Oral-laryngeal timing in glottalised resonants




Bird, Sonya
Caldecott, Marion
Campbell, Fiona
Gick, Bryan
Shaw, Patricia A.

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Journal of Phonetics


Although previous studies of intergestural timing in multi-gesture segments have identified some consistent patterns, fundamental questions remain about the underlying causes of these patterns. Hypotheses based on universal perceptual or biomechanical restrictions (Gick, Campbell, Oh & Tamburri-Watt, 2006) have proven difficult to test because of confounding factors, e.g. anatomical coupling (Sproat & Fujimura, 1993) and aerodynamic necessity (Kingston, 1990). The cross-linguistically rare class of glottalised resonants (GRs) involves oral and laryngeal gestures, which are neither anatomically nor aerodynamically interdependent, thereby providing a revealing test case for these hypotheses. If intergestural timing is determined by universal perceptual factors, GR timing patterns should be consistent across languages. This comparative study of GRs in three endangered British Columbian languages reveals distinct patterns: the timing of GRs is consistently pre-glottalised in Nuu-chah-nulth, post-glottalised in N¬e÷kepmxcin, and dependent upon syllable position in St’át’imcets. These findings indicate that a strong hypothesis based on perceptual recovery (e.g. Silverman, 1997) must be rejected, and suggest instead that intergestural timing must be specified on a language-specific basis.


For their consistently insightful and patient collaboration, we thank Mary Jane Dick (Nuu-chah-nulth), Patricia McKay and Flora Ehrhardt (Nɬeʡkepmxcin), and Aggie Patrick, Carl Alexander and Linda Redan (St’át’imcets). For Nɬeʡkepmxcin, we also gratefully acknowledge Mandy Jimmie's teachings through the UBC FNLG program (2002–2004). Finally, for St’á’timcets we thank Henry Davis for his guidance.


glottalised resonants, intergestural timing, laryngeal, endangered languages, Nłeʔkepmxcin, Thompson, Nuu-chah-nulth, St’át’imcets, Lillooet


Bird, S., Caldecott, M., Campbell, F., Gick, B., & Shaw, P. A. (2008). Oral-laryngeal timing in glottalised resonants. Journal of Phonetics, 36(30), 492-507. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.wocn.2007.10.005