Even Americans pre-aspirate
This paper focuses on a phenomenon known as pre-aspiration, defined as a period of glottal friction found in the sequences of sonorants and phonetically voiceless obstruents, as in hit [hɪ h t], hat [hæ h t], hiss [hɪ h s], and cash [kæ h ʃ]. Pre-aspiration has been reported in North American English (Clayards and Knowles 2015); however, there are no systematic studies of pre-aspiration in this part of the English-speaking world. Our study therefore considers the following main questions. 1. Is pre-aspiration present in American English and how frequent is it? 2. Does it vary by region? We also map variation related to speaking task, sex, and a range of language-internal factors. Our analyses of data from the Nationwide Speech Project Corpus (Clopper and Pisoni 2006) confirm that pre-aspiration is a feature of American English, with rates of application reaching between 0–20 percent, depending on the region and the task. Furthermore, the more formal the task, the higher the rate of pre-aspiration application.
Keywords: pre-aspiration, American English accents, phonetics, corpus phonology, variation
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Published online: 26 April 2021
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