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LINGUIST List 19.58

Tue Jan 08 2008

Diss: Phonetics/Phonology: Riehl: 'The Phonology and Phonetics of N...'

Editor for this issue: Luiza Newlin Lukowicz <luizalinguistlist.org>

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        1.    Anastasia Riehl, The Phonology and Phonetics of Nasal-obstruent Sequences

Message 1: The Phonology and Phonetics of Nasal-obstruent Sequences
Date: 08-Jan-2008
From: Anastasia Riehl <akr6cornell.edu>
Subject: The Phonology and Phonetics of Nasal-obstruent Sequences
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Institution: Cornell University
Program: Department of Linguistics
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2008

Author: Anastasia K. Riehl

Dissertation Title: The Phonology and Phonetics of Nasal-obstruent Sequences

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Language Family(ies): Austronesian

Dissertation Director:
Abigail Cohn

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation explores the relationship between the phonological
patterning of nasal-obstruent sequences (NC sequences) and their phonetic
realizations. I argue that there are distinct NC patterns in the phonology,
specifically unary segments (such as prenasalized stops) vs. clusters, and
that these patterns are reflected in the phonetics. The data for these
investigations come primarily from phonological and phonetic studies (both
acoustic and aerodynamic) collected through fieldwork on four Austronesian
languages—Tamambo and Erromangan of Vanuatu, and Pamona and Manado Malay of

Clear cases of prenasalized stops, in languages like Fijian, and clusters,
in languages like English, provide ample evidence for different
phonological NC entities, despite the fact that some languages are more
difficult to classify. I propose a methodology for determining the status
of an NC, which separates the often conflated issues of tautosyllabicity
and unary segmenthood. Grouping NC-types along two principle divisions —
unary vs. cluster, and voiced vs. voiceless obstruent — I argue that only
six of sixteen possible patterns (combining 0-4 NC types) are attested.
The unattested cases are attributed to two factors: the lack of
prenasalized voiceless stops, and the lack of contrasting unary and cluster
NCs of the same voicing specification. An investigation of phonetic
properties of NC sequences, including total NC duration, duration of a
preceding vowel, and degree of nasalization in a preceding vowel, reveals
that total duration does correlate with phonological NC structure while the
other two factors do not. Data on the relative nasal-oral timing of NC
sequences reveal interesting similarities across the types: voiced NC
sequences, NC sequences with a voiceless stop, and NC affricates each have
distinct realizations, regardless of phonological status.

Not only are phonological NC patterns reflected in the phonetics, but the
phonetic realizations have important consequences for the phonology. The
phonetic characteristics of unary vs. cluster NCs — both their differences
and similarities — are argued to explain gaps in the phonological patterns.
Phonological representations of NCs are proposed that crucially include
both prosodic and segmental structure, as well as being consistent with the
phonetic facts. These representations have implications for other reported
types of partially nasal segments.

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