Perceptual Distance of Contrast: Vowel Height and Nasality


The goal of this paper is to examine the relationship between vowel height and nasalization, a relationship that argues rather directly for the importance to phonological patterning of the perceptual distinctiveness of contrast. It thus adds to the list of cases making this point (see Flemming 1995, and also Ní Chiosáin and Padgett 1997 for others), and strengthens the case for an output-oriented conception of contrast: in order for the perceptual distinctiveness of a contrast to be evaluated at the surface, contrast itself must be discernible by constraints at the surface.

Download paper