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Onset pitch perturbations and the cross-linguistic implementation of voicing: Evidence from tonal and non-tonal languages

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Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)326-354
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Early online date22 Oct 2018
Publication statusPublished - Nov 2018


This paper investigates the relationship between Voice Onset Time (VOT) and onset f0 perturbations in three languages with a three-way laryngeal contrast between prevoiced, short-lag, and long-lag stops. To assess the relative contributions of aspiration and tonality to the realization of onset f0, a non-tonal language (Khmer) is compared to two tonal languages (Central Thai and Northern Vietnamese) using a common set of methods and materials. While the VOT distributions of the three languages are extremely similar, they differ in terms of their onset f0 behavior. Aspirated stops in general condition higher f0 on the following vowel, but this effect is mediated by tonal and sentential context: it is more prominent in citation forms than in connected speech, and for the tone languages, it is more visible with higher as opposed to lower tones. Examination of individual differences suggests that speakers may differ systematically in terms of their laryngeal adjustments for expressing voicelessness even while maintaining similar timing relations as indicated by VOT. Onset f0 differences may serve a useful complement to VOT, particularly when reasoning about the cross-linguistic implementation of voicing.

    Research areas

  • voicing onset, onset f0, Khmer, Vietnamese, Thai

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