21 April 2023

Séminaire de Pia Greca

Cue-trading relationships in sound change: the case of metaphony in the Lausberg area (southern Italy)

Seminaire de

Pia Greca

(Institute of Phonetics and Speech Processing, LMU Munich)

Vendredi 21 avril 2023, de 10h30 à 12h

Au Laboratoire Parole et Langage, salle de conférences B011 à Aix-en-Provence

Cue-trading relationships in sound change: the case of metaphony in the Lausberg area (southern Italy)

Résumé :

In ongoing sound changes, a coarticulatory effect is often enhanced as the coarticulatory source that gives rise to it wanes. But quite how phonologization and these reciprocal coarticulatory changes are connected is still poorly understood. In my presentation, I am going to address this issue by analyzing the production and perception of metaphony and related suffix vowel erosion in three geographically proximal varieties spoken in the Lausberg area in Southern Italy. Depending on the dialect, the outcome of metaphony can be either different degree of raising or diphthongization of the stem vowel triggered by high vowel suffixes, e.g. [bɛlla], (`beautiful’, fem. sg.) becomes either [bellu], [bjɛllu] or [billu] in the masculine. Meanwhile, the suffix vowel triggering metaphony might be variably either reduced, neutralized, or completely deleted, e.g. [bɛll(ə), bill(ə)]. Metaphony might therefore have a crucial role in the preservation of cues to inflectional morphology whose perception would be otherwise compromised.

In the first part of the talk, I will present the main results from the acoustic analyses, which were based on a corpus of 35 speakers producing mostly disyllabic words with phonetically mid stem vowels and suffix vowels that varied in phonetic height. The results of functional principal components analysis applied to the stem vowels’ first two formant frequencies showed a progressively greater enhancement to the vowel stem across the three regions that was characterized by raising, diphthongization, and then further raising and monophthongization. Suffix erosion was quantified by counting deletions and the degree of vowel centralization. The analysis showed a reciprocal relationship between stem enhancement and suffix erosion across, but not within, the three dialects. Overall, these results suggest that a trade-off of cues between suffix and stem vowel has progressed to different degrees between the three varieties.

In the second part of the talk, the relationship between production and perception is explored in two varieties that present two specular metaphony patterns: in the East of the Lausberg area, the transfer of inflectional morphological from a suffix to a mid-stem vowel is complete, whereas in the village of Mormanno it is more marginal and with suffix preservation. Listeners of both varieties identified in a forced-choice test inflectional information from stems in stimuli produced in both varieties with all suffix information removed. The results showed a perceptual advantage in morphological categorization when listeners perceived stems of their own variety and suggest the presence of two modes of perception. In fact, while listeners from the East were best at distinguishing grammatical categories when the stem vowels were categorically different ‒ thus showing a rather phonological perceptual strategy ‒ Mormanno listeners were in general more sensitive to fine phonetic detail.

21 April 2023, 10h3012h00
LPL, salle B011

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