Title: “Structured speaker variability in Japanese stops: Relationships within versus across cues to stop voicing”
Abstract: A number of recent studies have observed that phonetic variability is constrained across speakers, where speakers exhibit limited variation in the signalling of phonological contrasts in spite of overall differences between speakers. This previous work focused predominantly on controlled laboratory speech and on contrasts in English and German, leaving unclear how such speaker variability is structured in spontaneous speech and in phonological contrasts that make substantial use of more than one acoustic cue. This study attempts to both address these empirical gaps and expand the empirical scope of research investigating structured variability by examining how speakers vary in the use of positive voice onset time and voicing during closure in marking the stop voicing contrast in Japanese spontaneous speech. Strong covarying relationships within each cue across speakers are observed, while between-cue relationships across speakers are much weaker, suggesting that structured variability is constrained by the language-specific phonetic implementation of linguistic contrasts.