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Effects of Vowel Length and Syllable Structure on Segment Duration in Dutch

Jongman, Allard

Three experiments investigated timing patterns in Dutch mono- and bisyllabic words contrasting
in vowel length.

  • In Experiment 1, duration of the postvocalic stop consonant in CV(:)C words did not vary as a function of preceding vowel length.
  • Experiment 2 extended this finding tointervocalic stops in bisyllabic CV(:)C~n words. In Dutch, CV:C~n words contain a long vowel in syllable-final position while CVC~n words contain a short vowel followed by an ambisyllabic consonant.

Results from Experiment 2 indicated that the duration of the intervocalic consonant is not affected by the quantity of the preceding vowel or its differential status as a tautosyllabic or ambisyllabic consonant. These results suggest no effect of vowel length on postvocalic consonant duration. However, an additional finding of Experiment 2 was that the duration of second-syllable [~n] is inversely affected by the length of the vowel in the first syllable.

Finally, Experiment 3 established that in CV(:)CC~n words, both medial consonants and [~n] were longer when preceded by a short vowel in the first syllable. These findings indicate that the presence of a short vowel results in a compensation of approximately 25-30 ms, which is distributed across all segments following that vowel.

It is hypothesized that the postvocalic consonant in Experiments 1 and 2 did not participate in this compensation because the consonant is obligatory following short vowels. Thus, the factor affecting whether or not a postvocalic consonant exhibits compensatory behavior may be not so much ambisyllabicity versus tautosyllabicity but rather its obligatory versus optional status. Implications for models of phonetic and phonological timing are discussed.

This paper is copyrighted, and is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International (CC BY-NC-ND 4.0) - see https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/4.0/
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