Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
Ed. by Cole, Jennifer
IMPACT FACTOR 2015: 0.667
Rank 85 out of 179 in category Linguistics in the 2015 Thomson Reuters Journal Citation Report/Social Sciences Edition
Pre-aspiration, quantity, and sound change
Geminate voiceless stops /pː tː kː / have been recently found to show optional pre-aspiration under certain circumstances in spontaneous and read Italian speech. This paper investigates the impact of pre-aspiration on the perception and production of contrastive quantity, e.g., fato ‘fate’ vs. fatto ‘done’. It tests the hypothesis that synchronic variability involving pre-aspiration, together with concomitant stop closure shortening, may be setting in motion a sound change in Italian ultimately leading to de-gemination, i.e., /pː tː kː / > [hp ht hk] > /p t k/. The proposed sound change would be perceptually driven (Ohala 1981, 1993) and comes about via listener association of pre-aspiration with the preceding vowel rather than the oral closure. The hypothesis is only partially supported by the experimental results. Perception data show that Italians perceive pre-aspirated stops as shorter than plain stops of analogous overall duration. However, production data show that pre-aspiration in Italian does not in fact involve concomitant oral closure shortening.
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