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The probability is one of the many factors which influence phonetic variation. Contextual probability, which describes how predictable a linguistic unit is in some local environment, has been consistently shown to modulate the phonetic salience of words and other linguistic units in speech production (the probabilistic reduction effect). In this paper the question of whether the probabilistic reduction effect, as previously observed for majority languages like English, is also found in a language (Kaqchikel Mayan) which has relatively rich morphology is explored. Specifically, whether the contextual predictability of words and morphemes influences their phonetic duration in Kaqchikel is examined. It is found that the contextual predictability of a word has a significant effect on its duration. The effect is manifested differently for lexical words and function words. It is also found that the contextual predictability of certain prefixes in Kaqchikel affects their duration, showing that contextual predictability may drive reduction effects at multiple levels of structure. While the findings are broadly consistent with many previous studies (primarily on English), some of the details of the results are different. These differences highlight the importance of examining the probabilistic reduction effect in languages beyond the majority, Indo-European languages most commonly investigated in experimental and corpus linguistics.
Kevin Tang* & Ryan Bennett. 2018. Contextual predictability influences word and morpheme duration in a morphologically complex language (Kaqchikel Mayan). The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 144(2). 997–1017. http://dx.doi.org/10.1121/1.5046095 [pdf] [bib][*First and Corresponding Author]