LINGUIST List 2.761

Wed 06 Nov 1991

Disc: R-Linking

Editor for this issue: <>


  1. , R-Linking (For the Last Time)
  2. Rick Wojcik, Re: 2.755 Phonology: R-linking

Message 1: R-Linking (For the Last Time)

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 91 23:29:20 EST
From: <>
Subject: R-Linking (For the Last Time)
What David Stampe and his followers keep refusing to address is
the fundamental point which I raised some time ago:
While r-deletion is a very common and natural process, found
in the speech of children perhaps in every language, and certainly
attested in many (adult) languages, the situation found in
certain English dialects and which we have been arguing about
is NOT.
Thus, the "crazy" rule which inserts /r/ after central vowels
makes sense, because we are NOT dealing with a natural proces
s of the sort that spontaneously arises in all sorts of languages
in every generation. IF we adopt Stampe's analysis and say
that the /r/ is underlying and then deleted by the natural
process alluded to above, then we lose sight of this fundamental
And, after all, the important contribution that Natural Phonology
made to linguistic theory was precisely the emphasis on the
distinction between those phenomena which are widely attested
and which pop up spontaneously in children's speech all over
the world, and those which do not.
So the issue is NOT whether r-deletion is a possible "natural
process". The issue is whether the sort of situation traditionally
described as linking /r/ (NO MATTER HOW IT IS ANALYZED) is itself
something that is liable to appear in any language in any generation.
Or whether on the other hand it is the sort of thing that only
appears in languages that previously underwent r-deletion.
Stampe's analysis either is empirically vacuous (as I have said I
fear) or predicts that this phenomenon should be found where it
is not. The traditional (rule inversion, linking r, what ever
you may call it) analysis seems to fit in with a theory which
would predict (correctly) that this phenomenon will be found
just where it is: in dialects or languages which previously
lost /r/ in the relevant positions. (In other words, you can
only have rule inversion if there is something preexistent to
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue

Message 2: Re: 2.755 Phonology: R-linking

Date: Tue, 5 Nov 91 17:05:22 PST
From: Rick Wojcik <>
Subject: Re: 2.755 Phonology: R-linking
It is clear from David Stampe's last note that he doesn't like the idea of
automatic /r/ insertion. However, I still do, and I know that David would not
have a heart attack if it turned out that such Rule operations existed. His
analysis would still stand. The assumption underlying Natural Phonology is
that people try to articulate strings of phonemes when they prounounce words.
They can either alter the string of phonemes or the articulation of a given
string. Natural Phonology ties Rules and Processes directly to those two
distinct choices, whereas more orthodox phonologies take no position on
how linguistic systems affect behavior.
Geoff Nathan says:
> There may well be automatic *rules* as well, but, for example
> a/an is a little suspicious--people are perfectly happy saying
> `a sofa and chairs' so it would be interesting to see how hard
> people find it to say `a apple'.
Well, Geoff, you're a native speaker. What is the answer? I personally
find it difficult to suppress (note the word 'suppress') a/an suppletion.
But let's take French liaison. Do French speakers find it difficult to
suspend liaison? Or Celtic mutations. I get the distinct impression that
Breton speakers find it harder to produce the non-derived forms when a mutation
is called for. Rule suspension does not lead to difficult *pronounceability*,
but that doesn't necessarily make it easy. David has written that the
alleged suspension of k->s in "electrickity" is easy because Rules are easy
to suspend. But I would maintain, at least in this case, that no Rule really
applies in speech. The k->s rule, in its function as a vocabulary augmentation
operation, does not need to apply to 'electricity' in speech production or in
speech processing. If you want to study the behavior of Rules, then you
should look at the those whose function makes them very active in speech
				-Rick Wojcik (
Mail to author|Respond to list|Read more issues|LINGUIST home page|Top of issue