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Obstruent voicing effects on F0, but without voicing: Phonetic correlates of Swiss German lenis, fortis, and aspirated stops


Ladd, D. Robert; Schmid, Stephan (2018). Obstruent voicing effects on F0, but without voicing: Phonetic correlates of Swiss German lenis, fortis, and aspirated stops. Journal of Phonetics, 71:229-248.

Abstract

It is well known that what are commonly called voicing contrasts in many languages are accompanied by effects on
the fundamental frequency (F0) of a following vowel: roughly, F0 is higher after ‘voiceless’ and lower after ‘voiced’
obstruents. This is true regardless of how the voicing contrast is manifested in differences of voice onset time
(VOT). Such effects potentially provide a window on the nature of voicing itself, but our knowledge is based primarily
on typical European two-way voicing contrasts. Here we present a detailed study of voice onset time
(VOT), closure duration, and obstruent F0 effects in Zurich Swiss German. The native two-way contrast in oral
stops (often termed fortis/lenis) is unusual in being signalled not by VOT – both types are unaspirated – but primarily
by closure duration. We confirm studies showing that this distinction is indeed based on duration, and
we show for the first time that both types are accompanied by F0 effects that are typical of voiceless obstruents
in other languages. In addition, Swiss German has a smallish set of words conventionally pronounced with voiceless
aspirated stops. We investigate the VOTand F0 effects of these marginally contrastive aspirated stops, showing
that they do exhibit long VOT and are accompanied by a different pattern of F0 effects that is much more
variable than that found with fortis and lenis stops. Our findings support the view that the phonetic basis of voicing
and related distinctions involves complex interactions of timing and articulatory gestures that cannot always be
characterised in terms of a simple VOT continuum from ‘voiced’ to ‘voiceless aspirated’ or a simple phonological
dichotomy between ‘aspirating’ and ‘true voicing’ languages.

Abstract

It is well known that what are commonly called voicing contrasts in many languages are accompanied by effects on
the fundamental frequency (F0) of a following vowel: roughly, F0 is higher after ‘voiceless’ and lower after ‘voiced’
obstruents. This is true regardless of how the voicing contrast is manifested in differences of voice onset time
(VOT). Such effects potentially provide a window on the nature of voicing itself, but our knowledge is based primarily
on typical European two-way voicing contrasts. Here we present a detailed study of voice onset time
(VOT), closure duration, and obstruent F0 effects in Zurich Swiss German. The native two-way contrast in oral
stops (often termed fortis/lenis) is unusual in being signalled not by VOT – both types are unaspirated – but primarily
by closure duration. We confirm studies showing that this distinction is indeed based on duration, and
we show for the first time that both types are accompanied by F0 effects that are typical of voiceless obstruents
in other languages. In addition, Swiss German has a smallish set of words conventionally pronounced with voiceless
aspirated stops. We investigate the VOTand F0 effects of these marginally contrastive aspirated stops, showing
that they do exhibit long VOT and are accompanied by a different pattern of F0 effects that is much more
variable than that found with fortis and lenis stops. Our findings support the view that the phonetic basis of voicing
and related distinctions involves complex interactions of timing and articulatory gestures that cannot always be
characterised in terms of a simple VOT continuum from ‘voiced’ to ‘voiceless aspirated’ or a simple phonological
dichotomy between ‘aspirating’ and ‘true voicing’ languages.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:06 Faculty of Arts > Institute of Computational Linguistics
Dewey Decimal Classification:000 Computer science, knowledge & systems
410 Linguistics
Language:English
Date:October 2018
Deposited On:09 Nov 2018 11:11
Last Modified:24 Sep 2019 23:51
Publisher:Elsevier
ISSN:0095-4470
OA Status:Closed
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2018.09.003

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Language: English
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