Studies from German-speaking Europe
Quality and quantity in high vowels in Standard Austrian German
In Standard German German (SGG), the high vowels /i, ɪ, y, ʏ, u, ʊ/ are clearly distinguished by vowel quality. This distinction has often been disputed for Standard Austrian German (SAG). In this contribution, we will consider the question of whether SAG speakers neutralize the quality of high vowel pairs. Read pseudowords of 18 SAG speakers raised in Vienna and 7 SGG speakers have been subjected to acoustic analysis (F1, F2, F3, duration). Overall results indicate that high vowel pairs are distinguished both by quality and by quantity. However, quality distinctions are less pronounced in SAG than in SGG. This result raises the question of whether the differences observed for SAG are large enough to justify a quality distinction. Moreover, some age-specific differences regarding duration and F1 of the rounded vowels can tentatively be interpreted as an ongoing sound change. Perception tests will provide a more in-depth understanding of the implementation of this contrast.
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