Predicting Perceptually Weak and Strong Unmarked Patterns: A Message-based Approach

Elizabeth Hume, Kathleen Currie Hall, Andrew Wedel


Perceptual factors have been drawn on to provide insight into sound patterns and commonly serve as a diagnostic for markedness. However, a puzzling situation has emerged: patterns associated with strong perceptual distinctiveness and those with weak distinctiveness are both described as unmarked. We propose that insight into the unmarked nature of these patterns can be gained when we take seriously the view of language as a system of information transmission. In particular, we suggest that perceptually weak and strong unmarked patterns are those that effectively balance two competing properties of effective communication: (a) the contribution of the phonological unit in context to accurate message transmission, and (b) the resource cost of the phonological unit.


markedness, perception, salience, message

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Copyright (c) 2016 Elizabeth Hume, Kathleen Currie Hall, Andrew Wedel

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