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Academic Paper


Title: Vowel duration in English adjectives in attributive and predicative constructions
Author: Joan Bybee
Author: Ricardo Souza
Linguistic Field: Phonetics
Subject Language: English
Abstract: Using ten English adjectives, this study tests the hypothesis that the vowels in adjectives in predicative constructions are longer than those in attributive constructions in spoken conversation. The analyses considered a number of factors: occurrence before a pause, lexical adjective, vowel identity, probability given surrounding words, and others. Two sets of statistical techniques were used: a Mixed-effects model and the Random Forest Analysis based on Conditional Inference Trees (CIT). Both analyses showed strong effects of predicative vs. attributive constructions and individual lexical adjectives on vowel duration in the predicted direction, as well as effects of many of the phonological variables tested. The results showed that the longer duration in the predicative construction is not due to lengthening before a pause, though it is related to whether the adjective is internal or final in the predicative construction. Nor is the effect attributable solely to the probability of the occurrence of the adjective; rather construction type has to be taken into account. The two statistical techniques complement each other, with the Mixed-effects model showing very general trends over all the data, and the Random Forest / CIT analysis showing factors that affect only subsets of the data.

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This article appears IN Language and Cognition Vol. 11, Issue 4, which you can READ on Cambridge's site .

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