The Phonetics and Phonology of Coronal Markedness and Unmarkedness

Y. Kang, 2000

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This thesis investigates place feature restrictions in oral and nasal stop consonants with a special focus on the asymmetrical behavior of coronal and noncoronal stops.  Two conflicting patterns of place restriction in outputs are attested; coronal unmarkedness and coronal markedness.  This thesis shows that coronal unmarkedness is truly a default pattern of place restriction.  Coronal unmarkedness is not confined to specific segmental contexts or to languages with a particular inventory structure.  In addition, the coronal unmarked pattern is attested through diverse phonological processes such as assimilation, place neutralization, segmental and featural deletion, metathesis, vowel syncope and morpheme structure constraints.  This follows from the context-free place markedness hierarchy proposed by Prince and Smolensky (1993).  These constraints can conjoin freely with any context-specific constraints.  Such conjunction predicts neutralization to coronal place to be attested in any position where place contrast reduction is found.  On the other hand, although coronal markedness is also attested through diverse phonological processes such as assimilation, place neutralization, segmental and featural deletion, metathesis and morpheme structure constraints, it is found only in nonprevocalic positions and only in languages without a sub-coronal place contrast.  I propose that unlike the default markedness constraint hierarchy, the reversed markedness hierarchy is projected from a perceptibility scale of place features and is therefore context-specific.  I argue that a coronal stop in nonprevocalic position in a single-coronal language is perceptually less salient than noncoronal stops in corresponding positions due to a preferential weakening of tongue body articulation for coronal stops in these positions.  Also discussed in this thesis is the effect of nasality of stops on the degree of place restrictions.  A nasal stop tends to allow fewer place contrasts than an oral stop and a stop followed by an oral stop tends to allow fewer place contrasts than one followed by a nasal stop.  Finally, previous approaches to coronal versus noncoronal asummetry " Coronal Underspecification, Underspecification by Constraints and Perceptually Grounded Faithfulness Constraints " are discussed and their inadequacy is demonstrated.

Thesis Supervisors:       Michael Kenstowicz, Cheryl Zoll

Titles:                           Professor of Linguistics, Associate Professor of Linguistics

Table of Contents

Chapter 1         Introduction                                                                                          11

Chapter 2         Coronal Markedness: Phonetic Grounding                                             19

            2.1       Markedness reversal: overview                                                 19

            2.2       Sub-coronal contrast and contrastive specification                                 25

            2.3       No contrast and no vocalic release: conditions of markedness

reversal                                                                                                31

                        2.3.1    Nonprevocalic position as locus of articulatory weakening         32

                        2.3.2    The tongue body gesture in coronal stop articulation                  37

                        2.3.3    Lack of sub-coronal contrast as a condition of articulatory

                                    weakening                                                                                42

Chapter 3         Coronal Markedness: Data and Analyses                                              47

            3.1       Place assimilation                                                                                  47

                        3.1.1    Data                                                                                         48

                        3.1.2    Analyses                                                                                   55

            3.2       Deletion                                                                                                58

                        3.2.1    Data                                                                                         58

                        3.2.2    Analyses                                                                                   63

            3.3       Metathesis                                                                                            65

            3.4       Morpheme Structure Constraints                                                           76

            3.5       Nasality and place cues                                                             79

                        3.5.1    Internal context: nasal versus oral asymmetry                 81

                           Background                                                                  81

                           Data                                                                             82

                           Analyses                                                                       87

                        3.5.2    External context: nasal versus oral asymmetry                97

                           Background                                                                  97

                           Cebuano Bisayan and Moa                                           99

                           Additional cases: Attic Greek and English                      103

Chapter 4         Coronal Unmarkedness                                                                        109

            4.1       Context-free coronal unmarkedness                                                      110

                        4.1.1    Inventory generalizations                                                           110

                        4.1.2    Epenthesis                                                                                112

                        4.1.3    Coronal transparency                                                                114

                        4.1.4    The Obligatory Contour Principle                                              119

            4.2       Coronal unmarkedness: nonprevocalic position                          122

                        4.2.1    Nonprevocalic position as the locus of place contrast

reduction                                                                                  123

                        4.2.2    Sub-coronal place contrasts and coronal unmarkedness 126

                           Deletion                                                                        126

                           Place assimilation                                                          130

                           Syncope                                                                       138

                           Morpheme Structure Constraints                                   141

                        4.2.3    No sub-place contrast and coronal unmarkedness                     143

                           Place Assimilation                                                         144

                           Deletion (Place neutralization)                           147

                           Metathesis                                                                    149

                           Morpheme Structure Constraints                                   152

                        4.2.4    Nasality and coronal unmarkedness: the case of Finnish 154

Chapter 5         Previous Approaches                                                                            171

            5.1       The coronal underspecification approach                                               173

            5.2       The underspecfication by constraint approach                            178

            5.3       The perceptually motivated faithfulness constraint approach       185

Chapter 6         Conclusion                                                                                           189