Studies from German-speaking Europe
Edited By Adrian Leemann, Marie-José Kolly, Stephan Schmid and Volker Dellwo
Impact and interaction of accent realization and speaker sex on vowel length in German
Several studies have shown that sex-specific differences in durational patterns exist cross-linguistically. However, these sex-specific differences seem to be influenced by several linguistic factors, such as the realization of the vowel length contrast and the stress or accent condition of the investigated target. This study examined the influence of sentence accent on vowel duration in German and its potential interaction with speaker sex. Vowel durations and the realization of the tense-lax contrast including five vowel pairs (/a a:, i: ɪ, e: ɛ, u: ʊ, o: ɔ/) were analysed in 11 speakers (5 female, 6 male). As expected, results reveal a much stronger influence of accent condition on tense than on lax vowels. A tendency for longer durations in female than male speakers was found for the tense vowels. The strongest sex-specific difference was found in the realization of the tense-lax contrast in the unaccented condition due to a stronger impact of accent on male than on female speakers. Results are interpreted in terms of a higher degree of undershoot in male speech.
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