This study employs statistical modeling to analyze the influence of various phonetic, phonological, and semantic factors, most of which have not been considered in previous analyses of Neoštokavian pitch accents, on tone placement in disyllabic nouns derived from monosyllabic masculine roots. The model reveals that syllable weight plays a big role in determining the location of High tone in these nouns, in that heavy syllables attract tone (contra Zec, 1999). Furthermore, it shows that syllable weight can be a gradient, influenced by a phonetic factor (the quality of the postvocalic consonant) to different degrees in different accentual paradigms. Finally, the model discovered a mediating effect of animacy, which influences the effects of all other predictors. Interaction between animacy and root vowel length plays an important role in dividing nouns with long root vowels between accentual paradigms. Its interaction with the effect of the quality of postvocalic consonants restricts the influence of that predictor to animate nouns only, suggesting that even purely phonetic phenomena, like phonetic length, are not necessarily equally influential across the board, and can be active only in specific categories. This paper demonstrates the benefits of using statistical models in linguistic research, as they are valuable tools in discovering gradient and synergistic effects of factors that are difficult to observe using traditional methods.
Proceedings of the 29th West Coast Conference on Formal Linguistics
edited by Jaehoon Choi, E. Alan Hogue, Jeffrey Punske, Deniz Tat, Jessamyn Schertz, and Alex Trueman Table of contents
ISBN 978-1-57473-451-5 library binding
viii + 406 pages
publication date: 2012
published by Cascadilla Proceedings Project, Somerville, MA, USA