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Harrington, Jonathan; Kleber, Felicitas and Stevens, Mary (2016): The Relationship Between the (Mis)-Parsing of Coarticulation in Perception and Sound Change: Evidence from Dissimilation and Language Acquisition. In: Esposito, Anna (ed.) : Recent Advances in Nonlinear Speech Processing. Smart Innovation, Systems and Technologies, Vol. 48. Springer. pp. 15-34

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The study is concerned with whether historical sound change is more likely to occur when coarticulation, or the way that speech sounds overlap with and influence each other in time, is misaligned in production and perception. The focus of the first experiment was on long-range coarticulatory lip-rounding that has been linked with historical dissimilation. A perception experiment based on present-day Italian showed that inherently lip-rounded segments were more likely to be masked-and thereby erroneously deleted-in hypoarticulated speech. The second experiment tested whether the mismatch between the modalities was more likely in young children than in adults. For this purpose, first language German speakers participated in a forced-choice perception experiment in which they categorised German back and front vowels in coarticulatory non-fronting and fronting consonantal contexts. Children's ability to normalise for coarticulation was shown to be less than that of the adults. Taken together, the results suggest that sound change can occur when coarticulatory relationships are perceptually obscured due to a hypoarticulated speaking style causing consonants to be camouflaged in the case of dissimilation and variants to approximate those that are strongly influenced by coarticulation in the case of diachronic back vowel fronting.

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