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Laboratory Phonology

Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology

Ed. by Cole, Jennifer

IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 0.667
Rank 85 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition

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Neuromagnetic reflections of harmony and constraint violations in Turkish

Mathias Scharinger
  • Corresponding author
  • *Department of Linguistics, University of Maryland
  • Max Planck Institute for Human Cognitive & Brain Sciences, Leipzig, Germany
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/ William J. Idsardi / Samantha Poe
Published Online: 2011-05-03 | DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2011.003


Vowel harmony is a phonotactic principle that requires adjacent vowels to agree in certain vowel features. Phonological theory considers this principle to be represented in one's native grammar, but its abstractness and perceptual consequences remain a matter of debate. In this paper, we are interested in the brain's response to violations of harmony in Turkish. For this purpose, we test two acoustically close and two acoustically distant vowel pairs in Turkish, involving different kinds of harmony violations. Our measure is the Mismatch Negativity (MMN), an automatic change detection response of the brain that has previously been applied for the study of native phoneme representations in a variety of languages. The results of our experiment support the view that vowel harmony is a phonological principle with a language-specific long-term memory representation. Asymmetries in MMN responses support a phonological analysis of the pattern of results, but do not provide evidence for a pure acoustic or a pure probabilistic approach. Phonological analyses are given within Optimality Theory (OT) and within an underspecification account.

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Published Online: 2011-05-03

Published in Print: 2011-05-01

Citation Information: Laboratory Phonology, ISSN (Online) 1868-6354, ISSN (Print) 1868-6346, DOI: https://doi.org/10.1515/labphon.2011.003.

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© 2011 Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG, Berlin/New York. Copyright Clearance Center

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