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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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