, Volume 26, Issue 2, pp 201–227 | Cite as

Morphological embedding and phonetic reduction: the case of triconstituent compounds

  • Gero KunterEmail author
  • Ingo Plag


In this paper we propose that the internal bracketing of a word with more than two morphemes is reflected in the phonetic implementation. We hypothesize that embedded forms show more phonetic reduction than forms at higher structural levels (‘Embedded Reduction Hypothesis’). This paper tests the prediction of the Embedded Reduction Hypothesis with triconstituent compounds. The analysis of the durational properties of almost 500 compound tokens shows that there is a lengthening effect on the non-embedded constituent, and a shortening effect on the adjacent embedded constituent. Yet, this predicted effect of embedding interacts with other lexical factors, above all the bigram frequency of the embedded compound. At a theoretical level, these effects mean that the durational properties of the cross-boundary constituents are indicative of the hierarchical structure and of the strength of the internal boundary of triconstituent compounds. Hence, morphological structure is reflected in the speech signal.


English Compound Embedding Reduction Duration 


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© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.English Language and Linguistics Heinrich-Heine-Universität DüsseldorfDüsseldorfGermany

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