Compression Effects, Perceptual Asymmetries, and the Grammar of Timing

Katz, Jonah, 2010

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This dissertation reports the results of two English experiments on timing and perception. The first experiment demonstrates asymmetries in timing between consonants and vowels, which depend on the manner of the consonant. The second experiment shows that these asymmetries in speech production are mirrored by perceptual asymmetries among consonants with different manner features. We argue that these phenomena are best described in terms of auditory rather than articulatory representations. A formal analysis is developed using weighted, gradiently violable constraints on segment and syllable duration. Because the constraints make reference to the auditory features of segments, the analysis can derive the relationship between asymmetries in speech production and asymmetries in speech perception. The patterns of timing discovered here appear to interact in limited ways with systems of phonological contrast. We incorporate the duration constraints proposed here into a phonetically-driven model of phonology, examining the predictions that such an approach makes about phonological typology.