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Title:Consonant cluster phonotactics: a perceptual approach [Dissertation]
Authors:Marie-Helene Cote
Comment:Dissertation submitted in 2000, slightly revised in July 2001
Abstract: This dissertation deals with deletion and epenthesis
processes conditioned or constrained by the consonantal
environment, essentially consonant deletion, vowel
epenthesis, and vowel deletion. It is argued that the
standard generative approach to these processes, which
relies on the syllable and the principle of prosodic
licensing, is empirically inadequate, and an alternative
sequential approach based on perceptual factors is
developed. It is proposed that the likelihood that a
consonant deletes, triggers epenthesis, or blocks vowel
deletion correlates with the quality and quantity of the
auditory cues associated to it in a given context. The
approach is implemented in Optimality Theory and adopts more
specifically the ‘Licensing by cue’ framework developed by
Steriade (1999a,c).
New empirical gneralizations concerning deletion and
epenthesis processes are uncovered, in particular 1) the
fact that stops are more likely than other consonants to
delete, trigger epenthesis, or block deletion; 2) the role
of syntagmatic contrast in deletion and epenthesis
processes; 3) the role of the audibility of stop release
bursts; 4) the existence of cumulative edge effects, whereby
more and more phonotactic combinations are licensed at the
edges of prosodic domains as we go up the prosodic
hierarchy. These generalizations are elucidated in terms of
internal and contextual cues, modulation in the acoustic
signal, and cue enhancement processes at edges of prosodic
The proposed perceptual approach achieves a substantial
simplification and unification of the conceptual apparatus
necessary to analyze deletion and epenthesis processes. It
subsumes under the more general notion of perceptual
salience principles of syllable well-formedness and the
Obligatory Contour Principle. Furthermore, it eliminates the
need for exceptional mechanisms such as extrasyllabicity at
domain edges.
The analysis is based on the study of deletion and
epenthesis processes in a variety of languages. Detailed
investigations of schwa in Parisian French, cluster
simplification in Quebec French, and stop deletion and vowel
epenthesis in Ondarroa Basque are provided.
Article:Part 1
Part 2
Part 3
Part 4
Part 5
Part 6
Part 7