Homophony Avoidance

...is homophony avoidance part of the synchronic grammar?

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Andrei Munteanu

email: andrei.munteanu at mail.utoronto.ca

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Sample Experiment Illustration

illustration credit: Alexandr Gerassimov


It has long been observed that languages, either through introducing sound changes or inhibiting them, tend to preserve contrast. However, it is not clear if any instances of so-called homophony avoidance reported to date constitute an active synchronic restriction in the grammar. I present a novel instance of homophony avoidance in Russian nominals and, in a follow up expriment, show that the trends observed in the corpus are only partially extended to nonce words. The particular asymmetry observed in the experimental results can only be reasonably attributed to a synchronic restriction against homophonous forms in the same paradigm, an argument in favor of a synchronic anti-homophony constraint.


  • Munteanu, Andrei (2021). Homophony Avoidance in the Grammar: Russian Nominal Allomorphy. Phonology 38(3).
  • Munteanu, Andrei (2019). Homophony Avoidance: An Experimental Approach. Talk at 16th Old World Conference in Phonology, January 16th, 2019, University of Verona, Verona, Italy.
  • Munteanu Andrei (2018). Homophony avoidance in Russian Masculine Nouns. Talk at Montreal-Ottawa-Toronto Phonology/Phonetics Workshop, March 24th, 2018, University of MacMaster at Hamilton, Canada.