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LINGUIST List 24.3933

Mon Oct 07 2013

Diss: Marathi, Phonetics, Phonology: Berkson: 'Phonation Types in Marathi: An Acoustic Investigation'

Editor for this issue: Xiyan Wang <xiyanlinguistlist.org>

Date: 05-Oct-2013
From: Kelly Berkson <keberksongmail.com>
Subject: Phonation Types in Marathi: An Acoustic Investigation
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Institution: University of Kansas
Program: Linguistics Department
Dissertation Status: Completed
Degree Date: 2013

Author: Kelly Berkson

Dissertation Title: Phonation Types in Marathi: An Acoustic Investigation

Dissertation URL: http://kuscholarworks.ku.edu/dspace/handle/1808/12339

Linguistic Field(s): Phonetics

Subject Language(s): Marathi (mar)
Language Family(ies): Indo-Aryan

Dissertation Director:
Jie Zhang
Allard Jongman

Dissertation Abstract:

This dissertation presents a comprehensive instrumental acoustic analysis
of phonation type distinctions in Marathi, an Indic language with numerous
breathy voiced sonorants and obstruents. Important new facts about breathy
voiced sonorants, which are crosslinguistically rare, are established: male
and female speakers cue breathy phonation in sonorants differently, there
are an abundance of trading relations, and--critically--phonation type
distinctions are not cued as well by sonorants as by obstruents. Ten native
speakers (five male, five female) were recorded producing Marathi words
embedded in a carrier sentence. Tokens included plain and breathy voiced
stops, affricates, nasals, laterals, rhotics, and approximants before the
vowels [a] and [e]. Measures reported for consonants and subsequent vowels
include duration, F0, Cepstral Peak Prominence (CPP), and corrected H1-H2*,
H1-A1*, H1-A2*, and H1-A3* values. As expected, breathy voice is associated
with decreased CPP and increased spectral values. A strong gender
difference is revealed: low-frequency measures like H1-H2* cue breathy
phonation more reliably in male speech, while CPP--which provides
information about the aspiration noise included in the signal--is a more
reliable cue in female speech. Trading relations are also reported: time
and again, where one cue is weak or absent another cue is strong or
present, underscoring the importance of including both genders and multiple
vowel contexts when testing phonation type differences. Overall, the cues
that are present for obstruents are not necessarily mirrored by sonorants.
These findings are interpreted with reference to Dispersion Theory
(Flemming 1995; Liljencrants & Lindblom 1972; Lindblom 1986, 1990). While
various incarnations of Dispersion Theory focus on different aspects of
perceptual and auditory distinctiveness, a basic claim is that one
requirement for phonological contrasts is that they must be perceptually
distinct: contrasts that are subject to great confusability are
phonologically disfavored. The proposal, then, is that the typology of
breathy voiced sonorants is due in part to the fact that they are not well
differentiated acoustically. Breathy voiced sonorants are
crosslinguistically rare because they do not make for strong phonemic

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