Skip to main content Accessibility help

Phonation and laryngeal specification in American English voiceless obstruents

  • Lisa Davidson (a1)

This study presents a detailed acoustic analysis of phonation in voiceless obstruents in American English (AE) to investigate the acoustic consequences of the laryngeal timing that has been reported in the literature. The current study examines the appearance of phonation in voiceless obstruents in a corpus of read speech with 37 AE speakers. Linguistic factors such as phrase and word position, stress, and the preceding phoneme are examined and are shown to condition the presence and degree of phonation during the constriction period of stops and fricatives. The amount of phonation present is further analyzed by characterizing where in the constriction interval phonation appears. Carryover phonation (or bleed) from a preceding sonorant is most common for stops, while a trough pattern (phonation that dies out and then begins again before the end of the closure) is more prevalent for fricatives. These acoustic patterns, together with previous reports of laryngeal articulation and air pressure measures, have implications for the representation of laryngeal timing in a gestural phonology framework.

Hide All
Abdelli-Beruh, Nassima. 2004. The stop voicing contrast in French sentences: Contextual sensitivity of vowel duration, closure duration, voice onset time, stop release and closure voicing. Phonetica 61, 201219.
Bárkányi, Zsuzsanna & Kiss, Zoltán. 2009. Hungarian v: Is it voiced? In den Dikken, Marcel & Vago, Robert (eds.), Approaches to Hungarian 11: Papers from the 2007 New York Conference, 128. New York: John Benjamins.
Bates, Douglas, Maechler, Martin, Bolker, Ben & Walker, Steven. 2014. lme4: Linear mixed-effects models using Eigen and S4. R package version 1.0-6.
Beckman, Jill, Jessen, Michael & Ringen, Catherine. 2009. German fricatives: Coda devoicing or positional faithfulness? Phonology 26, 231268.
Beckman, Jill, Jessen, Michael & Ringen, Catherine. 2013. Empirical evidence for laryngeal features: Aspirating vs. true voice languages. Journal of Linguistics 49 (2), 259284.
Bell-Berti, Fredericka. 1975. Control of pharyngeal cavity size for English voiced and voiceless stops. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 57, 456461.
Bell-Berti, Fredericka. 1993. Understanding velic motor control: Studies of segmental context. In Huffman & Krakow (eds.), 63–85.
Best, Catherine T. & Hallé, Pierre A.. 2010. Perception of initial obstruent voicing is influenced by gestural organization. Journal of Phonetics 38 (1), 109126.
Boersma, Paul & Weenink, David. 2016. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [computer program]. Version 6.0.23.
Bouavichith, Dominique & Davidson, Lisa. 2013. Segmental and prosodic effects on intervocalic voiced stop reduction in connected speech. Phonetica 70 (3), 182206.
Browman, Catherine & Goldstein, Louis. 1986. Towards an articulatory phonology. Phonology Yearbook 3, 219252.
Browman, Catherine & Goldstein, Louis. 1990. Tiers in articulatory phonology, with some implications for casual speech. In Kingston, John & Beckman, Mary (eds.), Papers in Laboratory Phonology I: Between the grammar and physics of speech, 341376. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Browman, Catherine & Goldstein, Louis. 1992. Articulatory phonology: An overview. Phonetica 49, 155180.
Burton, Martha & Robblee, Karen. 1997. A phonetic analysis of voicing assimilation in Russian. Journal of Phonetics 25, 97114.
Cho, Taehong, Yoon, Yeomin & Kim, Sahyang. 2014. Effects of prosodic boundary and syllable structure on the temporal realization of CV gestures. Journal of Phonetics 44, 96109.
Cooper, André. 1991. An articulatory account of aspiration in English. Ph.D. dissertation, Yale University.
Davidson, Lisa. 2016. Variability in the implementation of voicing in American English obstruents. Journal of Phonetics 54, 3550.
Davidson, Lisa & Erker, Daniel. 2014. Hiatus resolution in American English: The case against glide insertion. Language 90 (2), 482514.
Docherty, Gerard. 1992. The timing of voicing in British English obstruents. Berlin: Foris.
Eager, Christopher. 2015. Automated voicing analysis in Praat: Statistically equivalent to manual segmentation. In The Scottish Consortium for ICPhS 2015 (ed.), Proceedings of the 18th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XVIII). Glasgow: University of Glasgow.
Flege, James. 1982. Laryngeal timing and phonation onset in utterance-initial English stops. Journal of Phonetics 10, 177192.
Flege, James & Brown, W. S.. 1982. Effects of utterance position on English speech timing. Journal of Phonetics 10, 335345.
Fuchs, Susanne. 2005. Articulatory correlates of the voicing contrast in alveolar obstruent production in German. Ph.D. dissertation, ZAS Berlin & Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.
Fuchs, Susanne & Koenig, Laura. 2009. Simultaneous measures of electropalatography and intraoral pressure in selected voiceless lingual consonants and consonant sequences of German. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 126 (4), 19882001.
Gallagher, Gillian. 2011. Acoustic and articulatory features in phonology: The case for [long VOT]. The Linguistic Review 28, 281313.
Gelman, Andrew & Hill, Jennifer. 2006. Data analysis using regression and multilevel/hierarchical models. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Goldstein, Louis, Byrd, Dani & Saltzman, Elliot. 2006. The role of vocal tract gestural action units in understanding the evolution of phonology. In Arbib, Michael (ed.), From action to language: The mirror neuron system, 215249. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Goldstein, Louis & Fowler, Carol. 2003. Articulatory phonology: A phonology for public language use. In Schiller, Niels & Meyer, Antje (eds.), Phonetics and phonology in language comprehension and production: Differences and similarities. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Gurevich, Naomi. 2011. Lenition. In van Oostendorp, Marc, Ewen, Colin, Hume, Elizabeth & Rice, Keren (eds.), The Blackwell companion to phonology, 15591575. New York: Blackwell.
Haggard, Mark. 1978. The devoicing of voiced fricatives. Journal of Phonetics 6 (2), 95102.
Hanson, Helen. 2009. Effects of obstruent consonants on fundamental frequency at vowel onset in English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 125 (1), 425441.
Honeybone, Patrick. 2005. Diachronic evidence in segmental phonology: The case of obstruent laryngeal specifications. In Van Oostendorp, Marc & Van de Weijer, Jeroen (eds.), The internal organization of phonological segments, 317352. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Hoole, Philip. 1997. Laryngeal coarticulation, Section 1: Coarticulatory investigations of the devoicing gesture. Forschungsberichte des Instituts für Phonetick und Sprachliche Kommunikation der Universität München 35, 8999.
Huffman, Marie & Krakow, Rena (eds.). 1993. Nasals, nasalization and the velum (Phonetics and Phonology 5). San Diego, CA: Academic Press.
Hutters, Birgit. 1985. Vocal fold adjustments in aspirated and unaspirated stops in Danish. Phonetica 42, 124.
Iverson, Gregory & Salmons, Joseph. 1995. Aspiration and laryngeal representation in Germanic. Phonology 12, 369396.
Jacewicz, Ewa, Fox, Robert Allen & Lyle, Samantha. 2009. Variation in stop consonant voicing in two regional varieties of American English. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 39 (3), 313334.
Jessen, Michael. 1998. Phonetics and phonology of tense and lax obstruents in German. Amsterdam & Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Jessen, Michael & Ringen, Catherine. 2002. Laryngeal features in German. Phonology 19, 189218.
Keating, Patricia. 1984. Phonetic and phonological representation of stop consonant voicing. Language 60 (2), 286319.
Koenig, Laura, Fuchs, Susanne & Lucero, Jorge. 2011. Effects of consonant manner and vowel height on intraoral pressure and articulatory contact at voicing offset and onset for voiceless obstruents. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 129 (5), 32333244.
Koenig, Laura & Lucero, Jorge. 2008. Stop-consonant voicing and intraoral pressure contours in women and children. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 123 (2), 10771088.
Lavoie, Lisa. 2001. Consonant strength: Phonological patterns and phonetic manifestations. New York: Garland.
Lisker, Leigh. 1986. “Voicing” in English: A catalogue of acoustic features signaling /b/ versus /p/ in trochees. Language and Speech 29 (1), 311.
Lisker, Leigh & Abramson, Arthur S.. 1964. A cross-language study of voicing in initial stops: Acoustical measurements. Word 20 (3), 384422.
Lisker, Leigh & Abramson, Arthur S.. 1967. Some effects of context on voice onset time in English stops. Language and Speech 10 (1), 128.
Lisker, Leigh, Sawashima, Masayuki, Abramson, Arthur S. & Cooper, Franklin. 1970. Cineradiographic observations of the larynx during voiced and voiceless stops. Haskins Laboratories: Status Report on Speech Research 21/22, 201211.
Löfqvist, Anders. 1980. Interarticulator programming in stop production. Journal of Phonetics 8, 475490.
Löfqvist, Anders, Koenig, Laura & McGowan, Richard. 1995. Vocal tract aerodynamics in /aCa/utterances: Measurements. Speech Communication 16 (1), 49–66.
Löfqvist, Anders & McGarr, Nancy. 1987. Laryngeal dynamics in voiceless consonant production. In Baer, Thomas, Sasaki, Clarence T. & Harris, Katherine (eds.), Laryngeal function in phonation and respiration, 391402. Boston, MA: College Hill.
Löfqvist, Anders & Yoshioka, Hirohide. 1981. Interarticulator programming in obstruent production. Phonetica 38, 2134.
Löfqvist, Anders & Yoshioka, Hirohide. 1984. Intrasegmental timing: Laryngeal–oral coordination in voiceless consonant production. Speech Communication 3, 279289.
McGowan, Richard, Koenig, Laura & Löfqvist, Anders. 1995. Vocal tract aerodynamics in /aCa/utterances: Simulations. Speech Communication 16 (1), 67–88.
McGowan, Richard & Saltzman, Elliot. 1995. Incorporating aerodynamic and laryngeal components into task dynamics. Journal of Phonetics 23, 255269.
Möbius, Bernd. 2004. Corpus-based investigations on the phonetics of consonant voicing. Folia Linguistica 38 (1–2), 526.
Moosmüller, Sylvia & Ringen, Catherine. 2004. Voice and aspiration in Austrian German plosives. Folia Linguistica 38 (1–2), 4362.
Munhall, Kevin & Löfqvist, Anders. 1992. Gestural aggregation in speech: Laryngeal gestures. Journal of Phonetics 20, 111126.
Munhall, Kevin, Ostry, David & Parush, Avraham. 1985. Characteristics of velocity profiles of speech movements. Journal of Experimental Psychology: Human Perception & Performance 11, 457474.
Nam, Hosung. 2007. Syllable-level intergestural timing model: Split-gesture dynamics focusing on positional asymmetry qand moraic structure. In Cole, Jennifer & Ignacio Hualde, José (eds.), Laboratory Phonology 9, 483506. New York: Mouton de Gruyter.
Nam, Hosung, Goldstein, Louis, Saltzman, Elliot & Byrd, Dani. 2004. TADA: An enhanced, portable task dynamics model in MATLAB. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 115 (5), 2430.
Narayanan, Shrikanth S., Alwan, Abeer A. & Haker, Katherine. 1995. An articulatory study of fricative consonants using magnetic resonance imaging. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 98 (3), 13251347.
Nicolae, Andreea & Nevins, Andrew. 2016. Fricative patterning in aspirating versus true voice languages. Journal of Linguistics 52 (1), 151174.
Nicolaidis, Katerina. 2001. An electropalatographic study of Greek spontaneous speech. Journal of the International Phonetic Association 31 (1), 6785.
Ohala, John & Kawasaki-Fukumori, Haruko. 1997. Alternatives to the sonority hierarchy for explaining segmental sequential constraints. In Eliasson, Stig & Hakon Jahr, Ernst (eds.), Language and its ecology, 343365. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Ohala, John & Ohala, Manjari. 1993. The phonetics of nasal phonology: Theorems and data. In Huffman & Krakow (eds.), 225–249.
Parrell, Benjamin. 2011. A dynamical account of how /b, d, g/ differ from /p, t, k/ in Spanish: Evidence from labials. Laboratory Phonology 2 (2), 531542.
Pirello, Karen, Blumstein, Sheila E. & Kurowski, Kathleen. 1997. The characteristics of voicing in syllable-initial fricatives in American English. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 101 (6), 37543765.
Plant, Randall, Freed, Gary & Plant, Richard. 2004. Direct measurement of onset and offset phonation threshold pressure in normal subjects. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 116 (6), 36403646.
Proctor, Michael, Shadle, Christine & Iskarous, Khalil. 2010. Pharyngeal articulation in the production of voiced and voiceless fricatives. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 127 (3), 15071518.
Purnell, Thomas, Salmons, Joseph, Tepeli, Dilara & Mercer, Jennifer. 2005. Structured heterogeneity and change in laryngeal phonetics: Upper Midwestern final obstruents. Journal of English Linguistics 33 (4), 307338.
Development Core Team, R. 2013. R: A language and environment for statistical computing. Vienna: R Foundation for Statistical Computing.
Redi, Laura & Shattuck-Hufnagel, Stefanie. 2001. Variation in the realization of glottalization in normal speakers. Journal of Phonetics 29 (4), 407429.
Ringen, Catherine & Kulikov, Vladimir. 2012. Voicing in Russian stops: Cross-linguistic implications. Journal of Slavic Linguistics 20 (2), 269286.
Rothenberg, Martin. 1968. The breath-stream dynamics of simple-released-plosive production. Basel: Karger.
Samokhina, Natalya. 2010. Phonetics and phonology of regressive voicing assimilation in Russian native and non-native speech. Ph.D. dissertation, University of Arizona.
Shih, Chilin, Möbius, Bernd & Narasimhan, Bhuvana. 1999. Contextual effects on consonant voicing profiles: A cross-linguistic study. Proceedings of the 14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS XIV), San Francisco, 989–992.
Smith, Bruce. 1978. Effects of place of articulation and vowel environment on ‘voiced’ stop consonant production. Glossa 12, 163175.
Smith, Caroline. 1997. The devoicing of /z/ in American English: Effects of local and prosodic context. Journal of Phonetics 25 (4), 471500.
Snoeren, Natalie D., Hallé, Pierre A. & Segui, Juan. 2006. A voice for the voiceless: Production and perception of assimilated stops in French. Journal of Phonetics 34 (2), 241268.
Solé, Maria-Josep. 2009. Acoustic and aerodynamic factors in the interaction of features: The case of nasality and voicing. In Vigário, Marina, Frota, Sónia & João Freitas, Maria (eds.), Phonetics and phonology: Interactions and interrelations, 205–234. Philadelphia, PA: John Benjamins.
Solé, Maria-Josep. 2011. Articulatory adjustments in initial voiced stops in Spanish, French and English. In Lee, Wai-Sum & Zee, Eric (eds.), Proceedings of the 17th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (XVII), Hong Kong,18781881.
Stevens, Kenneth, Blumstein, Sheila, Glicksman, Laura, Burton, Martha & Kurowski, Kathleen. 1992. Acoustic and perceptual characteristics of voicing in fricatives and fricative clusters. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91 (5), 29793000.
Suomi, Kari. 1980. Voicing in English and Finnish stops, vol. 10. Turku: University of Turku.
Torreira, Francisco & Ernestus, Mirjam. 2011. Realization of voiceless stops and vowels in conversational French and Spanish. Laboratory Phonology 2 (2), 331353.
Tsuchida, Ayako, Cohn, Abigail & Kumada, Masanobu. 2000. Sonorant devoicing and the phonetic realization of [spread glottis] in English. Working Papers of the Cornell Phonetics Laboratory 13, 167181.
Warner, Natasha & Tucker, Benjamin. 2011. Phonetic variability of stops and flaps in spontaneous and careful speech. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 130 (3), 16061617.
Westbury, John. 1983. Enlargement of the supraglottal cavity and its relation to stop consonant voicing. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 91 (4), 29032910.
Westbury, John & Keating, Patricia. 1986. On the naturalness of stop consonant voicing. Journal of Linguistics 22, 145166.
Yoshioka, Hirohide, Löfqvist, Anders & Hirose, Hajime. 1981. Laryngeal adjustments in the production of consonant cluster and geminates in American English.The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 70, 16151623.
Yuan, Jiahong & Liberman, Mark. 2008. Speaker identification on the SCOTUS corpus. Proceedings of Acoustics '08, 56875690.
Zlatin, Marsha. 1979. Voicing contrast: Perceptual and productive voice onset time characteristics of adults. The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 56 (3), 981994.
Recommend this journal

Email your librarian or administrator to recommend adding this journal to your organisation's collection.

Journal of the International Phonetic Association
  • ISSN: 0025-1003
  • EISSN: 1475-3502
  • URL: /core/journals/journal-of-the-international-phonetic-association
Please enter your name
Please enter a valid email address
Who would you like to send this to? *


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