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Review of  Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns

Reviewer: Dorota Glowacka
Book Title: Production, Perception, and Emergent Phonotactic Patterns
Book Author: Alexei Kochetov
Publisher: Routledge (Taylor and Francis)
Linguistic Field(s): Phonology
Subject Language(s): Russian
Issue Number: 14.2719

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Date: Mon, 06 Oct 2003 16:42:37 +0100
From: Dorota Glowacka
Subject: review - Kochetov 2003

Kochetov, Alexei (2003) Production, Perception, and Emergent
Phonotactic Patterns: A Case of Palatalization, Routledge,
Outstanding Dissertations in Linguistics.

Dorota Glowacka, University College London

This work is a contribution to the research on positional markedness by
analysing the mechanisms of the neutralisation of phonological
contrast. The study provides substantial evidence for a view of
positional markedness as an emergent phenomenon arising from inherent
limitations on speech production and perception. It contains a detailed
study of the phonological contrast between palatalised and non-
palatalised (plain) consonants, focusing on the articulatory, acoustic
and perceptual properties of the contrasting consonants in different
phonological environments. The study concentrates primarily on Russian.


The book consists of five chapters plus an appendix, bibliography and
index. Chapter 1 briefly explains the notions of markedness and
outlines the model of neutralisation on which the study is based. The
author employs the concept of self-organisation as incorporated into
the theory of 'Articulatory Phonology' (Browman & Goldstein 1989,
1992). Chapter 2 examines the occurrence of palatalisation contrasts in
sound inventories: its distribution, frequency and morphological
conditioning. The survey is limited to Slavic, Celtic and Uralic
languages. The focus is on plain/palatalised labial and coronal stops.
Chapter 3 concentrates on the study of palatalisation in Russian. It
begins with a summary of previous work on the articulation and
acoustics of Russian plain and palatalised stops. In the rest of the
chapter two articulatory experiments are discussed. The first one
investigates the movement of the tongue body. The second one
investigates the interaction of the primary gestures of the lips and
tongue tip in clusters, and the acoustic consequences of this
interaction. Chapter 4 analyses the plain/palatalised contrast from the
perceptual point of view. The perception of the contrast by native
speakers with and without noise in various positions is investigated.
The perception of the distinction by non-native listeners (Japanese) is
also investigated. Chapter 5 reviews the phonetic factors identified in
the previous chapters and discusses the role they play in the emergence
of palatalisation patterns found cross-linguistically.


The work provides an interesting approach to the asymmetries relating
to the palatalisation of consonants with different places of
articulation. It neatly explains without going deep into complex formal
analysis why palatal labials are more susceptible to neutralisation
than palatal coronals. This phonetically based approach also easily
accounts for the asymmetries connected with various word positions. It
explains why palatalised segments in coda position or followed by
another consonant are more susceptible to neutralisation than
palatalised segments followed by a vowel.

Although the study focuses primarily on Russian, it makes the correct
predictions in terms of typology and implicational hierarchies. It
accounts for all the attested patterns of occurrence of
plain/palatalised consonants in world's languages. It also predicts the
possible paths of development of sound systems with contrastive

As stated earlier, the main aim of the work is to contribute to the
study of the cross-linguistic markedness phenomena. Kochetov's approach
to this issue is quite innovative. The author shows that Markedness
scales are unnecessary and emerge naturally from speech perception and
production. Thus, language learners and users do not need any a priori
markedness scales in UG. This approach definitely works for the
palatalisation patterns described above. It might be interesting to see
how the present analysis can be extended to other phenomena such as
voicing assimilation, and whether all markedness scales can be
dispensed with and replaced with phonetically driven neutralisation
patterns. In my opinion, certain markedness/faithfulness scales must be
preserved, e.g. the asymmetries of behaviour of prefixes vs. suffixes
or affixes vs. roots. A purely phonetic approach will not be able
explain these morphologically conditioned markedness phenomena.

Further, the work does not include a formal analysis of the
phonotactics of palatalised consonants. However, his articulatory and
perceptual findings can be easily translated into a formal type of

Finally, I would also like to make a comment about the selection of
languages surveyed in Chapter 2 of the book. The author makes a
distinction between [pj'] (with simultaneous labial and palatal
articulation) and [pj] (with palatalization realized as a separate
glide-like element) and states at the very outset that his study is
limited to cases like the former. Languages where palatalisation is
realised as a separate glide-like segments, e.g. Czech, are excluded
from the survey and they are not considered to have contrastive
palatalisation. However, if we adopt this approach, then not only Czech
and Manx but also Polish should be excluded from the survey. In Polish,
palatalisation in labials is realised as a separate glide-like segment
(Wierzchowska 1980) and yet phonologically [pj] is analysed as a single
segment. Similarly, following this line of reasoning, one might argue
that plain and palatalised coronal affricates should be excluded from
the analysis as well because affricates consist of two non-simultaneous
phases: a plosive-like segment and friction.


Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein (1989) Articulatory gestures as
phonological units, Phonology 6, 201-252.

Browman, C. P. and L. Goldstein (1992) Articulatory phonology: an
overview, Phonetica 49, 155-180.

Wierzchowska, B. (1980) Fonetyka i fonologia jezyka polskiego. Wroclaw:
ABOUT THE REVIEWER Dorota Glowacka is a PhD student in linguistics at University College London. Her main research interests are phonology, morphophonology, Optimality Theory, Slavic languages.