Acoustic characteristics of (alveolo)palatal stop consonants, and velar softening

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The paper investigates using data from Majorcan Catalan the acoustic characteristics, and the vowel context and positional conditions, that contribute to the identification of the unaspirated (alveolo)palatal allophone [c] of /k/ as the palatoalveolar affricate /tsh{phonetic}/ by listeners, and therefore to the implementation of velar softening in the world's languages. Results from perception tests run on [cV] excerpts reveal that affricate percepts are more likely to occur when the (alveolo)palatal stop appears before /i/ than before /a/, which is in agreement with universal patterns of velar softening, and in word-initial and word-final intervocalic position than word-medial intervocalically and utterance initially. Utterance finally [c] is prone to be heard as the fricative [ç]. Affricate identification appears to be associated with context- and position-dependent acoustic cues: high frequency F2 vowel transition endpoints and stop burst spectra, and a long burst, before /i/ and word initially; long range F2 vowel transitions next to /a/, and an intense stop burst in this same vowel context and in intervocalic position. High /tsh{phonetic}/ identification percentages for [c] in the sequence [uc#u], as well as differences among speakers in producing affricate-like realizations of [c] and among listeners in perceiving the stop as an affricate, are also discussed. © 2013 Elsevier Ltd.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)37-51
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2014


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