Phonetics and Phonology of 'Voiced-Aspirated' Stops: Evidence from Production, Perception, Alternation and Learnability
Islam, Md Jahurul
Zsiga, Elizabeth C
There has been a long-standing debate regarding the featural representation of 'voiced-aspirated’ stops. Traditional models, including Laryngeal Realism (Honeybone, 2005; Iverson & Salmons, 1995; Beckman et al., 2013), assume that'voiced-aspirates' are represented with a combination of two separate features: [voice] and [SG]. Other proposals (Ladefoged, 1971; Schiefer, 1989), however, contradict the traditional ones, arguing that 'voiced-aspirated' stops involve a completely different phonation type, presumably represented with a [breathy] feature.While earlier studies relied primarily on articulatory data, this dissertation sought to investigate the question of featural representations of 'voiced-aspirated' stops with data of several types: speech production, perception, phonological patterning (alternation/neutralization), and learnability of features via artificial language learning experiments. Data were obtained from native speakers of (Bangladeshi) Bangla except for two learnability experiments which were completed by native speakers of Russian and Spanish.Four separate groups of experiments were conducted to collect the four types of evidence. The first group of experiments examined the acoustic properties of the stop sounds to see whether the predictions of the traditional proposals generalize to Bangla four-way stops. The second group looked into the importance of prevoicing, breathy-voicing, and plain aspiration in the perception of 'voiced-aspirates' by Bangla speakers. The third one investigated the issue of word-final neutralization, which has been used as an argument for a [SG] feature in 'voiced-aspirates' (Lombardi, 1991). The final set of experiments consisted of six artificial language learning experiments organized into two groups: the first four experiments investigated whether Bangla speakers can associate a [voice] or [SG] feature independently with 'voiced-aspirates,' while the last two experiments, completed by Russian and Spanish speakers, investigated whether it is possible to learn two typologically unattested 'asymmetric' stop inventory types: /T,T\super h,D\super h/ and /T,D,D\super h/.Results from the experiments revealed that Bangla speakers associate a breathy-voicing gesture/cue, not plain aspiration, with 'voiced-aspirated' stops. Therefore, this dissertation concludes that the traditional proposal of [voice, SG] is not a true featural representation of 'voiced-aspirates,' and that the term 'breathy-voiced' stop is the correct descriptor of this stop category. It is necessary to represent this category with a [breathy] feature even though it sacrifices some featural economy.
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