A Cross-language Study of the Production and Perception of Palatalized Consonants

Title: A Cross-language Study of the Production and Perception of Palatalized Consonants
Authors: Pritchard, Sonia
Date: 2012
Abstract: The goal of this dissertation was to investigate experimentally the phonetic qualities of the palatalized consonants of Standard Bulgarian. The term ‘palatalized’ refers to consonants (e.g., [tʲ, dʲ]) which are articulated with a secondary palatal gesture superimposed on the primary gesture associated with their plain counterparts (e.g., [t, d]). An acoustic study investigated the claim (Horálek, 1950; Choi, 1998; Ignateva-Tsoneva, 2008) that the palatalized consonants of Standard Bulgarian have undergone depalatalization, which was defined as the decomposition of a secondary palatal [ ʲ ] gesture into a palatal glide [j]. A cross-language comparison was performed. Russian (e.g., [tʲulʲ], ‘silk net’) and British English (e.g., [tju:lip], ‘tulip’) data served as a baseline against which the Bulgarian data (e.g., [tʲul], ‘silk net’) was evaluated. Subjects’ productions of words were recorded for acoustic analyses. The F1, F2 and F3 frequencies of the critical segments were analyzed with a Smoothing Spline ANOVA (Gu, 2002). The analyses indicated that Bulgarian palatalized consonants were identical to those of the Russian palatalized consonants, but different from the consonant-palatal glide sequences of British English. It was concluded that Bulgarian palatalized consonants have not undergone depalatalization. A perception study employed two variations of the gating task (Grosjean, 1980): audio-only and audio-visual. The results of the audio-only experiment indicated that Bulgarian and Russian listeners needed only the information associated with the palatalization portion of the consonant to identify it as palatalized. Bulgarian subjects did not need the transitions with the following vowel (Tilkov, 1983) to identify a consonant as palatalized. The Russian subjects of Richey’s (2000) experiment did not need the formant transitions either to identify the secondary palatal gesture. These findings provide further evidence that the palatalized consonants of the Standard Bulgarian have not undergone depalatalization. The purpose of the audio-visual experiment was to investigate if Bulgarian and Russian listeners use visual information to identify palatalized consonants. The results from this experiment were not as clear cut as those from the audio-only experiment. Factors such as insufficient visual information at earlier gates, as well as attentional load are being considered as possible confounds. In addition, an improved methodology for an audio-visual perception study is outlined. Experimental evidence from the acoustic and perception studies points to similarities in the phonetic shape of the palatalized consonants of Bulgarian and Russian. However, the phonological distribution of these segments is very different in the respective languages. I argue against a one-to-one mapping between the phonetic and phonological representations of the Bulgarian palatalized consonants. Based on distributional evidence, I propose that at the level of phonology they consist of a sequence of /CjV/.
URL: http://hdl.handle.net/10393/22882
CollectionThèses, 2011 - // Theses, 2011 -