LINGUIST List 9.700

Tue May 12 1998

Disc: Voiced-Unvoiced

Editor for this issue: Elaine Halleck <>


  1. Szentgyorgyi Szilard, Re: 9.681, Qs: Voiced/Unvoiced

Message 1: Re: 9.681, Qs: Voiced/Unvoiced

Date: Mon, 11 May 1998 18:48:34 +0200 (MET DST)
From: Szentgyorgyi Szilard <>
Subject: Re: 9.681, Qs: Voiced/Unvoiced

As far as I know, the voice onset time explion is not that simple. On
the one hand, there is continuous voicing in sequences of vowel+voiced
consonant+vowel. Voice onset time is the timing difference between the
release of a sound and starting to make the vocal folds vibrate.
Voice onset time thus explains the difference between aspirated and
unaspirated consonants. If the voice onset time is very small, then
the consonant is perceived as unaspirated, while if the VOT is large
enough, he consonant will be an aspirated one.

eg. in [apha] the VOT is quite large hence the aspirated stop (excuse
my not using h's in the upper index but it would be too difficult in

in [apa] however the VOT is very small, thus the stop is perceived as
unaspirated. The same holds for voiced consonants.

in [abha] there is an uspirated voiced stop (as in Sanskrit for
instance) with a big VOT

in [aba] the VOT is short, hence the voiced unaspirated stop.

I think that the tendency to "feel" some vibration in voiceless
consonants can occur because of the very short VOT and also because of
some consonants being strident, thus creating some turbulence in the
oral cavity. Turbulence causes some vibration of course, though a very
high frequency one.

I hope that this doesn't sound too much like gibberish.

Szilard Szentgyorgyi
University of Veszprem, Hungary
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