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Articulatory Coordination and Syllable Structure in Italian


Anne Hermes

When we speak we do not articulate each sound one after the other like beads on a string. Instead, the movements of our articulators, such as the tongue and lips, overlap. These movements are coordinated in complex ways to produce syllables, words and phrases. This book is concerned with syllables. What is a syllable? There is general consensus that «sa», «pa» and «ra» are syllables. But what about «spa» or «spra»? The answer to this question is sought using a method investigating the coordination of tongue and lip movements. The results shed light on a long standing problem for syllable phonology in Italian, namely the syllabification of «s» when it occurs in a consonant cluster such as «sp» in «sport».


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5 Results: Segmental durations


In addition to the articulatory analysis, where the interaction of gestural coordination and syllable structure has been investigated, an acoustic analysis was performed. The segmental durations for the tonic vowel following the word initial consonants are analysed (in terms of compen- satory shortening), comparing simple onsets to non-sibilant clusters and to sibilant clusters. Furthermore, the duration of the vowel preceding the word initial consonant(s) is analysed, being affected by the type of cluster (being non-sibilant or sibilant). Thus, this study foregrounds the gestural coordination and its inter- action with syllable structure. Therefore, the acoustic analysis is pre- sented briefly as an attempt to gain insight into possible differences in the acoustics when comparing non-sibilant with sibilant cluster. 5.1 Non-sibilant clusters 5.1.1 TONIC VOWEL (#CV vs. #CCV) The analysis of the vowel following the initial consonant(s) reveals the following results, comparing simple onsets to non-sibilant clusters (C and CC: e.g. /rima-prima/): a repeated measures ANOVA, testing the TONIC VOWEL duration with TYPE as within-subject factor and SPEAKER as random factor shows that there is no effect: F (1, 3): 0.299; p>0.05). The segmental duration of the tonic vowel remains unaffected when adding a consonant to the beginning of the word. These acoustic analyses of the TONIC VOWEL show that the tonic vowel is not affected, i.e. these results reflect that there is no compensatory shortening. Although the ANOVA reveals no effect, a lot of variation is observable for the four speakers, i.e. duration remains unaffected (MS,...

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