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
Morphological effects on the darkness of English intervocalic /l/
Articulatory and acoustic studies have provided evidence that in word- initial and word-final positions, English /l/ exhibits substantial differences in ‘darkness‐: dark [ɫ] in word-final position is produced with a more retracted tongue dorsum and lowered tongue body than light [l] in word-initial position. The darkness of intervocalic /l/, however, is variable. While Sproat and Fujimura (1993) argue that /l/ darkness is on a continuum strongly affected by duration, Hayes (2000) maintains that the morphological status of intervocalic /l/s should affect whether they are produced as light or dark variants. In this study, ultrasound imaging is used to investigate whether the morphological affiliation of the /l/ affects the degree of tongue dorsum retraction and tongue body lowering and the acoustic characteristics of /l/ darkness. Six American English speakers produced three types of stimuli which were predicted to increase in darkness in the following order: (1) when /l/ corresponded with the onset of a suffix (e.g., flaw-less), (2) when /l/ corresponded with the final position of the stem word (e.g., tall-est), and (3) when /l/ was the final consonant of a stem word (e.g., tall). For both articulatory and acoustic measures, the predicted order was upheld. The strongest articulatory correlate of darkness was tongue body lowering, and acoustic differences were mainly manifested in F1 and normalized intensity. Phonological implications of these findings are discussed.
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