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  • Author: Geoffrey Schwartz x
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Phonology in the Speech Signal - Unifying cue and Prosodic Licensing

This paper is offered in commemoration of Prof. Edmund Gussmann, who passed away sadly and unexpectedly just a few short weeks before the 41st Poznań Linguistic Meeting, where the paper was presented. The PLM session, Competing Explanations in Phonology, was the type of gathering at which Prof. Gussmann would thrive, advancing his strong theoretical position that phonetics is irrelevant for phonological theory (Gussmann 2004). Prof. Gussmann argued for this view in an animated and sometimes provocative manner, but he always did so with charm and good nature. My own views on the role of speech in phonology differ sharply from Prof. Gussmann's. I am nevertheless quite grateful for his perspective, which has indeed changed the way I think of speech. Under the influence of Government Phonology, I have adopted a phonological view of the acoustic signal, which seeks to challenge phoneticians with new hypotheses about the way speech interacts with grammar. This paper explicates this perspective, and applies it to a recent case, cue vs. prosodic licensing, in which "phonetic" and "phonological" explanations seemed to be at an impasse. Thanks in part to Prof. Gussmann's strong theoretical position, I have developed a new theory of constituency that offers a vehicle with which we may reconcile competing views on the underpinnings of phonological licensing.

Listener Oriented Representations in Natural Phonology

While Natural Phonology has long contended that phonemes are specified for their phonetic properties, followers of the theory have concentrated primarily on phonological processes, instead of delving into the details of pronounceable representations. In the area of representation, NP has thus failed to pursue its claim that systematic articulatory and perceptual phenomena below the level of segmental contrast must be treated phonologically. By building an explicit model of representation in NP, we may help the theory to meet one of its primary challenges: "to confirm the hypothesis that speech processing is categorical, or phonological, down to the level of the actual phonetic (pronounceable) representation" (Donegan 2002: 79). Prominence Phonology (Schwartz, in press) is an NP-inspired model that seeks to take Donegan's call to action to heart, introducing new and phonetically explicit representations based upon scalar yet monovalent elemental primes. This paper introduces these representations with the goal of refining our view of the signal so as to develop a phonological view of speech.


This paper presents an analysis of Tashlhiyt Berber syllabification in the Onset Promi-nence (OP) representational framework. With a structural perspective on manner of articulation, OP captures the apparent role of sonority in TB syllabification. It is shown, however, that this does not entail the assignment of "peak" status to the most sonorous available segments in a given string. Sonority based "peak" assignment cannot account for the ambiguous behavior exhibited by syllables in with the "peak" is less sonorous than its "onset", and makes infelicitous predictions with regard to the behavior of "onsetless" syllables. By contrast, the OP environment provides mechanisms in which such ambiguities fall out from more general principles of constituent formation.


This paper discusses the notion of "onsets" within the Onset Prominence representational environment (OP; e.g. Schwartz 2010, 2013), with empirical focus on the representation of glides and initial vowels. Both glides and initial vowels have been shown to exhibit ambiguous behavior across languages, which has been problematic for representational theories based on a linear string of segments. The OP environment is based on a hierarchy of phonetic events, incorporating structural ambiguities that may serve as parameter settings for the dual behavior of both glides and initial vowels. This approach eliminates the need for an ONSET constraint, and offers an explicit reference point by which the concept of markedness in prosodic structure may be defined.


This paper presents an acoustic phonetic study of Polish V#V sequences designed to shed light on the phonological representation of glottal marking. Independent phonological evidence from Polish suggests that initial vowels contain an "empty onset" that may be realized as glottal marking. The results of the experiment suggest that glottal marking in Polish is quite robust, and may be realized by increases in spectral balance. In the Onset Prominence environment, the "empty onset" is derived from phonetic principles, realized as specification for the Vocalic Onset layer of structure. VO parameter settings capture important ambiguities in speech perception and allow for a unified analysis of glottal marking, distributional restrictions on Polish vowels, and ambiguities underlying palatalization processes.


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.


This paper describes a perception experiment with Polish listeners involving vowel inherent spectral change (VISC) in L2 English. A forced-choice rhyming task employing the Silent Center (SC) paradigm revealed relatively uniform effects of stimulus type (SC, Initial, Middle, Final) on accuracy across two proficiency groups, despite greater overall accuracy on the part of the more proficient users. Analysis of individual vowel pairs used in the rhyming trials revealed some effects of proficiency on the degree to which formant movement in the stimuli affected identification accuracy. This research contributes to the relatively sparse literature on VISC in L2 acquisition. Phonological considerations underlying the degree of VISC in Polish and English are also discussed.