|Title:||An Effort-Based Approach to Consonant Lenition|
|Comment:||1998 UCLA dissertation|
|Abstract:||An Effort-Based Approach to Consonant Lenition
Despite the pervasiveness of lenition in the sound systems of natural
language, this class of patterns has eluded adequate characterization
in previous theories of phonology. Specifically, previous theories
have failed to capture formally the phonetic unity of the various
lenition processes (e.g. degemination, voicing, spirantization,
debuccalization, deletion), or to account for the environments in
which lenition typically occurs.
I present a unified approach to consonant lenition, wherein particular
lenition patterns arise from Optimality Theoretic conflict between a
principle of effort minimization (which I style LAZY), and faithfulness
to auditory features, in combination with (perceptually-based)
fortition constraints, building upon the proposals of Jun (1995) and
Flemming (1995). I further demonstrate that this effort-based approach
straightforwardly accounts for a number of generalizations, drawn from
a survey of 272 grammars:
* Geminate stops never lenite unless they concomitantly degeminate.
* Unaffricated stops never synchronically spirantize to strident
* All else being equal, lenition occurs more readily the greater the
openness of the flanking segments (the widely attested pattern of
intervocalic lenition being a special case).
* Lenition occurs more readily the faster or more casual the speech.
The approach is illustrated with case studies of lenition in Tumpisa
Shoshone and Florentine Italian.