8th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Antwerp, Belgium
August 27-31, 2007

Nepalese Retroflex Stops: A Static Palatography Study of Inter- and Intra-Speaker Variability

Rajesh Khatiwada

LPP, France

Retroflex sounds are classically defined as produced with the tongue tip curled backward and often in contact behind the alveolar ridge ([1], [2], [3]). The sounds, however, present a great inter-language, inter- and intra-speaker articulatory variation. Retroflex stops in Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language spoken in Nepal, are produced with the tongue tip with no backward curling movement at the alveolar ridge ([4],[5]). For Pokharel [5], this is not a real type of retroflexion, but rather is apico-alveolar with no backward curling of the tongue tip.

The aim of this study is to experimentally verify Pokharel's statement and the originality is to go beyond this claim. We wish to verify whether there is any co-articulation effect while producing the retroflex in different vocalic contexts. We use the direct palatography method to determine the place of articulation. Our articulatory data reveal an important articulatory inter and intra speaker variability. The majority of the retroflex stops realized in our study are subapico- post-alveolar in the case of back vowels and apicoalveolar in the case of the front vowels.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Khatiwada, Rajesh (2007): "Nepalese retroflex stops: a static palatography study of inter- and intra-speaker variability", In INTERSPEECH-2007, 1422-1425.