Vowel but not consonant identity and the very informal English lexicon

with Michael Becker

Published in Proceedings of the Annual Meeting of Phonology 2017, 2018

Recommended citation: Tessier, A.M. and M. Becker. (2018). "Vowel but not consonant identity and the very informal English lexicon." Proceedings of AMP 2017. https://journals.linguisticsociety.org/proceedings/index.php/amphonology/article/view/4248

In this paper we use morphological compounding to probe English speakers’ intuitions about the phonological goodness of long-distance vowel and consonant identity. The compound type under investigation is a class of insult we refer to as shitgibbons, and we report the results of three online surveys in which speakers rated novel shitgibbons which did or did not instantiate long-distance harmonies. We compare shitgibbon harmony preferences with the frequency of segmental harmony in English compounds more generally, and conclude that the lexicon displays both vowel and consonant harmony. We also attribute the lack of productive consonant harmony in shitgibbons to attested cross-linguistic harmony patterns.

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