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Academic Paper

Title: Acoustic and Articulatory Manifestations of Vowel Reduction in German
Author: Christine Mooshammer
Institution: Haskins Laboratories
Author: Christian Geng
Institution: University of Edinburgh
Linguistic Field: Linguistic Theories; Phonetics; Phonology
Subject Language: German
Abstract: Recent phonological approaches incorporate phonetic principles in the motivation of phonological regularities, e.g. vowel reduction and neutralization in unstressed position by target undershoot. So far, evidence for this hypothesis is based on impressionistic and acoustic data but not on articulatory data. The major goal of this study is to compare formant spaces and lingual positions during the production of German vowels for combined effects of stress, accent and corrective contrast. In order to identify strategies for vowel reduction independent of speaker-specific vocal-tract anatomies and individual biomechanical properties, an approach similar to the Generalized Procrustes Analysis was applied to formant spaces and lingual vowel target positions. The data basis consists of the German stressed and unstressed full vowels /iù ɪ yù ʏ eù ɛ ɛù ù aù a où ɔ uù ʊ/ from seven speakers recorded by means of electromagnetic midsagittal articulography (EMMA). Speaker normalized articulatory and formant spaces gave evidence for a greater degree of coarticulation with the consonant context for unstressed vowels as compared to stressed vowels. However, only for tense vowels could spatial reduction patterns be attributed to vowel shortening, whereas lax vowels were reduced without shortening. The results are discussed in the light of current theories of vowel reduction, i.e. target undershoot, Adaptive Dispersion Theory and Prominence Alignment.


This article appears IN Journal of the International Phonetic Association Vol. 38, Issue 2, which you can READ on Cambridge's site or on LINGUIST .

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