Skip to main content Accessibility help

(Non-)retroflex Slavic affricates and their motivation: Evidence from Czech and Polish

  • Marzena Żygis (a1), Daniel Pape (a2) and Luis M. T. Jesus (a3)


The Slavic affricate represented by /č/ is tacitly or explicitly assumed to be // for all Slavic languages. In this paper we revise the affricate inventories of Polish and Czech, showing that the symbol /č/ stands for two different sounds: the palatoalveolar // in Czech and the retroflex // in Polish. This conclusion is supported by acoustic results for Polish and Czech data. The fact that COG (centre of gravity) values of frication are not significantly different for Polish and Czech /č/ appears a bit surprising especially in light of the fact that COG is generally seen as a parameter contributing to the distinction of fricatives (including sibilants, see e.g. Gordon, Barthmaier & Sands 2002). Our results show that other parameters such as duration of the frication phase, F1 and F2 of the following vowel as well as spectral slopes are more reliable cues for distinguishing the small differences between affricates examined here.



Hide All
Baayen, R. Harald. 2008. Analyzing linguistic data: A practical introduction to statistics using R. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Benni, Tytus. 1931. Palatogramy polskie. Kraków: Gebethner i Wolff.
Biedrzycki, Leszek. 1974. Abriß der polnischen Phonetik. Warszawa: Wiedza Powszechna.
Blacklock, Oliver. 2004. Characteristics of variation in production of normal and disordered fricatives, using reduced-variance spectral methods. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Southampton.
Boersma, Paul & Hamann, Silke. 2008. The evolution of auditory dispersion in bidirectional constraint grammars. Phonology 25 (2), 217270.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David. 2011. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [computer program]. Version 5.2.45., retrieved 28 September 2011.
Borovičková, Blanka & Maláč, Vladislav. 1967. The spectral analysis of Czech sound combinations. Praha: Academia Nakladatelství Československé Akademie Věd.
Bray, Reginald George Arthur de. 1951. Guide to the Slavonic languages. London: J. M. Dent & Sons.
Comrie, Bernard & Corbett, Greville G. (eds.). 1993. The Slavonic languages. London: Routledge.
Dankovičová, Jana 1997. Czech. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 27, 77–80.
Dogil, Grzegorz & Jessen, Michael. 1989. Phonologie in der Nähe Phonetik. Die Affrikaten im Polnischen und Deutschen. In Prinzhorn, Martin (ed.), Phonologie, 223279. Opladen: Westdeutscher Verlag.
Dukiewicz, Leokadia & Sawicka, Irena. 1995. Fonetyka i fonologia. Kraków: Instytut Języka Polskiego PAN.
Evers, Vincent, Reetz, Henning & Lahiri, Aditi. 1998. Crosslinguistic acoustic categorization of sibilants independent of phonological status. Journal of Phonetics 26, 345370.
Flemming, Edward S. 1995/2002. Auditory representations in phonology. Ph.D. dissertation, UCLA. [Published 2002, New York: Routledge.]
Forrest, Karen, Weismer, Gary, Milenkovic, Paul & Dougall, Ronald N.. 1988. Statistical analysis of word-initial voiceless obstruents: Preliminary data. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 84 (1), 115123.
Gordon, Matthew, Barthmaier, Paul & Sands, Kathy. 2002. A cross-linguistic acoustic study of voiceless fricatives. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 32, 141171.
Gussmann, Edmund. 1980. Studies in abstract phonology. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Hála, Bohuslav. 1962. Uvedení do fonetiky češtiny na obecně fonetickém základě. Praha: Československá Akademie Věd.
Hall, Tracy A. 1997a. The historical development of retroflex consonants in Indo-Aryan. Lingua 101, 203221.
Hall, Tracy A. 1997b. The phonology of coronals. Amsterdam: John Benjamins.
Hamann, Silke. 2003. The phonetics and phonology of retroflexes. Utrecht: LOT.
Hamann, Silke. 2004. Retroflex fricatives in Slavic languages. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 34, 5367.
Hamilton, Philip J. 1996. Phonetic constraints and markedness in the phonotactics of Australian aboriginal languages. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Toronto.
Jassem, Wiktor. 1979. Classification of fricative spectra using statistical discriminant functions. In Lindblom, Björn & Öhman, Sven (eds.), Frontiers of speech communication research, 7791. New York: Academic Press.
Jassem, Wiktor. 2003. Polish. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 3, 103–107.
Jesus, Luis M. T. & Shadle, Christine H.. 2002. A parametric study of the spectral characteristics of European Portuguese fricatives. Journal of Phonetics 30 (3), 437464.
Keating, Patricia A. 1991. Coronal places of articulation. In Paradis, Carole & Prunet, Jean-François (eds.), Phonetics and phonology: The special status of coronals, 2948. New York: Academic Press.
Keating, Patricia A. 1993. Phonetic representation of palatalization versus fronting. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 85, 621.
Kochetov, Alexei & Lobanova, Alevtina. 2007. Komi-Permyak coronal obstruents: Acoustic contrasts and positional variation. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 37, 5182.
Koneczna, Halina & Zawadowski, Witold. 1956. Obrazy rentgenograficzne głosek rosyjskich. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Ladefoged, Peter. 1997. Linguistic phonetic descriptions. In Hardcastle, William J. & Laver, John (eds.), The handbook of phonetic sciences, 559618. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ladefoged, Peter & Bhaskararao, Peri. 1983. Non-quantal aspects of consonant production: A study of retroflex consonants. Journal of Phonetics 11, 291302.
Ladefoged, Peter & Maddieson, Ian. 1996. The sounds of the world's languages. Oxford: Blackwell.
Ladefoged, Peter & Wu, Zongji. 1984. Places of articulation: An investigation of Pekingese fricatives and affricates. Journal of Phonetics 12, 267278.
Lamprecht, Arnošt, Šlosar, Dušan & Bauer, Jaroslav. 1977. Historický vývoj Češtiny. Praha: Soukromé Pedagogické Nakladatelství.
Lehr-Spławiński, Tadeusz & Stieber, Zdzisław. 1957. Gramatyka historyczna języka czeskiego. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Lousada, Marisa, Jesus, Luis M. T. & Pape, Daniel. 2012. Estimation of stops’ spectral place cues using multitaper techniques. D.E.L.T.A. 28 (1), 126.
MathWorks, . 2007. Signal Processing Toolbox 6 User's Guide. Natick: MathWorks.
Miller-Ockhuizen, Amanda & Zec, Draga. 2003. Acoustics of contrastive palatal affricates predict phonological patterning. In Solé, Maria-Josep, Recasens, Daniel & Romero, Joaquin (eds.), The 15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 15), Barcelona, 31013104.
Ostaszewska, Danuta & Tambor, Jolanta. 2001. Fonetyka i fonologia współczesnego języka polskiego. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Padgett, Jaye & Żygis, Marzena. 2007. The evolution of sibilants in Polish and Russian. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 15 (2), 291324.
Palková, Zdena. 1994. Fonetika a fonologie češtiny. Praha: Univerzita Karlova.
R Development Core Team 2010. R: A Language and Environment for Statistical Computing. R Foundation for Statistical Computing, Vienna, Austria., version 2.14.1, retrieved 22 December 2011.
Rochoń [Żygis], Marzena & Pompino-Marschall, Bernd. 1999. The articulation of secondarily palatalized coronals in Polish. The 14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS 14), San Francisco, CA, 1897–1900.
Rospond, Stanisław. 1971. Gramatyka historyczna języka polskiego. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Rubach, Jerzy. 1984. Cyclic and lexical phonology: The structure of Polish. Dordrecht: Foris.
Shadle, Christine. 1991. The effect of geometry on source mechanisms of fricative consonants. Journal of Phonetics 19, 409424.
Shadle, Christine H. & Mair, Sheila J.. 1996. Quantifying spectral characteristics of fricatives. The International Conference on Spoken Language Processing (ICSLP 96), Philadelphia, PA, 15171520.
Stevens, Kenneth N. 1998. Acoustic phonetics. Cambridge, MA: MIT Press.
Stevens, Kenneth N. & Blumstein, Sheila E.. 1975. Quantal aspects of consonant production and perception: A study of retroflex stop consonants. Journal of Phonetics 3, 215233.
Stevens, Kenneth N., Li, Zhiqiang, Lee, Chao-Yang & Keyser, Samuel J. 2004. A note on Mandarin fricatives and enhancement. In Fant, Gunnar, Fujisaki, Hiroya, Cao, Jianfen & Xu, Yi (eds.), Foreign language teaching and research press, 393403. Beijing: Foreign Language Teaching and Research Press.
Stieber, Zdzisław. 1962. Rozwój fonologiczny języka polskiego. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Stieber, Zdzisław. 1969. Zarys gramatyki porównawczej języków słowiańskich: Fonologia. Warszawa: Państwowe Wydawnictwo Naukowe.
Styczek, Irena. 1973. Badania eksperymentalne spirantów polskich s, š, ś ze stanowiska fizjologii i patologii mowy (Prace Językoznawcze 69). Warszawa: Wydawnictwo Polskiej Akademii Nauk.
Szpyra, Jolanta 1995. Three tiers in Polish and English phonology. Lublin: Wydawnictwo Uniwersytetu Marii Curie-Skłodowskiej.
Toda, Martine, Maeda, Shinji & Honda, Kiyoshi. 2010. Formant cavity affiliation in sibilant fricatives. In Fuchs, Susanne, Toda, Martine & Żygis, Marzena (eds.), Turbulent sounds: An interdisciplinary guide, 343374. Berlin: De Gruyter.
Wierzchowska, Bożena. 1971. Wymowa polska. Warszawa: Państwowe Zakłady Wydawnictw Szkolnych.
Wierzchowska, Bożena. 1980. Fonetyka i fonologia języka polskiego. Wrocław: Zakład Narodowy im. Ossolińskich, Wydawnictwo Polskiej Akademii Nauk.
Żygis, Marzena. 2003. Phonetic and phonological aspects of Slavic sibilant fricatives. In Hall, Tracy A. & Hamann, Silke (eds.), ZAS Papers in Linguistics 32, 175213.
Żygis, Marzena. 2006. Contrast optimization in Slavic sibilant systems. Habilitationsschrift, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.
Żygis, Marzena & Padgett, Jaye. 2010. A perceptual study of Polish sibilants, and its implications for historical sound change. Journal of Phonetics 38 (2), 207226.

(Non-)retroflex Slavic affricates and their motivation: Evidence from Czech and Polish

  • Marzena Żygis (a1), Daniel Pape (a2) and Luis M. T. Jesus (a3)


Full text views

Total number of HTML views: 0
Total number of PDF views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

Abstract views

Total abstract views: 0 *
Loading metrics...

* Views captured on Cambridge Core between <date>. This data will be updated every 24 hours.

Usage data cannot currently be displayed