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Hypothesis and Theory ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Psychol. | doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.02143

Motoric mechanisms for the emergence of non-local phonological patterns

  • 1Cornell University, United States

Non-local phonological patterns can be difficult to analyze in the context of speech production models. Some patterns—e.g. vowel harmonies, nasal harmonies—can be readily analyzed to arise from temporal extension of articulatory gestures (i.e. spreading); such patterns can be viewed as articulatorily local. However, there are other patterns—e.g. nasal consonant harmony, laryngeal feature harmony—which cannot be analyzed as spreading; instead these patterns appear to enforce agreement between features of similar segments without affecting intervening segments. Indeed, there are numerous typological differences between spreading harmonies and agreement harmonies. This suggests that there is a mechanistic difference in the ways that spreading and agreement harmonies arise. This paper argues that in order to properly understand spreading and agreement patterns, the gestural framework of Articulatory Phonology must be enriched with respect to how targets of the vocal tract are controlled in planning and production. Specifically, it is proposed that production models should distinguish between excitatory and inhibitory articulatory gestures, and that gestures which are below a selection threshold can influence the state of the vocal tract, despite not being active. These ideas are motivated by several empirical phenomena, which include anticipatory posturing before production of a word form, and dissimilatory interactions in distractor-target response paradigms. Based on these ideas, a model is developed which provides two distinct mechanisms for the emergence of non-local phonological patterns.

Keywords: Articulatory Phonology, Selection-coordination theory, locality, phonology, harmony

Received: 20 Mar 2019; Accepted: 04 Sep 2019.

Copyright: © 2019 Tilsen. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Sam Tilsen, Cornell University, Ithaca, United States, tilsen@cornell.edu