Kochetov, Alexei (2003) Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns: A Case of Palatalization, Routledge, Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics.
Dorota Glowacka, University College London
This work is a contribution to the research on positional markedness by analysing the mechanisms of the neutralisation of phonological contrast. The study provides substantial evidence for a view of positional markedness as an emergent phenomenon arising from inherent limitations on speech production and perception. It contains a detailed study of the phonological contrast between palatalised and non- palatalised (plain) consonants, focusing on the articulatory, acoustic and perceptual properties of the contrasting consonants in different phonological environments. The study concentrates primarily on Russian.
The book consists of five chapters plus an appendix, bibliography and index. Chapter 1 briefly explains the notions of markedness and outlines the model of neutralisation on which the study is based. The author employs the concept of self-organisation as incorporated into the theory of 'Articulatory Phonology' (Browman & Goldstein 1989, 1992). Chapter 2 examines the occurrence of palatalisation contrasts in sound inventories: its distribution, frequency and morphological conditioning. The survey is limited to Slavic, Celtic and Uralic languages. The focus is on plain/palatalised labial and coronal stops. Chapter 3 concentrates on the study of palatalisation in Russian. It begins with a summary of previous work on the articulation and acoustics of Russian plain and palatalised stops. In the rest of the chapter two articulatory experiments are discussed. The first one investigates the movement of the tongue body. The second one investigates the interaction of the primary gestures of the lips and tongue tip in clusters, and the acoustic consequences of this interaction. Chapter 4 analyses the plain/palatalised contrast from the perceptual point of view. The perception of the contrast by native speakers with and without noise in various positions is investigated. The perception of the distinction by non-native listeners (Japanese) is also investigated. Chapter 5 reviews the phonetic factors identified in the previous chapters and discusses the role they play in the emergence of palatalisation patterns found cross-linguistically.
The work provides an interesting approach to the asymmetries relating to the palatalisation of consonants with different places of articulation. It neatly explains without going deep into complex formal analysis why palatal labials are more susceptible to neutralisation than palatal coronals. This phonetically based approach also easily accounts for the asymmetries connected with various word positions. It explains why palatalised segments in coda position or followed by another consonant are more susceptible to neutralisation than palatalised segments followed by a vowel.
Although the study focuses primarily on Russian, it makes the correct predictions in terms of typology and implicational hierarchies. It accounts for all the attested patterns of occurrence of plain/palatalised consonants in world's languages. It also predicts the possible paths of development of sound systems with contrastive palatalisation.
As stated earlier, the main aim of the work is to contribute to the study of the cross-linguistic markedness phenomena. Kochetov's approach to this issue is quite innovative. The author shows that Markedness scales are unnecessary and emerge naturally from speech perception and production. Thus, language learners and users do not need any a priori markedness scales in UG. This approach definitely works for the palatalisation patterns described above. It might be interesting to see how the present analysis can be extended to other phenomena such as voicing assimilation, and whether all markedness scales can be dispensed with and replaced with phonetically driven neutralisation patterns. In my opinion, certain markedness/faithfulness scales must be preserved, e.g. the asymmetries of behaviour of prefixes vs. suffixes or affixes vs. roots. A purely phonetic approach will not be able explain these morphologically conditioned markedness phenomena.
Further, the work does not include a formal analysis of the phonotactics of palatalised consonants. However, his articulatory and perceptual findings can be easily translated into a formal type of analysis.
Finally, I would also like to make a comment about the selection of languages surveyed in Chapter 2 of the book. The author makes a distinction between [pj'] (with simultaneous labial and palatal articulation) and [pj] (with palatalization realized as a separate glide-like element) and states at the very outset that his study is limited to cases like the former. Languages where palatalisation is realised as a separate glide-like segments, e.g. Czech, are excluded from the survey and they are not considered to have contrastive palatalisation. However, if we adopt this approach, then not only Czech and Manx but also Polish should be excluded from the survey. In Polish, palatalisation in labials is realised as a separate glide-like segment (Wierzchowska 1980) and yet phonologically [pj] is analysed as a single segment. Similarly, following this line of reasoning, one might argue that plain and palatalised coronal affricates should be excluded from the analysis as well because affricates consist of two non-simultaneous phases: a plosive-like segment and friction.
Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein (1989) Articulatory gestures as phonological units, Phonology 6, 201-252.
Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein (1992) Articulatory phonology: an overview, Phonetica 49, 155-180.
Wierzchowska, B. (1980) Fonetyka i fonologia jezyka polskiego. Wroclaw: Ossolineum.
ABOUT THE REVIEWER:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Dorota Glowacka is a PhD student in linguistics at University College London. Her main research interests are phonology, morphophonology, Optimality Theory, Slavic languages.