The role of probabilistic enhancement in phonologization

James Kirby

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter (peer-reviewed)


This chapter argues for the role of probabilistic enhancement in phonologization through computational simulation of an ongoing sound change in Seoul Korean. Two challenges faced by a phonologization model of sound change are addressed: explaining which cues are selected for phonologization, and explaining why phonologization is often accompanied by dephonologization. It is proposed that cues are targeted for enhancement as a probabilistic function of their statistical reliability in signaling a contrast. Simulation results using empirically derived cue values are taken to support the idea that loss of contrast precision may drive the phonologization process.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOrigins of Sound Change
Subtitle of host publicationApproaches to Phonologization
EditorsAlan Yu
PublisherOxford University Press
Number of pages19
ISBN (Print)978-0-19-957374-5
Publication statusPublished - 2013


  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Korean
  • statistical modeling
  • simulation


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