ASA 129th Meeting - Washington, DC - 1995 May 30 .. Jun 06

5pSC5. Measurement for measurement's sake: Phonologically irrelevant stop voicing durations.

Leigh Lisker

Haskins Labs., 270 Crown St., New Haven, CT 06511

Durational differences between voiced and voiceless stops have been regularly reported, and phonological value has been attributed to some of them, i.e., VOT, closure duration (CD), and voicing-gap duration (VGD). Thus English /p,t,k/ and /b,d,g/ can sometimes be separated by all three measures, and these are then acoustico-articulatory properties of the voicing feature. But VOT also separates subphonemic (allophonic) variants of /p,t,k/ aspirated [p[sup h], t[sup h], k[sup h]] and unaspirated [p,t,k], and it is customary to regard this difference as phonologically irrelevant. Furthermore, CD cues voicing state only when accompanied by a voicing gap, when a short VGD is effectively (perceptually?) equivalent to one of zero duration, so the voicing gap may be ``dismissed'' as a consequence of pressure equalization rather than a linguistically motivated laryngeal maneuver. Elsewhere the value of CD is more prosodic (moraic) than segment-identifying, distinguishing, e.g., We play dominoes. from We played dominoes. Moreover, some VOT, CD, and VGD differences have little linguistic or even perception function. Thus /p,t,k/ show durational differences, but these cannot readily be shown to affect stop place perception. [Work supported by NIH Grant No. HD-01994.]