An acoustic study of nasal consonants in three Central Australian languages

Marija Tabain, Andrew Butcher, Gavan Breen, Richard Beare

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    23 Citations (Scopus)


    This study presents nasal consonant data from 21 speakers of three Central Australian languages: Arrernte, Pitjantjatjara and Warlpiri. The six nasals considered are bilabial /m/, dental /n/, alveolar /n/, retroflex /?/, alveo-palatal /η/, and velar /Latin small letter Eng/. Nasal formant and bandwidth values are examined, as are the locations of spectral minima. Several differences are found between the bilabial /m/ and the velar /Latin small letter Eng/, and also the palatal /η/. The remaining coronal nasals /n n ?/ are not well differentiated within the nasal murmur, but their average bandwidths are lower than for the other nasal consonants. Broader spectral shape measures (Centre of Gravity and Standard Deviation) are also considered, and comparisons are made with data for stops and laterals in these languages based on the same spectral measures. It is suggested that nasals are not as easily differentiated using the various measures examined here as are stops and laterals. It is also suggested that existing models of nasal consonants do not fully account for the observed differences between the various nasal places of articulation; and that oral formants, in addition to anti-formants, contribute substantially to the output spectrum of nasal consonants.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)890-903
    Number of pages14
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number2
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Feb 2016


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