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The articulatory and acoustic characteristics of Polish sibilants and their consequences for diachronic change

  • Véronique Bukmaier (a1) and Jonathan Harrington (a1)

The study is concerned with the relative synchronic stability of three contrastive sibilant fricatives /s ʂ ɕ/ in Polish. Tongue movement data were collected from nine first-language Polish speakers producing symmetrical real and non-word CVCV sequences in three vowel contexts. A Gaussian model was used to classify the sibilants from spectral information in the noise and from formant frequencies at vowel onset. The physiological analysis showed an almost complete separation between /s ʂ ɕ/ on tongue-tip parameters. The acoustic analysis showed that the greater energy at higher frequencies distinguished /s/ in the fricative noise from the other two sibilant categories. The most salient information at vowel onset was for /ɕ/, which also had a strong palatalizing effect on the following vowel. Whereas either the noise or vowel onset was largely sufficient for the identification of /s ɕ/ respectively, both sets of cues were necessary to separate /ʂ/ from /s ɕ/. The greater synchronic instability of /ʂ/ may derive from its high articulatory complexity coupled with its comparatively low acoustic salience. The data also suggest that the relatively late stage of /ʂ/ acquisition by children may come about because of the weak acoustic information in the vowel for its distinction from /s/.

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Jeff Heinz & Kenneth N. Stevens . 1961. On the properties of fricative consonants. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 33, 589593.

Luis M. T. Jesus & Christine H. Shadle . 2002. A parametric study of the spectral characteristics of European Portuguese fricatives. Journal of Phonetics 30, 437464.

Sigfrid D. Soli 1981. Second formants in fricatives: Acoustic consequences of fricative vowel coarticulation. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 70, 976984.

Anita Wagner , Mirjam Ernestus & Anne Cutler . 2006. Formant transitions in fricative identification. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 120 (4), 22672277.

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Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
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