Sound Change
  • ISSN 0774-5141
  • E-ISSN: 1569-9676
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Abstract. The gestural model of Articulatory Phonology currently being developed by Browman and Goldstein provides a new way of modelling both synchronic and diachronic phonetic processes as well as certain types of synchronic phonological rules. Although Browman and Goldstein place stringent restrictions on the model, ruling out categorical deletion and insertion of gestures, as well as gestural permutation not resulting from magnitude and timing changes, Articulatory Phonology can nonetheless provide enlightening accounts of various types of sound change, including historical developments which have previously been analysed as segmental insertions and deletions. The application of Articulatory Phonology to sound changes is beneficial in that it allows the formulation of a change to include some account of its motivation from the point of view of the speaker (or indeed, though less straightforwardly, the hearer). We aim to extend Browman and Goldstein's preliminary applications of their model to sound change, by demonstrating that changes which have been analysed as entirely separate developments in a traditional segmental phonology can be seen instead as part of an integrated complex of interrelated changes within Articulatory Phonology. Focussing on the development of non-rhotic varieties of English, we show that the sound changes producing present-day linking [r], which are typically given as three independent developments of Pre-[r] Breaking, Pre-Schwa Laxing, and /r/-Deletion, can be shown to be interdependent and analysed in an explanatory way using the gestural model. However, we argue that not all the synchronic phonological processes to which such sound changes give rise can be analysed in gestural terms, given the current restrictions on Articulatory Phonology. For instance, in present-day English varieties which exhibit intrusive as well as linking [r], and which seem to be best characterised by an [r]-Insertion analysis, synchronic addition of gestures must be permitted. Insertion processes of this sort may initially seem incompatible with Articulatory Phonology, but there is clear motivation to retain the gestural framework, given its ability to model many sound changes, casual speech processes and phonological rules using the same mechanisms. Consequently, we propose that, to account for English [r] and similar cases, the current constraints on Articulatory Phonology must be relaxed to a limited extent at some level of the grammar. We suggest that this might be achieved by integrating the gestural approach into a model of Lexical Phonology.


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  • Article Type: Research Article
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