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Publicly Available Published by De Gruyter Mouton July 31, 2014

An identity bias in phonotactics: Evidence from Cochabamba Quechua

  • Gillian Gallagher EMAIL logo
From the journal Laboratory Phonology


Speakers of Cochabamba Quechua (CQ) participated in two tasks involving phonotactically illegal nonce forms with pairs of identical (e.g., [p'ap'u]) and non-identical ejectives (e.g., [k'ap'u]). In a repetition task, speakers were more accurate on identical than non-identical ejective pairs, though no asymmetry was found in an ABX discrimination task, nor in acoustic analysis of nonce roots with identical and non-identical ejective pairs. The latent preference for identical ejectives is unexpected given the phonotactics of CQ, which categorically disallows both identical and non-identical ejective pairs. The asymmetry is in accord with the typology, however. Many languages systematically exempt identical segments from a phonotactic restriction that applies to non-identical segments. It is argued that this cross-linguistic identity preference has its roots in a synchronic bias in favor of identical segments.

Published Online: 2014-7-31
Published in Print: 2014-8-1

© 2014 by Walter de Gruyter Berlin/Boston

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