Acoustic Properties of Strident Fricatives at the Edges: Implications for Consonant Discrimination

Louis-Marie Lorin, Lorenzo Maselli, Léo Varnet, Maria Giavazzi


Languages tend to license segmental contrasts where they are maximally perceptible, i.e. where more perceptual cues to the contrast are available. For strident fricatives, the most salient cues to the presence of voicing are low-frequency energy concentrations and fricative duration, as voiced fricatives are systematically shorter than voiceless ones. Cross-linguistically, the voicing contrast is more frequently realized word-initially than word-finally, as for obstruents. We investigate the phonetic underpinnings of this asymmetric behavior at the word edges, focusing on the availability of durational cues to the contrast in the two positions. To assess segmental duration, listeners rely on temporal markers, i.e. jumps in acoustic energy which demarcate segmental boundaries, thereby facilitating duration discrimination. We conducted an acoustic analysis of word-initial and word-final strident fricatives in American English. We found that temporal markers are sharper at the left edge of word-initial fricatives than at the right edge of word-final fricatives, in terms of absolute value of the intensity slope, in the high-frequency region. These findings allow us to make predictions about the availability of durational cues to the voicing contrast in the two positions.


 DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2913

Cite as: Lorin, L., Maselli, L., Varnet, L., Giavazzi, M. (2020) Acoustic Properties of Strident Fricatives at the Edges: Implications for Consonant Discrimination. Proc. Interspeech 2020, 636-640, DOI: 10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2913.


@inproceedings{Lorin2020,
  author={Louis-Marie Lorin and Lorenzo Maselli and Léo Varnet and Maria Giavazzi},
  title={{Acoustic Properties of Strident Fricatives at the Edges: Implications for Consonant Discrimination}},
  year=2020,
  booktitle={Proc. Interspeech 2020},
  pages={636--640},
  doi={10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2913},
  url={http://dx.doi.org/10.21437/Interspeech.2020-2913}
}