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Control of Closure Duration in Stop Consonants

 Anders Löfqvist


This study explores the control of the oral closure in stop consonants where theduration of the oral closure differs for linguistic purposes, using phonologically long and short stops in Swedish. Previous work on labial stop has shown that the lips are moving at almost their peak velocities at the instant of oral closure. For stops produced with the tongue, previous work has shown that the tongue movement velocity can be high at the instant of oral closure. The tongue continues to move during the closure, with larger movements of the tongue body for velar stops than of the tongue tip for alveolar stops. When the closure duration has to vary over a wider range, we predict that one way a speaker controls the duration of the oral closure for a labial stop is by varying the lip closing and opening movements. In particular, we expect that the lower lip will reach a higher vertical position for a long than for a short stop. Such a strategy will result in the lips maintaining contact for a longer period of time. For stops produced with the tongue, we don t expect the tongue to actually stop during the closure for a long stop. Rather, we assume that the magnitude of the movement during the closure will be the same, or possibly slightly longer for a long than for a short stop. This follows from the fact that the tongue always seems to move during the stop closure, but it cannot move indefinitely during the closure and also maintain an air tight seal. Articulatory movements were recorded using a magnetometer system. The results showed that the lower lip reached a higher vertical position during the oral closure for the long than for short stops. In addition, the lower lip vertical velocity at oral closure was higher for long than for short stops. The upper lip movement kinematics did not vary systematically with closure duration. For stops produced with the tongue, the movement trajectory of the tongue body and tongue tip during the closure increased with closure duration for velar and alveolar stops, respectively.


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