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Kleber, Felicitas (2020): Complementary length in vowel-consonant sequences: Acoustic and perceptual evidence for a sound change in progress in Bavarian German. In: Journal of the International Phonetic Association, Vol. 50, No. 1, PII S0025100317000238: pp. 1-22

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This study is concerned with the Bavarian German dialect feature of complementary length in vowel plus consonant sequences according to which tense (long) vowels always precede lenis stops (short closure) and lax (short) vowels always precede fortis stops (long closure). The study investigates whether a vowel length contrast is developing before fortis stops due to dialect leveling. We measured vowel and consonant duration in trochaic words differing only in vowel length which were read by 40 older and younger Bavarian and Saxon (control group) German speakers. Older Bavarians distinguished tense and lax vowels by means of vowel to vowel plus consonant ratios that indicate an inverse timing pattern. Saxons and younger Bavarians signal the tense-lax distinction independently of the following stop length. A perception test showed that this sound change in progress also affects perception. We argue for a contact-induced change which is triggered by external as opposed to internal factors.

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