Volume 28 Issue 9 - March 27, 2015 PDF
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Voice onset time of stops in Mandarin and Hakka: Effect of gender
Jui- Feng Peng 1, Li-Mei Chen2,*, Chia-Cheng Lee3
1 Municipal Jinsyue Elementary School, Tainan 700, Taiwan
2 Department of Foreign Languages and Literature, National Cheng Kung University, Tainan 701, Taiwan
3 School of Communication Sciences and Disorders, The University of Memphis, Memphis, USA
 
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This paper examines the influence of gender upon voice onset time (VOT). Lisker and Abramson (1964) defined voice onset time (VOT) as the temporal interval from the release of an initial stop to the onset of glottal pulsing of a following vowel. VOT has been considered a reliable phonetic cue for categorizing stop consonants (i.e., voiced versus voiceless or unaspirated versus aspirated) in various languages (Cho & Ladefoged, 1999; Gósy, 2001; Keating, Linker, & Huffman, 1983; Lisker & Abramson, 1964; Riney, Takagi, Ota, & Uchida, 2007; Rochet & Fei, 1991; Zheng & Li, 2005). This study investigates VOT values of word-initial stops /p, t, k, ph, th, kh/ followed by three vowels /i, u, a/ in both Mandarin and Hakka.

RESULTS

Mandarin
As illustrated in Figure 1, male speakers produced longer VOTs in unaspirated stops than female speakers (p <.001), but in aspirated stops female speakers produced longer VOTs than male speakers (p <.001). Furthermore, unaspirated and aspirated stops displayed significant VOT differences in both male and female speakers. These results indicate that gender had different significant effects on the VOTs of stop aspiration.

Figure 1. Mandarin unaspirated and aspirated stops produced by male and female speakers


As shown in Figure 2, only labial stops showed a significant gender difference (t= -2.28, p< .05). Namely, gender only had a significant effect on the VOTs of labials, but no significant differences were found in the other two places of articulation.

Figure 2. Mandarin stops of three places of articulation produced by male and female speakers


Hakka
As illustrated in Figure 3, like in Mandarin, male speakers produced longer VOTs than female speakers in unaspirated stops (p <.001). Female speakers produced longer VOTs than male speakers in aspirated stops (p <.001). Moreover, unaspirated and aspirated stops displayed significant VOT differences in both male and female speakers.

Figure 3. Hakka unaspirated and aspirated stops produced by male and female speakers


CONCLUSION
VOT values of word-initial stops /p, t, k, ph, th, kh/ followed by three vowels /i, u, a/ in both Mandarin and Hakka revealed that male speakers produced longer VOTs in unaspirated stops than their female counterparts, but women produced longer VOTs in aspirated stops than male counterparts. In addition, VOT distinction in unaspirated and aspirated stops was greater in female speakers than in male speakers in both languages, perhaps because women tend to have a more careful manner of speech than men (Byrd, 1992, 1994; Whiteside, 1996). Gender has a statistically significant influence on VOTs in both Mandarin and Hakka. It is thus suggested that VOT data from different genders should be analyzed separately.

REFERENCES

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  3. Cho, T., & Ladefoged, P. (1999). Variation and universals in VOT: evidence from 18 languages. Journal of Phonetics, 27, 207-29.
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  10. Zheng, X.-R. & Li, Y.- H. (2005). A contrastive study of VOT of English and Korean stops. Journal of Yanbian University, 38(4), 99-102.
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