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Academic Paper


Title: How much homophony is normal?
Author: Abby Kaplan
Email: click here TO access email
Homepage: http://home.utah.edu/~u0703432
Institution: University of Utah
Linguistic Field: Phonology
Subject Language: Korean
Abstract: This paper argues that neutralizing phonological alternations are sensitive to how much homophony they create among distinct lexical items: neutralizing rules create fewer homophones than expected. Building on a case study of Korean by Silverman (2010), I compare the neutralizing rules of Korean to a large number of hypothetical alternatives generated by Monte Carlo simulations. The simulations reveal that the actual rules of Korean frequently create far fewer homophones than similar (but unattested) rules, even when the rules that are compared are controlled for the number of phonemic contrasts they eliminate. These results suggest that phonological patterns are sensitive not only to high-level contrasts among phonemes but also to contrasts among individual lexical items. The effect is most pronounced when homophones are not weighted by frequency, a result that adds to evidence in the literature that the relevant measure of lexical frequency for many lexicon-sensitive phonological patterns is type frequency, not token frequency.

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This article appears IN Journal of Linguistics Vol. 47, Issue 3.

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