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A gesture-based account of intrusive consonants in English

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  21 November 2002

Bryan Gick
Yale University and Haskins Laboratories


A number of recent papers have demonstrated the advantages of using a phonological model incorporating the timing and magnitude of articulatory gestures to account for alternations involving segments such as the English nasals, liquids and glides (e.g. Krakow 1989, Browman & Goldstein 1992, 1995, Sproat & Fujimura 1993, Gick, in press). Some of these works (McMahon et al. 1994, McMahon & Foulkes 1995) have made specific reference to the well-known phenomenon of English intrusiver, shown in (1).

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However, previous analyses have not linked the intrusive r explicitly to other similar processes, nor viewed all of these processes as the natural results of more general principles of phonological organisation. Thus, the intrusive r has remained, in the eyes of most linguists, an isolated quirk of English history, or, as one phonologist (McCarthy 1993: 191) has called it, ‘the phonologically unnatural phenomenon of r-epenthesis’.

The present paper introduces into the discussion of intrusive r a recently documented related phenomenon known as intrusivel (Gick 1991, 1997, in preparation, Miller 1993). It is argued that these new facts, in conjunction with current advances in the understanding of articulatory factors in syllable structure, support a view in which the intrusive r and l are synchronically underlyingly present.

Research Article
© 1999 Cambridge University Press

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This work was supported by NIH grants DC-02717 and HD-01994 to Haskins Laboratories and by an NSF Graduate Fellowship to the author. Many thanks to Louis Goldstein and Doug Whalen for continued helpful discussion and support, to the editors and three anonymous reviewers for their useful comments, and to Heinz Giegerich for fostering my interest in the very earliest stages of this project.