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

Barcelona, Spain
August 3-9, 2003

Perception of /dl/ and /tl/ Clusters: A Cross-Linguistic Perceptual Study with French and Israeli Listeners

Pierre Hallé (1), Catherine T. Best (2), Asaf Bachrach (3)

(1) LPE/CNRS-Paris V, France
(2) Haskins Laboratories, USA
(3) ILPGA, France

French listeners tend to hear illegal utterance-initial /tl/ and /dl/ clusters as /kl/ and /gl/, respectively, when speech is produced by French speakers (Hallé et al., 1998; Segui & Hallé, 2001). We re-examined this phenomenon, once called "phonotactic perceptual assimilation," in a cross-linguistic design using Modern Hebrew. In Hebrew, virtually all the obstruent-liquid clusters are permissible, including /dl, tl/. French and Israeli listeners were tested on their discrimination performance for the /dl/-/gl/ and /tl/-/kl/ contrasts, using monosyllables such as /tla, kla/ produced by a native speaker of Hebrew. French listeners showed substantial difficulty at discriminating these contrasts - especially /tl/-/kl/ - whereas Israeli listeners experienced a slight difficulty only for /tl/-/kl/. French listeners categorised as velar the initial consonant of the /tl/ items and, but much less often, that of the /dl/ items. Altogether then, the /tl/-to-/kl/ perceptual assimilation is largely language-specific. Yet, it might be partly determined by universal perceptual constraints that seem to emerge in Modern Hebrew.

Full Paper

Bibliographic reference.  Hallé, Pierre / Best, Catherine T. / Bachrach, Asaf (2003): "Perception of /dl/ and /tl/ clusters: a cross-linguistic perceptual study with French and Israeli listeners", In ICPhS-15, 2893-2896.