Graduate student Yuan Chai has a new paper (with Shihong Ye) in a special issue of Languages devoted to exploring the interaction between phonation and prosody.
Chai, Y., & Ye, S. (2022). Checked syllables, checked tones, and tone sandhi in Xiapu Min. Languages 7(1): 47. doi: https://doi.org/10.3390/languages7010047
A “checked” syllable usually refers to one with a short vowel and an oral or glottal coda, which results impressionistically in a “short” and “abrupt” quality. Although common in languages of the world, it is unclear how to characterize checked syllables phonetically. In this study, we investigated the acoustic features of checked syllables in citation and sandhi forms in Xiapu Min, an under-documented language from China. We conducted a production experiment and analyzed the F0, phonatory quality, vowel duration, and vowel quality in checked syllables. The results show that, in citation tones, checked syllables are realized with distinct F0 contours from unchecked syllables, along with glottalization in the end and a shorter duration overall. In sandhi tones, checked syllables lose their distinct F0 contours and become less glottalized. However, the shorter duration of checked syllables is retained in sandhi forms. This study lays out the acoustic properties that tend to be associated with checked syllables and can be used when testing checked syllables in other language varieties. The fact that in Xiapu Min sandhi checked tones become less glottalized but preserve their shorter duration suggests that, when checked syllables become unchecked diachronically, glottalization might be lost prior to duration lengthening.