Prof. Man-ni Chu, Prof. Carlos Gussenhoven and Prof. Roeland van Hout
Title: Perception-induced sound change and the identification of plosives in the coda: a cross-linguistic study
Time: 12:10-13:10, Friday, May 14
Venue: HC3, 4F, R402, NYCU (國立陽明交通大學人社三館4樓402)  
Abstract: Ohala (1989, 1993a,b) claimed that the source of sound change may lie in misperceptions which can be replicated in the laboratory in language-neutral conditions. We tested this claim for the change of /t/ to /k/ in the coda in the Southern Min dialect of Chaoshan. We conducted a forced-choice segment identification task with CVC syllables in which the final C varied across the segments [p t k ʔ] in addition to a number of further variables, including the V, which ranged across [i u a]. Three groups of participants whose native languages have the coda systems /p t k ʔ/ (Zhangquan), /p k ʔ/ (Chaoshan) and /p t k/ (Dutch) took part. The results indicate that [t] is the least stably perceived segment overall. It is particularly disfavoured when it follows [a], where there is a bias towards [k]. We argue that this finding supports a perceptual account of the historically documented scenario that a change from /at/ to /ak/ preceded and triggered a more general merger of /t/ with /k/ in the coda of Chaoshan. The fact that the perception results are essentially the same across the three language groups lends credibility to Ohala’s scenario of perceptually motivated sound changes, while we grant that these are not the only or even the most common type of sound change.

Keywords: coda place identification, Southern-min, perception, Dutch