14th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-14)
San Francisco, CA, USA
This paper examines factors which motivate the use of certain distinctive features in vowels across languages. Features which are cross-linguistically common may be those which listeners are able to perceive based on a brief portion of the acoustic signal, perhaps around a point of abrupt acoustic change. Past work on English vowels has supported this hypothesis. This paper presents results from a gating study of Dutch vowels on perception of several less common vocalic distinctions. Hierarchical clustering analyses reveal that the long/short distinction and the four-way height distinction require more of the signal to perceive than the high/low or front/back distinctions, supporting the importance of rapid perceptibility. However, front rounded vowels are distinguishable from other vowels even based on a very brief signal, contradicting the prediction.
Bibliographic reference. Warner, Natasha (1999): "Timing of perception of vocalic distinctive features: implications for vowel system universals", In ICPhS-14, 1961-1964.