Acoustic analysis of onset voicing in Dzongkha obstruents

James Kirby, Gwendolyn Hyslop

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contribution


We present an acoustic analysis of cues to onset voicing in Dzongkha, the national language of Bhutan. Dzongkha is typically described as having a four-way laryngeal contrast between aspirated, unaspirated, prevoiced and devoiced obstruents. Previous descriptions suggest that this system may be changing, with the devoiced series either merging with the voiced series, or losing closure voicing but retaining contrastive pitch and/or voice quality. Based on data from 12 speakers, we find voiced and devoiced plosives are realised both with and without voicing lead. Tokens realized as phonetically voiced can be redundantly breathy; however, a low register tone always occurs on syllables headed by both voiced and devoiced obstruents, regardless of presence or absence of voicing lead. We discuss the implications of these findings for models of tonogenesis and historical sound change in the Tibeto-Burman context.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationProceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Australia 2019
EditorsSasha Calhoun, Paola Escudero, Marija Tabain, Paul Warren
Place of PublicationCanberra, Australia
PublisherAustralasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
ISBN (Electronic)9780646800691
Publication statusPublished - 2019
Event19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences - Melbourne, Australia
Duration: 5 Aug 20199 Aug 2019


Conference19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences
Abbreviated titleICPhS 2019
Internet address


  • voicing
  • tone
  • Tibeto-Burman


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