The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 11/26 - Suyeon Yun

Date: Monday, Nov. 26
Time: 5pm
Location: 32D-831
Presenter: Suyeon Yun (MIT)
Title: The Role of Acoustic Cues in Consonant Cluster Adaptation

In this talk I will argue that cross-linguistic asymmetries in nonnative cluster repairs – namely vowel epenthesis and consonant deletion – result from perceptual similarity between the clusters and their repaired forms. Expanding my survey in Yun (2012), I suggest some new typological generalizations. First, when the edge consonant is a stop, a vowel is most likely to be epenthesized after the stop. If not, the edge stop deletes, while the non-edge stop does not  (e.g., gdansk (Polish) → [dænsk] (English; Yun 2012), ‘compact’ → [khəmpɛkthɨ] (Korean; Yun 2012), ‘blanket’ → [lɛnketti] (Finnish; Karttunen 1977), ‘compact’ → [kompak] (Indonesian; Yun 2012)). Second, when the edge consonant is a sonorant, a vowel is epenthesized before the sonorant. (e.g., lbovskij (Russian) → [ylbovskij] (Kirghiz; Gouskova 2003), rubl’ (Russian) → [rubɯl] (Kirghiz; Yun 2012)). While vowel-adjacent sonorants frequently delete, word-edge sonorants do not delete; even in a language where deletion can be a repair strategy, word-edge sonorants undergo epenthesis rather than deletion (e.g., ‘Swaziland’ → [suasilaan] vs. ‘Seattle’ → [siiaatul] (Inuktitut; Pollard 2008)). In addition, I will report several interesting asymmetries concerning positions, source languages, places of articulation, and voicing in stop adaptations, which cannot be explained by standard phonological constraints. Based on the typology, I will argue that acoustic cues, such as stop release bursts and sonorant-internal cues, play a crucial role in consonant cluster adaptation and formulate them as phonetically-based faithfulness constraints. And it will be shown that interactions between  fixed rankings of the phonetically-based constraints (based on the P-map hypothesis (Steriade 2001/2008)) and markedness constraints successfully account for the comprehensive cross-linguistic patterns of the nonnative cluster repairs.