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      North American /l/ both darkens and lightens depending on morphological constituency and segmental context

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          Abstract

          It is uncontroversial that, in many varieties of English, the realization of /l/ varies depending on whether /l/ occurs word-initially or word-finally. The nature of this effect, however, remains controversial. Previous analyses alternately analyzed the variation as darkening or lightening, and alternately found evidence that the variation involves a categorical distinction between allophones or a gradient scale conditioned by phonetic factors. We argue that these diverging conclusions are a result of the numerous factors influencing /l/ darkness and differences between studies in terms of which factors are considered. By controlling for a range of factors, our study demonstrates a pattern of variability that has not been shown in previous work. We find evidence of morpheme-final darkening and morpheme-initial lightening when compared to a baseline of morpheme-internal /l/. We also find segmental effects such that, in segmental contexts which independently darken /l/, one can observe /l/ lightening, and contexts which independently lighten /l/ can make lightening effects undetectable. Morphological and prosodic effects are hence sometimes trumped by segmental context. Once contextual effects are controlled for, there is evidence both for morphologically-conditioned /l/-darkening and for morphologically-conditioned /l/-lightening, both of which can be understood as a result of prosodic differences reflecting morphological junctures.

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          Most cited references 31

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          Whence the fuzziness? Morphological effects in interacting sound changes in Southern British English

           Patrycja Strycharczuk (corresponding) ,  James M Scobbie (2017)
          The fronting of the high-back /uː/ and /ʊ/, as currently seen in Southern British English (SBE), is a rare opportunity to study two similar sound changes at different stages of their phonetic development: /uː/-fronting is a more advanced change than /ʊ/-fronting. Since the fronting in both vowels is restricted from applying before a following final /l/ (e.g., in words like fool or pull ), we can exploit the difference in the phonetic advancement of /uː/ and /ʊ/-fronting to illuminate the nature of ‘fuzzy contrasts’ affecting vowel+/l/ sequences in morphologically complex words. As recent results show that /uː/-fronting is partially limited in fool-ing (but not in monomorphemes like hula ), we ask whether similar morphological constraints affect /ʊ/ followed by /l/ (e.g., bully vs. pull-ing ). Simultaneously, we consider the question of what phonological generalization best captures the interaction between vowel fronting, /l/-darkening, and morphological structure. We present ultrasound data from 20 speakers of SBE representing two age groups. The data show that morphologically conditioned contrasts are consistent for /uː/+/l/, but variable and limited in size for /ʊ/+/l/. We relate these findings to the debate on morphology-phonetics interactions and the emergence of phonological abstraction.
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            Multiple targets of phrase-final lengthening in American English words

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              One Hundred Years of Sound Change in Philadelphia: Linear Incrementation, Reversal, and Reanalysis

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                15 August 2018
                2018
                : 9
                : 1
                Affiliations
                [1 ]Department of Linguistics, Memorial University of Newfoundland, St. John’s, CA
                [2 ]Department of Linguistics and Philosophy, Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, MA, US
                [3 ]Department of Linguistics, McGill University, Montreal, CA
                [4 ]School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, McGill University, Montreal, CA
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.104
                Copyright: © 2018 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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