ASA 124th Meeting New Orleans 1992 October

2pSP14. An experimental analysis of spirantization in Spanish.

Joaquin Romero

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

An experimental analysis is presented of the spirantization phenomenon in Spanish. Spirantization is a phonological rule of all dialects of Spanish by which underlying voiced obstruents /b/, /d/, and /g/ surface as voiced continuants /(beta)/, /(edh)/, and /(vee with swirl)/ when preceded by other continuants. It is argued that spirantization can be explained as the result of the overlapping and blending of articulatory gestures. Gestures are specified in two main dimensions: constriction location and constriction degree [C. B. Browman and L. Goldstein, Phonology 6, 201--251 (1989)]. The overlap of underlying obstruents with the preceding continuants results in blending of the two constriction degrees, thus creating another continuant. An electromagnetic midsagittal articulometer was used to record movement of the jaw, lower and upper lip, tongue tip, tongue blade, and tongue body, together with the acoustic signal, during the production of /b/, /d/, and /g/ in a number of phonological contexts. Results show that the magnitude of the obstruent gesture is indeed affected by that of the preceding continuant in terms of duration, constriction degree, and articulator velocity, and that the relationship between gestures is consistent across points of articulation. [Work supported by NIH Grant Nos. DC-00121 and HD-01994 to Haskins Laboratories.]