) that the universal set of constraints is phonetically natural, and constraint rankings are also phonetically natural by default. To accommodate unnaturalness, individual languages can create unnatural constraints and reverse default constraint rankings.

Chapter 1 lays out the issues and Chapter 2 develops a grammatical model. Chapter 3 discusses devoicing of voiced geminates in Japanese loanword phonology. Only voiced geminates, but not voiced singletons, can devoice to dissimilate from another voiced obstruent. I argue that the difference in neutralizability is grounded in a perceptibility scale related to the voicing contrast in singletons and geminates, but that the cause of devoicing, OCP(voice), is phonetically unnatural.

Chapter 4 discusses a novel pattern of Japanese mimetic gemination. When speakers create emphatic forms, they prefer geminate stops the most, geminate fricatives next, and geminate nasals least. The preference hierarchy harmonically aligns with the perceptibility scale for singleton-geminate contrasts for different manners of consonants.

Chapter 5 examines the distribution of vowels that are correspond with Ø in novel Japanese rap rhyming. The likelihood of vowels being treated as Ø directly correlates with their perceptual similarity to Ø.

Chapter 6 shows that in rap rhyming the more perceptually similar two consonants are, the more likely they are to rhyme. The patterns studied in Chapter 5 and 6 show that phonetically natural patterns emergence in novel verbal art.

The case studies suggest that when speakers create novel phonological patterns, they deploy phonetic knowledge, and hence phonetically natural patterns assert themselves.

Indexing (details)


Subject
Linguistics
Classification
0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Constraint rankings; Japanese; Phonetic naturalness; Synchronic phonology
Title
The emergence of phonetic naturalness
Author
Kawahara, Shigeto
Number of pages
435
Publication year
2007
Degree date
2007
School code
0118
Source
DAI-A 68/11, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
ISBN
9780549330707
Advisor
Kingston, John C.
Committee member
McCarthy, John J.; Pater, Joe V.; Rotello, Caren M.
University/institution
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Department
Linguistics
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Degree
Ph.D.
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Language
English
Document type
Dissertation/Thesis
Dissertation/thesis number
3289261
ProQuest document ID
304837884
Copyright
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
http://search.proquest.com/docview/304837884
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