Lenition as modulation reduction: consonant allophony in Ibibio

Project Summary:

We present an account of the impact of lenition on consonants that is founded on the model of speech as a modulated carrier signal. Lenition has the uniform effect of reducing the extent to which a consonant modulates the carrier. Unlike approaches based on sonority or articulatory opening, the modulated-carrier account provides a unitary treatment of all the classically recognised lenition types. It also encompasses a number of processes which, although not traditionally classed as lenitions, often alternate with them. We illustrate the modulated-carrier account with phonological and acoustic analyses of Ibibio. We examine the effects that lenition in this language has on the amplitute and periodicity properties of consonants and propose a method for combining these under a single measure of modulation reduction. We consider the implications of this model for feature theory.

Read more from:

John Harris, Kevin Tang, Eno-Abasi Urua. In prep. Lenition as modulation reduction: consonant allophony in Ibibio. (To be submitted to Phonology)