Geminate typology and the perception of consonant duration
- The crosslinguistic typology of geminate consonants demonstrates several prominent tendencies: geminates are typically found in intervocalic positions, often after stressed vowels, but are avoided in adjacency to other consonants and on word boundaries, more so word-initially than word-finally; sonorant geminates are more infrequent than obstruent geminates. This dissertation investigates the effect that the contextual environment (vocalic or consonantal neighbors, position with respect to the edges of the word, and stressed vowels) as well as the phonetic properties of the consonants themselves (sonority, continuancy, and voicing) has on the perception of the contrast between short and long consonants. The primary goal of the perceptual experiment with speakers of Russian, American English, and Italian as participants was to demonstrate that perception of the durational distinction in consonant was context-dependent. In particular, it was hypothesized that listeners would have greater difficulties in categorizing the consonants as short and long in contexts where geminates are rarely found across languages, which would provide an explanation for the typological patterns. The experimental results established that perceptual contrast distinctiveness was higher in the intervocalic than in the preconsonantal environment, and in the wordinitial than in the word-final position. These generalizations are based on the facts that the perception of the distinction was less categorical in the preconsonantal and word-final conditions: consonants were less consistently categorized as either short or long, while a greater portion of a durational continuum caused indecision about the category membership of the consonant. In addition, perception of durational distinctions in the preconsonantal and word-final conditions was affected by singletonbias: listeners were more reluctant to categorize consonants in these environments as long. Distinctiveness-based explanation for the crosslinguistic preference for post-tonic and obstruent geminates was not supported by the experimental results. It was found that stress did not affect perception of consonant duration. However, a survey of several languages for which a stress-geminacy connection was reported showed a striking correlation between weight-sensitivity and tendency to geminate in the poststress position. Thus, an alternative account for this typological pattern is proposed, which states that gemination is used in the weight-sensitive languages to repair light stressed syllables, creating a typological connection between geminate consonants and stress. Results concerning the perception of consonant duration as a function of the phonetic properties of the consonant showed that the durational distinction was easiest to perceive in sonorant consonants (liquids and nasals) and alveolar voiceless fricatives. Both voiced and voiceless alveolar stops conditioned a less well-defined perceptual contrast. These results contradict typological observations and some previous experimental data, thus warranting further research in this domain. The dissertation also develops an optimality-theoretic account of typological asymmetries in the distribution of duration contrasts, focusing on the effects of segmental environment (intervocalic and preconsonantal) and word-position (word-initial and word-final). The proposed model is based on contrast dispersion theory and incorporates phonetically-based constraints on the minimal perceptual distinctiveness that the contrast needs to satisfy in order to be included into the phonological inventory of the language. The model which incorporates contrast perceptibility and syllable weight constraints generates most of the geminating languages in the typological survey.
|Type of resource
|electronic; electronic resource; remote
|1 online resource.
|Stanford University, Department of Linguistics
|Padgett, Jaye, 1962-
|Padgett, Jaye, 1962-
|Statement of responsibility
|Submitted to the Department of Linguistics.
|Thesis (Ph.D.)--Stanford University, 2012.
- © 2012 by Olga Dmitrieva
- This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial 3.0 Unported license (CC BY-NC).
Also listed in
Loading usage metrics...