The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle - two meetings


Speaker: Mingqiong (Joan) Luo (Shanghai International Studies University)
Title: Opacity in MC Nasal Rhymes—-Phonetics and Phonology
Date/Time: Monday, May 9, 5:00–6:30pm
Location: 32-D831

Cross-linguistically speaking, nasal place assimilation is quite common when the nasal is followed by a consonant. English and Japanese have plenty of examples for it. However, although it is well-known that Mandarin Chinese (MC) has two nasal phonemes in the coda place: /n/ and /ŋ/, there is very few literature on what exactly happens to the nasal place in VN.CV context, when the nasal is followed immediately by a consonant. This research explored this problem by conducting a phonetic experiment and using R to analyze the data. Results show that (i) there is no place assimilation in MC VN.CV context; (ii) nasal place contrast has been neutralized in the citation form; (iii) the only cue to nasal place contrast in MC nasal rhymes is vowel-nasal transitional formant 2; (iv) there is opacity in Chinese nasal rhymes, ever since the citation form, and it can be captured by the following two rules in order:

(a) V/N backness agreement: V → V [αback] / _N[αplace]#

(b) Nasal place deletion: N[α place] → N[0 place] / _#


Speaker: Juliet Stanton & Sam Zukoff (MIT)
Title: Prosodic Misapplication in Copy Epenthesis and Reduplication
Date/Time: Friday, May 13, 1:00–2:00pm
Location: 32-D831

The term copy epenthesis refers to patterns of vowel epenthesis in which the featural value of the inserted vowel co-varies with context, “copying” the features of a neighboring vowel (e.g. /pra/ → [para], /pri/ → [piri]). This paper focuses on a class of cases in which the similarity between copy vowels and their hosts extends beyond featural resemblance, and how the existence of these effects informs the analysis of copy epenthesis – and by extension, the analysis of copying phenomena more generally. In particular, we show that copy vowels and their hosts strive for identity not only in all segmental features, but in all prosodic properties as well – and that this drive for prosodic identity can cause the misapplication of prosodic properties (i.e. stress, pitch, length). To explain these effects, we propose that copy vowels and their hosts stand in correspondence with each other (Kitto & de Lacy 1999). We show that this correspondence-based approach naturally extends to a class of similar misapplication effects in reduplication, and argue that the empirical overlap between the phenomena signals a formal similarity. In this way, the paper develops Kitto & de Lacy’s (1999) suggestion that copying, phonological and morphological, is mediated by correspondence constraints (cf. Kawahara 2007).