The origin of variation in Norwegian retroflexion

2011 2011

Other formats: Order a copy

Abstract (summary)

This dissertation deals with a phonological process in Norwegian called ‘retroflexion’. When a word ending in the tap / -r / is followed by a word beginning with an alveolar coronal / t d n s /, the / -r / deletes, and the alveolar surfaces as a retroflex coronal [ t˛ d˛ n˛ s˛ ]. The study presented here does two things:

One, this dissertation documents the variation that exists in Norwegian retroflexion with the use of production experiments and judgment experiments. It finds that retroflexion is obligatory for / t d n /, but optional for / s / (chapter 1). It finds that retroflexion is applied to / s / more often when the following segment is a consonant than when it is a vowel, and more often when that consonant is a / k / than when it is a / t / (chapter 2). Finally, it looks only at words in / sV- / and finds that for words that already exist in the language retroflexion is more common when the words has many frequent phonological neighbors, whereas for novel words retroflexion is less common when the word has many frequent neighbors (chapter 4).

Two, this dissertation accounts for this variation. For the different alveolar onsets we have production data for, / t- d- n- sk- st- sV- /, it finds that the larger the perceptual distance is between the alveolar and the retroflex, the less likely retroflexion is to occur. It is proposed that this correlation between perceptual properties and phonology has arisen through mechanisms of word categorization (chapter 3). For the dichotomy between existing and novel words in / sV- /, the crucial difference between them is that only existing words have a history. It is suggested that the transmission history of existing words plays a major role in how such words are produced by speakers. Since novel words have no transmission history, they are unaffected by such properties (chapter 4).

Indexing (details)

0290: Linguistics
Identifier / keyword
Language, literature and linguistics; Norwegian; Retroflexion; Transmission history
The origin of variation in Norwegian retroflexion
Johnsen, Sverre
Number of pages
Publication year
Degree date
School code
DAI-A 73/04, Dissertation Abstracts International
Place of publication
Ann Arbor
Country of publication
United States
Jasanoff, Jay; Albright, Adam
Harvard University
University location
United States -- Massachusetts
Source type
Dissertations & Theses
Document type
Dissertation/thesis number
ProQuest document ID
Database copyright ProQuest LLC; ProQuest does not claim copyright in the individual underlying works.
Document URL
Access the complete full text

You can get the full text of this document if it is part of your institution's ProQuest subscription.

Try one of the following:

  • Connect to ProQuest through your library network and search for the document from there.
  • Request the document from your library.
  • Go to the ProQuest login page and enter a ProQuest or My Research username / password.