ASA 127th Meeting M.I.T. 1994 June 6-10

1pSP24. Effects of position-in-syllable on consonant articulation and acoustics.

P. Keating

R. Wright

Phon. Lab., Linguist. Dept., UCLA, Los Angeles, CA 90024-1543

It is known that consonants in syllable onset position have closer oral constrictions than do coda consonants. Here, electropalatographic and acoustic data were used to determine whether onset consonants are also less sonorous (more obstruent-like). The alveolar consonants /t d n l/ were compared in word-initial (syllable onset) versus word-final (syllable coda) position. Onset consonants had greater palatal contact in both area and duration. Acoustic comparisons for /t/ and /d/ have not yet been made; /n/ and /l/ in onset position had consistently less acoustic energy than in code position, and were therefore sharply differentiated from the following vowel. This effect was most pronounced for /l/, which often lost its anterior contact completely in coda position. These data show that the low amplitude seen for onset /l/'s, and the subsequent amplitude rise into a following vowel, depends on the presence of significant contact between the tongue blade and the palate. Thus these data clarify the role of the anterior articulation as a separate component in the distinction between ``dark'' versus ``light'' /l/. More generally, the experiment shows that reduction of an oral articulation, seen here in codas, makes consonants less distinct from syllable peaks. [Work supported by UCLA and U.S. Department of Education.]