The Weekly Newsletter of MIT Linguistics

Phonology Circle 4/25 - Sameer ud Dowla Khan

Speaker: Sameer ud Dowla Khan (Brown University)
Date/Time: 4/25 (Wed), 5 pm
Location: 32-D831
Title: What echo reduplication reveals about correspondence and similarity


Unlike canonical reduplication, echo reduplication involves obligatory differences between the base and reduplicant, either in the form of subtraction or fixed segmentism, e.g. Bengali /goli/ > /oli goli/ ‘alleys, etc.’ and /kashi/ > /kashi tashi/ ‘cough, etc.’, respectively. I show that the unique properties of echo reduplication primarily stem from the multiple competing (anti-)correspondence relations at work, including IO-, BR- and IR-correspondence constraints, an anticorrespondence constraint, and morphemic constraints, all of which can be ranked relative to markedness constraints.Echo reduplication is also investigated as a productive alternation sensitive to phonological similarity. Results of a production experiment on Bengali reveal that BR-homophony avoidance is gradient as opposed to categorical. Bases that begin with consonants more similar to the /t/ are less likely to be echo-reduplicated with the default fixed segment /t/, and more likely to prefer one of the backup labial segments /m, f, p, u/. This homophony avoidance requires a gradient notion of phonological similarity, which can be closely modeled using a probabilistic metric that assigns different weights to different phonological features of the consonants being compared. Possible sources for feature weights are discussed, and will lead to future extensions of the current study.