Inst. for Speech and Language Sci., New York Univ., New York, NY 10003
Baruch College, CUNY, New York, NY 10003
The nature of the Italian geminate consonant has long been a matter of debate for researchers. Past studies have variously characterized it, in contrast to the nongeminate consonant, as being either: (1) longer in duration; (2) more tense, or reinforced (as opposed to lax); or (3) that it was actually a bisyllabic, or geminate cluster, that is, a sequence of two identical phonemes across contiguous syllables. This paper presents an analysis of geminate versus nongeminate consonant duration in samples of running speech obtained from a native speaker of Standard Italian. The results seem to indicate that, although the geminate syllable is generally longer than the nongeminate, its perceptual characteristics cannot be systematically attributed to any single factor alone, but are actually a function of several acoustic elements operating at the same time. In particular, both closure time and vowel length appear to play a key role in distinguishing geminate from nongeminate syllables.