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Voice Quality

By John H. Esling, Scott R. Moisik, Allison Benner, Lise Crevier-Buchman

Voice Quality "The first description of voice quality production in forty years, this book provides a new framework for its study: The Laryngeal Articulator Model. Informed by instrumental examinations of the laryngeal articulatory mechanism, it revises our understanding of articulatory postures to explain the actions, vibrations and resonances generated in the epilarynx and pharynx."

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Let's Talk

By David Crystal

Let's Talk "Explores the factors that motivate so many different kinds of talk and reveals the rules we use unconsciously, even in the most routine exchanges of everyday conversation."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Consonant Weakening in Florentine Italian: An acoustic study of gradient and variable sound change Add Dissertation
Author: Christina Dalcher Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: Georgetown University, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2006
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonology;
Director(s): Elizabeth Zsiga

Abstract: This dissertation analyzes Gorgia Toscana, a process in which consonants
weaken in fluent speech in Tuscan Italian dialects. Previous studies (Izzo
1972; Giannelli and Savoia 1978-80; Kirchner 1998; Marotta 2001; Sorianello
2001) describe Gorgia Toscana as a lenition process resulting in
categorical, but variable output. Categoricity is evident in these
studies’ reference to discrete allophonic realizations; variation is
observed along several dimensions such as place of articulation, locus of
weakening, and subject-specific degree of weakening. This dissertation
examines acoustic data from six speakers of Florentine Italian (one
thousand tokens) in order to describe the process of Gorgia Toscana
quantitatively, and to assess the roles of physiological, perceptual,
abstract cognitive, and social factors in the process.

Four acoustic correlates of lenition were measured: consonant duration,
voicing, relative amplitude, and release burst. Principal Components
Analysis performed on these individual measures generated a latent variable
(L-score), enabling quantification of lenition for each token.
Statistical analysis shows that lenition occurs at all points along a
continuum, that it affects all stop consonants in the phoneme inventory
(with velars leniting most, and categorically surfacing as extremely weak
approximants), and that it is present to a greater or lesser extent for
different speakers.

Results of this study indicate that Gorgia Toscana produces gradient and
variable output, with certain patterns occurring in the variation. The
observations that emerge from the data cannot all be accounted for if
Gorgia Toscana is characterized as a purely phonetic, phonological, or
socially-driven process of sound change. Rather, different aspects of the
process are attributed to different motivators: gradience and
velar-preference to articulator movements; resistance of non-velar lenition
to perceptual constraints; targeting of a complete natural class and
categorical weakening to abstract featural representations; and
intersubject variation in velar lenition to external social factors.

It is argued that an account of the patterns observed in Florentine
consonant weakening necessitates the interaction of several forces.
Analysis of data from Gorgia Toscana contributes to the body of research on
sound change and variation and serves as a basis from which to explore the
interaction of forces on language structure and use.