Probabilistic reduction and probabilistic enhancement: contextual and paradigmatic effects on morpheme pronunciation

Cohen, C. (2014) Probabilistic reduction and probabilistic enhancement: contextual and paradigmatic effects on morpheme pronunciation. Morphology, 24(4), pp. 291-323. (doi: 10.1007/s11525-014-9243-y)

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Research on probabilistic pronunciation variation has generally focused on contextual probability, or the probability of using a linguistic unit (segment, syllable, word, etc.) in the context of a particular utterance. Overwhelmingly, this research has found that higher contextual probability leads to phonetic reduction. Less attention, however, has been given to paradigmatic probability, or the probability of using a particular linguistic form from a paradigm of related forms. The research that has addressed this type of probability has found inconsistent results: Sometimes higher paradigmatic probability leads to phonetic enhancement, and sometimes to phonetic reduction. In this paper I present the results of an experiment exploring the effects of both types of probability simultaneously on the pronunciation of agreement suffixes on English verbs. I find that (i) singular verb suffixes and stems are phonetically reduced when singular agreement is contextually probable; (ii) the nature of the reduction is modulated by verb frequency, consistent with dual-route models of lexical retrieval; and (iii) suffixes are phonetically enhanced when they are paradigmatically probable. I conclude by discussing how the patterns observed in this study shed light on the previous contradictory findings regarding the effects of paradigmatic probability on pronunciation.

Item Type:Articles
Additional Information:This work was supported in part by a Mellon/ACLS Dissertation Completion Fellowship.
Keywords:Subject-verb agreement, inflectional paradigms, pronunciation variation, probability, speech production, experimental linguistics.
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Cohen, Dr Clara
Authors: Cohen, C.
Subjects:B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion > BF Psychology
P Language and Literature > P Philology. Linguistics
P Language and Literature > PE English
College/School:College of Arts > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:Morphology
ISSN (Online):1871-5656
Published Online:05 November 2014

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