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A study on the Acoustic Correlates of Articulatory Settings in English and Dutch
It is assumed that the overall combination of the positioning of speech articulators such as the tongue, jaws and lips differs per language, which is commonly referred to as articulatory settings. Previous studies involving analytic listening, as well as acoustic analyses and those based on modern scanning techniques that can visualize the vocal tract claim to have found evidence for the existence of articulatory settings; yet, thus far none of these seems to have found unambiguous measurable evidence for language specific settings. The present study attempts to acoustically measure differences between the settings of English and Dutch under optimal conditions, based on within-speaker comparisons of comparable vowels in similar phonetic contexts. Formant frequencies of eight different Dutch-English vowel pairs that appear in interlingual homophones produced by five advanced Dutch learners of English were measured for this purpose. Statistical analyses of the acoustic data seem to point to overall distinct patterns in the positions of Dutch and English vowels, which can be related to the language-specific settings of the two languages examined. Most of all, the outcomes of the analyses seem to highlight the dynamic nature of articulation, which can explain the difficulty previous studies have encountered.
Article language: Dutch