DOI: 10.1121/10.0022851 ISSN: 0001-4966

Acoustic correlates of oral and glottal stops in Tahitian

Janet Fletcher, Adele Gregory, Ben Volchok
  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics
  • Arts and Humanities (miscellaneous)

The Eastern Polynesian language Tahitian spoken in French Polynesia, is described as having a simple phonological inventory with a single stop series: /p, t, ʔ/. Little is known about the acoustic properties of these consonants compared to well-resourced languages. Five female speakers of Tahitian produced multiple repetitions of tokens that varied in terms of stress location and prosodic phrase position. Acoustic analyses of stop duration and VOT, as well as voicing measures including voicing fraction and strength of excitation were conducted. As predicted, oral stops were significantly longer than glottal stops by 63 ms in word medial contexts with no effect of stress. VOT values were on average 21–26 ms (with /t/ marginally longer than /p/) confirming these are short lag stops (Cho and Ladefoged, 1999). Stress was marginally significant with shorter VOT values in stressed syllable onsets with no affect of prosodic position, unlike Hawaiian (Davidson and Parker Jones, 2022). Like Hawaiian, however, (Davidson, 2021), the glottal stop in Tahitian has gradient realizations although the majority are realised with full glottal closure with low voicing fraction and strength of excitation values. There are also clear effects of greater coarticulation in unstressed versus stressed syllables suggesting localised hyperarticulation in the latter context.

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