Fortis-lenis distinction of fricatives and plosives in Welsh – Phonetically distinctive factors
Michał BaranUniversity of Szczecin , Poland
This paper continues a research project aimed at proving that the fortis-lenis distinction is more appropriate for studying the Welsh language than the voiced-voiceless divide. Previous analyses of articulatory timing revealed potentially distinctive features characteristic for Welsh plosives and fricatives. Even though the phonological features such as [spread glottis] or [voice] may be used both for distinguishing between the series of plosives and fricatives, the phonetic features responsible for the distinction are likely to differ due to the different phonetic nature of the manner of articulation and the position of fricatives and plosives (Honeybone 2005: 333–334). The aim of this paper is, therefore, to draw general conclusions from analysing the two sets of factors and find some universal features or characteristics of fortis and lenis obstruents in Welsh. Based on the previous studies, the importance of aspiration and voicing length are analysed in Welsh plosives. For fricatives, friction and voicing length are studied as potentially contrastive. The main hypotheses are that (i) phonetic voicing is not decisive in distinguishing between the two series of sounds in all places of articulation and (ii) other aspects of articulatory timing such as friction, aspiration length and hold phase duration appear to be more important in the fortis-lenis distinction and form a general pattern where the fortis sounds are generally longer than their lenis counterparts.
Keywords:fortis-lenis distinction, plosives, fricatives, articulatory timing, laryngeal contrast
Asmus, S. and S. Grawunder. 2017. Vowel length in Welsh monosyllables – Consonant-mutation dependence, Irish cognation and related theoretical problems. An acoustic study and its didactic implications. Lampeter: The Edwin Mellen Press.
Asmus, S., and S. Grawunder. 2018. Language-structuring consonant mutation(s) in Welsh (and Irish). https://www.academia.edu/33509077/Language_structuring_consonant_mutation_s_in_Welsh_and_Irish_
Asmus, S., S. Jaworski, and M. Baran. 2019. Fortis-lenis of voiced-voiceless – Features of Welsh consonants. In S. Calhoun, P. Escudero, M. Tabain and P. Warren (eds.), Proceedings of the 19th International Congress of Phonetic Sciences, Melbourne, Australia 2019, 3773–3776. Canberra: Australasian Speech Science and Technology Association Inc.
Ball, M. J. 1984. Phonetics for phonology. In M. J. Ball and G. E. Jones (eds.), Welsh phonology. Selected readings, 5–39. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Ball, M. J., and B. Williams. 2011. Welsh phonetics. Lewiston: The Edwin Mellen Press.
Baran, M. 2020. Friction and voicing length as phonetic correlates in the fortis-lenis distinction of the Welsh fricatives. Proceedings of the Association of Celtic Students of Ireland and Britain Vol. VII: 69–91.
Baran, M., and S. Asmus. 2019. A new perspective on Welsh and Irish consonant mutations. In S. Asmus and K. Jaworska-Biskup (eds.) New perspectives on Modern Wales – Studies in Welsh language, literature and social politics, 157–177. Cambridge: Cambridge Scholars Publishing.
Boersma, P., and D. Weeink. 2019. Praat: Doing phonetics by computer [computer programme]. Version 6.1.08.
Butcher, A. 2004. Fortis-lenis revisited one more time: The aerodynamics of some oral stop contrasts in three continents. Clinical linguistics and phonetics 18: 547–557.
Chen, M. 2017. Vowel length variation as a function of the voicing of consonant environment. Phonetica 22: 129–159.
Cyran, E. 2011. Laryngeal realism and laryngeal relativism: Two voicing systems in Polish? Studies in Polish Linguistics 6: 45–80.
Hannahs, S. J. 2013. The phonology of Welsh. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Hardcastle, W. J. 1973. Some observations on the tense-lax distinction in initial stops in Korean. Journal of Phonetics 1: 263–272.
Hogan, J. T., and A. J. Rozsypal. 1980. Evaluation of vowel duration as a cue for the voicing distinction in the following word-final consonant. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 67: 1764–1771.
Honeybone, P. 2005. Diachronic evidence in segmental phonology: The case of obstruent laryngeal specifications. In M. van Oostendorp, and J. van de J. Weijer (eds.), The internal organization of phonological segments, 319–354. Berlin: Mouton de Gruyter.
Jaeger, J. J. 1983. The fortis/lenis question: Evidence from Zapotec and Jawon. Journal of Phonetics 11: 177–189.
Jakobson, R., G. M. Fant, and M. Halle. 1951. Preliminaries to speech analysis: The distinctive features and their correlates. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Jones, G. E. 1984. The distinctive vowels and consonants of Welsh. In M. J. Ball and G. E. Jones (eds.), Welsh phonology. Selected readings, 40–64. Cardiff: University of Wales Press.
Ladefoged, P. 1989. Representing phonetic structure. UCLA Working Papers in Phonetics 73: 1–79.
Lisker, L. 1986. ‘Voicing’ in English: A catalogue of acoustic features signaling /b/ versus /p/ in trochees. Language and Speech 29: 3–11.
Malécot, A. 1970. The lenis/fortis opposition: Its physiological parameters. Journal of the Acoustic Society of America 47: 1588–1592.
Odgen, R. 2009. An introduction to English phonetics. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
van Sluis, P. S. 2019. Lenited voiceless stops in Middle Welsh: Phonology and orthography. An unpublished PhD thesis. University of Wales.
Stetson, R. H. 1951. Motor phonetics. Amsterdam: North Holland.
Stevens, K. N. 1998. Acoustic phonetics. Cambridge: MIT Press.
Trask, R. L. 1996. A dictionary of phonetics and phonology. New York: Routledge.
Contributions to this journal are published under a Creative Commons license.