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

Lawson, E., Stuart-Smith, J. and Scobbie, J. M. (2018) The role of gesture delay in coda /r/ weakening: an articulatory, auditory and acoustic study. Journal of the Acoustical Society of America, 143(3), pp. 1646-1657. (doi: 10.1121/1.5027833) (PMID:29604687)

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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.

Item Type:Articles
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Lawson, Dr Eleanor and Stuart-Smith, Professor Jane
Authors: Lawson, E., Stuart-Smith, J., and Scobbie, J. M.
College/School:College of Arts & Humanities > School of Critical Studies > English Language and Linguistics
Journal Name:Journal of the Acoustical Society of America
Publisher:Acoustical Society of America
ISSN (Online):1520-8524
Published Online:26 March 2018
Copyright Holders:Copyright © 2018 The Authors
First Published:First published in Journal of the Acoustical Society of America 143(3): 1646-1657
Publisher Policy:Reproduced under a Creative Commons License

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Project CodeAward NoProject NamePrincipal InvestigatorFunder's NameFunder RefLead Dept
702831Changes in shape, space and time: the impact of position on the spatiotemporal and configurational articulatory properties of liquid consonants.Jane Stuart-SmithEconomic and Social Research Council (ESRC)ES/N008189/1CRIT - ENGLISH LANGUAGE & LINGUISTICS