Perceptual similarity in cluster-dependent epenthesis asymmetries
- Suyeon Yun, MIT
Thu 25 Feb 2016, 3:30 pm
Run Run Shaw Tower 4.04, Centennial Campus
In this talk, I examine the role of perceptual similarity in cluster-dependent epenthesis asymmetries. Vowel epenthesis often appears to repair marked or illegal consonant clusters. A notable finding has been that the position of epenthetic vowels differs depending on the sonority profile of clusters; clusters with rising sonority, e.g., stop-sonorant, are more likely to undergo internal epenthesis than clusters with level/falling sonority, e.g., sibilant-stop (e.g., ‘plastic’ -> [bilastik] vs. ‘study’ -> [istadi] (Egyptian Arabic); Broselow 1992, Fleischhacker 2001, Gouskova 2003, Steriade 2006). Based on my cross-linguistic survey of epenthesis sites in loanword adaptation and gradient acceptability results of uh-insertion in American English, I argue that it is auditory properties, such as a rise in intensity and voicing of the initial consonant, that play a crucial role in epenthesis, not the sonority profiles. I also suggest that this is because inserting a vowel in consonant clusters involving the auditory properties makes a perceptually less salient change to the original clusters, which is supported by a series of my perception experiments.