Biomechanically Conditioned Variation at the Origin of Diachronic Intervocalic Voicing

Marianna Nadeu, José Ignacio Hualde

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

15 Scopus citations


This paper addresses the question of how synchronic variation in intervocalic voicing of voiceless obstruents, as observed in several languages (e.g., Rome Italian /lato/ [lato] ~ [lado]), may initiate and give rise to a regular sound change (e.g., /t/ > /d/ between vowels). We hypothesize that a biomechanically motivated linkage between male gender, speech rate, and voicing may provide a way to accelerate the spread of the phenomenon and lead to an eventual generalized recategorization. In order to explore this hypothesis, first we reanalyze the results of a previous study on intervocalic voicing in Spanish, focusing on individual differences and, in particular, the possible role of gender. Then we report on a study of the same phenomenon in Basque, focusing also on interspeaker variation. Finally, we report on a controlled experiment where speech rate was manipulated.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)351-370
Number of pages20
JournalLanguage and Speech
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 7 2015

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


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