Notes from LabPhon XII

Hello All:

I thought I’d post my notes from this year’s LabPhon conference. These posts will be limited to what I have the time and energy to write about, but I hope they’re of some use.

1st Talk: On the phonetic status of syllabic consonants: Evidence from Slovak.

NOTE: I use C as shorthand for consonant, V as shorthand for vowel, L as shorthand for syllabic consonants. My personal comments are in italics (or bold as my browser is currently indicating).

Syllables formalize the distinction between Cs and Vs. Edges are always Cs, Nuclei are Vs. Vs may be the basis for articulatory coordination (e.g., Ohman, 1966). What circumstances allow for C in nucleus? S (Bell, 1970). Restricted Ls have predictable distributions, restricted complexity (no margins, i.e., no onsets or codas). There are also unrestricted Ls which are unpredictable (like Vs). They are in the domain of lexical phonology because they can be targets of phonological processes. Slovak is an example of unrestricted. However, maybe L do not allow same degree of coordination that vowels allow. Do kinematics change between margin Cs and Ls? Looking at Slovak /l r/.

Fourgeron & Ridouane (2008) have EPG data on k in nuclus and margin position. Syllabic Cs were not kinematically more vowel-like than onset or coda Cs. /r/ is an apical trill. /l/ is dark (retracted) in all positions. These Ls  always have onsets, but never in consecutive syllables. They can be stressed or unstressed, in monosyllabic words. They can have complex (CC) onsets and length contrasts.

1st experiment with EMMA data. /r/ had longer plateau duration in nucleus position, higher maximal vertical position. When comparing /r l/ as Cs vs. Ls, there were no fundamental kinematic differences.

Second experiment: Are there differences in L and V nuclei? Important prior finding: Onsets have constant timing w/r/t vowels, independent of complexity (C-Center from Browman & Goldstein, 2000; Marin & Pouplier, in press). Authors chose an anchor point (in coda). They measured the time between the release of the last onset C to the anchor point, the word’s beginning to the anchor point, and the c-center to the anchor point. Only the c-center should have a set time to anchor point regardless of onset complexity. They authors found: c-center lags for Ls were not the same across complexity contexts. I think they were more like the timing between the offset of the CC and the anchor point, but I’m not sure. Potentially no c-center effects for syllabic consonants. My concern: there may be a problem if there are differences in coda timing depending on the size of the onset. I’m not sure why they chose their anchor to be in the coda. Would they have got different results if the anchor had been in the vowel?

Another finding: L nuclei had longer peak velocity lags. This finding may not be that interesting because there is no control for the inherent timing of the nucleus.

Another finding Timing differences. Consonantal syllables have bigger lags compared to vocalic syllables.

Conclusions: Consonant timeing may interact with phonotactic typology. I didn’t follow how they come to this conclusion.

Interesting Questions from Q&A
Q2: Open transitions found in languages without syllabic consonants

A: agreed. But open transitions may not condition syllabic consonants. It may be the other way around. Open transitions may be a requirement for syllabic consonants.

Q4: English vowel /r/. Don’t you make the prediction that /r/ will have one or the other based on its timing pattern?

A: I’m not ready to make predictions. My opinion: I think this was a good question and the author should have made a guess. I don’t know what the facts are about the English /r/ vowel, though.

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