Some Cognitively Controlled Coarticulatory Effects in Arabic and English, with Particular Reference to Voice Onset Time
Author: Mohammad Maher Jesry Date: 1996 Institution: University of Essex Subject:Linguistics Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics
Abstract: This study introduces one possible link needed to bridge the gap between phonology and phonetics which have been noticed to lack a cognitive component that takes account of phonological aspects that are phonetically dominated. Traditionally, and on the one hand, phonology is thought to represent and include all cognitive processes involved in speech production. Whereas, on the other hand, phonetics is thought to represent the 'physical' processes. In other words, phonological assignments are simply thought to be realised automatically without adding any further properties to any particular segment.
But as there is clear evidence, from cross-language studies, that at the phonetic level, there is systematic variation of actualisation which cannot be attributed to the usual type of phonological processes, a cognitive ('supervisory') factor has been suggested to be added to the process at a lower level and folowing phonology. Because this supervisory factor has 'knowledge' about the system limitation and constraints, it provides a means of organising and controlling, to some extent, voluntrarily, the manipulation of these physical constraints inherent in the phonetic mechanism, according to different linguistic requirements.
One consequence of incorporating this supervisory factor of component is that, now, although a phenomenon like the occurrence of the delayed onset of voice - or what is known as Voice Onset Time (VOT) - following initial voiceless plosives describes automatic and involuntary coarticulatory effect, it indicates the presence of a decision taken for the purpose of linguistics. This result has been reached on account of the occurrence of several 'zones' of VOT in some languages in contrast to others with two zones. If that coarticulatory effect were automatic, then it would be the same for all languages.
In addition, through the supervisory factor, the congnitive and physical aspects interact with each other in a way that reflects the importance of the communicative function of speech production. This role has been highlighted in the way physical limilts, physiological economy constraints, and 'pronounceability' relate to each other to end up striking a balance between articulatory simplification on the part of the speech producer, and active listening on the part of the perceiver.