5th International Conference on Spoken Language Processing

Sydney, Australia
November 30 - December 4, 1998

More Evidence For The Perceptual Basis Of Sound Change? Suprasegmental Effects In The Development Of Distinctive Nasalization

John Hajek (1), Ian Watson (2)

(1) University of Melbourne, Australia
(2) University of Oxford, UK

Cross-linguistic studies of the development of distinctive nasalization show evidence of significant suprasegmental conditioning. Amongst conditioning factors uncovered so far are vowel length and stress. Across languages it is reported that in the related contexts /V:N/ and /VN/, identical except for vowel length, phonologization of nasalization and N-deletion always occur preferentially in the context of long vowels. There is also cross-linguistic evidence of stress-conditioning of distinctive nasalization: nasalization and N-deletion appear to occur preferentially in stressed syllables. In this study, we discuss the results of an experiment designed to measure the possible effects of vowel duration and prominence on the perception of vowel nasalization. Both are seen to have an effect, although in different ways. Results presented here also lend support to the hypothesis that some sound changes, such as those involved in distinctive nasalization, may have a primarily perceptual basis.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hajek, John / Watson, Ian (1998): "More evidence for the perceptual basis of sound change? suprasegmental effects in the development of distinctive nasalization", In ICSLP-1998, paper 0254.