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The relationship between the ways in which words are pronounced and spelled has been shown to affect spoken word processing, and a consistent relationship between pronunciation and spelling has been reported as a possible cause of unreduced pronunciations being easier to process than reduced counterparts although reduced pronunciations occur more frequently. In the present study, we investigate the effect of pronunciation-to-spelling consistency for reduced and unreduced pronunciations in L1 and L2 listeners of a logographic language. More precisely, we compare L1 and L2 Japanese listeners to probe whether they use orthographic information differently when processing reduced and unreduced speech. Using pupillometry, the current study provides evidence that extends the hypothesis about the role of orthography in the processing of reduced speech. Orthographic realization matters in processing for L1 and L2 advanced listeners. More specifically, how consistent the orthographic realization is with its phonological form (phonology-to-orthography consistency) modulates the extent to which reduced pronunciation induces additional processing costs. The results are further discussed in terms of their implications for how listeners process reduced speech and the role of the orthographic form in speech processing.
In this study, we propose an operationalization of the concept of emergence which plays a crucial role in usage-based theories of language. The abstractions linguists operate with are assumed to emerge through a process of generalization over the data language users are exposed to. Here, we use two types of computational learning algorithms that differ in how they formalize and execute generalization and, consequently, abstraction, to probe whether a type of language knowledge that resembles linguistic abstractions could emerge from exposure to raw data only. More specifically, we investigated whether a phone, undisputedly the simplest of all linguistic abstractions, could emerge from exposure to speech sounds using two computational learning processes: memory-based learning and error-correction learning (ECL). Both models were presented with a significant amount of pre-processed speech produced by one speaker. We assessed (1) the consistency or stability of what these simple models learn and (2) their ability to approximate abstract categories. Both types of models fare differently regarding these tests. We show that only ECL models can learn abstractions and that at least part of the phone inventory and its grouping into traditional types can be reliably identified from the input.
Phonetic research investigates how speakers and listeners use speech to convey messages. The speech produced to encode a particular message can vary wildly. Understanding and explaining the phonetic variability embodied in this example is one of the main motivations for this Element. Why and how do speakers produce this variability and how does it impact listeners? This Element focuses on spontaneous speech and its relationship with phonetic research. The authors discuss background and describe research investigating the variation that occurs when speakers and listeners are engaged in spontaneous, conversational speech. As a result, this Element explores aspects of spontaneous speech from the phonetic perspective using both production and perception areas of phonetics. This Element focuses on spontaneous speech and its relationship with phonetic research, exploring aspects of spontaneous speech from the phonetic perspective using both production and perception areas of phonetics.
Voiceless nasal consonants are typologically rare in the world’s languages. The present study investigates the acoustic realization of reported voiceless nasals in the Miyako Ryukyuan dialect Ikema. Voiceless nasals in Ikema occur word-initially and word-medially as part of a geminate or consonant cluster, and are phonemically distinct from modal voiced nasals. Initial observation of collected recordings revealed many instances of the voiceless phoneme with voicing throughout, leading to a re-evaluation of previous claims about its phonetic implementation. We hypothesized that word-medial and phrase-medial voiceless nasals surface as breathy voiced nasals. We analyzed the acoustic characteristics of nasal components of target words, focusing on duration, phonation state, and cepstral peak prominence (CPP), to determine whether reported voiceless nasal phonetic components with voicing are acoustically distinct from modal voiced nasal consonants. We find that voiceless nasals are produced with a voiceless component followed by a modal voiced component. Voiceless components and breathy components are found to be significantly shorter than modal components. We also find a significant difference between modal nasal, breathy nasal and voiceless nasal components’ CPP values. The results confirm the observation that Ikema voiceless nasals are phonemically distinct from modal nasal consonants, and likely allophonically vary with breathy voiced nasals word-medially and phrase-medially. These findings align with the hypothesis that voiceless nasals require some voicing to be audible for perception, and are consistent with cross-linguistic findings, contributing to the typological understanding of the acoustics of voiceless nasals.
Studies have shown that the voice onset time (VOT) of alveolo-palatal affricates is the longest, followed by velars, dental/alveolars, and bilabials. In a reciprocal pattern, closure duration is the longest for bilabials, followed by dental/alveolars, and then velars. Longer VOT is also associated with high and front vowels and tones with rising components. Moreover, the VOT of voiceless unaspirated stops is reported to be longer and closure duration shorter in nasal words. Finally, the voiceless interval has been described as constant in some languages and inconstant in others. Given the evidence of previous research, this study investigates the effects of place, nasality, tone, and vowel quality on the VOT, closure duration, and voiceless interval of the voiced and voiceless obstruents of Northern Pwo Karen (N. Pwo), a language of Thailand. N. Pwo (ISO 639-3 pww) is a ‘true voicing’ language with a three-way distinction in stops, voiceless aspirated and unaspirated affricates, oral and nasal vowels, and six tones (four modal tones and two glottalized tones). In N. Pwo, the place effects on VOT and closure duration pattern reciprocally. Whereas, both VOT and the voiceless interval are longer before oral vowels compared to nasal vowels. VOT is longest before the mid tone, which has a slight rise, while it is the shortest before the falling-glottalized tone. This pattern is reversed for the closure duration of aspirates and voiced stops. Finally, VOT, closure duration, and the voiceless interval are the longest before high and front vowels.
Upper Necaxa Totonac is a Totonacan language spoken in the Necaxa River valley in the Sierra Norte of Puebla State, Mexico. While the Totonacan languages historically have three phonemic vowel qualities, the Upper Necaxa system consists of five vowels that contrast length and laryngealization. With acoustic data from six native speakers from the Totonacan communities of Patla and Chicontla, we explore the phonetic properties of vowels with respect to the first and second formant frequencies, quantity (duration), vowel phonation (modal vs. laryngeal), and stress. The data indicate that long, short, modal and laryngeal vowels occupy a similar formant space and that duration is the primary phonetic correlate of phonemic vowel length. A shift in vowel quality and an increase in duration and pitch were shown to be the acoustic characteristics of stress. The study provides a first acoustic analysis of vowels in Upper Necaxa, and contributes to typological descriptions of the properties of vowels connected with quality, quantity, stress, and phonation.
Very few segments of the world's languages have been shown to have a systematic effect on the fourth formant (F4). We investigate a large drop in F4 which sometimes occurs in conjunction with the flap in American English. The goal of the present work is to document this phenomenon, and to determine what phonological environments coincide with this large drop in F4. We measure data from six speakers producing words with medial flaps in various environments, such as party, turtle, bottle, credit, harder. We find that the combination of flap with a rhotic and to a lesser extend a syllabic // leads to a larger drop in F4 than other flap combinations like a following /i/. Together with previous perceptual data, the findings support the conclusion that this feature of F4 results from transitions among articulations.
Mennonite Plautdietsch (ISO 639–3: pdt) is a West Germanic (Indo-European) language belonging to the Low Prussian (Niederpreußisch) subgroup of Eastern Low German (Ostniederdeutsch), a continuum of closely related varieties spoken in northern Poland until the Second World War (Ziesemer 1924, Mitzka 1930, Thiessen 1963). Although its genetic affiliation with these other, now-moribund Polish varieties is uncontested, Mennonite Plautdietsch represents an exceptional member of this grouping. It was adopted as the language of in-group communication by Mennonites escaping religious persecution in northwestern and central Europe during the mid-sixteenth century, and later accompanied these pacifist Anabaptist Christians over several successive generations of emigration and exile through Poland, Ukraine, and parts of the Russian Empire. As a result of this extensive migration history, Mennonite Plautdietsch is spoken today in diasporic speech communities on four continents and in over a dozen countries by an estimated 300,000 people, primarily descendants of these so-called Russian Mennonites (Epp 1993, Lewis 2009).
Abstract phonological patterns and detailed phonetic patterns can combine to produce unusual acoustic results, but criteria for what aspects of a pattern are phonetic and what aspects are phonological are often disputed. Early literature on Romanian makes mention of nasal devoicing in word-final clusters (e.g. in /basm/ ‘fairy-tale’). Using acoustic, aerodynamic and ultrasound data, the current work investigates how syllable structure, prosodic boundaries, phonetic paradigm uniformity and assimilation influence Romanian nasal devoicing. It provides instrumental phonetic documentation of devoiced nasals, a phenomenon that has not been widely studied experimentally, in a phonetically underdocumented language. We argue that sound patterns should not be separated into phonetics and phonology as two distinct systems, but neither should they all be grouped together as a single, undifferentiated system. Instead, we argue for viewing the distinction between phonetics and phonology as a largely continuous multidimensional space, within which sound patterns, including Romanian nasal devoicing, fall.
Temne belongs to the South Atlantic Group of Niger-Congo (formerly the Southern Branch of the Atlantic Group of Niger-Congo; Blench 2006, Childs 2010) spoken in the northern part of Sierra Leone. According to Ethnologue (ISO 639–3: tem, Lewis 2009), Temne has a population of about 1.2 million native speakers. Like other South Atlantic languages, Temne is a tonal language with a noun class system, prefixed noun class markers and agreeing prefixes on dependent elements. Features determining class membership include number and animacy. Temne also features extension suffixes which alter the valency or the semantic structure of simple verb stems. The basic word order is Subject–Verb–Object.
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