Studies from German-speaking Europe
Discrimination sensitivities and identification patterns of vowel quality and duration in German /u/ and /o/ instances
The German vowel length contrast uses duration and quality (tense vs. lax) as phonetic cues. So far, the relative importance between these two cues has been assessed by identification tests. The present study extends this work by including discrimination tests assessing discrimination sensitivities to temporal and spectral changes in /u/ – /o/ vowels embedded in disyllabic stimuli.
Results favor vowel duration as the primary cue for vowel discrimination. Temporal discrimination showed a sensitivity maximum at the short-long boundary. Spectral discrimination did not reveal any sensitivity to lax-tense changes but only to changes between vowel types such as /u/ and /o/. It is concluded that vowel duration is used as the primary cue whereas vowel quality, the secondary cue, supports the contrast by increasing the perceptual distance between short and long vowels.
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