Steuerung regressiver Assimilationen in fließender Rede

funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgemeinschaft

Researchers: Marion Jaeger, Phil Hoole

Research assistant: Christian Heinrich

Project summary

Several cross-linguistic surveys revealed typological patterns that govern regressive place assimilation across word boundaries (e.g. sonorant and place of articulation asymmetry). Various proposals have been put forward to account for these asymmetries. Within the framework of Optimality Theory, some researchers (Steriade 2001; Jun 2004) hypothesized that the greater inclination of C1 nasals vs. C1 plosives to undergo place assimilation can be accounted for by weaker acoustic cues to their place of articulation. As to the greater tendency of C2 velars vs. C2 labials to trigger place assimilation, Zsiga (1994) argued that the coproduction of two consonants across a word boundary produces formant movements in the preceding vowel that are weaker for a labial C2 than for a velar C2 because the tongue back and tongue tip are parts of the same articulator. Moreover, Kühnert and Hoole (2004) suggested that in sequences such as [t#k] the likelihood of reduction of the tongue tip gesture and hence the likelihood of perceived assimilation increases if a high front vowel [i:] or [e:] precedes the consonant cluster. Finally, lexical characteristics (e.g. word type resp. word frequency) might also affect gestural coordination because these factors have been shown to influence durational and articulatory aspects of speech (Gregory et al. 1999; Jurafsyky et al. 2001; Bybee 2001).

The ongoing EMA study was designed to test and compare the effects of manner of articulation of C1, place of articulation of C2, vowel context, and word frequency upon the intra- and intergestural timing and movement magnitude of various articulators in C1C2 sequences across word-boundaries in ten German subjects. In particular, we wish to discover, whether the acoustic properties of nasals allow the tongue tip to move more freely and as a result permit speakers to ease articulation by means of greater tongue tip reductions in alveolar nasals as compared to alveolar plosives, thereby making perceived assimilations more likely. We will also extend the study by Kühnert and Hoole (2004) using both [t#k] as well as [t#p] sequences. Finally, we want to look at whether and how word type (resp. word frequency) might influence regressive place assimilation across word boundaries.

Start date: April 2006