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Laryngeal features in German

  • Michael Jessen (a1) and Catherine Ringen (a2)

It is well known that initially and when preceded by a word that ends with a voiceless sound, German so-called ‘voiced’ stops are usually voiceless, that intervocalically both voiced and voiceless stops occur and that syllable-final (obstruent) stops are voiceless. Such a distribution is consistent with an analysis in which the contrast is one of [voice] and syllable-final stops are devoiced. It is also consistent with the view that in German the contrast is between stops that are [spread glottis] and those that are not. On such a view, the intervocalic voiced stops arise because of passive voicing of the non-[spread glottis] stops. The purpose of this paper is to present experimental results that support the view that German has underlying [spread glottis] stops, not [voice] stops.

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We wish to acknowledge our debt to Jill Beckman, Stuart Davis, Grzegorz Dogil, Paula Fikkert, Gunnar Hansson, Martin Krämer, Donka Minkova, Olga Petrova, Rosemary Plapp, Jurek Rubach, Dan Silverman, Otto Sohn, Szilárd Szentgyörgyi, members of the audiences at WCCFL 20 and HILP 5, reviewers and an associate editor of Phonology for valuable comments and suggestions, Vannakhane Daongam for assistance with recording subjects and performing measurements in Experiment II, and Tomomasa Sasa and Chungyuan Jing for help with manuscript preparation. We are especially grateful to George Woodworth for his generous assistance and advice on the statistical analysis. We are responsible for any errors. The research reported in this paper was supported, in part, by a grant from the Arts and Humanities Initiative, University of Iowa (1999–2000) to Catherine Ringen. Authors' names are listed alphabetically.
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  • ISSN: 0952-6757
  • EISSN: 1469-8188
  • URL: /core/journals/phonology
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