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The perception of sandhi-blocking in Polish vowel-initial words

  • Geoffrey Schwartz EMAIL logo
From the journal Folia Linguistica


This paper presents data from two experiments on the perception of phrase-medial word-initial vowels in Polish. Previous research has suggested that Polish resembles German in its resistance to the types of sandhi linking processes found in English or French. In production, glottalization frequently intervenes to block such processes involving vowel-initial words. In the listening tests described here, glottalization had an impact on response time only in the word monitoring task, in which other top-down factors may have played a role. It is therefore suggested Polish listeners have only minimal perceptual sensitivity to glottalization, a feature that is prevalent in production. This largely negative result may be interpreted as evidence that when it appears, glottalization in Polish is not due to the insertion of a boundary marker, which would be perceptually more salient. Rather, glottalization reflects the preservation of the prosodic well-formedness of vowel-initial syllables in Polish, as formulated in the Onset Prominence representational framework.


The research reported in this paper was supported by a grant from the Polish National Science Centre (Narodowe Centrum Nauki), Project Nr. UMO-2012/05/B/HS2/04036, “Sandhi in second language speech”. Thanks to Adam Olender for help with the statistical analysis, to Halszka Bąk for technical assistance with E-Prime, and of course to the experimental participants. I am also grateful to two anonymous reviewers, and the editor of Folia Linguistica. Any remaining errors are my own responsibility.


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A V#V items used in word monitoring experiment

chcemy elastyczność‘we want flexibility’
dziewczynki okradły‘the girls stole’
na Andrzejki‘for St. Andrew’s day’
nowy ambitny pracownik‘ambitious new worker’
nowy ekscytujący film‘exciting new film’
odeszła Agnieszka‘Agnieszka left’
ta akcja‘that play’
ta ekscytująca‘that exciting’
ta ewentualność‘that eventuality’
wybitny artysta‘outstanding artist’

B Vowel-initial items in word counting task

jest ogromny‘it’s huge’
Pięć osób‘five persons’
Słuchaj Adama‘listen to Adam’
Tam odbieram‘I’ll take it over there’
Ten adwokat‘this lawyer’
Ten aktor‘this actor’
Ten etap‘this era’
Twoj argument‘your argument’
Received: 2015-12-7
Received: 2016-11-5
Revised: 2016-10-20
Accepted: 2016-10-27
Published Online: 2017-11-25
Published in Print: 2017-11-27

© 2017 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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