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J Acoust Soc Am. 2018 Mar;143(3):1646. doi: 10.1121/1.5027833.

The role of gesture delay in coda /r/ weakening: An articulatory, auditory and acoustic study.

Author information

1
CASL Research Centre, Speech and Hearing Sciences, Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh, EH21 6UU, United Kingdom.
2
GULP Lab, English Language, 12, University Gardens, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, G12 8QQ, United Kingdom.

Abstract

The cross-linguistic tendency of coda consonants to weaken, vocalize, or be deleted is shown to have a phonetic basis, resulting from gesture reduction, or variation in gesture timing. This study investigates the effects of the timing of the anterior tongue gesture for coda /r/ on acoustics and perceived strength of rhoticity, making use of two sociolects of Central Scotland (working- and middle-class) where coda /r/ is weakening and strengthening, respectively. Previous articulatory analysis revealed a strong tendency for these sociolects to use different coda /r/ tongue configurations-working- and middle-class speakers tend to use tip/front raised and bunched variants, respectively; however, this finding does not explain working-class /r/ weakening. A correlational analysis in the current study showed a robust relationship between anterior lingual gesture timing, F3, and percept of rhoticity. A linear mixed effects regression analysis showed that both speaker social class and linguistic factors (word structure and the checked/unchecked status of the prerhotic vowel) had significant effects on tongue gesture timing and formant values. This study provides further evidence that gesture delay can be a phonetic mechanism for coda rhotic weakening and apparent loss, but social class emerges as the dominant factor driving lingual gesture timing variation.

PMID:
29604687
DOI:
10.1121/1.5027833

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