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Stevens, Mary; Hajek, John (2004): How pervasive is preaspiration? Investigating sonorant devoicing in Sienese Italian. 10th Australian International Conference on Speech Science and Technology, 8. - 10. Dezember 2004, Sydney.




We have recently found that voiceless geminates in Sienese Italian are frequently preaspirated, eg. /sette/ > [sehte] 'seven'. Within the few (mostly Scandinavian) languages that are reported to have preaspirated voiceless stops, a phonetically similar process of sonorant devoicing before voiceless stops is often reported to occur, eg. Icelandic /vitt/ [viht] ‘breadth’ and /lampi/ [lam8pI] 'lamp' (Hansson, 2001:157). Given that voiceless geminate stops are also frequently preaspirated in Sienese Italian, in this pilot study we investigate whether devoicing of sonorants might also occur, given the cooccurrence of the two phenomena in other preaspirating languages. Our preliminary investigation of /lt/ sequences in spontaneous speech (6 speakers) shows that sonorant devoicing is very frequent, occurring in 85% of all tokens analysed. We provide specific details of its frequency according to speaker, and context, as well as information about its acoustic characteristics.