Speech Prosody 2014

The influence of accentuation and onset complexity on gestural timing within syllables

Sandra Peters and Felicitas Kleber
This paper presents results from a production experiment using electromagnetic articulography. The main aim of the study was to investigate how phrasal accent and the number of onset consonants influence the gestural timing of syllable constituents in German. Five speakers of German with sensors attached to the tongue tip, tongue body and lower lip were recorded reading sentences with either accented or unaccented target words that contained simplex (one consonant) and complex (two consonants) onsets. The nucleus was always /a/ and the coda consonant was always /p/. We analyzed acoustic segment duration and gestural overlap (in terms of lag measurements). Onset complexity influenced both CV and VC overlap and accentuation affected gestural overlap to a greater extent than acoustic vowel duration. However, the extent of overlap differed between segment sequences and accentuation patterns: while for CC and VC sequences trends for greater overlap in deaccented than in accented condition were found, CV overlap decreased with deaccentuation. Shorter plateau durations in this context explain the diminished CV overlap in a prosodically weak context. The findings are discussed with respect to the predictions made by articulatory phonology regarding gestural timing and with respect to timing stability in weak versus strong prosodic contexts.