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      A replicable acoustic measure of lenition and the nature of variability in Gurindji stops

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          Abstract

          An automated method is presented for the commensurable, reproducible measurement of duration and lenition of segment types ranging from fully occluded stops to highly lenited variants, in acoustic data. The method is motivated with respect to the relationship between acoustic and articulatory phonetics and, through subsequent evaluation, is argued to correspond well to articulation. It is then applied to the phonemic stops of casual speech in Gurindji (Pama-Nyungan, Australia) to investigate the nature of their articulatory targets. The degree of stop lenition is found to vary widely. Contrary to expectations, no evidence is found of a positive effect on lenition due to word-medial (relative to word-initial) position, beyond that attributable to duration; nor do non-coronals lenite more than their apical counterparts, which freely lenite along a continuum towards taps. No significant effect is found of preceding or following vocalic environment. Taken together, the observed lenition, duration, and peak intensity velocities are argued to be inconsistent with a single, fully-occluded articulatory ‘stop’ target which is undershot at short durations, rather targets can be understood to span a range or ‘window’ of values in the sense of Keating ( 1990), from fully-occluded stop-like targets to more approximant-like targets. It is an open question to what degree the patterns found in Gurindji are language particular, or can be related to the organization of obstruent systems in Australian languages more broadly. Precisely comparable studies of additional languages will be especially valuable in addressing these questions and others, and are possible using the method we introduce.

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          Most cited references 53

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                Author and article information

                Contributors
                Journal
                1868-6354
                Laboratory Phonology: Journal of the Association for Laboratory Phonology
                Ubiquity Press
                1868-6354
                22 August 2017
                : 8
                : 1
                Affiliations
                University of Queensland, St Lucia, QLD 4072, AU
                ARC Centre of Excellence for the Dynamics of Language, AU
                Article
                10.5334/labphon.18
                Copyright: © 2017 The Author(s)

                This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License (CC-BY 4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited. See http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/.

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