DOI: 10.1044/2024_jslhr-23-00092 ISSN: 1092-4388

Segmental and Syllabic Articulations: A Descriptive Approach

Malin Svensson Lundmark, Donna Erickson
  • Speech and Hearing
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Language and Linguistics


This article reports on jaw articulation, in connection with the segmental articulations of tongue tip and lips. The jaw is considered a syllable articulator as it opens and closes for each syllable, and the amount of jaw opening is related to syllable strength, given the same phonemic vowel. Here, we investigate the syllabic and the segmental articulations relationships to the acoustic segments.


We analyze electromagnetic articulography data of 18 Southern Swedish speakers by testing hypotheses based on the Descriptive Approach to Segmental Articulations. In this approach, articulatory movements are divided into fast intervals and steady states, and the crucial (“primary”) articulators' deceleration and acceleration peaks align with the acoustic segment boundaries.


Previous findings on the lips and the tongue tip are confirmed. New results are the jaw as noncrucial (“nonprimary”) does not align with the acoustic segment boundaries: Its steady states are shorter than consonant and vowel segments. Moreover, place of articulation of the coda affects the jaw cycle, while syllable type only affects jaw closing. No such effects are found on the edges of the jaw cycle, instead only gender affects jaw deceleration at syllable onset.


The jaw is not crucial for the timing of the acoustic segment boundaries; also, syllable borders seem to not be affected by place of segmental articulation. The results strengthen the view of the jaw as syllable articulator providing a frame and the other articulators (e.g., lips and tongue tip) as the segmental articulators providing the content.

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