How widespread is preaspiration in Italy? A preliminary acoustic phonetic overview.
In: Working papers, Vol. 54: S. 97-102
Preaspiration is a comparatively rare phonetic feature, almost entirely confined to languages spoken in far northwestern Europe (Andersen 2002; Helgason 2002). A recent acoustic phonetic investigation into consonant gemination in Sienese Italian (e.g. Stevens & Hajek 2007), however, found that preaspiration occurred in one third of geminate /pp tt kk/ tokens. Up until that point preaspirated stops had not been reported to occur in Sienese or any other variety of Italian including the standard language. With this in mind, the present paper presents the results of an acoustic phonetic investigation into voiceless geminate stops /pp tt kk/ in a controlled corpus of words read by speakers from 15 other Italian cities. Results are analysed according to city as well as factors (e.g. speaker sex, vowel type) known to favour occurrences of preaspiration in other better known preaspirating languages. Preliminary duration values are presented and results are discussed in terms of two specific hypotheses regarding the rise of preaspiration in Sienese Italian.