A Comparison of Croatian Syllabic [r] and Polish Obstruentised [r]
Unlike other natural classes of speech sounds, rhotics constitute a group that can hardly be defined as the various sounds that belong to that category do not share a single articulatory or acoustic property (Lindau 1985, Ladefoged and Maddieson 1996). Despite this intriguing fact, in the phonetic literature, rhotics are frequently treated as if their heterogeneity did not have any influence on their phonology. One of the arguments frequently quoted by various authors, e.g. Wiese (2001, 2003), states that, despite so many different types of rhotics being found in the world’s languages, they occupy vowel-adjacent positions within the syllable. Although this is by far the most common position that rhotics can be found in, there are also languages such as Croatian, Czech, Polish and Russian which allow for sound combinations in which rhotics are flanked by consonants. Obviously, such highly marked clusters can also be found in other languages, e.g. Berber (Coleman 1999).
The primary objective of the paper is to compare and contrast the acoustic properties of the syllabic ‘r-sound’ of Croatian and the obstruentised variant of the Polish rhotic phoneme /r/, i.e. a ‘r-sound’ that is not adjacent to a vowel within the word, as in rtęć ‘mercury’, krtań ‘larynx’, wiatr ‘wind’1. What makes the two sounds similar is their distribution within the word in that they are never adjacent to a vowel. However, in such environments, the Croatian rhotic is said to occupy...
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