Prosodic influences on consonant production in Dutch: Effects of prosodic boundaries, phrasal accent and lexical stress

Cho, T., & McQueen, J. M. (2005). Prosodic influences on consonant production in Dutch: Effects of prosodic boundaries, phrasal accent and lexical stress. Journal of Phonetics, 33(2), 121-157. doi:10.1016/j.wocn.2005.01.001.
Prosodic influences on phonetic realizations of four Dutch consonants (/t d s z/) were examined. Sentences were constructed containing these consonants in word-initial position; the factors lexical stress, phrasal accent and prosodic boundary were manipulated between sentences. Eleven Dutch speakers read these sentences aloud. The patterns found in acoustic measurements of these utterances (e.g., voice onset time (VOT), consonant duration, voicing during closure, spectral center of gravity, burst energy) indicate that the low-level phonetic implementation of all four consonants is modulated by prosodic structure. Boundary effects on domain-initial segments were observed in stressed and unstressed syllables, extending previous findings which have been on stressed syllables alone. Three aspects of the data are highlighted. First, shorter VOTs were found for /t/ in prosodically stronger locations (stressed, accented and domain-initial), as opposed to longer VOTs in these positions in English. This suggests that prosodically driven phonetic realization is bounded by language-specific constraints on how phonetic features are specified with phonetic content: Shortened VOT in Dutch reflects enhancement of the phonetic feature {−spread glottis}, while lengthened VOT in English reflects enhancement of {+spread glottis}. Prosodic strengthening therefore appears to operate primarily at the phonetic level, such that prosodically driven enhancement of phonological contrast is determined by phonetic implementation of these (language-specific) phonetic features. Second, an accent effect was observed in stressed and unstressed syllables, and was independent of prosodic boundary size. The domain of accentuation in Dutch is thus larger than the foot. Third, within a prosodic category consisting of those utterances with a boundary tone but no pause, tokens with syntactically defined Phonological Phrase boundaries could be differentiated from the other tokens. This syntactic influence on prosodic phrasing implies the existence of an intermediate-level phrase in the prosodic hierarchy of Dutch.
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