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Revitalizing Endangered Languages

Edited by Justyna Olko & Julia Sallabank

Revitalizing Endangered Languages "This guidebook provides ideas and strategies, as well as some background, to help with the effective revitalization of endangered languages. It covers a broad scope of themes including effective planning, benefits, wellbeing, economic aspects, attitudes and ideologies."

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Dissertation Information

Title: Coarticulatory Vowel Nasalization in Modern Greek Add Dissertation
Author: Evanthia Diakoumakou Update Dissertation
Email: click here to access email
Institution: University of Michigan, Department of Linguistics
Completed in: 2004
Linguistic Subfield(s): Phonetics; Phonology;
Subject Language(s): Greek, Modern
Director(s): Patrice Beddor

Abstract: The focus of this research is the experimental investigation of coarticulatory vowel nasalization in different syllabic contexts in Modern Greek. Greek serves as a detailed case study for exploring the hypothesis that the extent of vowel nasalization in a language is linked to that language's tendency for open or closed syllable structures. The study consists of three parts: an overview of the phonetic and phonological facts of Modern Greek with an emphasis on the behavior of nasal consonants and the syllable structure of the language, an acoustic study of coarticulatory vowel nasalization in Modern Greek, and an assessment of the existing experimental literature on vowel nasalization in other languages.

Modern Greek was chosen as a case study because it has a tendency for open syllables and because its patterns of nasals and nasalization are under-investigated. The chapter on phonetic and phonological aspects of Modern Greek serves as background as well as justification for the experimental investigation of vowel nasalization in this language. The acoustic analysis of the temporal extent of vowel nasalization in the productions of six native speakers of (Standard) Modern Greek showed that the temporal extent of anticipatory vowel nasalization is limited in all contexts, although it is more extensive before tautosyllabic than heterosyllabic nasals. On the other hand, carryover vowel nasalization, especially in stressed NV! sequences, was significantly longer than anticipatory. (On average, in stressed syllables, heterosyllabic anticipatory nasalization was 27 ms long, tautosyllabic anticipatory was 48 ms long, and carryover was 70 ms.) The carryover pattern, together with the finding that syllable-initial consonants were longer in stressed NV! syllables than in unstressed NV syllables, point toward a large nasal (velum) gesture at the onset of stressed syllables. The results of the acoustic analysis are interpreted within the coproduction theory of speech production, which provides a unified account of anticipatory and carryover coarticulation.

The Modern Greek data are consistent with the hypothesis that languages with a tendency for open syllables exhibit limited anticipatory nasalization. Review of vowel nasalization studies for 10 other languages also indicates patterns that are generally consistent with this claim. Although more detailed experimental studies are necessary for comprehensive evaluation of this hypothesis, these findings suggest that investigation of the prosodic organization of languages may prove fruitful in determining the factors that lead to cross-language coarticulatory differences regarding vowel nasalization.