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Backness Distinction in Phonology

A Polish Perspective on the Phonemic Status of «y»


Paweł Rydzewski

This book discusses the phonological consequences of the backness distinction in high vowels. It focuses on a single-phoneme approach which does not recognize the existence of the vowel y. The author demonstrates that the role of y is crucial for the analysis of Polish palatalization. If y is recognized as a separate phoneme, then the processes receive a straightforward account in Lexical Phonology and Optimality Theory, the two frameworks used in the study. On the other hand, the absence of y leads to unwarranted exceptionality and entails an extensive use of diacritics or lexical constraints. The analyses show, however, that the lack of y is empirically unfeasible and requires segment indexation, a solution unheard of in phonology.

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Chapter 4: Perception of contrast by Polish subjects


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Chapter 4 Perception of contrast by Polish subjects

4.1. Introduction

This chapter discusses experimental approaches towards the perception of contrast among Polish subjects, which is particularly relevant to the discussion of the [i] - [ɨ] distinction. Section 4.2 presents theoretical background on perception of contrast showing that the notion may be regarded as transfer from the native language, or it may be attributed to cross-linguistic universal strategy. Section 4.3 analyzes the experiment in Bogacka (2004) regarding the perception of English tenseness contrast by Polish subjects, which undermines the phonemic status of //ɨ//. Section 4.5 juxtaposes the findings of Bogacka (2004) with the experiment discussed in Čavar, Rydzewski & Oštarič (2012a,b) to show that the vowel //ɨ// must be present underlyingly. The argument is supported by the comparison of three groups of subjects: Polish, Croatian and English. Partial conclusions are gathered in Section 4.5.

4.2. Perception of contrast: transfer or universal strategy

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