Rethinking reduction and canonical forms

Francesco Cangemi, Oliver Niebuhr

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Abstract

We conclude the book’s reflections on reduction and reduced forms by exploring the complementary concept of canonical forms, which has profoundly shaped research on sound segments and their realization. Canonical forms have been described as symbolic, linear, and minimalistically contrastive representations, as in the case of phonological transcriptions of words. They have been conceived as mental word templates that can be eroded step by step in speech production, and then have to be reconstructed in speech perception. As a consequence, in theories focusing on canonical forms, reduced forms have often been relegated to energy efficiency or mere performance accidents. Drawing insights from (a) the history of linguistics (with a focus on the reasons behind the long-standing success of canonical forms) and (b) the book’s contributing chapters (with a focus on how the study of reduced forms can inform linguistic theory), we identify four directions into which reduction research must be extended in the future with empirically rather than canonically defined reference forms. These are reduction patterns and reference forms in the area of prosody, reinforcement or strengthening as the antithesis of speech reduction, factors for predicting degree of reduction and their phonetic results, and, with regard to the latter, the separate contribution of reduction to communicative function. These research directions will help us to reassess our understanding of the dichotomy between canonical and reduced forms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationRethinking Reduction : Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation
EditorsFrancesco Cangemi, Meghan Clayards, Oliver Niebuhr, Barbara Schuppler, Margaret Zellers
Place of PublicationBerlin
PublisherDe Gruyter
Publication date1. Jun 2018
Pages277-302
Chapter9
ISBN (Print)978-3-11-052417-8
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1. Jun 2018
SeriesPhonology and Phonetics
Volume25
ISSN1861-4191

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energy efficiency
reinforcement
accident
history
speech
book
sound

Keywords

  • canonical forms
  • phoneme
  • alphabetic writing
  • non-lexical meaning
  • non-linear representations
  • hypo-hyper theory
  • speech
  • reduction
  • articulatory prosodies

Cite this

Cangemi, F., & Niebuhr, O. (2018). Rethinking reduction and canonical forms. In F. Cangemi, M. Clayards, O. Niebuhr, B. Schuppler, & M. Zellers (Eds.), Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation (pp. 277-302). Berlin: De Gruyter. Phonology and Phonetics, Vol.. 25 https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110524178-009
Cangemi, Francesco ; Niebuhr, Oliver. / Rethinking reduction and canonical forms. Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation. editor / Francesco Cangemi ; Meghan Clayards ; Oliver Niebuhr ; Barbara Schuppler ; Margaret Zellers. Berlin : De Gruyter, 2018. pp. 277-302 (Phonology and Phonetics, Vol. 25).
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Cangemi, F & Niebuhr, O 2018, Rethinking reduction and canonical forms. in F Cangemi, M Clayards, O Niebuhr, B Schuppler & M Zellers (eds), Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation. De Gruyter, Berlin, Phonology and Phonetics, vol. 25, pp. 277-302. https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110524178-009

Rethinking reduction and canonical forms. / Cangemi, Francesco; Niebuhr, Oliver.

Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation. ed. / Francesco Cangemi; Meghan Clayards; Oliver Niebuhr; Barbara Schuppler; Margaret Zellers. Berlin : De Gruyter, 2018. p. 277-302 (Phonology and Phonetics, Vol. 25).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingBook chapterResearchpeer-review

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AB - We conclude the book’s reflections on reduction and reduced forms by exploring the complementary concept of canonical forms, which has profoundly shaped research on sound segments and their realization. Canonical forms have been described as symbolic, linear, and minimalistically contrastive representations, as in the case of phonological transcriptions of words. They have been conceived as mental word templates that can be eroded step by step in speech production, and then have to be reconstructed in speech perception. As a consequence, in theories focusing on canonical forms, reduced forms have often been relegated to energy efficiency or mere performance accidents. Drawing insights from (a) the history of linguistics (with a focus on the reasons behind the long-standing success of canonical forms) and (b) the book’s contributing chapters (with a focus on how the study of reduced forms can inform linguistic theory), we identify four directions into which reduction research must be extended in the future with empirically rather than canonically defined reference forms. These are reduction patterns and reference forms in the area of prosody, reinforcement or strengthening as the antithesis of speech reduction, factors for predicting degree of reduction and their phonetic results, and, with regard to the latter, the separate contribution of reduction to communicative function. These research directions will help us to reassess our understanding of the dichotomy between canonical and reduced forms.

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PB - De Gruyter

CY - Berlin

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Cangemi F, Niebuhr O. Rethinking reduction and canonical forms. In Cangemi F, Clayards M, Niebuhr O, Schuppler B, Zellers M, editors, Rethinking Reduction: Interdisciplinary Perspectives on Conditions, Mechanisms, and Domains for Phonetic Variation. Berlin: De Gruyter. 2018. p. 277-302. (Phonology and Phonetics, Vol. 25). https://doi.org/10.1515/9783110524178-009