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Temporal Properties of Madurese Consonants: A Preliminary Report

Cohn, Abigal C.; Ham, William H.

Madurese, an Austronesian language of Indonesia, is unique among languages of the region in that
stops exhibit a five-way contrast in place of articulation which is cross-cut by a three-way contrast
in phonation on the one hand, and a singleton-geminate contrast in medial position on the other
(K.iliaan 1897; Stevens 1966, 1968). The singleton-geminate contrast extends to all other
consonants in the inventory except glottal stop, but is phonologically neutralized following the

This paper reports the results of the first systematic acoustic investigation to be carried
out on Madurese consonants. We focus in particular on the acoustic correlates of the three-way
phonation contrast in the stops, the magnitude of the singleton-geminate contrast in all
consonants, and the question of whether phonological neutralization of this contrast following /';J/
triggers phonetic shortening. Findings show that geminates are on average approximately 60%
longer than their singleton counterparts, and that vowels preceding geminates are only half as long
as those preceding singletons (i.e., in open syllables).

Closed syllable shortening of this magnitude, along with the fact that geminates do not shorten preceding /';J/, suggests that Madurese spaces syllables at roughly equal temporal intervals. With specific reference to stops, results show that phonologically aspirated stops are only lightly aspirated, and that the durational difference between singleton and geminate voiced stops is (unexpectedly) the largest, despite the fact that they are always fully voiced.

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