H. S. Gopal
Dept. of Linguist., Univ. of California at Santa Barbara, Santa Barbara, CA 93106
A number of languages from the subcontinent of India have a four-way voicing contrast---the aspirated voiceless, the unaspirated voiceless, the unaspirated voiced, and the breathy voiced stops (for example, [p[sup h], p, b, b[sup h]]). It has been suggested that the primary difference between the unaspirated voiceless and the unaspirated voiced stop consonants (for example, [p] vs [b]) is one of voice onset time (VOT). This study investigated whether VOT adequately separates the unaspirated voiceless and the unaspirated voiced stop consonants in two languages, Hindi and Kannada. Hindi is primarily a north Indian language and Kannada is primarily a South Indian language. Using four speakers, VOT values were measured for these two stop consonant series at four places of articulation---bilabial, dental, retroflex, and velar. The results will be discussed with reference to the adequacy of VOT as the primary acoustic feature distinguishing these two stop contrasts in the two languages.