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Language Evolution: The Windows Approach

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Academic Paper


Title: What it means to be phonetic or phonological: the case of Romanian devoiced nasals
Author: Benjamin Vardell Tucker
Email: click here TO access email
Institution: University of Alberta
Author: Natasha L. Warner
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://www.u.arizona.edu/~nwarner
Institution: University of Arizona
Linguistic Field: Phonetics; Phonology
Subject Language: Romanian
Abstract: Abstract phonological patterns and detailed phonetic patterns can combine to produce unusual acoustic results, but criteria for what aspects of a pattern are phonetic and what aspects are phonological are often disputed. Early literature on Romanian makes mention of nasal devoicing in word-final clusters (e.g. in /basm/ ‘fairy-tale’). Using acoustic, aerodynamic and ultrasound data, the current work investigates how syllable structure, prosodic boundaries, phonetic paradigm uniformity and assimilation influence Romanian nasal devoicing. It provides instrumental phonetic documentation of devoiced nasals, a phenomenon that has not been widely studied experimentally, in a phonetically underdocumented language. We argue that sound patterns should not be separated into phonetics and phonology as two distinct systems, but neither should they all be grouped together as a single, undifferentiated system. Instead, we argue for viewing the distinction between phonetics and phonology as a largely continuous multidimensional space, within which sound patterns, including Romanian nasal devoicing, fall.

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This article appears IN Phonology Vol. 27, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .



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