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  • Author or Editor: Zsuzsanna Bárkányi x
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Phonotactic well-formedness judgments are usually gradient, the theoretical interpretation of which is controversial in the phonological literature. In this study we present experimental evidence from Slovak that speakers do have intuitions about unattested grammatical forms as well as attested marginal ones and these intuitions can be modeled fairly closely by gradient phonotactic learners like, for instance, the Hayes-Wilson Phonotactic Learner. Our results suggest that in gradient phonotactic judgments the knowledge of the relative probability of various combinations of natural classes plays a decisive role. We pay special attention to sonority reversal clusters in Slovak and claim that these sequences, although attested in the language, are on the verge of grammaticality and thus prone to change.

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In the present article I will argue that there is no need to posit underlying glides in Spanish because the syllabicity of high vowels (i, u) is determined by the stress pattern of the word and the segmental environment of the vowels. I will also argue that non-alternating rising diphthongs and falling diphthongs can uniformly be accounted for in the framework of strict CV (Lowenstamm 1996).

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We propose a unified, surface-based functionalist analysis of the phonology of Hungarian v, which is shown to fare better than past generative formalist/representational models. The model introduced can account for the two-fold patterning of v with respect to voicing assimilation without evoking exceptional means. Furthermore, it can also explain certain asymmetries as well as graduality displayed by v's phonotactic distribution, namely, that some clusters are more frequent in the lexicon, whereas others are marginal. The analysis is grounded in the aerodynamics of v's articulation (which involves inherently contradictory targets) as well as in the relative perceptibility of its contrast in various contexts. It is shown with the help of quantitative experiments that v's phonological patterning is directly derivable from these phonetic factors.

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It has been long acknowledged that the perception and production of speech is affected by the presence or absence of higher levels of linguistic information, too. The recoverability of meaning heavily relies on semantic context, similarly, the precision of articulation is inversely proportional to the presence of semantic information. The present study explores the recoverability of the voice feature of word-final alveolar fricatives in minimal pairs in Hungarian in phonetic contexts that trigger regressive voicing assimilation. Specifically, it aims to clarify whether the acoustic differences found in earlier studies are perceptually salient enough to distinguish underlying voicing in minimal pairs in semantically ambiguous contexts. For this reason, a perception study with the synthesised minimal pair mész–méz ‘whitewash–honey’ was carried out where the amount of voicing in the fricative, and the duration of the fricative and vowel were manipulated. The target words appeared in the following three phonetic contexts: before /p/, before /b/ and before the vowel /a/. Our results suggest that the observed acoustic differences in most of the cases remain below the perceptual threshold which means that phonological contrast is indeed neutralised before obstruents in Hungarian, and this may cause semantic ambiguity.

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