This week the Phon group will be meeting on Feb 14 at the new time of 11am, in SS560A.
On the schedule this week is a presentation by Joanna Chociej, titled "Making sense of nonsense":
"Making sense of nonsense: Some preliminary results of a nonsense word study on Polish vowel-zero alternations"
The vowel-zero alternation in Slavic languages describes a phenomenon found in some lexemes where a vowel found between two word-final consonants (CeC#) is not there when those consonants are followed by a suffixed vowel (CCV#). Whether or not a lexeme exhibits vowel-zero is often argued to be unpredictable, and thus something that a speaker must memorize. Last year, I performed some statistical analyses on a corpus of Polish nouns to determine if there are any phonological patterns to the words that do exhibit vowel-zero, versus those that do not. Phonological patterns were indeed found, pointing to an effect of factors such as sonority, word-length, and grammatical gender.
A subsequent nonce-word study aimed to test (1) whether speakers would make use of vowel-zero in unfamiliar words, and (2) whether they would do so only in contexts that commonly exhibit vowel-zero in the lexicon. I will be presenting some preliminary analyses based on data from 14 speakers, which show that speakers performance in the nonce-word study does indeed reflect patterns found in the lexicon. I hope that in the discussion we can talk about what these similarities actually mean when it comes to understanding the grammar behind these types of phenomena.