The Effects of Phonological Status on Phonetic Variation: The Acoustic and Articulatory Properties of Sibilants Across Chinese Dialects

  • 李明興, Mingxing (PI)
  • WU, Shengyi (CoI)
  • QI, Haifeng (CoI)
  • Berkson, Kelly Harper (CoI)
  • Faytak, Matthew (CoI)

    Project: Research project

    Project Details


    This research investigates the potential influence of phonological status of a sound on the variation of its acoustic and articulatory properties, through an instrumental examination of sibilant consonants across Chinese dialects with different sibilant inventories and different contrast patterns. Referring to previous research in the literature, two general research questions (RQ) are raised:
    - RQ1: Does the existence of a phonological contrast introduce a reduced variation in the acoustic and articulatory properties of a sibilant consonant?
    - RQ2: Is there a trade-off between the variations of a phonetic property and its
    importance to a phonological contrast?
    Hypotheses are made for the existence of an influence for RQ1 and a trade-off for RQ2,for the acoustic and articulatory properties of sibilants in sound systems differing in their sibilant inventories and contrast patterns.
    To answer the two RQs, acoustic and articulatory investigations are planned on the production of sibilants at different places in eight Chinese dialects, representing different sibilant inventories (e.g., /s/ in Ningde, /s ɕ/ in Jiangyong, and /s ɕ ʂ/ in Qimen) and various contrast patterns (e.g., place contrast in [si-ɕi] as in Jiangyong vs. nocontrast in [sɹ̩-ɕi] as in Shaoxing). Production data of sibilants in various vowel contexts, as in legitimate syllables in each dialect, will be collected from native speakers. The acoustic measurements include spectral measures as well as cepstral measures and the
    articulatory measurements include ultrasound imaging of tongues and video recordings of lip gestures. The results are to be submitted to statistical analyses to examine (i) if the involvement in a place contrast leads to a reduced variation in the acoustics/articulation of a sibilant and (ii) if a higher importance of a phonetic dimension in a contrast correlates with a reduced degree of variation.
    This project is expected to produce a minimum of three peer-reviewed journal
    articles and two presentations at prestigious academic conferences. For its academic impact, this research is expected to fill a meaningful gap in linguistic typology and phonological contrast and to lead to a deeper understanding of the relation between phonological status and phonetic property; for its social impact, this research is expected to document the linguistic properties of the endangered Chinese dialects involved and to contribute to the cultural preservation of the dialects.
    StatusNot started
    Effective start/end date1/01/2531/12/27


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