15th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

September 14-18, 2014

Synchronic Variation in the Articulation and the Acoustics of the Polish Three-Way Place Distinction in Sibilants and its Implications for Diachronic Change

Véronique Bukmaier, Jonathan Harrington, Ulrich Reubold, Felicitas Kleber

LMU München, Germany

The aim of the present study was to relate articulatory properties of the Polish sibilants /s ? ?/ to a potential neutralization of /?/ as either /s/ or /?/, the former having occurred in a number of Polish dialects. For this purpose tongue tip (TT) movement data was obtained together with acoustic data using electromagnetic articulography. The sibilants, that were always followed by either /a e o/, were produced by four L1-Polish speakers at fast and slow speech rates. While /s ?/ had almost identical transitions, they differed greatly in the spectral characteristics with /?/ being closer to /?/. In order to capture differences in tongue position as well as shape both TT position and TT orientation data were analyzed. The vertical TT orientation showed similarities in /?/ and /s/ production, but the two sibilants were clearly separated in TT position, with /?/ being produced far more back than /s/ and /?/, and the latter two being very similar. The tendentially greater effect of speech rate on /?/ together with the varying acoustic and articulatory similarities between the sibilants are taken as an indicator for greater instability of /?/. This synchronic instability is discussed in terms of potential diachronic mergers.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Bukmaier, Véronique / Harrington, Jonathan / Reubold, Ulrich / Kleber, Felicitas (2014): "Synchronic variation in the articulation and the acoustics of the Polish three-way place distinction in sibilants and its implications for diachronic change", In INTERSPEECH-2014, 203-207.