Effects of obstruent voicing on vowel fundamental frequency in Dutch

TitleEffects of obstruent voicing on vowel fundamental frequency in Dutch
Publication TypePresentation
Year of Publication2021
Conference NameDag van Fonetiek 2021
AuthorsPinget, Anne-France, and Hugo Quené
PublisherNederlandse Vereniging voor Fonetische Wetenschappen
Conference Locationonline

It has been known for a long time and for a wide variety of languages that vowel fundamental frequency (F0) can be affected by the intrinsic properties of the preceding consonants. In particular, F0 following voiceless obstruents tends to be significantly higher than F0 following voiced obstruents (e.g., House and Fairbanks, 1953; Hombert et al., 1979). There has been a long-standing debate about the cause of this phenomenon. Some evidence in previous work is more compatible with a physiological/aerodynamic account of this effect (e.g., Halle and Stevens, 1967; Kirby & Ladd, 2016), while other supports an auditory enhancement account (e.g., Kingston and Diehl 1994).

This paper investigates these consonant-related F0 perturbations in Dutch after initial fricatives (/v f/) and stops (/b p/), as compared to after sonorant /m/, in recordings by Pinget (2015). Dutch is particularly interesting for the investigation of F0 perturbations for two reasons: 1) Dutch – unlike English – is a true voicing language and 2) Dutch initial fricatives are currently undergoing a process of devoicing (e.g., Kissine et al., 2003; Pinget, 2015).

The F0 contours in isolated words were analyzed using GAMM (e.g., Wieling 2018) with /m/ as baseline condition. Results show that after unvoiced /p, f/, the F0 at vowel onset is significantly higher than this baseline. Moreover, voicing measures (degree of voicing, duration, and VOT) interact with the main effects of onset consonant on F0. Especially after /v/, F0 at vowel onset increased as the voicing measures of preceding /v/ decreased. Thus, we found no trace of an active gesture to explicitly lower F0 after highly devoiced fricatives, as would be predicted by an auditory enhancement account. In conclusion, these results regarding F0 contours, the time course of the effects and the covariation patterns are taken as evidence to support a physiological/aerodynamic cause of F0 perturbations.


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