The Use of Vowel Length in Making Voicing Judgments by Native Listeners of English and Spanish: Implications for Rate Normalization

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Abstract

Among other characteristics, voiced and voiceless consonants differ in voice onset time (VOT; Lisker & Abramson, 1964). In addition, in English, voiced consonants are typically followed by longer vowels than their unvoiced counterparts (Allen & Miller, 1999). In Spanish, this relationship is less systematic (Zimmerman & Sapon, 1958). In two experiments, we investigated perceptual sensitivities of English and Spanish native speakers to following vowel length (VL) in categorizing syllables that ranged from a prevoiced bilabial stop [ba] to a long-lag bilabial stop [pa]. According to our results, English speakers show sensitivity to following vowels with VLs falling within an English-typical range (Experiment 1), but not when vowels are shorter and in a Spanish-typical range (Experiment 2). Interestingly, Spanish native speakers do not show sensitivity to following VL in either condition. These results suggest that VOT-VL tradeoffs in perception reflect phonological sensitivities of listeners and are not reducible to speech rate compensation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)436-452
Number of pages17
JournalLanguage and Speech
Volume63
Issue number2
DOIs
StatePublished - Jun 1 2020

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing

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