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Acoustic and articulatory manifestations of vowel reduction in German

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  22 July 2008

Christine Mooshammer
Affiliation:
Haskins Laboratories, New Haven, CT tine.mooshammer@haskins.yale.edu
Christian Geng
Affiliation:
Linguistics and English Language, University of Edinburgh cgeng@ling.ed.ac.uk

Abstract

Recent phonological approaches incorporate phonetic principles in the motivation of phonological regularities, e.g. vowel reduction and neutralization in unstressed position by target undershoot. So far, evidence for this hypothesis is based on impressionistic and acoustic data but not on articulatory data. The major goal of this study is to compare formant spaces and lingual positions during the production of German vowels for combined effects of stress, accent and corrective contrast. In order to identify strategies for vowel reduction independent of speaker-specific vocal-tract anatomies and individual biomechanical properties, an approach similar to the Generalized Procrustes Analysis was applied to formant spaces and lingual vowel target positions. The data basis consists of the German stressed and unstressed full vowels /iù ɪ yù ʏ eù ɛ ɛù φù œ aù a où ɔ uù ʊ/ from seven speakers recorded by means of electromagnetic midsagittal articulography (EMMA). Speaker normalized articulatory and formant spaces gave evidence for a greater degree of coarticulation with the consonant context for unstressed vowels as compared to stressed vowels. However, only for tense vowels could spatial reduction patterns be attributed to vowel shortening, whereas lax vowels were reduced without shortening. The results are discussed in the light of current theories of vowel reduction, i.e. target undershoot, Adaptive Dispersion Theory and Prominence Alignment.

Type
Research Article
Copyright
Copyright © Journal of the International Phonetic Association 2008

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