Phonotactics and articulatory coordination interact in phonology: Evidence from nonnative production

Lisa Davidson

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


    A core area of phonology is the study of phonotactics, or how sounds are linearly combined. Recent cross-linguistic analyses have shown that the phonology determines not only phonotactics but also the articulatory coordination or timing of adjacent sounds. In this article, I explore how the relation between coordination and phonotactics affects speakers producing nonnative sequences. Recent experimental results (Davidson 2005, 2006) have shown that English speakers often repair unattested word-initial sequences (e.g., /zg/, /vz/) by producing the consonants with a less overlapping coordination. A theoretical account of the experimental results employs Gafos's (2002) constraint-based grammar of coordination. In addition to Gafos's ALIGNMENT constraints establishing temporal relations between consonants, a family of RELEASE constraints is proposed to encode phonotactic restrictions. The interaction of ALIGNMENT and RELEASE constraints accounts for why speakers produce nonnative sequences by failing to adequately overlap the articulation of the consonants. The optimality theoretic analysis also incorporates floating constraints to explain why speakers are not equally accurate on all unattested clusters.

    Original languageEnglish (US)
    Pages (from-to)837-862
    Number of pages26
    JournalCognitive Science
    Issue number5
    StatePublished - Sep 2006


    • Articulatory phonology
    • Optimality theory
    • Phonetics
    • Phonology
    • Phonotactics
    • Representations
    • Variation

    ASJC Scopus subject areas

    • Experimental and Cognitive Psychology
    • Cognitive Neuroscience
    • Artificial Intelligence


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