VAR Morpho-phonetic Variation in English

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    The phonetics of newly derived words: Testing the effect of morphological segmentability on affix duration
    (HHU, 2018) Plag, Ingo; Ben Hedia, Sonia
    Newly derived morphologically complex words have played a prominent role in research on morphological productivity and lexical innovation (e.g. Baayen 1989, 1996; Plag 1999; Mühleisen 2010). Most of the attention concerning the properties of such words has been devoted to their phonological, morphological, semantic and syntactic properties (see, for example, Bauer et al. 2013 for such analyses). This paper takes a look at the phonetic properties of affixed words, testing Hay’s (2003) ‘segmentability hypothesis’, according to which newly derived words are expected to show less phonetic integration, hence less phonetic reduction, of the affix involved than established forms. This hypothesis is based on the idea that morphological segmentability negatively correlates with phonological integration. To date there is only one study that clearly confirmed the segmentability hypothesis (i.e. Hay 2007), while other studies have failed to replicate the effect (see Hanique and Ernestus 2012 for an overview). The present study investigates the issue with data from the Switchboard corpus for five affixes of English: un-, locative in-, negative in-, dis- and adverbial -ly. Using different measures of morphological segmentability, we demonstrate that the durations of the two prefixes un- and dis- (unlike the durations of in- and -ly) largely support the segmentability hypothesis. With un- and dis- prefixed words, prefixes that are more easily segmentable have longer durations.
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    An is an , or is it? Plural and genitive-plural are not homophonous
    (hhu, 2019) Ingo Plag, Arne Lohmann, Sonia Ben Hedia, & Julia Zimmermann
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    Acoustics of word-final S
    (Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf, 2019-03-19) Plag, Ingo; Homann, Julia; Kunter, Gero
    Recent research has shown that homophonous lexemes show systematic phonetic differences (e.g. Gahl 2008, Drager 2011), with important consequences for models of speech production such as Levelt et al. (1999). These findings also pose the question of whether similar differences hold for allegedly homophonous affixes (instead of free lexemes). Earlier experimental research found some evidence that morphemic and nonmorphemic sounds may differ acoustically (Walsh & Parker 1983, Losiewicz 1992). This paper investigates this question by analyzing the phonetic realization of non-morphemic /s/ and /z/, and of six different English /s/ and /z/ morphemes (plural, genitive, genitive-plural and 3rd person singular, as well as cliticized forms of has and is). The analysis is based on more than 600 tokens extracted from conversational speech (Buckeye Corpus, Pitt et al. 2007). Two important results emerge. First, there are significant differences in acoustic duration between some morphemic /s/’s and /z/’s and non-morphemic /s/ and /z/, respectively. Second, there are significant differences in duration between some of the morphemes. These findings challenge standard assumptions in morphological theory, lexical phonology and models of speech production.