Chai-Shune K. Hsu
Dept. of Linguistics, Univ. of California at Los Angeles, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles, CA 90095-1543
Taiwanese word-final stops lenite intervocalically. In addition, regressive place assimilation occurs optionally in casual speech. It has been suggested that gestural reduction is the crucial articulatory mechanism in place assimilation [J. Jun, UCLA Ph.D. dissertation (1995)]. Based on previously developed methods and interpretations [D. Silverman and J. Jun, Phonetica 51, 210--220 (1994)], oral pressure experiments were conducted to assess whether gestural reduction obtains before a stop consonant in Taiwanese. Data for all nonhomorganic consonant clusters containing a labial constituent were analyzed. Results of pressure measured behind the lips suggest that both oral and nasal word-final stops at all three places of articulation may reduce before a word-initial stop consonant. Reduction was found to be variable, but nonlabials reduce before labials more readily than labial reduction before nonlabials. Variable gestural overlap was also detected in consonant clusters. Word-final gestural reduction is suggested to be a general process, occurring both intervocalically and preconsonantally, but perceived as ``lenition'' intervocalically and ``assimilation'' preconsonantally.