Towards a Mental Representation of Vowel Height in SSBE Speakers

Mendousse, Kevin
June 2012
International Journal of English Studies;2012, Vol. 12 Issue 1, p1
Academic Journal
Vigorous debate in phonetics and phonology has focused on the structure and cognitive foundation of distinctive feature theory, as well as on the definition and representation of features themselves. In particular, we show in Section 1 that, although vowel height has long been the object of close scrutiny, research on the three- or more- tiered height representation of vowels in the phonology of English remains inconclusive. Section 2 reports on the rationale and methodology of a sound-symbolism experiment designed to evaluate the implicit phonological knowledge that English native speakers have of vowel height differences. In Section 3 we tabulate results and argue in Section 4 that their intuitive understanding of such differences is best accounted for in terms of a three- tiered height axis.


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