This paper addresses the question of how synchronic variation in intervocalic voicing of voiceless obstruents, as observed in several languages (e.g., Rome Italian /lato/ [lato] ~ [lado]), may initiate and give rise to a regular sound change (e.g., /t/ > /d/ between vowels). We hypothesize that a biomechanically motivated linkage between male gender, speech rate, and voicing may provide a way to accelerate the spread of the phenomenon and lead to an eventual generalized recategorization. In order to explore this hypothesis, first we reanalyze the results of a previous study on intervocalic voicing in Spanish, focusing on individual differences and, in particular, the possible role of gender. Then we report on a study of the same phenomenon in Basque, focusing also on interspeaker variation. Finally, we report on a controlled experiment where speech rate was manipulated.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Language and Linguistics
- Sociology and Political Science
- Linguistics and Language
- Speech and Hearing