Predicting the unpredictable: The phonological interpretation of neutralized segments in Dutch
Ernestus, M., & Baayen, R. H.
Predicting the unpredictable: The phonological interpretation of neutralized segments in Dutch. Language, 79
Among the most fascinating data for phonology are those showing how speakers incorporate
new words and foreign words into their language system, since these data provide cues to the
actual principles underlying language. In this article, we address how speakers deal with neutralized
obstruents in new words. We formulate four hypotheses and test them on the basis of Dutch
word-final obstruents, which are neutral for [voice]. Our experiments show that speakers predict
the characteristics ofneutralized segments on the basis ofphonologically similar morphemes
stored in the mental lexicon. This effect of the similar morphemes can be modeled in several
ways. We compare five models, among them STOCHASTIC OPTIMALITY THEORY and ANALOGICAL
MODELING OF LANGUAGE; all perform approximately equally well, but they differ in their complexity,
with analogical modeling oflanguage providing the most economical explanation.