Age-dependent differences in the neutralization of the intervocalic voicing contrast

Evidence from an apparent-time study on East Franconian

Viola Müller*, Jonathan Harrington, Felicitas Kleber, Ulrich Reubold

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

3 Citations (Scopus)


The main aim of the present study was to investigate the extent to which East Franconian speakers neutralize the voicing opposition in intervocalic stops when they produce a variety of Standard German. A second aim was to test whether young and old speakers differ in their extent of neutralization and tend to a more standard-like pronunciation. We analyzed contrast maintenance by means of the vowel-to-stop duration ratio. An acoustic analysis of leiden-leiten revealed that old East Franconian speakers neutralized the voicing contrast either completely or to a greater extent than young East Franconian speakers. Young East Franconian speakers preserved the voicing contrast, although to a lesser extent than the Standard German speakers. A forced choice perception experiment showed that young but not old East Franconians perceived the lenis/fortis contrast. The results point to a sound change in progress in which a phonemic [± voice] stop distinction is developing in East Franconian.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)633-636
Number of pages4
JournalProceedings of the Annual Conference of the International Speech Communication Association, INTERSPEECH
Publication statusPublished - 2011


  • Apparent-time study
  • Categorical perception
  • Fortis/lenis contrast
  • German dialects
  • Incomplete neutralization

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