Assessing the representation of phonological rules by a production study of non-words in Coratino

Abstract : Phonological regularities in a given language can be described as a set of formal rules applied on logical expressions (e.g. the value of a distinctive feature) or rather as distributional properties emerging from the phonetic substance. An indirect way to assess how phonology is represented in a speaker’s brain consists in testing how phonological regularities are transferred to non-words. This is this objective of this study, focusing on Coratino, a dialect from southern Italy spoken in the Apulia region. In Coratino, a complex process of vowel reduction operates, characterized by four major properties: (1) /i e ɛ u o ɔ/ are reduced in unstressed position while /a/ is maintained; (2) all initial vowels are maintained, even unstressed; (3) unstressed vowels /i e ɛ u o ɔ/ are protected against reduction when they are adjacent to a consonant that shares articulation (labiality and velarity for /u o ɔ/ and palatality for /i e ɛ/); (4) when they are reduced, high vowels are reduced to /ɨ/ and mid vowels to /ə/. A production experiment was carried out on 19 speakers of Coratino to test whether these properties were displayed with non-words. The production data display a complex pattern, in which each of the four properties do transfer to non-words, though in a different way, which seems to imply both either explicit/formal rules (for maintenance in initial position and the reduction to two targets) and distributional properties transferred in a statistical way to non-words (for consonantal protection and robustness of /a/). Furthermore, the speakers appear as largely variable in this task. Altogether, this suggests that both formal rules and distributional principles participate to the encoding of Coratino phonology in the speakers’ brain.
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Contributor : Jonathan Bucci <>
Submitted on : Friday, October 12, 2018 - 10:40:46 AM
Last modification on : Wednesday, December 26, 2018 - 9:27:04 AM


  • HAL Id : hal-01894141, version 1


Jonathan Bucci, Paolo Lorusso, Silvain Gerber, Mirko Grimaldi, Jean-Luc Schwartz. Assessing the representation of phonological rules by a production study of non-words in Coratino. 2018. ⟨hal-01894141⟩



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