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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003


The Interplay of Phonetics and Grammar in Determining V-to-'V Phonotactics

Eleonora Cavalcante Albano

State University of Campinas, Brazil

This is a progress report on an ongoing probabilistic study of Brazilian Portuguese (henceforth BP) V-to-V phonotactics. The current focus is on the relationship between prestressed and stressed lexical vowels. The corpus consists of 21,208 words selected from an electronic dictionary. Prestressed vs. stressed vowel pair relative frequencies are computed to estimate vowel co-occurrence - i.e., pair occurrence - probabilities, in subsets divided into phonic, grammatical, and gross etymological classes. Biases are evaluated through observed to expected ratios (henceforth O/E) where E is estimated from the independent probabilities of the two vowels. Statistical analysis of the encountered biases indicates that not only syllable structure and grammatical class but also non-European etymology may affect pair probability. For example, close back vowel iteration is favored in non-European nouns; opening harmony is favored in verbs, whereas opening contour is favored in adjectives.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Albano, Eleonora Cavalcante (2003): "The interplay of phonetics and grammar in determining v-to-'v phonotactics", In ICPhS-15, 2393-2396.