Consonant gemination in Italian: the affricate and fricative case

04/19/2020
by   Maria-Gabriella Di Benedetto, et al.
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Consonant gemination in Italian affricates and fricatives was investigated, which completed the overall study of gemination of Italian consonants. Results of the analysis of the other consonant categories, i.e. stops, nasals, and liquids, had shown that closure duration for stops and consonant duration for nasals and liquids, form the most salient acoustic cues to gemination. Frequency and energy domain parameters were not significantly affected by gemination in a systematic way in all consonant classes. Results on fricatives and affricates confirmed the above findings, i.e., that the primary acoustic correlate of gemination is durational in nature, and corresponds to a lengthened consonant duration for fricative geminates and a lengthened closure duration for affricate geminates. An inverse correlation between consonant and pre-consonant vowel durations was present for both consonant categories, and also for both singleton and geminate word sets when considered separately. This effect was reinforced for combined sets, confirming the hypothesis that a durational compensation between different phonemes may serve to preserve rhythmical structures. Classification tests of single against geminate consonants using the durational acoustic cues as classification parameters confirmed their validity, and highlighted peculiarities of the two consonant classes. In particular, a relatively poor classification performance was observed for affricates, which led to refining the analysis by considering dental vs. non-dental affricates in two different sets. Results support the hypothesis that dental affricates, in Italian, may not appear in intervocalic position as singletons but only in their geminate form.

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