Palatal Morphology Can Influence Speaker-Specific Realizations of Phonemic Contrasts PurposeThe purpose of this study was to further explore the understanding of speaker-specific realizations of the /s/–/ʃ/ contrast in German in relation to individual differences in palate shape.MethodTwo articulatory experiments were carried out with German native speakers. In the first experiment, 4 monozygotic and 2 dizygotic twin pairs were recorded ... Research Article
Research Article  |   December 2013
Palatal Morphology Can Influence Speaker-Specific Realizations of Phonemic Contrasts
 
Author Affiliations & Notes
  • Melanie Weirich
    Institute for German Linguistics, Friedrich Schiller University Jena, Thuringia, Germany
  • Susanne Fuchs
    Centre for General Linguistics, Berlin, Germany
  • Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.
    Disclosure:The authors have declared that no competing interests existed at the time of publication.×
  • Correspondence to Melanie Weirich: melanie.weirich@uni-jena.de
  • Editor: Jody Kreiman
    Editor: Jody Kreiman×
  • Associate Editor: Houri Vorperian
    Associate Editor: Houri Vorperian×
Article Information
Speech, Voice & Prosody / Supplement
Research Article   |   December 2013
Palatal Morphology Can Influence Speaker-Specific Realizations of Phonemic Contrasts
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2013, Vol. 56, S1894-S1908. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0217)
History: Received July 7, 2012 , Revised January 7, 2013 , Accepted April 26, 2013
 
Journal of Speech, Language, and Hearing Research, December 2013, Vol. 56, S1894-S1908. doi:10.1044/1092-4388(2013/12-0217)
History: Received July 7, 2012; Revised January 7, 2013; Accepted April 26, 2013

PurposeThe purpose of this study was to further explore the understanding of speaker-specific realizations of the /s/–/ʃ/ contrast in German in relation to individual differences in palate shape.

MethodTwo articulatory experiments were carried out with German native speakers. In the first experiment, 4 monozygotic and 2 dizygotic twin pairs were recorded by means of electromagnetic articulography. In the second experiment, 12 unrelated speakers were recorded by means of electropalatography. Interspeaker variability in the articulatory distance between the sibilants was measured and was correlated with several parameters of the palate shape.

ResultsThe results were twofold: (a) Similar palatal morphologies as found in monozygotic twins yield similar articulatory realizations of the /s/–/ʃ/ contrast regarding vertical and horizontal distance of the target tongue tip positions, and (b) the realization of the contrast was influenced by palatal steepness, especially the inclination angle of the alveolo–palatal region. Speakers with flat inclination angles mainly retracted their tongue to realize the contrast, whereas speakers with steep inclination angles also elevated their tongue.

ConclusionThe articulatory realization of the sibilant contrast is influenced not only by speaker-specific auditory acuity, as previously observed, but also by palatal shape morphology, which affects the somatosensory feedback speakers receive.

Acknowledgments
This work was funded by a grant from the German Federal Ministry for Education and Research (01UG0711) and grants from the German Research Council (FU791/1-2 and SI 743/6-1). We thank Jörg Dreyer for technical expertise, Jana Brunner for providing EPG data, Adrian Simpson and Blake Rodgers for proofreading, Amélie Rochet-Capellan for helpful remarks on an earlier version of this article, and our subjects.
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