Stoakes (2019)

Nasal Coarticulation in Bininj Kunwok: An Aerodynamic Analysis

Abstract

Bininj Kunwok (BKw), a language spoken in Northern Australia, restricts the degree of anticipatory nasalization, as suggested by previous aerodynamic and acoustic analyses (Butcher 1999). The current study uses aerodynamic measurements of speech to investigate patterns of nasalization and nasal articulation in Bininj Kunwok to compare with Australian languages more generally. The role of nasal coarticulation in ensuring language compre-hensibility a key question in phonetics research today is explored. Nasal aerodynamics is measured in intervocalic, word-medial nasals in the speech of five female speakers of BKw and data are analyzed using Smoothing Spline Analysis of Variance (SSANOVA) and Functional Data Analysis averaging techniques. Results show that in a VNV sequence there is very little anticipatory vowel nasalization with no restriction on carryover nasalization for a following vowel. The maximum peak nasal flow is delayed until the oral release of a nasal for coronal articulations, indicating a delayed velum opening gesture. Patterns of anticipatory nasalization appears similar to nasal airflow in French non-nasalized vowels in oral vowel plus nasal environments (Delvaux et al. 2008). Findings show that Bininj Kunwok speakers use language specific strategies in order to limit anticipatory nasalization, enhancing place of articulation cues at a site of intonational prominence which is also the location of the majority of place of articulation contrasts within the language. Patterns of airflow suggest enhancement and coarticulatory resistance in prosodically prominent VN and VNC sequences which we interpret as evidence of speakers maintaining a phonological contrast to enhance place of articulation cues.

Publication
In The Journal of the International Phonetic Association
Date