The role of larynx height in the Javanese tense ~ lax stop contrast

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Javanese has a phonemic contrast between two series of stops. Tense stops are modern reflexes of Proto-Austronesian voiceless stops while lax stops correspond to former voiced stops. This complex contrast includes acoustic properties such as pitch, voice quality, vowel quality and VOT. Although different acoustic studies have yielded similar results, there is still disagreement over the type of articulatory mechanism(s) responsible for the tense~lax opposition. In this study, a laryngoscopic video of two Javanese speakers recorded by Katrina Hayward in 1994 is reanalyzed to determine if vertical laryngeal position is playing a role in the Javanese stop contrast. Results reveal a consistent lowering of the larynx during lax stops, suggesting similarities with Mainland Southeast Asian register.


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