The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Colloquium 11/5 - Jonah Katz (West Virginia University)

Speaker: Jonah Katz (West Virginia University)
Title: A prosodic-phonetic approach to intervocalic lenition
Time: Friday, November 5th, 3:30pm – 5pm

Abstract: In this talk, I argue that a subset of cross-linguistically common lenition processes, such as spirantization, intervocalic voicing, and flapping, take place outside the narrow phonology, in a component of grammar that governs the fine-grained temporal dynamics of speech sounds and their interaction with prosodic structure. I review evidence that these lenition patterns are different from other processes sometimes referred to as ‘lenition’; that they do not manipulate phonological features; that they lie on a much broader continuum of prosodically-driven phonetic variation; and that they are driven primarily by subphonemic adjustments to duration and the temporal separation between prosodic units. With data from Campidanese Sardinian, I illustrate a schematic approach to modeling lenition as a language-specific property of phonetic implementation, operating on prosodic structure and the output of narrow phonology.