Morphology

, Volume 24, Issue 4, pp 291–323 | Cite as

Probabilistic reduction and probabilistic enhancement

Contextual and paradigmatic effects on morpheme pronunciation
Article

Abstract

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.

Keywords

Subject-verb agreement Inflectional paradigms Pronunciation variation Probability Speech production Experimental linguistics 

Notes

Acknowledgements

I am very grateful to Susanne Gahl, Victor Kuperman, Haraald Baayen, and the audience members at the 2013 Morphology and its Interfaces conference for helpful discussion and comments on this research.

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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2014

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of CaliforniaBerkeleyUSA

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