15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


Knowledge of Perceptual Similarity and its Phonological Uses: Evidence from Half-Rhymes

Donca Steriade

Massachusetts Institute of Technology, USA

A study of half-rhymes (HR's) in Romanian poetry reveals that poets systematically prefer HR's corresponding to certain common phonological processes: final devoicing, post-nasal voicing, nasal-place neutralization, stressless vowel reduction, coda cluster simplification, nasalized vowel centralization, liquid metathesis. The striking observation is that none of these processes operates in Romanian phonology at a categorical level. But at least some have an identifiable phonetic basis: thus ɨ̃ and ũ which are involved in a large number of HR's, are closer on the F2 dimension than oral ɨ and u. It is suggested that poets' prefer these HR's based on their knowledge of perceptually-based relative similarity relations, not on their knowledge of sound alternations or distributions.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Steriade, Donca (2003): "Knowledge of perceptual similarity and its phonological uses: evidence from half-rhymes", In ICPhS-15, 363-366.