Subphonemic and Suballophonic Consonant Variation: The Role of the Phoneme Inventory

  • Lavoie L
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Abstract

Consonants exhibit more variation in their phonetic realization than is typically acknowledged, but that variation is linguistically constrained. Acoustic analysis of both read and spontaneous speech reveals that consonants are not necessarily realized with the manner of articulation they would have in careful citation form. Although the variation is wider than one would imagine, it is limited by the phoneme inventory. The phoneme inventory of the language restricts the range of variation to protect the system of phonemic contrast. That is, consonants may stray phonetically into unfilled areas of the language's sound space. Listeners are seldom consciously aware of the consonant variation, and perceive the consonants phonemically as in their citation forms. A better understanding of surface phonetic consonant variation can help make predictions in theoretical domains and advances in applied domains

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Authors

  • Lisa M Lavoie

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