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Detail of contribution

Auteur: Shigeko SHINOHARA

Co-Auteur(s): Yu TANAKA, UCLA, USA Shin-Ichiro SANO, International Christian University, Japan

Synchronic usage of phonetic saliency: Coda perception patterns by the codaless tone language White Hmong

Abstract/Résumé: This study argues for the view that knowledge of phonetic saliency plays a synchronic role in phonological grammar by reporting an inter-language perception experiment. We have tested synchronic usage of phonetic knowledge by phonological interpretations of L2 coda consonants by White Hmong speakers. White Hmong possesses seven lexical tones, but has no syllable coda. In a White Hmong loanword adaptation study (Golston and Yang 2001 White Hmong loanword phonology, In C. Féry, A.D. Green, R. van de Vijver eds., Proceedings of HILP 5, University of Potsdam,40-57), the codas of the donor language are always omitted, but tone adaptations differ depending on coda features. Among English codas, voiceless obstruents give rising tone (R) on the preceding vowel (Pepsi RL, s[i]top LR), while the default tone seems to be low (L) (Honda LL). Pitch characteristics of the English input do not fully explain these tone mappings. First, voiceless obstruents do not consistently raise the pitch of preceding vowels in English (Gruenenfelder and Pisoni 1980 Fundamental frequency as a cue to postvocalic consonantal voicing: Some data from perception and production, Perception & Psychophysics, 1980, 28, 514-520). Second, although English postvocalic glottal stop may raise the pitch (Hombert et al. 1979 Phonetic explanations for the development of tones, Language, 55, 37-58.), plosives’ glottalization causes creak (Laver 1994 Principles of phonetics, Cambridge University Press) and so should be associated with Hmong creaky tone. From these data, we hypothesize that White Hmong grammar rather operates on a saliency mapping between segmental features and tones, assuming that voiceless obstruents are more salient than other segments in coda position, and that high and complex tones are more salient than low and level tones, respectively. Production and perception experiments were carried out with White Hmong speakers residing in the U.S. Voiceless codas overall induced high tones. Some of the participants clearly showed the predicted patterns while some others behaved as if all English plosive codas were voiceless. The results would indicate two things: 1) phonetic knowledge of the perceptibility of sounds is part of phonological grammar; 2) the expression of perceptibility involves an abstract prominence mapping process.