Distinguishing Different Levels of Representation in the Acoustics: A Case Study in Scottish English Epenthesis
Kaylin Smith
August 2020

File Type: Ph.D. Dissertation; Author: Kaylin Marie Smith, Ph.D.; Institution: Michigan State University; Department: Department of Linguistics and Languages; Committee Chair: Dr. Karthik Durvasula, Michigan State University; Dissertation Abstract: Much of the typology for inserted vowels—i.e. those that are not present etymologically but surface in the acoustics—has come from cross-linguistic patterns identified perceptually. Crucially, though, inserted vowels may superficially sound the same, despite emerging at different levels of representation. Inserted vowels may be present in the underlying representation as vowels that have become fossilized over time (i.e., lexicalized vowels), in the surface representation by way of a derived process (i.e., epenthetic vowels), or in the phonetic implementation as a result of gestural alignment (i.e., excrescent vowels). Determining what level of representation an inserted vowel originates from, then, can be challenging and may result in a misclassification that can have consequences for phonological theory. For example, a vowel that has been misidentified may appear to be a typological exception, and this exceptional behavior can result in proposals for new categories of inserted vowels or revisions to the theoretical framework. It is important, then, that the methodology used to classify inserted vowels as epenthetic, for example, does so by simultaneously excluding the possibility that the vowel is lexicalized or excrescent. In this dissertation, I use an under-documented case of vowel insertion in Scottish English as a case study to distinguish between lexicalized, epenthetic, and excrescent vowels in the acoustic signal. Using data collected in two language production experiments, I assess the inserted vowel’s phonological and phonetic properties against two sets of diagnostic criteria—one used to establish that the vowel is phonological, and another used to establish that the vowel is epenthetic. These diagnostic criteria are applied via a process of elimination, in which I exclude the possibility that the vowel is excrescent to establish that it is phonological using the first set of criteria, and subsequently exclude the possibility that the vowel is lexicalized to establish that it is epenthetic using the second set of criteria. The language-specific findings, diagnostics and exclusion process, and patterns for epenthetic vowels presented in this dissertation serve to supplement the phonology of Scottish English, the methodology available to phonologists investigating inserted vowels, and the typology of inserted vowels in a modular feedforward framework.
Format: [ pdf ]
Reference: lingbuzz/005493
(please use that when you cite this article)
Published in: ProQuest
keywords: scottish standard english; broad scots; central belt scottish english; modular feedforward framework; laboratory phonology; phonetics; vowel epenthesis; vowel excrescence; lexicalized vowels; levels of representation; vowel typology; inserted vowels; acoustics; vowel duration, phonology
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