This article surveys the major topics of Caucasian phonetics and phonology focusing on those aspects that bear broader implications for general phonetics and phonological theory. The article first presents an acoustic phonetic treatment of phonemic inventories in the three Caucasian families that involves both a review of recent instrumental data on the topic as well as a new analysis of experimental acoustic data. The focus of the phonetic analysis is obstruents with different laryngeal features, typologically unusual segments, small vocalic inventories, and pharyngealization. The second part reviews treatments of Caucasian phonotactics, primarily of South Caucasian consonant clusters that play a crucial role in the discussion on production vs. perception in phonology. The article concludes with a collection of phonological alternations that have the potential to bear broader theoretical implications.
Identifying and modeling factors that influence typology has been one of the most contested issues in phonology with two major lines of thought emerging in this discussion: the Analytic Bias (AB) and Channel Bias (CB) approach (Moreton 2008). Empirical evidence in favor of both approaches exists, yet very few attempts have been made to model them together. This paper aims to fill this gap and proposes a new MaxEnt-compatible model of phonological typology that models both AB and CB together. The first step towards a new model of typology is to establish quantitative models of each of the subcomponents: AB and CB. To encode the AB portion of the typology, we adopt Wilson’s (2006) approach of differentiating variance in the prior of a MaxEnt model of phonological learning; to encode the CB portion, we adopt Beguš’s (2016) new model of typology within CB that operates with Historical Probabilities of Alternations and an estimation method called Bootstrapping Sound Changes. This paper proposes a new model of typology that combines differentiating prior variance (AB; Wilson 2006) with estimating Historical Weights based on Historical Probabilities (CB; Beguš 2016), whereby both variables influence the typology. I further argue that this new model performs better than the current “split” models on the basis of two alternations, post-nasal voicing and devoicing, and point to future directions this line of research should take.
One of the most widely studied observations in linguistic phonetics is that, all else being equal, vowels are longer before voiced than before voiceless obstruents. The causes of this phonetic generalization are, however, poorly understood and several competing explanations have been proposed. No studies have so far measured vowel duration before stops with yet another laryngeal feature: ejectives. This study fills this gap and presents results from an experiment that measures vowel duration before stops with all three laryngeal features in Georgian and models effects of both closure and voice onset time (VOT) on preceding vowel duration at the same time. The results show that vowels have significantly different durations before all three series of stops, voiced, ejective, and voiceless aspirated, even when closure and VOT durations are controlled for. The results also suggest that closure and VOT durations are inversely correlated with preceding vowel duration. These results combined bear several implications for the discussion of causes of vowel duration differences: the data support the hypotheses that claim that laryngeal gestures, temporal compensation, and closure velocity affect vowel duration. Some explanations, especially perceptual and airflow expenditure explanations, are considerably weakened by the results.
In this paper I propose a new rule of Vedic meter. The glides *v and *y are regularly lost before the corresponding high vowels uand i in Vedic. I argue that the word-initial glides *v and *y before the short vowels and still “make position” and that they should be restored for metrical purposes. This means that word-final syllables of the shape -V̆ C should be scanned long if the following syllable begins with a u- or i- that goes back to *vu- or *yi-. This new rule has consequences for the general metrical shape of the Rigveda, as cadences previously scanned as irregular will be repaired to their canonical shape. The rule can also be employed as etymologically decisive for words that can potentially go back to forms with or without an initial glide.
The circumflex advancement is usually dated after the loss of the weak jers. However, this chronology has been questioned by Vermeer (1979) and Greenberg (1992, 1993), who claim the opposite: that the weak jers were lost after the advancement. They further propose the “non-advancement rule”, by which the circumflex does not advance if a weak jer follows. Their evidence comes almost exclusively from the l-participles of the accentual paradigm c, which have the initial accent in the two dialects. The article presents new data that argue against this proposal. It is shown that the circumflex regularly advances in words outside the category of l-participles despite the presence of a subsequent weak jer. Moreover, a new explanation is given for the initial accent in l-participles that better captures the data.
(translation) The Žiri Basin local dialect within the Poljane dialect evinces several special features in its structure and development. Based on the system described in Stanonik (1977), the author elucidates the system’s accentual changes from Common Slovene to the present state, and also presents some new discoveries concerning the system itself that help explain the phenomena more precisely. This description helps establish a relative chronology of the accentual phenomena, the resulting model of which is compared and contrasted with other explanations. Finally, the relative chronology of accentual changes is placed in the larger context of the development of Slovene.