Perceptual vowel contrast reduction in Australian English /l/-final rimes

Tünde Szalay*, Titia Benders, Felicity Cox, Michael Proctor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Citations (Scopus)
73 Downloads (Pure)


In Australian English rimes, coarticulation between coda /l/ and its preceding vowel has the potential to attenuate cues that contribute to phonological vowel contrast. Therefore, vowel-/l/ coarticulation may increase ambiguity between prelateral vowels. We used a vowel identification task to test the effect of vowel-/l/ coarticulation on vowel disambiguation in perception. Listeners categorized vowels in /hVd/ and /hVl/ contexts. Results showed reduced accuracy of vowels before coda /l/ compared to coda /d/, showing that coda /l/ increases vowel disambiguation difficulty. In particular, reduced perceptual contrast was found for the rime pairs /ʉ:l-ʊl, æͻl-æl/ and /əʉl-ͻl/ (e.g., fool-full, howl-Hal, dole-doll). A second experiment tested the effect of reduced perceptual contrast on word recognition. Listeners identified minimal pairs contrasting key vowel pairs in the /CVl/ and /CVd/ contexts. Reduced accuracy and increased response time in /l/ contexts shows that coda /l/ hinders listeners' ability to identify vowels. The implications of reduced perceptual vowel contrast for compensation for coarticulation and sound change are discussed.

Original languageEnglish
Article number9
Pages (from-to)1-25
Number of pages25
JournalLaboratory phonology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 12 Apr 2021

Bibliographical note

Copyright the Author(s) 2021. Version archived for private and non-commercial use with the permission of the author/s and according to publisher conditions. For further rights please contact the publisher.


  • vowel disambiguation
  • word recognition
  • coarticulation
  • lateral approximant
  • Australian English


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