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Kleber, Felicitas (2018): VOT or quantity: What matters more for the voicing contrast in German regional varieties? Results from apparent-time analyses. In: Journal of Phonetics, Vol. 71: pp. 468-486

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Abstract

Standard German distinguishes voiced (short-lag) and voiceless (long-lag) stops in domain-initial and -medial position with VOT being the most important cue. This phonemic distinction has been neutralized in many dialects but the merger appears to have been reversed in the corresponding regional accents probably due to the increasing influence of the standard language. This apparent-time study investigates the emerging importance of VOT and VCratio (a combined measure of proportional vowel and closure duration) in Bavarian and Saxon, two German regional varieties prone to reverse the merger. To this end we analyzed acoustically minimal pairs with stops in medial and initial position and investigated the integrated effects of VOT and VCratio in perception. VOT is becoming more important in younger speakers and dialectal traces are more pronounced in older participants. While a trading relation between VOT and VCratio was present in the perception of all groups it has only emerged in younger Bavarians' production (possibly reinforced by a greater amount of schwa deletion in this group). The findings are discussed within a usage-based model.

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