Palatalized Labials in Polish Dialects: An Evolutionary Perspective
Keywords:Polish, sound change
Two types of explanations for typological asymmetries are in current use: synchronic, which rely on phonological filters that make learners more receptive to some patterns than others (e.g., markedness), and diachronic, which appeal to phonetically systematic errors that arise in the transmission of the speech signal. This paper provides a diachronic account of palatalized labials in standard and dialectal Polish. It is shown that the weak perceptibility of the palatal element in a specific phonetic context is a good predictor of depalatalization and the dissimilation arises whenever a phonetic signal can be interpreted in a non-unique manner. The Polish data exemplify three sources of natural sound change: (i) neutralization of perceptually weak contrasts, (ii) phonological reanalysis of ambiguous signals, and (iii) change in the frequency of phonetic variants. Sound change is shown to be non-deterministic and non-optimizing. There is no role for markedness in this account.
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Copyright (c) 2010 Bartłomiej Czaplicki
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