Inst. of Lexicography, Univ. of Iceland, Neshaga 16, 107 Reykjavik, Iceland
Preaspiration in Icelandic occurs, e.g., when a vowel in a stressed syllable is followed orthographically by ``pp'', ``tt'', or ``kk,'' and is commonly transcribed as [h] before a short stop. Stressed syllables in Icelandic thus present a three way contrast (involving stops) between word forms such as [underbar baka] [ba|iwga], ``to bake,'' (type V:C), [underbar bagga], [bag|iwa], ``burden'' (acc.sg.) (type VC:), and [underbar bakka], [bahga], ``to turn back'' (type VhC). Durational measurements showed wide variability in segment durations depending on context. However, results also indicate that the ratio of the preaspiration to the vowel duration is reasonably constant and can be viewed as a higher-order invariant, comparable to the vowel/rhyme ratio in the quantity opposition [J. Pind, Phonetica 43, 116--139 (1986)]. Perception experiments showed that preaspiration can be cued by voice offset time, a speech cue analogous to voice onset time. The experiments further showed that durational relationships within the syllable rhyme influenced the perception of preaspiration to a great extent while factors outside the rhyme had a minor influence on the placement of the phoneme boundaries, indicating perceptual constancy.