16th Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association

Dresden, Germany
September 6-10, 2015

On the Incompatibility of Trilling and Palatalization: A Single-Subject Study of Sustained Apical and Uvular Trills

Alexei Kochetov, Phil Howson

University of Toronto, Canada

The production of trills requires precise articulatory and aerodynamic settings, which appear to be hardly compatible with secondary palatalization — the raising and fronting of the tongue body. Yet, the precise reasons for this incompatibility are still poorly understood, largely given the paucity of articulatory work on trills. Moreover, previous investigations of palatalized trills have been limited to apicals (alveolars/dentals), raising the question of whether the suggested factors are general to all lingual trills, including uvulars, or are specific to apical trills. This paper presents an exploratory investigation of sustained palatalized and non-palatalized apical (phonemic) and uvular trills (idiolectal) produced by a native speaker of Russian in word-initial and word-final positions. Acoustic, ultrasound, and electropalatography data collected from the speaker reveal some striking similarities between palatalized apical and uvular trills. Although these can be sustained for over a half-second (having 10-20 contacts), they show a gradually increasing rate of vibration compared to non-palatalized trills, often ending in approximant-like realizations. This can be attributed to the gradual raising/fronting of the tongue body for the palatalization gesture, the peak of which tends to occur at the offset the trill constriction for both apicals and uvulars, and regardless of the position.

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Bibliographic reference.  Kochetov, Alexei / Howson, Phil (2015): "On the incompatibility of trilling and palatalization: a single-subject study of sustained apical and uvular trills", In INTERSPEECH-2015, 2187-2191.