Statistically gradient generalizations for contrastive phonological features

Ernestus, M. (2006). Statistically gradient generalizations for contrastive phonological features. The Linguistic Review, 23(3), 217-233. doi:10.1515/TLR.2006.008.
In mainstream phonology, contrastive properties, like stem-final voicing, are simply listed in the lexicon. This article reviews experimental evidence that such contrastive properties may be predictable to some degree and that the relevant statistically gradient generalizations form an inherent part of the grammar. The evidence comes from the underlying voice specification of stem-final obstruents in Dutch. Contrary to received wisdom, this voice specification is partly predictable from the obstruent’s manner and place of articulation and from the phonological properties of the preceding segments. The degree of predictability, which depends on the exact contents of the lexicon, directs speakers’ guesses of underlying voice specifications. Moreover, existing words that disobey the generalizations are disadvantaged by being recognized and produced more slowly and less accurately, also under natural conditions.We discuss how these observations can be accounted for in two types of different approaches to grammar, Stochastic Optimality Theory and exemplar-based modeling.
Publication type
Journal article
Publication date

Share this page