Word-edge effects as overphonologization of phrase-edge effects


Phonetic realities shape phonological patterns. Phonological patterns closely mirror independently existing phonetic ones. Hence the notion phonologization: the emergence of a phonological process based on phonetic underpinnings (Hyman 1976; 2013). However, there is no agreement among phonologists about precisely how phonetics shapes phonology and what this means for phonology itself. This paper focuses on one facet of the question, the distinction between what I will call the eliminative versus inclusive views of phonology. By eliminative phonology I mean the view that articulatory and perceptual biases shape phonology solely from the outside (e.g., Ohala 1974; Blevins 2004), leaving phonology ‘substance-free’ (Hale & Reiss 2000). By inclusive phonology I mean the view that articulatory and perceptual biases shape phonology from the inside (e.g., Flemming 1995 [2002]; Steriade 1997; Boersma 1998).

Despite years of argument, there are still eliminative and inclusive phonologists. The reason why seems clear: both kinds of theory predict that phonological patterns tend to mirror phonetic ones, so it is hard to adjudicate between them. A possibly fruitful approach to resolving this issue seeks empirical territory that reveals specific ways in which phonology does or does not mirror phonetics. A recent example of this is the work of Moreton (2008, 2009), who coins the term ‘underphonologization’, meaning systematic failures of phonologization despite phonetic underpinnings (though see Yu 2011). In this paper I take up instances of what we might call overphonologization: phonologization without the phonetic underpinnings. The existence of ‘unnatural’ phonological rules has been discussed many times before in this context (Bach & Harms 1972; Anderson 1981; Hyman 2001; Blevins 2004). Here the focus is on a different kind of eliminative argument, taking up ideas in Myers and Padgett (to appear). Myers and Padgett argue that at least certain kinds of word edge segmental phonology have dubious phonetic underpinnings and are in fact examples of overphonologization. Their source is domain generalization: overgeneralization of effects from utterance edges, where they are phonetically motivated, to word edges, where they are not.

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