Postalveolar co-occurrence restrictions in Slovenian

Abstract

This paper shows that a postalveolar co-occurrence restriction (Obligatory Contour Principle, OCP) is a productive component of Slovenian phonology. We first examine whether an apparent OCP-based restriction on derived palatalization, previously observed in corpus data (Jurgec 2016), extends to novel forms via a goodness-rating task. We then explore the generality of the restriction across the lexicon, in non-derived novel words as well as derived forms. Our results confirm that native speakers judge derived palatalized nonce forms to be less acceptable when the stem contains another postalveolar, reflecting the pattern found in the previous corpus study. We further demonstrate that multiple postalveolars are dispreferred even in non-derived words, which suggests that the effect is a general case of OCP. This is additionally supported by effects of proximity (the restriction is stronger for postalveolars separated only by a single vowel than for those further apart from one another) and identity (the restriction is stronger for identical than non-identical postalveolars), reflecting cross-linguistic tendencies in the manifestation of OCP and non-local consonant dissimilation. Finally, we show that the restriction does not appear to apply to all places of articulation, suggesting that the co-occurrence restriction in Slovenian specifically targets postalveolars, and adding a previously unattested pattern to the typology of OCP phenomena on consonant place.

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Notes

  1. 1.

    Slovenian also has other kinds of palatalization with other suffixes as well as local alternations that interact with palatalization, which lie beyond the scope of this paper. For instance, iotatization/iotation affects all consonants, palatalizing most coronals and velars, but epenthesizing [j] after coronal sonorants and [lj] after labials. Velar fronting, which is limited to one productive morphological context, turns velars into alveolar continuants (Toporišič 1976/2000:262–266; Herrity 2000:24–26; Jurgec 2007:106–109). Moreover, phonotactics restrict consonant clusters involving coronals and labials, which can resemble palatalization. For instance, sequences of velar + sibilant + velar are not possible (/aRxeolog-ski/ → [aRxeoloSki] ‘archeological’). Finally, all adjacent sibilants must agree in anteriority.

  2. 2.

    Of the original 612 types, we excluded one due to homophony with a stem with an underlying postalveolar.

  3. 3.

    Note that although proximity has a strong effect in distant co-occurrence restrictions/OCP, Bennett (2015) has shown that strictly local dissimilation is typologically unlike distant dissimilation. Moreover, dissimilation may apply exclusively to segments in the same prosodic position, thus applying to adjacent onsets, but not to the coda between them.

  4. 4.

    The relative frequencies of consonants were extracted from Jakopin (2005)—see Sect. 5 for further details. Frequent diphone clusters were included as potential candidates for C\(_{\textsc{Init}}\) during random generation, resulting in some CCVCVC words. Several segments were excluded during nonce word generation: (i) velar consonants, which will be explored in Experiment 2, (ii) anterior coronals, because of complications with consonant harmony processes (see further Sect. 5), and (iii) segments occurring primarily in loanwords, such as [f].

  5. 5.

    This scale was used because it is familiar to the speakers. The same scale is used for marks in Slovenian primary and secondary schools.

  6. 6.

    These values were converted to a continuous scale for the purposes of analysis. It should be noted that the 5-point Likert scale used here is not strictly continuous; i.e. not all possible (continuous) values are available to participants, and equidistance between each scale point cannot be assumed. Norman (2010) provides review and discussion of the relevant issues, concluding that parametric statistics (such as those used in the current work) are sufficiently accurate and robust to be used with Likert scale data.

  7. 7.

    Coding schemes: the dual comparison for BlockerPosition was implemented using Helmert Coding because it allows for two comparisons: (i) Blocker Absence vs. Presence (with C\(_{\textsc{Init}}\) and C\(_{\textsc{Med}}\) collapsed), and (ii) Blocker Position (C\(_{\textsc{Init}}\) vs. C\(_{\textsc{Med}}\)). Suffix and C\(_{\textsc{Fin}}\) were simple-coded, with reference levels of for C\(_{\textsc{Fin}}\) and for Suffix. Details on coding systems for categorical variables can be found at the UCLA Institute for Digital Research and Education: https://stats.idre.ucla.edu.

  8. 8.

    One hypothesis may have to do with the fact that [x] is often perceived as a loanword segment, particularly in the initial position (Jurgec 2007:121). As such, [x] is a lexically marked segment in Slovenian, which goes together with the lack of palatalization, also more often observed in loanwords. Speakers may prefer palatalization as a strategy to avoid both marked structures occurring in the same word; this is an instance of a gang-effect in Harmonic Grammar (Pater 2009). Fukazawa et al. (2015) show a similar pattern in Japanese: geminates appearing in loanwords devoice at higher rates when the root contains a [p], which is itself also limited to loanwords. A separate study is needed to explore this effect in Slovenian.

  9. 9.

    As in Experiment 1, consonants and vowels not specified here were randomly generated from a set of common segments of Slovenian, with the exception of the second vowel, which was always either /a/ or /o/, in order to avoid potential preference for palatalization in high or front vowels. In cases where random generation resulted in a real word of Slovenian, these forms were replaced. Native speakers were consulted to make sure that non-derived words were not perceived as morphologically complex.

  10. 10.

    This overall preference for palatalized forms differs by suffix, as will be discussed below; however, the co-occurrence restriction, our factor of interest, holds equally across the two suffixes. In order to be able to do a direct statistical comparison of derived and non-derived words, which do not contain different suffixes, we collapse the two suffixes together for our primary statistical analysis.

  11. 11.

    The results also indicate that non-derived forms without postalveolars were judged lower than forms with a single postalveolar. Because the non-derived word task was completed before the derived task, this cannot be attributable to an extension of a generalization in derived words to non-derived words. There appears to be an independent preference for root-final postalveolars over velars. This, however, may be related to the fact that velars are less frequent than postalveolars in root-final feminine nouns. For instance, among nouns ending in ˈaCa in Toporišič (2001), postalveolars (e.g. []) are 2.67 times more frequent than velars (e.g. []).

  12. 12.

    Given the difference in model structure due to the slightly different task, in the Experiment 2 statistical results, a negative coefficient corresponds to a larger co-occurrence restriction, whereas in Experiment 1, a positive coefficient corresponded to a larger co-occurrence restriction.

  13. 13.

    However, it is important to note that in Experiment 1, this was relative to all suffixes, and a direct comparison with was not included in that analysis.

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Acknowledgements

We would like to thank our participants for their time and effort. Thanks also to Abigail Cohn, Yoonjung Kang, Draga Zec, and Jesse Zymet for their comments and suggestions.

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Appendix

Appendix

Table 8 Materials used for Experiment 1 (initial-blocker words) and their mean ratings. Participants were given the prompt (nonce word base form) and its corresponding palatalized form, and asked to rate the acceptability of this form. Slovenian orthography is given for the wordforms; IPA for the blocking postalveolar segment, palatalization target, and suffix are given when they differ from the orthography. The first file of the Supplementary Materials is a csv file with the information in this table
Table 9 Materials used for Experiment 1 (medial-blocker words) and their mean ratings. Participants were given the prompt (nonce word base form) and its corresponding palatalized form, and asked to rate the acceptability of this form. Slovenian orthography is given for the wordforms; IPA for the blocking postalveolar segment, palatalization target, and suffix are given when they differ from the orthography. The first file of the Supplementary Materials is a csv file with the information in this table
Table 10 Materials used for Experiment 1 (no-blocker words) and their mean ratings. Participants were given the prompt (nonce word base form) and its corresponding palatalized form, and asked to rate the acceptability of this form. Slovenian orthography is given for the wordforms; IPA for the blocking postalveolar segment, palatalization target, and suffix are given when they differ from the orthography. The first file of the Supplementary Materials is a csv file with the information in this table
Table 11 Materials used for Experiment 2, Non-derived word task, with their mean ratings. Participants were given the prompt (nonce word base form) and its corresponding palatalized and nonpalatalized forms, and asked to rate the acceptability of each form. Slovenian orthography is given here; IPA correspondences are shown in the tables above. The third file of the Supplementary Materials is a csv file with the information in this table
Table 12 Materials used for Experiment 2, Derived word task, with their mean ratings. Participants were asked to rate the acceptability of each form. Slovenian orthography is given here; IPA correspondences are shown in the tables above. The second file of the Supplementary Materials is a csv file with the information in this table
Table 13 Full statistical results from full model predicting acceptability ratings from BlockerPosition, C\(_{\textsc{Fin}}\), and Suffix in Experiment 1. The formula used was: rating ˜BlockerPosition * C.Fin * Suffix + (BlockerPosition + C.Fin + Suffix | Participant) + (1 | Item)
Table 14 Model identical to original model (Table 13), but excluding wordforms that would result in the target segment being identical to the postalveolar blocker when palatalized. The formula used was: rating ˜BlockerPosition * C.Fin * Suffix + (BlockerPosition + C.Fin + Suffix | Participant) + (1 | Item)

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Jurgec, P., Schertz, J. Postalveolar co-occurrence restrictions in Slovenian. Nat Lang Linguist Theory 38, 499–537 (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s11049-019-09452-z

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Keywords

  • Palatalization
  • OCP
  • Dissimilation
  • Laboratory phonology
  • Slovenian