ASA 126th Meeting Denver 1993 October 4-8

4pSP12. Acoustic correlates of the fortis/lenis contrast in Swiss German plosives.

Sean A. Fulop

Dept. of Linguistics, Univ. of Calgary, 2500 University Dr., Calgary, AB T2N 1N4, Canada

Features of articulatory tension in plosives, such as increased closure duration, have not been shown to be perceptually salient in the time following the plosion (with the exception of increased F[sub 0]) but are thought to influence perception by their appearance in the closure phase preceding plosion [K. Kohler, Phonetica 36, 332--343 (1979)]. Kohler [Phonetica 41, 150--174 (1984)] has claimed that the two plosive classes in Swiss German cannot contrast initially (where closure features are not audible), as neither voicing nor aspiration supports the contrast. This paper reports preliminary acoustic data (spectrograms) obtained from the natural production of Swiss German plosives by a native speaker. The data indicate that sonarants following fortis consonants exhibit increased high formant clarity and intensity in relation to the first spectral peak. Kohler and W. A. van Dommelen [J. Phon. 15, 365--381 (1987)] show a similar acoustic feature to be associated with global ``tense voice'' manner in the vowels surrounding intervocalic plosives. It is thus suggested that the observed acoustic feature is one of tension associated with the production of fortis plosives in Swiss German, and that this is available to maintain the fortis/lenis contrast initial position.