Sonorant transparency and the complexity of voicing in Polish
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Strycharczuk, P. (2012) Sonorant transparency and the complexity of voicing in Polish, Journal of Phonetics, vol. 40, , pp. 655-671,
Final devoicing and regressive voice assimilation have been reported to apply to obstruents in word-final obstruent+sonorant clusters in Polish. This phenomenon, interpreted as a case of sonorant transparency in generative phonological analyses of Polish voicing, has sparked a number of attempts to reconcile the transparency generalisation with phonological characteristics of other laryngeal processes in Polish. This paper formulates some predictions concerning the surface realisation of underlying voicing values that follow from the sonorant transparency hypothesis, and reports on a production experiment designed to test these predictions. Results show, contrary to the descriptive and theoretical literature, that word-final sonorants typically block final devoicing and voice assimilation. The minority of cases where voicing and devoicing appear to apply as predicted by transparency are analysed using mixed-effects modelling, with a view to determining what factors influence their occurrence. Based on the results it is argued that apparent transparency cases are best explained as resulting from an interaction of phonological, phonetic and lexical factors, including manner of articulation, segmental duration, prosodic boundary, and word size, which are known to affect the probability of vocal fold vibration, and that systematic phonetic variation found in the data does not support the hypothesis that sonorants are transparent to laryngeal processes.