14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)

San Francisco, CA, USA
August 1-7, 1999

The Perception of Aspiration: A Cross-Linguistic Study

Malou van Wijk

Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, Spain

The experiment reported here is intended to investigate the strategies applied by speakers in processing speech sounds. It does so by measuring responses of native and non-native listeners to computer-edited stimuli involving natural tokens of English CV sequences with varying degrees of VOT. The specific purpose is to test whether the aspiration period is processed as pertaining to the plosive that induces it or to the vowel that follows it. The results obtained indicate that native speakers tend to integrate the aspiration period in the consonant, but that the presence of aspiration increases perceived vowel length: speech seems to be processed in units that integrate both the consonantal and the vocalic segment. A cross-linguistic analysis seems to confirm the existence of language specific perceptual mechanisms. The findings argue against a segmental analysis and are more in line with a diphone or syllabic model of speech perception.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Wijk, Malou van (1999): "The perception of aspiration: a cross-linguistic study", In ICPhS-14, 853-856.