15th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences (ICPhS-15)

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Stop! Don't Stop! Epenthesis and Assimilation in Alveolar Clusters

James Dembowski

State University of New York at New Paltz, USA

Acoustic and articulatory variability in connected speech arise in part from phonetic processes such as epenthesis and assimilation. Some of these variations produce contrary effects. For example, speakers may introduce an epenthetic stop in nasal-fricative clusters such as /ns/, but when a stop is explicitly represented in a cluster such as /nts/, speakers may delete the stop through assimilation. The present study explores acoustic and kinematic evidence of stops in both /ns/ and /nts/ clusters. In contrast to some previous work, results fail to show an acoustic distinction between stops produced epenthetically (in /ns/ clusters) and stops that reflect an underlying linguistic representation (in /nts/ clusters). Neither the frequency of occurrence of acoustic features indicating stop production, nor the duration of closure, distinguished stops in these two contexts. Tongue blade movements for production of these clusters were highly variable across both speakers and contexts, indicating that speakers show remarkable flexibility in how they produce linguistically identical clusters in connected speech.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Dembowski, James (2003): "Stop! don't stop! epenthesis and assimilation in alveolar clusters", In ICPhS-15, 1915-1918.