A Perceptual Study of Polish Fricatives, and Its Implications for Historical Sound Change


The present study probes perception of place of articulation distinctions among Polish sibilants using an AX discrimination task, and compares results from 13 Polish-speaking and 10 English-speaking subjects. Besides providing information on the relative discriminability of the sibilants, the perceptual study is designed to investigate the claim that a particular kind of diachronic change which has taken place in Polish and other languages, as well as related facts about sibilant inventories, could be perceptually motivated. The results lend support to this claim and to the general view that a principle of dispersion plays a role in explaining sound change tendencies, and therefore in shaping phonological tendencies, for consonants, not only vowels.

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