The global dispreference for posterior voiced obstruents: A quantitative assessment of word-list data

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Abstract

This work explores the effect of ease of articulation on speech by examining the rates at which various consonants occur in word lists representing thousands of languages. The data reveal that obstruents produced with oral obstruction closer to the glottis are less likely to be voiced when contrasted with their counterparts produced in the anterior region of the vocal tract. While this finding is explainable via previously documented aerodynamic factors, these new data suggest that such factors may have a more powerful influence on speech than typically assumed. The pattern in question is evident even after controlling for the relatedness and areal proximity of language varieties. This study isolates and quantifies the decrease in consonant voicing associated with the reduction in size of the supralaryngeal cavity.*.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)e311-e323
JournalLanguage
Volume94
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018

Keywords

  • Ease of articulation
  • Fricatives
  • Phonetics
  • Phonology
  • Stops
  • Typology
  • Voicing

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language

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