Is h phonetically neutral say hVC again

Michael P. Robb, Yang Chen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Use of h in the phrase, 'Say hVC again' has been tacitly assumed to provide a neutral phonetic context in which to study the articulatory characteristics of speech either preceding or following h articulation. Yet, assessment of the stability or neutrality of h has gone untested. The current study sought to determine whether articulation of h differs according to sex and language accent, as well as to examine its influence on subsequent vowel articulation. Selected acoustic features of hVC were measured in 40 speakers of American English (AE) and 40 speakers of Mandarin-accented English (MAE). Results of an analysis of h duration revealed no sex differences within each language group, however considerable variation was found according to accented vs unaccented English. Clear sex differences were found for the production of, occurring more often among male speakers regardless of language variety. Considerable variation in production of was found between language groups. Analysis of vowel formant frequencies immediately following h articulation indicated minimal coarticulatory effects for both AE and MAE speakers. The present results appear to support the suggestion that h is not exclusively sex-linked and may indeed vary according to non-biological factors. In spite of these variations, h articulation appears to have a negligible influence on neighbouring vowel articulation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)842-855
Number of pages14
JournalClinical Linguistics and Phonetics
Issue number11
StatePublished - Nov 2009

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Language and Linguistics
  • Linguistics and Language
  • Speech and Hearing


Dive into the research topics of 'Is h phonetically neutral say hVC again'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this