Strycharczuk & Scobbie in Journal of the Association of Laboratory Phonology

Posted on April 20, 2017 by

A new paper by Patrycja Strycharczuk (LEL) and colleague James Scobbie (Queen Margaret University) has been published in the the Journal of the Association of Laboratory Phonology. The paper is called Whence the fuzziness? Morphological effects in interacting sound changes in Southern British English and homes in on sound changes that are sensitive to morphological boundaries.

This publication is not the first academic output of the Strycharczuk-Scobbie duo. Recently, the Journal of Phonetics published another paper on vowel+/l/ sequences in morphologically complex words called Gradual or abrupt? The phonetic path to morphologisation.

For your convenience, both abstracts are given below. However, do check out the full papers, which are available here and here!

Gradual or abrupt? The phonetic path to morphologisation

Patrycja Strycharczuk & James M Scobbie

While some sound changes occur in environments defined in purely phonological terms, others may become sensitive to morphological boundaries. In this paper, we investigate the phonetic nature of this latter diachronic development: does it happen through small gradient increments, or is there a categorical shift from one allophone to another? We focus on goose-fronting and /l/-darkening in Southern British English, the interaction of which is sensitive to morphological boundaries. Relatively retracted realisations of the vowel and dark realisations of the /l/ appear before a morpheme boundary, even when a vowel follows (e.g. fool-ing), whereas in monomorphemic words (e.g. hula), there is more /uː/-fronting, and the /l/ is relatively lighter. We analyse the phonetic realisation of such pairs as hula vs. fool-ing in 20 speakers of Southern British English using both acoustic and articulatory (ultrasound) instrumental methods. All the speakers express the morphological contrast in some way, although effect sizes vary dramatically. For some speakers, the contrast involves subtle articulatory differences without any clear acoustic consequences, whereas other speakers show robust differences employing multiple phonetic correlates. We therefore argue that the hula~fool-ing contrast would be misrepresented if analysed in terms of a small number of either /uː/ or /l/ allophonic categories. Instead, we interpret the results as supporting the predictions of phonological frameworks that incorporate phonetically-gradient morphologisation.

Whence the fuzziness? Morphological effects in interacting sound changes in Southern British English

Patrycja Strycharczuk & James M Scobbie

The fronting of the high-back /uː/ and /ʊ/, as currently seen in Southern British English (SBE), is a rare opportunity to study two similar sound changes at different stages of their phonetic development: /uː/-fronting is a more advanced change than /ʊ/-fronting. Since the fronting in both vowels is restricted from applying before a following final /l/ (e.g., in words like fool or pull), we can exploit the difference in the phonetic advancement of /uː/ and /ʊ/-fronting to illuminate the nature of ‘fuzzy contrasts’ affecting vowel+/l/ sequences in morphologically complex words. As recent results show that /uː/-fronting is partially limited in fool-ing (but not in monomorphemes like hula), we ask whether similar morphological constraints affect /ʊ/ followed by /l/ (e.g., bully vs. pull-ing). Simultaneously, we consider the question of what phonological generalization best captures the interaction between vowel fronting, /l/-darkening, and morphological structure. We present ultrasound data from 20 speakers of SBE representing two age groups. The data show that morphologically conditioned contrasts are consistent for /uː/+/l/, but variable and limited in size for /ʊ/+/l/. We relate these findings to the debate on morphology-phonetics interactions and the emergence of phonological abstraction.

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