When: Wednesday, September 18th, 3-4 pm in room 117
Who: Kie Zuraw (UCLA, presenting joint work with Sharon Peperkamp)
What: Aspiration in English prefixed words: a production study
Previous research has documented phonetic differences between prefixed words such as ‘mis-type’ and pseudoprefixed or opaquely prefixed words such as ‘mistake’ (Baker, Smith & Hawkins 2007, Smith, Baker & Hawkins 2012). One of the most striking differences is aspiration: the /t/ in ‘mis-type’ is aspirated, while that in ‘mistake’ is unaspirated. Presumably, the morpheme boundary in ‘mis-type’ prevents the /s/ from joining the second syllable’s onset, keeping the /t/ syllable-initial and thus aspirated. Our study found that the difference exists even when the stem-initial syllable is unstressed, as in ‘mis-conducted’ (aspirated) vs. ‘disposition’ (variable); we take this to mean that the /k/ in ‘mis-conducted’ is prosodic-word initial.
The purpose of this production study (16 participants producing 110 target items) was to identify words whose aspiratedness is variable across participants, for use in a future study (whose goal I’ll explain briefly in the talk). But the results themselves have some interesting points. As mentioned above, our results confirm that even unstressed-syllable-initial consonants can be aspirated–that is, can behave as though word-initial–if a clear prefix boundary precedes them. We also find that frequency of the whole word and of the stem influence whether a word is aspirated or not, as well as its VOT within each category, suggesting possible processing influences.
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