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Perception, Production, and Structure of Australian English /l/-final rimes

  • Tünde Szalay
29 June 2018
Language and Cognition Group meetings
Lipsius Building
Cleveringaplaats 1
2311 BD Leiden

Perception, Production, and Structure of Australian English /l/-final rimes

In English, and other languages, /l/ is a complex segment, articulated with a consonant-like coronal component coordinated with a vowel-like dorsal gesture [1, 2, 3]. The lateral dorsal gesture typically occurs more closely to, and interacts in complex ways with a tautosyllabic vowel [1, 2, 4, 5, 6]. Lateral-vowel interactions are especially pronounced in /l/-final rimes [5, 6, 7], but neither the phonetic details nor the phonological representation of these structures are properly understood [5, 7, 8]. The realization and perception of lateral-final rimes is of particular interest in Australian English because of its large vowel inventory and because acoustic vocalic contrasts are reduced in pre-lateral contexts [9, 10, 11].
I present findings from an ongoing study examining the nature of vowel-/l/ coarticulation and its influence on the perception of Australian English /l/-final rimes. A two-alternative forced-choice experiment found that coda laterals reduce accuracy of disambiguation of rimes, especially those differentiated by the vocoids /ɔ/ (e.g. doll, howl), /ʊ/ (e.g. pull), and /ʉ/ (e.g. pool, dole). A word recognition experiment found that reduced perceptual vowel contrast hinders listeners' ability to compensate for vowel-/l/ coarticulation, despite the fact that listeners recognise the words as /l/-final. EMA data on coda lateral production reveals, for the first time, details of the coarticulatory influence of /l/ on the Australian English vowel space, to shed more light on the perceptual data. The implications of these findings for our understanding of the phonology of lateral-final rimes will be discussed.
[1] Giles, S. B. & Moll, K. L. 1975. Cinefluorographic study of selected allophones of English /l/. Phonetica 31(3-4), 206-227.
[2] Sproat, R. & Fujimura, O. 1993. Allophonic variation in English /l/ and its implications for phonetic implementation. Journal of Phonetics 21(3), 291-311.
[3] Proctor, M. Towards a gestural characterisation of liquids: Evidence form Spanish and Russian. Laboratory Phonology 2(2), 451-485.
[4] Wells, J. C. 1982. Accents of English. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
[5] Ying, J., Shaw, J., Kroos, C. & Best, T. C. 2012. Relations between the acoustic and articulatory measurements of /l/. In Proceedings of the 14th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (Sydney), 109-112.
[6] Proctor, M., Walker, R., Smith, C., Szalay, T., Narayanan, S. & Goldstein, L. Submitted. Articulatory characterization of English liquid-final rimes.
[7] Proctor, M. & Walker, R. 2012. Articulatory bases of sonority in English liquids. In Parker, S. (Ed.), The sonority controversy Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter, 289-316.
[8] Scobbie, J. M. & Pouplier, M. 2010. Syllable structure and external sandhi: an EPG study of vocalisation and retraction of word-final English /l/. Journal of Phonetics 38, 240-259.
[9] Palethorpe, S. & Cox, F. 2003. Vowel modification in pre-lateral environments. Poster at the 6th International Seminar on Speech Production (Sydney).
[10] Cox, F. & Palethorpe, S. 2003. The border effect: vowel differences across the NSW-Victorian border. In Proceedings of the Conference of the Australian Linguistic Society (Newcastle).
[11] Lin, S., Palethorpe, S. & Cox, F. 2012. An ultrasound exploration of Australian English /CVl/ words. In Proceedings of the 14th Australasian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology (Sydney), 105-108.

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