Gestural characterisation of vowel length contrasts in Australian English

Louise Ratko*, Michael Proctor, Felicity Cox

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

1 Citation (Scopus)


Many languages contrast long and short vowels, but the phonetic implementation of vowel length contrasts is not fully understood. We examine articulation of long and short vowels in Australian English to investigate whether duration contrasts involve intrinsic differences in the underlying gestures, or differences in their timing relationships with flanking consonants. We used electromagnetic articulography to track tongue dorsum and lip movement in two long-short vowel pairs /iː-ɪ/ (bead – bid) and /ɐː-ɐ/ (bard – bud) produced in /pVp/ syllables by nine speakers of Australian English. For short vowels, lingual movement towards the vowel target (formation interval) is shorter and smaller, but not stiffer, than that of long vowels. Syllables containing the short vowel /ɐ/ also exhibited more vowel-coda overlap than those containing /ɐː/. These data suggest that both vowel-intrinsic and syllable-level mechanisms are involved in the realisation of vowel length contrasts in Australian English.

Original languageEnglish
Article number101237
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Phonetics
Publication statusPublished - May 2023


  • vowel production
  • vowel length
  • articulatory phonetics
  • articulatory phonology
  • Australian English


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