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Phonetics and Phonology of Contrastive Palatal Affricates

Miller-Ockhuizen, Amanda; Zec, Draga

Serbian contains two classes of contrastive palatal affricates exemplified in tsar ‘gain’ vs. tar ‘magic’. In the phonological process of iotization, [t] patterns with [ts], and [k] with [t].

  • Articulatorily, [ts] is laminal, more front with compressed lips, while [t] is apical, more back with protruded lips.
  • Acoustically, the affricates are distinguished by two prominent spectral peaks in the frication noise interval. [t]/[k] display lower frequency spectral peaks than [t]/[ts].

Different frequency ranges in the spectra of frication noise vs. stop bursts derive from constriction degree. Temporal acoustic attributes show that they behave as a class of affricates, different from both stops and fricatives. Phonetic differences in several articulatory attributes in the input contribute to cavity volume differences in the output, which result in higher frequency spectral peaks for the laminal affricate than the apical affricate.

These differences define the natural classes observed in iotization and allow a phonetically accurate statement of the [t]/[ts] and [k]/[t] patterning.

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