LINGUIST List 14.2719

Thu Oct 9 2003

Review: Phonology: Kochetov (2003)

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  1. Dorota Glowacka, Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns

Message 1: Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns

Date: Wed, 08 Oct 2003 12:50:13 +0000
From: Dorota Glowacka <>
Subject: Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns

Kochetov, Alexei (2003) Production, Perception, and Emergent
Phonotactic Patterns: A Case of Palatalization, Routledge, Outstanding
Dissertations in Linguistics.

Announced at

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


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

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

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.


Dorota Glowacka is a PhD student in linguistics at University College
London. Her main research interests are phonology, morphophonology,
Optimality Theory, Slavic languages.
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