An article by Martha Schwarz (MA alum 2017), Morgan Sonderegger, and Heather Goad has just been accepted to Journal of Phonetics: “Realization and representation of Nepali laryngeal contrasts: Voiced aspirates and laryngeal realism”.
Theories of Laryngeal Realism argue for a tight correspondence between a segment’s phonetic cues and the (laryngeal) phonological features that represent it. As such, the ‘p’/’b’ contrast in French, expressed phonetically by vocal fold vibration during the stop closure, is represented by a [voice] feature while the ‘p’/’b’ contrast in English, expressed phonetically by contrasting long and short lag VOT, is represented by a [spread] feature. Laryngeal realist literature focuses on whether a given segment is best represented by [voice] or [spread], and proposes a set of criteria and tests by which to diagnose the representation. In this study we push laryngeal realist theory in a new direction — to segments proposed to be specified for both [voice] and [spread] features — a combination which poses challenges to the current diagnostics. To do so, we analyze acoustic data from Nepali, an Indo-Aryan language with a single class of stops described as both voiced and aspirated. We apply the same criteria and diagnostics used in laryngeal realism. We find support for the proposed representation, with a caveat that the [voice] feature appears stronger than [spread].