Segmental and prosodic prominence interactions

Shigeko Shinohara (LPP, CNRS/Sorbonne Nouvelle)
25 November 2016, 14h0015h30

In this talk I would like to argue for 1) the existence of universal salience scales of segmental and prosodic elements (in a given context), and 2) that the mappings between the two categories go through an abstract process. We shall observe a variety of phonological patterns and some of our experimental results supporting these ideas.

It is well-known in synchronic and diachronic phonology that segmental properties and prosodic positions interact. One of such examples is the never-stressed English schwa, the phonetically modest vowel. Among many aspects in loanword phonology as well as in L2 phonetic studies that we have been working on, our biggest interest has been about phonological interpretations and expressions of segmental properties by prosodic elements, and in the reversed way, about the prosodic position’s impact on segmental perception. Our approach is to assume that the phonological encoding of saliency of sounds involves an abstract process. It is indicated by the facts that while prominence of phonetic elements is universally fixed, their incorporation into phonological grammars varies among languages, but essentially in implicational manners respecting the prominence scales.

To introduce the idea of mapping between segmental and prosodic salience, I shall first provide examples of epenthetic vowels in stress assignment, of interactions between epenthetic vowels and tones, and of epenthesis constraining syllable shape in loanword phonology. Secondly, I shall present arguments for the relation between perception and phonological patterns based on the auditory function and phonological data from various fields. We shall observe there an implicational phonological pattern across languages. Finally, to stress the abstract and synchronic aspect of the mapping process, I shall present a part of our experimental results on a codaless language, White Hmong’s English coda interpretation in terms of tones.

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