The Effects of Real and Placebo Alcohol on Deaffrication

Urban Zihlmann


The more alcohol a person has consumed, the more mispronunciations occur. This study investigates how deaffrication surfaces in Bernese Swiss German when speakers are moderately intoxicated (0.05–0.08% Vol.), whether these effects can be hidden, and whether a placebo effect interacting with mispronunciation occurs. Five participants reading a text were recorded as follows. In stage I, they read the text before and after drinking placebo alcohol, and finally again after being told to enunciate very clearly. 3–7 days later, the same experiment was repeated with real alcohol. The recordings were then analysed with Praat. Despite interspeaker variation, the following generalisations can be made. The most deaffrication occurs in the C_C context both when speakers are sober and inebriated; affricates in _#, V_C, and V_V position encounter more deaffrication in the alcohol stage; and /͡tʃ/ and ͡kx are deaffricated more when the speaker is intoxicated, with /͡tʃ/ being the most susceptible to mispronunciation. Moreover, when alcohol is consumed, more deaffrication occurs, which cannot consciously be controlled. Furthermore, a statistically significant difference between the pre- and the post-placebo-drinking experiment could be found, which implies that a placebo effect takes place. Nevertheless, the effects of real alcohol are considerably stronger.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1579

Cite as: Zihlmann, U. (2017) The Effects of Real and Placebo Alcohol on Deaffrication. Proc. Interspeech 2017, 3882-3886, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1579.


@inproceedings{Zihlmann2017,
  author={Urban Zihlmann},
  title={The Effects of Real and Placebo Alcohol on Deaffrication},
  year=2017,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2017},
  pages={3882--3886},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1579},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2017-1579}
}