System-Related Variation

Philip Hoole, Barbara Kühnert and Marianne Pouplier

in The Oxford Handbook of Laboratory Phonology

Published in print December 2011 | ISBN: 9780199575039
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Handbooks in Linguistics

System-Related Variation

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  • Linguistics
  • Phonetics and Phonology



This article presents case studies exhibiting the issues of system-related variability. One of the case studies involve the patterns of tongue movements for velar consonants and another involve the patterns of segment-related variation in f0, often referred to as micro-prosody. The first case study reports that velar stops, especially in the context of back vowels and much less so in the context of front vowels, may move forwards during the closure phase. This can occur not just when the vowel preceding the velar consonant is a back vowel but also when the following one is too, such as in sequences, (ugu). The second case reports that the basic acoustic correlates of vowel height are generally accompanied by differences in a completely different acoustic property, namely f0. The most direct evidence for active enhancement comes from vowel-related differences in laryngeal EMG, particularly of the cricothyroid (CT) muscle. The non-prominent syllables often have low f0, and it is certainly not immediately clear that the tongue-pull mechanism necessarily has the same effect on f0 over the full pitch range of the speaker. F0 differences associated with consonant voicing are an important but subtle test case that can be employed to understand how certain readily observable patterns of variation come about.

Keywords: segment-related variation; back vowels; velar consonant; micro-prosody; muscular activity; cricothyroid muscle

Article.  7122 words. 

Subjects: Linguistics ; Phonetics and Phonology

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