The Role of Pitch in Punjabi Word Identification

Jasmeen Kanwal, Amanda Ritchart

Previous work has argued that one class of consonants in Punjabi — those thought to be historically voiced aspirated — have now lost aspiration in all contexts and voicing in certain contexts. Word initially, these consonants are realized as voiceless unaspirated and are differentiated from other voiceless unaspirated consonants by a falling pitch on the following vowel. In this study, we investigate, using a two-alternative forced choice task, whether listeners make use of a falling pitch word-initially to distinguish between these two types of consonants that are otherwise phonetically identical. Our results show that, regardless of talker or listener, differences in falling pitch on the vowel following an unaspirated voiceless consonant are indeed sufficient for listeners to distinguish between words beginning with these consonants. These results provide further evidence that, in word-initial contexts, pitch may be in the process of phonologization in at least some dialects of Punjabi.

DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2016-1445

Cite as

Kanwal, J., Ritchart, A. (2016) The Role of Pitch in Punjabi Word Identification. Proc. Interspeech 2016, 2826-2830.

author={Jasmeen Kanwal and Amanda Ritchart},
title={The Role of Pitch in Punjabi Word Identification},
booktitle={Interspeech 2016},