Two apparently contradictory observations have been made about consonantal voicing in Southern US English: compared to other US varieties, Southern speakers produce more voicing on “voiced” stops, but they also “devoice” word-final /z/ at higher rates. In this paper, regional differences in final /z/ realization within Virginia are investigated. 36 students from Southwest and Northern Virginia were recorded completing tasks designed to elicit /z/-final tokens. Tokens were acoustically analyzed for duration and voicing, and automatically categorized as being [z] or [s] using an HTK forced aligner. At the surface level, the two approaches yield incompatible results: the single acoustic measures suggest Southwest Virginians produce more [z]-like /z/ tokens than Northern Virginians, and the aligner finds that Southern-identifying participants produce the most [s]-like tokens. However, both analyses converge on the importance of following environment: Southwest Virginians are relatively least voiced pre-pausally, and more voiced in other environments. These combined findings confirm previous work showing that Southern “voiced” consonants generally have more voicing than other regional US varieties but also suggest that the dialect may exhibit greater phrase-final fortition. There are also differences within Southwest Virginian speakers based on differences in their rurality, or in their orientation to the South.
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Research Article| July 11 2021
Differences in final /z/ realization in Southwest and Northern Virginia
American Speech 1–49.
Rachel Hargrave, Amy Southall, Abby Walker; Differences in final /z/ realization in Southwest and Northern Virginia. American Speech 2021; doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00031283-9308362
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