An acoustic study of multiple lateral consonants in three Central Australian languages

Marija Tabain, Andrew Butcher, Gavan Breen, Richard Beare

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    19 Citations (Scopus)


    This study presents dental, alveolar, retroflex, and palatal lateral /ll ∫ λ/ data from three Central Australian languages: Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara, and Warlpiri. Formant results show that the laminal laterals (dental /l/ and palatal /λ/) have a relatively low F1, presumably due to a high jaw position for these sounds, as well as higher F4. In addition, the palatal /λ/ has very high F2. There is relatively little difference in F3 between the four lateral places of articulation. However, the retroflex /∫/ appears to have slightly lower F3 and F4 in comparison to the other lateral sounds. Importantly, spectral moment analyses suggest that centre of gravity and standard deviation (first and second spectral moments) are sufficient to characterize the four places of articulation. The retroflex has a concentration of energy at slightly lower frequencies than the alveolar, while the palatal has a concentration of energy at higher frequencies. The dental is characterized by a more even spread of energy. These various results are discussed in light of different acoustic models of lateral production, and the possibility of spectral cues to place of articulation across manners of articulation is considered.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)361-372
    Number of pages12
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2016


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