The Workshop on Language, Cognition and Computation (along with our other graduate workshops, Language Variation and Change and Semantics and Philosophy of Language) is wrapping up another academic year. Please join us this Friday at a special time for the final LCC talk of the year, presented by the U. of C.’s James Kirby. He will be speaking at noon in the Karen Landahl Center on “A phonetics-phonology mismatch in Vietnamese” (abstract below). Join us afterwards for our end-of-the-year barbecue at Midway Plaisance Park just south of the Classics building. See you there!
According to phonetically-based phonological frameworks, functional constraints such as perceptual distinctiveness play a central role in shaping phonological behaviors (Boersma, 1998; Hayes et. al, 2004). This view is challenged by evidence of phonetically unnatural patterns active in synchronic phonological grammars (Anderson, 1981; Hyman, 2001). I consider arguments for the phonetic grounding of phonological features in Vietnamese tone, where it has been argued that, despite dialectal differences in the phonetics of tone production, phonetically grounded tone features are shared across dialects (Pham, 2001, 2003). From the results of a cross-dialectal perception study, I argue that the features relevant for the perception of tones no longer correspond to their phonologically active counterparts in any straightforward way, either within or between dialects. This result is discussed in terms of its implication for the notion of phonetically grounded phonological constraints, as well as for the relationship between subphonemic and categorical levels of linguistic structure.